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matthew

I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile

san diego, CA, United States | Member Since 2014

95
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 89 reviews
  • 130 ratings
  • 231 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
13

  • Explore: Stories of Survival from Off the Map (Unabridged Selections)

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Lawrence Millman, Gene Savoy, Tim Cahill
    • Narrated By Colleen Delany, Anne Flosnik
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Explore offers first-hand accounts from the world's boldest explorers, men and women encountering storms, starvation, cannibals, and disease in their pursuit of adventure. From the mountains of the Himalaya and the jungles of New Guinea, to the ice floes of the Arctic and the ruins of Peru, Explore will take you off the map to those few refuges where true discovery is still possible.

    Dan says: "My first horrible pick!"
    "A mix of interesting and depressing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A couple of the stories among this series were worth listening to,but the majority simply didn't really interest me.Possibly the best story was of the guys who discovered a cave in Paupua New Guinea and went cave diving,which has to be foolhardy at best,but makes for an interesting listen.The other story that grabbed me was about two explorers lost in the arctic,who are attacked by a bear and later a walrus of all things and their struggle to surivive and maintain their sanity facing the possibity of overwintering in the frozen tundra.

    The choice to cap the book off with someone dying of Aids and how they tried to face it with dignity did nothing to make me feel the book was overall decent.

    I enjoyed Sebatian Jungers Fire much more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By David Greene
    • Narrated By David Greene
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    Through the stories of fellow travelers, Greene explores the challenges and opportunities facing the new Russia: a nation that boasts open elections and newfound prosperity yet still continues to endure oppression, corruption, and stark inequality. Set against the wintery landscape of Siberia, Greene’s lively travel narrative offers a glimpse into the soul of 20th century Russia: how its people remember their history and look forward to the future.

    Sara says: "Long String of NPR Short Reports"
    "Across the expanse of Russia"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a great book about the fragmented cultures of Russia ,and I first saw it on NPR's booklist. The author struggles with Russian, battles the cold and toughs it out. Russians don't need to speak English and so this is a epic adventure where we learn about a country spanning 11 time zones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Britian

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Paul Theroux
    • Narrated By Ron Keith
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    American-born Paul Theroux had lived in England for 11 years when he realized he'd explored dozens of exotic locations without discovering anything about his adopted home. So, with a knapsack on his back, he set out to explore by walking and by short train trips. The result is a witty, observant and often acerbic look at an ever eccentric assortments of Brits in all shapes and sizes.

    Susan says: "Casting creates utter confusion"
    "a dull country full of dullards"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really tried to get into this, but the country itself just isn't interesting. I got a refund. This is perhaps Paul's least interesting work. Somehow the country that got us all speaking this language must have something redeeming to write about, but it wasn't in this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Pisani
    • Narrated By Jan Cramer
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Bewitched by Indonesia for twenty-five years, Elizabeth Pisani recently traveled 26,000 miles around the archipelago in search of the links that bind this impossibly disparate nation. Fearless and funny, Pisani shares her deck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurous volcano, and takes tea with a corpse. Along the way, she observes Big Men with child brides, debates corruption and cannibalism, and ponders "sticky" traditions that cannot be erased.

    John S. says: "Bill Bryson channels Margaret Mead"
    "Cultural diversity melts away"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Elizabeth is another person who can speak the major language and traverses every corner of this vast group of islands with an eye toward seeing the distinct differences, as well as the government's attempt to spread Javanese as the dominant and sophisticated culture. I've never been outside the airport in Jakarta, but an island with 100 million people has got to be just chaos. Then the government wants to move people to Kalimantan. Culturally different people. Elizabeth is a brave lady riding boats between islands. Thanks for the adventure in between my own.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Luke Harding
    • Narrated By Nicholas Guy Smith
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    It began with a tantalizing, anonymous email: "I am a senior member of the intelligence community." What followed was the most spectacular intelligence breach ever, brought about by one extraordinary man. Edward Snowden was a 29-year-old computer genius working for the National Security Agency when he shocked the world by exposing the near-universal mass surveillance programs of the United States government. His whistleblowing has shaken the leaders of nations worldwide, and generated a passionate public debate on the dangers of global monitoring and the threat to individual privacy.

    amazonman says: "This is not Black & White: Privacy vs Security"
    "we are all being scrutinized"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The biggest takeaway with this book is that the virtual world is not governed by the Constitution, so Obama and Bush don't care about your privacy. The major software companies, Apple being one of the last, gave back door access to the NSA. It is all legal in their minds. In today's news we see China complaining about this back door access. You can bet that the entire G-20 wants to protect their little fraternity. Whatever we think we have these guys have something that can probably read minds by now. Maybe we will all become some sort of cyber zombies? I pound into this iPad 5 hours a day with endless drivel. It is reshaping my thinking. The machines really are too much. You are not anonymous, so don't ever feel that way. Big Brother is watching. Down with Big Brother. Power to the people!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Gavin Menzies
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    The brilliance of the Renaissance laid the foundation of the modern world. Textbooks tell us that it came about as a result of a rediscovery of the ideas and ideals of classical Greece and Rome. But now bestselling historian Gavin Menzies makes the startling argument that in the year 1434, China - then the world's most technologically advanced civilization - provided the spark that set the European Renaissance ablaze. From that date onward, Europeans embraced Chinese ideas, discoveries, and inventions, all of which form the basis of Western civilization today.

    matthew says: "A contrary view that has some merit"
    "A contrary view that has some merit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Gavin Menzies has illuminated us with an alternate history of the world that is backed up by his extensive research. I still had to feel that whatever books were shared with the Europeans had to have been in Chinese,so without good translators I find it a bit hard to believe that the Italians could have simply copied many designs from the Chinese and set off the Renaissance in Europe. Maybe Michael Angelo was simply a talented artist who set about taking these ancient texts and vividly improving the quality of the pictures within. Much like 1421, I think this book might be one best read and so when I have some time I will check out both from the library and have a good look at the pictures provided. The maps and artifacts demand visual representation that an audiobook simply can't provide. This was an entertaining book and was well narrated by Simon Vance, who has an excellent British accent. Maybe Audible could provide us with a PDF of these photos to further enhance our understanding of what could be a very clear and significantly different history from what we learned in school. Some other good histories were provided by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel and a pair of books called 1491 and 1493, which also challenge the dogma we have been presented.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Coal: A Human History

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Barbara Freese
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (287)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (110)

    The fascinating, often surprising story of how a simple black rock altered the course of history. Yet the mundane mineral that built our global economy, and even today powers our electrical plants, has also caused death, disease, and environmental destruction. In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey that begins three hundred million years ago and spans the globe.

    Chad says: "About 1/2 good, 1/2 not so good"
    "The sordid history of modernity"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a global trip that takes us first to England, then to India and finally America. All the while sowing the seeds of why coal came to be used so frequently and why we would not be enjoying the use of our computers, wearing our colorful clothes or simply being fat and satisfied. This is the history of Industrialization itself. It made me realize that bigger countries or countries with the right resources have an unfair advantage. Coal is not the cleanest of fuels, but it is cheap and abundant in some places and after the English cut down trees to build house and simply keep warm they needed an alternate source of heat. Perhaps America became such a revered place after the discovery of what coal could do for it. A combination of things occurred to position the country for greatness. Coal was certainly the fuel for that abundance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • China in Ten Words

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Yu Hua, Allan H. Barr (translator)
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (44)

    From one of China’s most acclaimed writers, his first work of nonfiction to appear in English: a unique, intimate look at the Chinese experience over the last several decades, told through personal stories and astute analysis that sharply illuminate the country’s meteoric economic and social transformation. Characterized by Yu Hua’s trademark wit, insight, and courage, China in Ten Words is a refreshingly candid vision of the “Chinese miracle” and all its consequences, from the singularly invaluable perspective of a writer living in China today.

    matthew says: "A collection of the writers experiences"
    "A collection of the writers experiences"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a good overview of China and I often think of some of the words when I am walking around here now. The one that most comes to mind is disparity. I see the construction workers and cleaners who lead a hard scrabble life working all day and often sharing squalid dormitories at night, where they play cards and sit around simply constructed tables with stools playing cards or eating. This is in sharp contrast to the so called middle class guy that now has a car, an apartment, built by one of the hard working migrants mentioned above and all the trapping of success we have come to associate with a decent life.In all fairness, I live near Shanghai, so my perspective is perhaps a bit too optimistic. There are plenty of other provinces where this disparity is greater and the infrastructure isn't as modern as where I am based. Yu Hua gives us a great overview in this brief account of a large and complex country that is hurtling towards modernity. I especially liked his account of how he learned to be a dentist. A profession he took up after high school. He describes in poignant detail how a veteran dentist showed him how to extract teeth and then had him copycat the process after having only watched two times. He was nervous and couldn't even look the patient in the eye. The book is by no means an exhaustive work, but it was entertaining and provoked some better understanding of a place I have been in for nearly 5 years. Chinese people are not usually so forthcoming and so it can be a place that seems barbarous and even bizarre at times. It is always interesting and many times shocking and surprising to simply observe life in China.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Kolbert
    • Narrated By Anne Twomey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (597)
    Performance
    (535)
    Story
    (529)

    A major audiobook about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

    Male Perspective says: "Better than expected! Great Book!"
    "Man is the most dangerous animal"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    We are introduced to a number of species and what led to their demise. It seems mostly big and slow to reproduce animals are doomed in man's world. We shot the great Auk, killed off the elephant from its once great number of 10 million to its now endangered level of 500 k and even things like the ocean have been altered by coral bleaching and ocean warming trends. I thought it was interesting that corals not only reproduce but also form shelters for smaller creatures. Man destroys the earth and sometimes even kills one another. This book and several others have convinced me that science is not always good for the earth. It is only good for man. The book is basically divided into chapters based on various extinct species and sums things up by helping us realize that we too may become extinct one day if we aren't good stewards to the animals, environment and one another. The reader was well paced and clear.I also liked The Ragged Edge of The World and anything written by Jared Diamond seems to also raise and awareness of how irresponsible we are being towards the world we live in.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World - from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Tom Zoellner
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (29)

    Tom Zoellner loves trains with a ferocious passion. In his new audiobook he chronicles the innovation and sociological impact of the railway technology that changed the world, and could very well change it again. From the frigid Trans-Siberian Railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the futuristic maglev trains, Zoellner offers a stirring story of man's relationship with trains. Zoellner examines both the mechanics of the rails and their engines and how they helped societies evolve. Not only do trains transport people and goods in an efficient manner, but they also reduce pollution and dependency upon oil.

    Craig Walker says: "A wonderful look at Rail travel past and present."
    "The world history of trains up to the present"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a great listen. The author starts out with the history of trains in England and moves on to take trains in India, China, Russia, Spain and yes even in America. All along the way he tells us why this is such a wonderful way to travel despite being slower than planes or buses at times. We learn that the federal government could have supported trains, but instead opted for roads, so now America is car dependent. We learn that Chicago was once the stop for pork and Texas the stop for beef. This hasn't changed much, since airline travel across the U.S. typically has us stopping in one of these cities before touching down where we intended to. I especially liked the part about India. A place where they have had a hard time maintaining the tracks, but the prices remain low and the system is still heavily used. Ghandi was one to complain about the industrial revolution and we come to realize that trains are still vital to today's movement of goods. People just don't seem to have the time to take a train. I always thought that technology would make life easier, but instead we are working more than ever. Maybe Ghandi was right and a return to a simpler life without so much virtual interference might benefit everyone including the planet itself. The reader was very enthusiastic and seemed very professional and it really was a great compliment to a story we should all understand. It was the first way that large numbers of people were moved from one place to another. It can help us understand what the future holds.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Istanbul: Memories and the City

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Orhan Pamuk
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (37)

    A shimmering evocation, by turns intimate and panoramic, of one of the world’s great cities, by its foremost writer. Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul and still lives in the family apartment building where his mother first held him in her arms. His portrait of his city is thus also a self-portrait, refracted by memory and the melancholy - or hüzün - that all Istanbullus share: the sadness that comes of living amid the ruins of a lost empire. Like Joyce’s Dublin and Borges’ Buenos Aires, Pamuk’s Istanbul is a triumphant encounter of place and sensibility, beautifully written and immensely moving.

    matthew says: "travel that never leaves home"
    "travel that never leaves home"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Orphan has got to be the most popular author in Turkey right now. His books are piled up everywhere.It was hard for me to relate to his spoon fed life, but the story of his first love was poignant and his decision to become a writer even though his parents had him enrolled to be an architect was also very interesting. The book jumps all over the place chronologically and there is an awful lot about French writers who came to sum up Istanbul after only very short visits. Orhan describes the city as black and white and melancholy. These seem to be right on point and I tried to look at some of the dilapidated buildings that sit often nearby the fantastic mosques that are ubiquitous here. There are lots of small neighborhoods with steep winding streets to explore. The place is surrounded by sea and teems with vitality.This was really a biography and we learn about Orhan's childhood and sibling rivalries and a great deal about his personal life. I wonder what a book exploring places like Anatolia would read like. In the end, Istanbul appears different than other cities. There is a reverence for the past, but there is the same desperate passion to get rich quickly that every city seems to exude in it's hollow pursuit of money that really lies at its heart.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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