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Charles

Wonderchuck

USA | Member Since 2008

117
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 26 reviews
  • 304 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
17

  • The Selfish Gene

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    Overall
    (1331)
    Performance
    (960)
    Story
    (942)

    Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.

    J. D. May says: "Better than print!"
    "A pearl of great price"
    Overall

    I had long heard of this book, it is oft cited and praised in other scientific works for the lay man. Because of all this notoriety, I had high expectations when I began listening. I was not disappointed at all, it managed to exceed my expectations. I finished listening 20 min ago, and as I write this, I am still riding an emotional high that comes from increased insight and understanding. I cannot recommend it highly enough, there is more to be had here than (perhaps) any other book I have ever read.

    46 of 54 people found this review helpful
  • Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Deborah Heiligman
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. Challenges about teaching the theory of evolution in schools occur annually all over the country. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was quite religious, and her faith gave Charles a lot to think about as he worked on a theory that continues to spark intense debates.

    Robert B. Golson says: "I'm ape for this book!"
    "Anthony and Cleopatra have nothing on the Darwins."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The marriage of Charles and Emma Darwin should not be a good book. There are no secrets, no lies, no affairs - was there even a quarrel? Normally reading a book about two people so totally devoted to each other would be at best boring, more likely, nauseating; but this book is arresting and uplifting. This view of the Darwins is unique, its a personal narrative with only a little science instead of the other way around. It is not without tension, but is full of deep emotion that held me for the duration. The last paragraph is perhaps the most touching and poetic thing I have ever read in a biography of any kind.




    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Reza Aslan
    • Narrated By Reza Aslan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1041)
    Performance
    (935)
    Story
    (927)

    From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor.

    Tad Davis says: "Vivid and well-researched"
    "Palastinian Politics 4 B.C.E. - 70 C.E."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The title of this book is provocative and in your face, and just it was supposed to do - it drew my attention. I did not feel, however, that the book itself was all that confrontational. Whatever your persuasion, the author's overview of the apocalyptic fervor in Palastine, particularly Galilee, is helpful for understanding the time period. His account of the life of Jesus is well written, but familiar to most secularists I imagine, but the history of Christianity after the death of Christ and before the destruction of Jerusalem was not something I had heard before and I enjoyed it immensely. This book is probably best described as an overview of the politics of Palastine before, during, and after the life of Christ, and how those interactions influenced Christianity.

    I always prefer to have authors read their own work. I'm not sure what it adds, but I like it better. Good narration.

    35 of 40 people found this review helpful
  • The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Brian Christian
    • Narrated By Brian Christian
    Overall
    (291)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (174)

    The Most Human Human is a provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can "think". Named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, the Turing Test convenes a panel of judges who pose questions - ranging anywhere from celebrity gossip to moral conundrums - to hidden contestants in an attempt to discern which is human and which is a computer.

    Roy says: "A Wedding of Computer Science and Philosophy"
    "Build a better human"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have often heard speakers use humans for inspiration in their attempts to build better A.I. - this is the first time I have heard an author use A.I. as a modus for building a better human. The erudition in this book is staggering, but it is never used boastfully. Instead the ideas get layered one on the other, building an artful and logical thesis. I was particularly inspired by his comparison of chess games to daily conversation; the beginnings and the endings are largely already known, the real chess playing lies in the middle game where the personality of the player comes through. In a conversation the work and the weather are standard openings - how we get away from the standard is where the real conversation starts.

    One listen will not do for this book, I imagine I will be coming back to it many times in the years to come, as well as purchasing the hard copy in order to foist it on loved ones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (39)

    For 18 years, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith have been revolutionizing the study of politics by turning conventional wisdom on its head. They start from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don't care about the "national interest" - or even their subjects - unless they have to. This clever and accessible book shows that the difference between tyrants and democrats is just a convenient fiction.

    Charles says: "Expand the coalition"
    "Expand the coalition"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is cynical and cold, and views people as selfish and greedy with little concern for the welfare of others. I hate that I think it's correct. The thesis is straightforward: the size of of a leader's coalition largely determines his/her behavior. The examples in the book are concise and convincing, making the case so plain that I feel a little embarrassed that I had not realized what was going on before. Cold as it is, the authors do not leave us in despair as they close with practical ideas on how to make things better. This is not a reassuring read, but it is one of the most insightful I have read.

    The narration went unnoticed - which is how I like it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Sandra Day O'Connor
    • Narrated By Sandra Day O'Connor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (69)

    From Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court, comes this fascinating book about the history and evolution of the highest court in the land. Out of Order sheds light on the centuries of change and upheaval that transformed the Supreme Court from its uncertain beginnings into the remarkable institution that thrives and endures today.

    G. House Sr. says: "A Historical Account of the Supreme Court"
    "One thing after another"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is full of tidbits. Lots of short stories, easy reading with good humor. It is not a bad book, but it is not a good one either. There isn't anything linking this book together. The chapters could be read randomly and the listener wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Chapter titles are things like 'Supreme Court firsts' and 'Customs and traditions of the Court'. These are topics that really could be interesting, but somewhere along the way they just turn into a really long list. The anecdotes here would certainly be found in a good book on the history of the supreme court, but this book is not it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By John Thavis
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (126)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (111)

    For more than 25 years John Thavis held one of the most fascinating journalistic jobs in the world: reporting on the inner workings of the Vatican. His daily exposure to the power, politics, and personalities in the seat of Roman Catholicism gave him a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on an institution that is far less monolithic and unified than it first appears. Thavis reveals Vatican City as a place where Curia cardinals fight private wars, scandals threaten to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past is continually upended by the practical considerations of modern life.

    Linda says: "A neutral look at inner workings of the Vatican"
    "Behind the scenes?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Pope Benedict's resignation sparked my interest on this topic, and I got this book to help me understand what internal challenges the Catholic church is facing. It did give me a better feel for some of the personalities; my sympathy for Pope Benedict has been augmented. I did not feel, however, that any of the information was 'behind the scenes'. I felt like most of the book was less about the Vatican and more about reporting on the Catholic church. It's something of a Vatican journalist's travelogue in places. On the plus side, I felt like the author was not looking to excoriate or embarrass, and is probably even a little sympathetic to the church. In the end I am slightly less cynical about the power structure in Rome.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jared Diamond
    • Narrated By Rob Shapiro
    Overall
    (193)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (167)

    We human beings share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. Yet humans are the dominant species on the planet - having founded civilizations and religions, developed intricate and diverse forms of communication, learned science, built cities, and created breathtaking works of art - while chimps remain animals concerned primarily with the basic necessities of survival. What is it about that two percent difference in DNA that has created such a divergence between evolutionary cousins?

    Mark says: "Up to the usual high standard"
    "1992 really?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a huge Jared Diamond fan I had probably unconsciously made my mind up about this book before I read a single page. It is an older book, and that was particularly irksome to me at several points when I thought to myself "I could have learned and known all this in 1992". If you have read other works by Jared Diamond there is some overlap. The beginnings of 'Guns germs and steel" as well as 'Collapse' are here. Those ideas each get about a chapter and a half toward the end. For some that may be repetitive, but there is plenty not covered in his other other books, such as the genetics of aging and mate selection. The narration is great, nothing to distract from the book itself. Bottom line if you like Jared Diamond you won't be disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Justice

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Michael J. Sandel
    • Narrated By Michael J. Sandel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (294)
    Performance
    (123)
    Story
    (121)

    What are our obligations to others as people in a free society? Should government tax the rich to help the poor? Is the free market fair? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? Do individual rights and the common good conflict? These questions are at the core of our public life today - and at the heart of Justice, in which Michael J. Sandel shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us to make sense of politics, morality, and our own convictions as well.

    Neil Babcox says: "A very worthwhile book"
    "Dangerous"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the best books I've listened to. I love when the author reads his/her own work as in this case. The sentences always flow better than with another narrator. I thought this book was fluid and compounding. I feel like I understand my own opinions better. At least once I realized the reasons I justified an opinion were not the reasons I held the opinion in the first place. Maybe that is the danger with reading books. It is certainly a danger while reading this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sandel
    • Narrated By Michael J. Sandel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (90)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (80)

    Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?

    Kristopher says: "Great introduction to the world of ethics"
    "Challenging"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I typically think of myself as a right winger on fiscal issues. Taxes and government should as small as possible etc. I am surprised therefore to find myself really liking this book. I read it because I was so impressed with his other book (justice) I felt I needed to follow it up. I'm glad I did. I'm still probably a right winger but my thinking now comes with some caveat and nuance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Doris Kearns Goodwin
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1195)
    Performance
    (1000)
    Story
    (1025)

    On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war.

    Jeremiah Duncan says: "Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and Informative"
    "Worthy of the pulitzer."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I always get to these books late and after much fanfare. Often my expectations reach too high and I am left disappointed. Not so in this case. Like all great books I want more when finished than before I started. More histories and biographies of these men, and women,and thier time. I did not notice the narration, which I feel is the highest praise I can give to a narrator. It seemed no different than reading. With a book as long as this one is I may not have ever read it, but listening to it turned otherwise tedious and menial tasks into a pleasure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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