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M. R. Leavitt

Lansdowne, VA USA | Member Since 2014

47
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 24 reviews
  • 172 ratings
  • 256 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2018
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  • John Adams

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By David McCullough
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    Overall
    (1451)
    Performance
    (509)
    Story
    (506)

    With the sweep and vitality of a great novel, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough presents the enthralling story of John Adams. This is history on a grand scale - an audiobook about politics, war, and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Read by History Channel host Edward Herrmann!

    Thomas says: "fantastic"
    "A must for US history buffs"
    Overall

    It's a long book, but it kept my interest to the last sentence.

    McCullough is a wonderful biographer/historian. Two of his previous books on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal were people-oriented histories; this is a history-oriented biography. It uses correspondence involving Adams, his wife Abigail, and several contemporaries who played a part in Adams's life to excellent effect. Both Adams and his wife were enthusiastic and thoughtful correspondents throughout their adult lives and McCullough knows how to mine this source to great effect.

    The book handles all of the significant controversies in Adams's public and private life, and to this non-historian, does so quite even-handedly given that the biographer seems to truly like his subject. We are shown Adams's faults, but they are overwhelmed by his many virtues; his real self shines through the often-slanderous verbal fog created by his many enemies. In today's scholarship it sometimes appears that you have to be either for Adams or for Jefferson, but McCullough admires both and refuses to be drawn into that feckless enterprise.

    It is a long book, but it could have been much longer and still held my rapt attention.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Abaddon's Gate

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By James S. A. Corey
    • Narrated By Jefferson Mays
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10229)
    Performance
    (9394)
    Story
    (9368)

    The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

    Greg says: "The worst part is waiting for book 4"
    "Great modern SF in the classic mold"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Loved the action, characters and plot (mostly}. Couldn't stop listening for the last four hours. (What's the audio equivalent of a page-turner?) The climax was a little too deus-ex-machina for my taste, but the plot supported it, so I can't complain much. And the way the ending leads to future stories is brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Graham Allison
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (260)
    Performance
    (235)
    Story
    (233)

    War with China is much more likely than anyone thinks. When Athens went to war with Sparta some 2,500 years ago, the Greek historian Thucydides identified one simple cause: A rising power threatened to displace a ruling one. As the eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains, in the past 500 years, great powers have found themselves in "Thucydides's Trap" 16 times. In 12 of the 16, the results have been catastrophic.

    Joyce U. Olewe says: "Balances, Counter-Balances and Traps"
    "Most important book on international relations"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book explains clearly why managing US-China relations is the most important and challenging task of this era of international relations. Written clearly and presented with appropriate gravitas, Allison demonstrates why he remains in the premier league of analysts.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2514)
    Performance
    (1484)
    Story
    (1471)

    Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress.

    Ethan M. says: "A mostly successful and interesting history"
    "A necessary history for understanding the world"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Before you invest your first dollar or euro - for business or retirement - you must read and understand this book. It systematically reviews the history of money and financial institutions, tells us why and how things work, and explains the systems' failures. The only problem for the reader/listener is that it's ten years old.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner
    • Narrated By Joel Richards
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2606)
    Performance
    (2246)
    Story
    (2248)

    Everyone would benefit from seeing further into the future, whether buying stocks, crafting policy, launching a new product, or simply planning the week's meals. Unfortunately, people tend to be terrible forecasters. As Wharton professor Philip Tetlock showed in a landmark 2005 study, even experts' predictions are only slightly better than chance. However, an important and underreported conclusion of that study was that some experts do have real foresight.

    Michael says: "Great for Experts"
    "Best book on people as forecasters you can read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tetlock (and Gardner) tell us what makes some people good at certain important kinds of forecasting, and what are the characteristics​ of a good forecast. These findings are based on careful and extensive observations of real people making real-world forecasts over extended periods. The book is a popularization of much serious social science research, but nonetheless it conveys the authors' findings with little ambiguity or hand-waving. If it doesn't change how you think about today's generation of pundits you probably missed the point.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unknown Universe: A New Exploration of Time, Space and Cosmology

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stuart Clark PhD
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (864)
    Performance
    (785)
    Story
    (788)

    On March 21, 2013, the European Space Agency released a map of the afterglow of the big bang. Taking in 440 sextillion kilometers of space and 13.8 billion years of time, it is physically impossible to make a better map: We will never see the early universe in more detail. On the one hand, such a view is the apotheosis of modern cosmology; on the other, it threatens to undermine almost everything we hold cosmologically sacrosanct.

    Jared says: "Engaging Update on past few years in Astrophysics"
    "What you think is good science probably isn't"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Clark has written a truly eye-opening book about how scientists actually work. Basic methodologies are called into question (such as computer modeling) as legitimate tools for advancing scientific knowledge. He broaches essential questions about specific issues in contemporary cosmology (and by inference about climate science). He illustrates his argument that falsification rather than verification is the basis for real science, with many detailed stories from the history of the physical sciences. This is a masterful tour-de-force.

    How's performance strikes the write tone to match the author's skepticism.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Bart D. Ehrman M.Div. Ph.D. Princeton Theological Seminary
    • Narrated By Professor Bart D. Ehrman M.Div. Ph.D. Princeton Theological Seminary
    Overall
    (386)
    Performance
    (344)
    Story
    (339)

    Step back to Christianity's first three centuries to see how it transitioned from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus. How did a single group from among many win the struggle for dominance to establish the beliefs central to the faith, rewrite the history of Christianity's internal conflicts, and produce a canon of sacred texts – the New Testament – that supported its own views?

    Wurm says: "An Objective History of Early Christianity"
    "Clear, accurate and concise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excellent introduction to the world of early Christianity. Thorough treatment, well delivered. Good for non-Christians and Christians as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Water Knife

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Paolo Bacigalupi
    • Narrated By Almarie Guerra
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2867)
    Performance
    (2616)
    Story
    (2611)

    In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, detective, leg breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel "cuts" water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get nothing but dust.

    Lore says: "The fight for water in a drought fueled apocalypse"
    "Good story ideas, violence for its own sake"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I couldn't finish this excessively violent book. Great plot at least through the first two-thirds, and the world created was just fascinating. Pretty good characterizations. But the scenes of torture were so unpleasant I really didn't even want to know how it came out.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Michael V. Hayden
    • Narrated By Michael V. Hayden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (958)
    Performance
    (862)
    Story
    (861)

    An unprecedented high-level master narrative of America's intelligence wars from the only person ever to helm both the CIA and NSA, at a time of heinous new threats and wrenching change. For General Michael Hayden, playing to the edge means playing so close to the line that you get chalk dust on your cleats. Otherwise, by playing back, you may protect yourself, but you will be less successful in protecting America.

    ES says: "excellent"
    "An intelligence primer for the educated citizen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Absolutely first-rate memoir from the only person to run both NSA and CIA. Cuts through the cant and hypocrisy on the big issues of today's world. A little self-justification which is to be expected in a memoir, but not excessive. Hayden is the reader also, and does it with style and high technical quality.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2241)
    Performance
    (1950)
    Story
    (1966)

    Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down.

    Ry Young says: "Perfection in story and the telling"
    "A marvelous story of history and politics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dame Hilary Mantel thoroughly deserved her Man Bookers for these books. With unique styling that the reader quickly gets used to, in this volume she tells the short and tragic history of Anne Boleyn, from the perspective of King Henry VIII's right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell. A historical fiction to be sure, but as with the best of that genre, a source of the truth of that period more memorable than a dozen biographies. The performance was letter perfect. Read these before you see the TV series if you want to make sense of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Influx

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Daniel Suarez
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6694)
    Performance
    (6150)
    Story
    (6157)

    Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they've been working toward for years: A device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics - the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel Prize. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring.

    Craig says: "Solid to Silly to Inane"
    "A SF novel in the classical tradition"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wonderful, imaginative science, almost-believable technology make Influx worth reading. Simplistic politics and economics, boring characters, and an incredible plot are merely impediments to be surmounted. The number of eye-rolling moments was greatly surpassed by eye-popping ones. Suarez has done better, but if you like this kind of thing, you'll certainly like this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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