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Gary

Durham, NC, USA | Member Since 2000

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 5 reviews
  • 59 ratings
  • 244 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Timothy Ferris
    • Narrated By Timothy Ferris
    Overall
    (100)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Anyone can get started in astronomy, just by going outside on a dark night with a star chart and learning their way around. Timothy Ferris tells us what's been seen out there - the Ring nebula, the Silver Coin galaxy, the Virgo supercluster, and how to find them.

    Gary says: "About astronomy as well as astronomers"
    "About astronomy as well as astronomers"
    Overall

    Every now and again, I listen to an Audible title that makes me wish I also had the online text or paper hard-copy. This narrative about star-gazing, star-gazers and stars was very well composed, and was pretty inspiring about actually GOING to do the sky-watching.

    Unfortunately (well, not unfortunately, but disappointingly), the narrative included a HUGE compendium of great ideas and facts, which have proved too hard for me to retain after just hearing them. I really wanted to back up and write down a few of these numbers, analogies and references to the scale of things. My Audible setup and habits make this very hard to do.

    I wonder if audible might someday enable us to note a portion of a book we're listening to (based on hr:min notation) and request an electronic copy of just the pertinent text for future quotes and reference. There'd be dozens of such citations I wish I could have retained from this book.

    The work is divided into sections, based on the distance from earth that the observers' are witnessing, and starts with the moon, and actually ends with remote quasars. At each level, there are amazing and admirable folks (might some call them kooks?) who actually contribute and participate in the Real Science of astronomy.

    Eleven hours is a long audio-book, and I could have done without the long lists of stars and galaxies with particular properties (especially those merely provided a code and number as their name).

    I do recommend it for an overview of the visual content of the universe.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • The Corrections

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Jonathan Franzen
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (674)
    Performance
    (124)
    Story
    (127)

    The Corrections is a grandly entertaining novel for the new century - a comic, tragic masterpiece about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, deeply humane, it confirms Jonathan Franzen as one of our most brilliant interpreters of American society and the American soul.

    Charles says: "A memorable book; flawless narration"
    "People you might not want to know"
    Overall

    Though well written and very well narrated, "The Corrections" is a sad book about a family of pathological characters, on a series of mutually colliding courses with fate and each other.

    Each chapter is told from a different character's point of view, complete with the rawest and most selfish of thoughts. I found it cumulatively UNpleasant to 'be' these people, who seem to have never contemplated a selfless act or a noble thought.

    In their professional and personal lives, this group seems to have logged quite impressive failures, varying mainly whether their demolition was abrupt or continual.

    If you can maintain a distance, the characterizations are quite witty and maybe even the insights are worth hearing. I felt that this made the reading even MORE depressing, since the destruction was viewed by the author as funny and his tone is relentlessly glib.

    I don't think I'd want to be friends with Jonathan Franzen.

    12 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Napoleon

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs)
    • By H.A.L. Fisher
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (82)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    Between 1796 and 1815, the continent of Europe was held in thrall by one of the most remarkable personalities of modern times, a man whose name was on the lips of every man, woman, and child: Napoleon Bonaparte. Certainly, one would have to go back to the time of Charlemagne to find his equal on the field of battle, in the halls of diplomacy, or in the courts of jurisprudence.

    Theresa says: "A very good short biography"
    "Bad prose, poor insights"
    Overall

    A frustrating book, poorly written (incredibly convoluted text, with awkward passive voice and double negatives used *together* a common device) and which misses the point of almost every chapter.

    Virtually no discussion of Napoleon's background (the political & historical situation in 18th century Corsica is assumed!) and family.

    Most of the discussion is about the brilliant geographic machinations of the military campaigns... but sadly, an audiobook makes maps a _bit_ obscure.

    The politics of the court and secondary French revolutions is very poorly described, with reference to many incidents which aren't actually recounted.

    I gave up after ~40%. Luckily, there are other Napoleon biographies, even here at Audible.

    17 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • The Island of the Day Before

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Umberto Eco
    • Narrated By Tim Curry
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    In 1643, in the still un-chartered waters of the South Seas, Roberto della Griva survives the wreck of his ship, the Amaryllis, only to find himself a castaway on another ship, the mysteriously deserted Daphne. Why is she deserted? Or is someone still on board? Get ready for a romance of navigation and science in the mid-17th century as told by the internationally acclaimed Umberto Eco.

    Gary says: "Puzzling and entrancing"
    "Puzzling and entrancing"
    Overall

    The first half of the book is a swashbuckling narrative of what passed for "science" in past centuries. It was captivating and very entertaining.

    The later portion is a more dream-like situation (beyond any reality) that was also entertaining, but very whimsical and quite odd.

    Many readers may find that they object to this very strange juxtaposition. I was entranced throughout.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Stupid White Men...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Michael Moore
    • Narrated By Arte Johnson
    Overall
    (664)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (35)

    The polls indicate that 60 percent of Americans are "upset or angry" about this land in which we now live - a land where crooked courts select the president and money rules the day. If you're feeling the same way, here's the book for you. Michael Moore, the award-winning provocateur behind Roger & Me, returns to size up the new century - and that big, ugly special-interest group that's laying waste to the world as we know it: stupid white men.

    Irene says: "Frustrated: oversimplifing and diluting of issues"
    "Be sure to listen past the introduction"
    Overall

    I admit that I found the book's introduction SO strident and SO accusatory (and shallowly thought out) that I almost discarded the whole book.

    My experience in the actual chapters was much better, finding some information I didn't actually know, and other material that was very cleverly interpreted to support a rather radical agenda.

    Most interesting was a pro-Nader rationale that was quite carefully composed and presented.

    I found that the point-of-view was quite entertaining, and the content was much more positive about finding remedies to society's ills than I expected to see.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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