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Finn J. John

Corvallis/Albany, Ore. | Member Since 2013

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 1 reviews
  • 23 ratings
  • 224 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2015
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  • Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Tom Bissell
    • Narrated By Tom Bissell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (285)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (181)

    Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of 34. He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days. If you are reading this copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.

    Roy says: "Ever Wonder about Video Games?"
    "Some good info, but self-indulgent and bloggy."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Tom Bissell and/or Tom Bissell?

    I might try one of his earlier books. As he mentions late in the book, his writing and reading habits were considerably different a few years before, and I suspect he was a really good writer back then. I would need to see some reviews before taking a chance on this writer's future work, though.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    For me, the autobiographical content started out noticeably dominant, but in a way that worked for me -- it complemented the content. But as the book continued, it started to take over. Personal reactions, reflections and unsupported assumptions started to appear with increasing frequency. The whole thing totally spun out of control in the chapter about Grand Theft Auto 4. At the end of that chapter, I felt my time had been thoroughly wasted. Previous chapters were valuable, but often didn't seem to close the deal. And I would very much have liked to have the question posed by the subtitle answered: Why DO video games matter? Frankly, this felt like the second draft of a promising manuscript. Not a rough draft, but not the third draft and most definitely not a finish draft either. And it felt relentlessly self-indulgent. Not sure how to fix that ... I think that ball is in Bissell's court.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Bissell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, this is my first.


    What else would you have wanted to know about Tom Bissell’s life?

    I would have liked to know a lot less, actually.


    Any additional comments?

    I quit listening to it after the "afterword" told me that it would only be useful to me if I were a member of an elite cadre of gamers skilled in a particular franchise. I'm not one of them. It left a bad taste in my mouth and kind of put a cherry on top of my disappointment with the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Jack Weatherford
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Jack Weatherford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4255)
    Performance
    (2781)
    Story
    (2803)

    The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization.

    Peter says: "Brilliant, insightful, intriguing."
    "Sympathetic to the point of untrustworthiness."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Jack Weatherford and/or Jonathan Davis and Jack Weatherford ?

    Nope.


    What could Jack Weatherford have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Reined in his admiration for the Mongol ruling house just a little bit.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Fascination, followed by annoyance as I realized the author was building a case for a warmer, fuzzier view of Genghis Khan.


    Any additional comments?

    I love historical accounts that don't disguise their point of view. But at a certain point, you're not writing history, you're writing an apologia, and this book crosses that threshold fairly early -- glossing over uglier bits, "contextualizing" battlefield atrocities by comparing them to what other armies did, and entirely leaving out inconvenient tidbits like the debate over whether the Mongols used rape as a tactical tool. I got most of the way through this book before I realized that I couldn't entirely trust it; the author was grinding an ax, making a case for a more sympathetic view of Genghis Khan. He may be right, but I feel I've just wasted the time I spent listening to the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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