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Member Since 2014

  • 26 reviews
  • 116 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 43 purchased in 2015

  • The Modern Scholar: The Anglo-Saxon World

    • ORIGINAL (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Michael D. C. Drout
    • Narrated By Michael D. C. Drout

    Had the Angles and Saxons not purposefully migrated to the isles of the Britons and brought with them their already-well-developed use of language, Angelina Jolie may never have appeared in the movie Beowulf. Professor Michael D.C. Drout is at his best when lecturing on the fascinating history, language, and societal adaptations of the Anglo-Saxons.

    Matthew says: "Amazingly good"
    "Amazingly good"

    I came to this Lecture reluctantly. I have been very disappointed by other "Modern Scholar Courses" finding them either superficial, intellectually or academically sloppy, or mediocre at best. Also I had no enthusiasm for the subject. The introduction did not help, making it seem like more of the same...

    BUT, this was a truly fascinating and wonderful read. The prof is amazing. He is as academically rigorous as I could wish and he teaches his subject in a very complex yet engaging way. His work is easy to follow and very interesting despite delving very deep into many academic debates.

    I STRONGLY recommend this course to anyone from late High School on through PhD level. This is just well done scholarship in a very interesting way. The first and last lectures are not great but the stuff in between is phenomenal. I now want to learn much more on this subject.

    Again, this is not how I have viewed other Modern Scholar productions which I have been profoundly disappointed with. This absolutely worth the time and money.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • Art of War

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Niccolo Machiavelli
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine

    Niccolo Machiavelli's Art of War is one of the world's great classics of military and political theory. Praised by the finest military minds in history and said to have influenced no lesser lights than Frederick the Great and Napoleon, the Art of War is essential for anyone who wants to understand the history and theory of war in the West and for those familiar with The Prince and Discourse on Livy who seek to explore more fully the connection between war and politics in Machiavelli's thought.

    Jeff says: "intriguing ,but not as relevant as The Prince"
    "Great Book, Lousey Narration, Silly Editors Note"

    This is one of the classics of military science. It is dramatically underrated and unappreciated by most. As a book it is a wonderful source of information and history. For those reasons it is worth listening to. I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Anyone interested in pre-20th Century Military History SHOULD read this book.

    But the narration and the edition are poor at best. The narrator was confronted with a problem, the book is in the form of a dialog between a hardened veteran and a number of neophytes. Unfortunately he decided to exaggerate the difference so that the veteran is narrated in a really gruff voice that is so odd that it makes it hard to listen to. The other problem is that the translators essays are silly. They are in fact both irrelevant and really rather bizarre.

    In sum: The book - 5 stars; the narration 3 stars; the editor's notes and essays - 1 star at best. Since one can always skip the editors notes, I have averaged it to 4 stars.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Guide to Wine

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Julian Curry
    • Narrated By Julian Curry

    Actor and wine expert Julian Curry has devised a unique audiobook guide to wine. The whole subject is introduced and explained – how wine is made, the different grapes, the different blends, vintages, wine-growing areas and types. In an entertaining and informal style, he also teaches how to taste wine, and how to choose and store it.

    Laurence says: "Comprehensive overview"
    "The single best wine guide out there"

    This is definitely the best wine guide out there. The author is knowledgeable, clear, and clearly enjoys his work.

    The topic is laid out in a clear and engaging style which is ideal for both the novice and the expert. It is a very good education on the subject. It starts with the process of wine-making from the vineyard to the store and then discusses varietals and regions. A WONDERFUL AUDIBLE PURCHASE.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Beginner's Guide into the World of Wine

    • UNABRIDGED (31 mins)
    • By John Radford

    Wine expert and broadcaster, John Radford, shows you the basics of wine. Also discover why there's a large markup on wine, and also sample the delights of Bulgarian wine. Also join John on an amusing journey to find a pink elephant! Entertaining and informative - a must for anyone wanting to know the first thing about wine.

    Sarah says: "Doesn't teach you much about wine"
    "Rather useless."

    First, they seem to have selected a nearly random selection of things to discuss. Rieslings, Chardonnays, and then Bulgarian wine. His descriptions are not terribly useful or comprehensible (comparing a good riesling to petrol?). Skip this. It is simply not worth the time. It does not provide enough data for the expert or a useful structure for the beginner.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil's Advocates

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Michael S. Lief, H. Mitchell Caldwell
    • Narrated By Gabrielle De Cuir, Stephen Hoye, Stefan Rudnicki, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Devil's Advocates shows us the crimes and trials that have captivated the public, cases that illuminate the underlying principles of the American criminal-justice system.

    B. Riddick says: "Excellent Book even if you aren't a lawyer"
    "Terribly uneven and inconsistant."

    I really enjoyed the first two cases and thought I had found a really great book... then it went off a cliff.

    The book looks at famous or significant closing statements and the cases in which they played a significant role. Unfortunately, the treatment of the third case, Weaver's murder charge for the killing of a Federal Marshal at Ruby Ridge, was so one-sided and skewed as to call into question the entire book.

    Due to space limitations, I can only cite two examples of the bias and spin that really poisoned that chapter. First, the authors use of language was deliberately designed to obscure the facts particularly by using "passive voice" to hide who committed an act when it not favorable to their agenda. In one example the authors stated that that the Branch Dividians at Wako TX "were dead by the end of the [federal assault]" strongly implying that the Federal govt killed them. However, it is well established they were dead before the assault, most killed by fellow cult members. Another case was the lengths they went to to explain that Randy Weaver was not a white supremacist. Apparently, despite the fact that he attended Arrian Nation meetings, wore a swastika, and his daughter called black children "N----s", he was not a racist. They explain that he does not believe that whites are superior to blacks, only that they should live separately... they do not mention that he believes that this means that all African-Americans (and every other minority for that matter) should be expelled from America. These are just two examples of any number of obscurantist and slanted bits of writing found in that chapter.

    The rest of the book seems alright and even interesting and insightful. The problem is that having such a blatantly biased and one-sided treatment casts the whole book into doubt. I cannot trust even the portions that seem balanced after that chapter.

    7 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Stonehenge

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Bernard Cornwell
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Stonehenge is the tale of three brothers and of their rivalry, which results in the building of the great temple. This novel examines the mystery of who built Britain's greatest prehistoric monument - and why.

    Matthew says: "3 and 1/2 stars. Good but lost focus..."
    "3 and 1/2 stars. Good but lost focus..."

    This audio book covers decades of time and is a very vivid and interesting imagination of how Bronze-Age Brittan might have been. It is classic Cornwall and in some ways includes some of his better writing. Unfortunately, probably because of the scope of the work, it looses focus and gets rather lost at times. Significant points of the plot or obstacles come and go without major ramifications while others become wildly important. This book really should have been a trilogy. That would have allowed the author to more fully develop his plot points, handle the passage of time more effectively and avoid the books major flaw: repetition. After a while the book got amazingly repetitious. I found myself tuning out for whole portions without loosing much.

    In sum- The good: Charactors were interesting and the setting and society of prehistoric Brittan is VERY evocative and quite interesting. Narration and sound quality was very good.
    Action was good and interesting. Unlike just about everything else by this author action did not drive the plot.

    The bad- Plot could not sustain the length. Too many false endings and too many major challenges more or less brushed aside.

    I can recommend this book but suspect that (unlike any other book I have reviewed) that a good abridgment might do just as well.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Warlock: A Novel of Ancient Egypt

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Wilbur Smith
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    After the death of his beloved Queen Lostris, Taita retreats into the forbidding deserts of North Africa to become a hermit. He devotes himself to the study of the occult and, armed with extraordinary powers, he gradually transforms himself into a warlock. After years of study, he discovers the divine purpose of his bereavement when he is called upon to save the dynasty of Lostris from the clouds of evil that loom over Egypt.

    Matthew says: "Poor sequel"
    "Poor sequel"

    I tend to cut sequels a lot of slack. Sequels are hard... particularly when the author clearly did not intend to write one from the start and did not leave much room for one.

    That said, this sequel was just awful. The character who we know and love from River God is a self referencing caricature. The plot is more or less more of the same and the narrative style is weak. The plot does not really hold together and whole chapters could have been dispensed with as they did not advance the plot.

    While I thought the first book was an interesting listen, this was an unworthy successor.

    That said. I seem to be in the firm minority. Most other people who left ratings for this book rated it very highly. It is possible that I am missing something or just did not enjoy the original book enough. This gives me pause and suggests that you seek out other reviews to see if there is another side that I did not appreciate.

    The narration and sound-quality were completely unexceptionable.

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By John R. Hale
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The navy created by the people of Athens in ancient Greece was one of the finest fighting forces in the history of the world and the model for all other national navies to come. The Athenian navy built a civilization, empowered the world's first democracy, and led a band of ordinary citizens on a voyage of discovery that altered the course of history.

    Matthew says: "Sound narrative history"
    "Sound narrative history"

    This is a rather detailed history of Athens focusing on its navy. The writing style is clear, engaging, and very accessible. However, the book suffers from a narrative format that involves a lot a rehashing of topics and history. The author’s thesis is that because the class of men who manned the Athenian navy were lower in status than the hoplites or horsemen who formed the backbone of the army, as the navy increased in power so did the democratic element in relation to the oligarchic element in society. This was reinforced as maintaining a navy involved a great deal of expenditure flowing largely into the pockets of the working class artisans and laborers thus increasing their lot. However, these expenses forced Athens into a program of imperial expansion. The author backs this up with ample evidence from a number of primary sources including some quite creative use of Athenian drama. There is very little to fault in his historical method save perhaps one or two factual
    While this is an excellent book it has two flaws. The first is that its narrative format leads to a long series of admirals, battles, and dates. After a while the whole thing becomes a little tedious, especially if you are familiar with the history. If you have not read Herodotus or Thucydides then you may ignore the following: Long stretches of the book are just retellings of one or two ancient sources. I cannot blame him for this because often that is all we have to go on. However, one might as well read the original sources at that point.
    Despite these flaws, this is a closely reasoned and well supported piece of narrative history that I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who has not already studied the subject in great depth (those will find little new). I would also suggest Kagan’s Peloponnesian War; any of the earlier works by Victor Davis Hansen; and of course the primary sources Heroditus and Thucydides.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil's Garden

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Ralph Peters
    • Narrated By Edward Lewis

    The activist daughter of a U.S. senator has been kidnapped, vanishing into the dark heart of a lawless, oil-rich nation. Her fate has become the concern of governments and multinational corporations jockeying for power in the area. But only one American, Lt. Col. Evan Burton, has the courage and the local experience to track down Kelly Trost.

    Matthew says: "A good listen, fun and with a good dose of reality"
    "A good listen, fun and with a good dose of reality"

    This is an interesting, fun, but rather over-written piece of adventure/political thriller with a healthy dose of realism mixed in.

    Flaws first: The work is not polished. The plot is spasmodic and some scenes are drawn out to a painful and unnecessary length while others which I would have love to have seen expanded upon (particularly the ending) are glossed over or skipped altogether. Also, the author has not yet met a clich? or a good one-liner he hasn' liked. The work is so packed with them that you will either love it or hate it. The book is a little dated. It was written in the mid-1990s and is a product of its time. Later events have stripped the book of a "ripped from the headlines"; feel. It now feels like a period piece.

    The narration is adequate but not great. Some accents are decidedly weird (Azeris with German accents). Recording quality was par for the course for the 1990s.

    Now for the good: While, I have read most the Non-fiction that the Author has written (not yet on Audible), I have not yet read his latest -published last year- where he describes his time as a FSO assigned to the Caucasus (the same position as protagonist). The author is a strategic genius with incredible insights into culture and American policy. This means that the author has been there and done that. He knows of what he writes, unlike most other authors. This piece of fiction was written in an engaging manner and makes me want to now read his non-fiction on the work. Just repeat to yourself "this was written pre-9.11." That will explain away some of flaws of the text (why it feels outmoded) and at the same time demonstrate a bit of genius of the author who understood what we all needed several more years to become obvious.

    I recommend this book to anyone who likes the genre. It outclasses anything Clancy has produced recently and is well worth the read despite being outpaced by history

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    This compellingly written history presents a fresh, new view of the events that led from the first foreign salute to American nationhood in 1776 to the last campaign of the Revolution five years later. It paints a magnificent portrait of General George Washington and recounts in riveting detail the events responsible for the birth of our nation.

    Matthew says: "A brilliant classic"
    "A brilliant classic"

    Before I start my review I have to say that I have loved the works of Tuchman since Highschool and owned this same work by the same narrator (on audio tape) for years. It seems that no sooner than I go out and buy a converter to convert my tapes into MP3 than Audible comes out with this ;-).

    This is Tuchman's history of the American revolution focusing on the naval aspects. It is an excellent and interesting take on the revolution from an interesting perspective. Tuchman is attracted to the Irrational in Human Affairs and finds much fodder for her interest in the actions of the British during the revolution. This leads her to indulge in sweeping statements of human nature and political philosophy which get a little tedious. She also indulges her tendency to tangential anecdote including a complete history of the Dutch war of independence from Spain and an in depth review of the careers of many actors going back decades before the events at the center of her book. However, this is forgivable as her analysis is interesting, clear, and generally logical. Also, the writing style is brilliant and engaging.

    The narration by Nadia May is exceptional (that said, some people do not like her voice -a love it or hate it sort of thing so try the sample). She is clear and easy to understand with very good inflection.

    While this is not the best of Tuchman, it is brilliant and interesting and well worth the listening. I can recommend it to anyone with an interest in Naval History, The American Revolution, or European History. The book is good for most reading levels from seniors in high-school on up.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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