Sometimes fascinating, sometimes boring, and ultimately somewhat tragic, Kessler's review of the CIA provides some valuable context for readers of the 9/11 Commission report. Written before 1999, this book has little to say about terrorism, and even less to say about the direction of the CIA under Woolsey in the Clinton years. Kessler devotes a large amount of time to subjects like Iran-Contra, Aldrich Ames, the contrasting styles of Casey and Webster, and the basic structure of the CIA. The reader will get a good feel for the CIA's culture, as well as a more realistic (that is, less fictionalized and romantic) view of what the CIA does and how it operates.
The narrator is, frankly, not very dynamic. Kessler also repeats some details relentlessly; the controversy over the sale of CIA-themed coffee cups and the re-defection of Vitaly Yurchenko are two particularly annoying examples. The combination of a dull, lifeless narration with frequent repetition of details occasionally makes the book a bit boring. Nevertheless, if you are interested in the CIA's history up to about 1994 this is a must-have book.
Most of the other reviewers have already pointed out the primary shortcomings of "Xenocide": it needed tighter editing, the characters bicker too much, some of the characters are undeveloped (especially Novinha), and the plot devices at the end are a little too convenient. I'd also add that Ender himself, the master strategist, seemed uncharacteristically befuddled and nearly senile for most of this book. Strong Ender fans will be able to overlook these problems.
I deducted an additional star from my rating for the narration of this audiobook. I greatly enjoyed the tag-team narration used in "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead". But in "Xenocide" there are two big problems that were very distracting. First, the assignment of narrators for the characters, as well as the direction, is not as consistent as in the previous audiobooks. Second, one of the narrators performs the Path characters without enunciating the ending consonants clearly. It's highly irritating, and makes these passages very difficult to understand.
An enjoyable book, with vivid, unforgettable characters and haunting descriptions of a devastated future world. You'll find yourself alternatively amused and horrified by the story as it fluctuates (unintentionally?) between a comedic farce, a satirical commentary, and a sci-fi disaster movie. Stick with it -- you'll have to get through about half of the book before you figure out enough of the backstory to get hooked, but it's definitely worth it. Atwood apparently hates exposition and "info-dumps" to advance a plot, so don't expect to put your brain in neutral for this book. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend this book for readers who are new to the sci-fi genre. On the abruptness of the ending, I had no problem with it. If you pay attention to the story and the relationship between Crake and Jimmy, you won't either. The story really couldn't have ended any other way, and it isn't difficult to figure out what Snowman will do and why.
Simply phenomenal. If you don't know how to get your e-mail, inbox, office, home, and "honey-do" lists under control, you need this book. There isn't any fluff or existential nonsense here. David leads you through the process of organizing your stuff and making sense of it all. The tips are all practical, very detailed (having the full book for reference helps, but isn't required), and THEY WORK. I've listened twice already, and feel so much more capable of staying on top of everything. You will too. Thanks, David!
The only quibble I can find with this collection is the title. This is a great collection of sci-fi short stories, but it's a reach to call it a collection of the greatest of the 20th century. The majority of the stories were published within only the last 20 years or so. However, I still recommend this collection enthusiastically because of the inclusion of "Jeffty is Five", "The 9 Billion Names of God", "Alamagoosa", and "Why I Left Harry's All Night Hamburgers". Overall, a nice introduction to the short story format of sci-fi.
For most Americans, the history of the Muslim "world" is a complete mystery. The relevance of historical events such as the elimination of the caliphate is a good example of this. Americans (and most "enlightened" Europeans, too, I'd wager) are oblivious to the significance of many such cultural references that mean nothing to us but are major motivating factors for fundamentalist Islamic terrorist organizations. Listen to this book, and I promise that you'll have many "aha -- now I get it!" moments. Potential Muslim readers should be reassured to know that the author strongly emphasizes the errors in interpretation of the Koran made by terrorists like bin Laden. This book is not just a biased critique of Islam.
It is fair to criticize Ann Coulter for her abrasiveness, which does get a bit tiring at times. But one cannot fault the research that she did for this book. This is not just a collection of gripes against the mainstream media, but a case-by-case expose of brazen, shocking bias with example after example after example. She gives sources for every contention and quote. There are no doubt people who will not find Coulter's book convincing, but anyone with an open mind will be persuaded to look at the news provided by our major media outlets with a much more critical eye.
This book details the startling results of a comprehensive study on the wealthy in America. The authors fully explain key concepts about wealth-building that will help the listener identify and change their own bad financial habits. Examples: the difference between "high-income earners" and "the rich"; who the wealthy really are; the characteristics of people who are accomplished accumulators of wealth, usually with very moderate incomes; the self-destructive behaviors of people who earn high-incomes that prevent them from accumulating wealth; what to teach your children about wealth; how the wealthy plan the transfer of their wealth to their children and grandchildren. Although long and full of statistical concepts, this book should be required reading for those who truly want to learn how to increase their wealth. There's no theoretical fluff, multi-level marketing promotion or vague "Rich Dad" slogans here. Just hard data based on actual American millionaires and how they built their fortunes.
Interesting set of essays, but beware if you aren't already familiar with the basic theories and terms in each field. This is more a recitation of the thorny theoretical problems of today than a set of predictions for how scientific discovery will shape our immediate future. Frankly, a few of the contributing scientists seem to be too insufferably pleased with their own cleverness.
Kiyosaki's books (ALL of them) are largely repetitive, with little useful or directly applicable information. His books are mostly full of advice (sometimes questionable) on how to live your life. If you need some general encouragement to get off the couch and do something with your life, go ahead and listen. If you're already motivated and looking for specific strategies to follow or a "how-to" manual, skip the "Rich Dad" series altogether.
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