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Douglas

College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Auburn, WA, United States | Member Since 2008

928
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 262 reviews
  • 374 ratings
  • 770 titles in library
  • 46 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
174

  • The Closing of the American Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Allan Bloom
    • Narrated By Christopher Hurt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (126)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (43)

    In one of the most important books of our time, Allan Bloom, a professor of social thought at the University of Chicago and a noted translator of Plato and Rousseau, argues that the social and political crisis of 20th-century America is really an intellectual crisis.

    Douglas says: "VERY IMPORTANT WORK!"
    "VERY IMPORTANT WORK!"
    Overall

    Allen Bloom's THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND is monumentally important, especially in regard to its central assertion that the surface American education's first principle has for some time now been: "To avoid discrimination [particularly in regard to class, culture, race, and religion or lack thereof], one must be indescriminate in all. The one exception, and the thing to be hated, is the man who asserts otherwise." I am always just utterly amazed at how absolutely relativistic (parodox intended) 99% of my college students have become in their judgements (or rather lack of them) regarding lit and art. I push them to extremes. They will proclaim (as though programmed to say so--and Bloom says they are) that Brittney Spears "music" is every bit as good as Mozart's "for the person who hears it that way." I actually ask them if a pile of dog dung on a paper plate is as much art as Michalangelo's David, and you would not believe how many will, without a twitch, say that it is "if someone thinks it is," as though putting forth an opinion in regard to any obvious difference in quality will lead directly to the acceptance of Hitler's race policies--or, at least, they don't want to be viewed as having any "dangerous" opinions, whether or not they really have them. And this is Bloom's brilliant argument--"absolute freedom" (everything is equally good) has supplanted real freedom (the ability to say the truth or even think it). In another class, in which we study different models of morality, many students will assert with an absolute straight face (get ready!) that baby-torturing, if accepted by a given cultural as moral, would be a moral activity to take part in. What can one even say to such things?!--but Bloom saw this type of non-thinking and warned of the extremes to which it could, and would be taken.

    18 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • The Seamstress

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Sara Tuvel Bernstein, Louise Loots Thornton, Marlene Bernstein Samuels
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    Overall
    (280)
    Performance
    (253)
    Story
    (249)

    Told with the same old-fashioned narrative power as the novels of Herman Wouk, The Seamstress is the true story of Seren (Sara) Tuvel Bernstein and her survival during wartime. This powerful eyewitness account of survival, told with power and grace, will stay with listeners for years to come.

    Karen says: "Thankfully a happy ending to the nightmare"
    "Everyone Knows..."
    Overall
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    Story

    the horrible name of Auschwitz and perhaps Dachau, but fewer that of Ravensbrook, a women's prison camp with just as many terrors. This is a compelling, if matter of fact story of one woman's experience of the holocaust and prison life. A fine addition to one's WWII library.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs)
    • By Laura Hillenbrand
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10008)
    Performance
    (6083)
    Story
    (6113)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Seabiscuit was a runaway success, and Hillenbrand’s done it again with another true-life account about beating unbelievable odds. On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.....

    Anastasia Burke says: "Hillenbrand could make even laundry fascinating!"
    "Stellar!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Being a lover of horses, I was entranced by Hillenbrand's remarkably well-written "Seabiscuit," but, if it is possible, she creates an even more compelling drama with Unbroken, the story of another deep-hearted underdog who triumphs in the end. Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (5919)
    Performance
    (4283)
    Story
    (4303)

    It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist: books.

    Shannon says: "Word Thief"
    "I Know This Is The Latest Hot TIcket, But..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    despite its often soaring lyricism and high poetic qualities (which merit the four-star rating), there are clunkers and awkwardness when the author tries to push things too far. Having Death narrate the story was interesting, but it could have been more so. Death's synesthesia early in the book was a bit disjointed and didn't seem to serve much purpose other than to try to shove some kind of "mysterious feeling" on us, and then it is simply left off later on. I had to laugh out loud when Death claimed to have performed the gathering of souls "millions of times"--only millions of dead people in the entire history of humankind??? And then one has to wonder how Death has the time to take such care with each individual when there are tremendous numbers of people worldwide dying every second of every day. Yeah, I know: it's just a metaphor. But somehow, it just didn't work. And then there was the use of German. Maybe it could come off as a charming, knowing dash of cultural flare for a non-speaker, but as someone who is fluent in German, I have to say it was intrusive and often just silly. The author clearly does not speak the language, given the MINDLESS repeating of a handful of pet-phrases and the overly simplified sentences he puts in the mouths of supposedly native Germans. (The author needs a German thesaurus and grammar guide.) And then, rather than leave the choppy little bits of the Teutonic language, the author goes back and translates every single phrase of German into English for the reader! Just let readers look it up if they want or tell us once they spoke German and then give it all in English so readers don't have to go through the awkwardness of the way it is presented here. There were lots of little clumsy bits like this, and the fact that I am still giving it four stars shows how rich it is when it is going well. I suppose, in the end, The Book Thief is like another little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead: "when it is good, it is very, very good, and when it is bad, it is horrid..."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Victory

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Joseph Conrad
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    From one of the greatest modern writers in world literature comes a magnificent story of love, adventure, and rescue played out against the shimmering South Seas. Alone on a tropical island, a Swedish baron and a beautiful violinist discover the long-lost joys of love. But when two treasure hunters arrive on the beach, the lovers know that evil has invaded their romantic paradise—an evil they are powerless to stop.

    Darwin8u says: "Beautiful, sad and powerful"
    "Conrad's Masterful Storytelling..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    shines through again in this intriguing and romantic Elizabethan style tale of love and revenge. We see some of the psychological elements again in this story for which Conrad is so well known, but more in the subtle Shakespearean sense rather than the more obvious symbolism used in Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. Conrad is always reliable and this stands as one of his great novels.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Agent

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Joseph Conrad
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (10)

    This classic precursor to the modern-day spy novel was recently in headlines when it was revealed that the Unabomber drew considerable inspiration from its prophetic portrait of terrorism. Written in 1907 and set in Edwardian London, The Secret Agent resonates just as strongly in today's world, where a handful of fanatics can still play mad politics and victimize the innocent.

    Darwin8u says: "A Novel of Madness in a Time of Despair."
    "As Good As Conrad Is..."
    Overall
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    Story

    in books like Heart Of Darkness and The Secret Sharer, in ways, The Secret Agent is a better novel. This is not to take away from either of the two aforementioned classics, simply to say that Agent is more grounded and less sticky with the sometimes overladen psychological symbolism that Conrad could invoke, even in his great works. It is also a story remarkably modern, and it was cited many times after the September 11 terrorism. I cannot believe the Amazon reviewer who thought this book was "boring." I found it riveting!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Jane Velez-Mitchell
    • Narrated By Elizabeth White
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (63)

    On June 9, 2008, the butchered body of Travis Alexander was found in his Mesa, Arizona, home. The grisly nature of his death made instant headlines: With 29 knife wounds, his throat slit, and a gunshot to the head, Travis was left to die. The prime suspect in the case was Alexander's ex-girlfriend, the attractive and soft-spoken Jodi Arias. Though Arias initially said that she was nowhere near the scene of crime, little about this case was as it seemed, and before long she had been caught lying to police. As the investigation progressed, her lies evolved multiple times before finally resting on an appalling claim: She had killed Travis in self-defense.

    Tracy says: "Intriguing!"
    "Difficult Tale..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Shakespeare tells us that life is a "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing..." One could replace "idiot" with "compulsive liar" and pretty much sum up anything that ever came from the mouth of Jodi Arias. This is not the best book on a killer psychopath you are ever going to read (try Graysmith's Zodiac or Graeber's The Good Nurse), but Velaz does the best she can with this "tale told by a liar" and I simply didn't have all the complaints some of the other reviewers had. Sure, there is some bias. There is bound to be in a book like this, but it is hard to write a book about someone who misrepresents next to everything and not have to make some personal interpretation of the alleged "facts." At least Valez doesn't break her arm patting herself on the back like Amirante does in his book on Gacy.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Sam L. Amirante, Danny Broderick
    • Narrated By Robin Bloodworth
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (63)

    “Sam, could you do me a favor?” Thus begins a story that has now become part of America's true-crime hall of fame. It is a gory, grotesque tale befitting a Stephen King novel. It is also a David and Goliath saga - the story of a young lawyer fresh from the public defender's office whose first client in private practice turns out to be the worst serial killer in our nation's history. This is a gripping true crime narrative that reenacts the gruesome killings and the famous trial that shocked a nation.

    A.R. says: "Ultimately an excellent listen"
    "After Having Read Many Books On Serial Killers..."
    Overall
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    I came to the one I had been avoiding. Given the nature of his crimes, I find Gacy to be the most disgusting of the disgusting, and even thinking about what he did is not easy. This book is not easy. But it is professional, reportorial, direct. There are, mercifully, no attempts at sensationalism or inflating the importance of the unspeakable evil that was Gacy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Charles Graeber
    • Narrated By Will Collyer
    Overall
    (250)
    Performance
    (224)
    Story
    (221)

    After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.

    FanB14 says: "More Chilling than Murder?"
    "Profoundly Chilling..."
    Overall
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    Story

    If you were entranced by the style of Robert Graysmith's Zodiac or Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, you will similarly appreciate the hypnotic writing of Charles Graeber (yes, it means "gravedigger" in German) in The Good Nurse... It is easy enough to (falsely) assure yourself about most dangers in life, but what if your caregiver, outwardly diligent and trustworthy, were a cold-blooded killer, a psychopath murdering those whose bodies are made vulnerable to his supposedly healing hands? And these events were recent. Cullen was only caught in 2003. This book will do for the hospital bed what Psycho did for the shower...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Daniel Bor
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (34)

    Consciousness is our gateway to experience: it enables us to recognize Van Gogh’s starry skies, be enraptured by Beethoven’s Fifth, and stand in awe of a snowcapped mountain. Yet consciousness is subjective, personal, and famously difficult to examine: philosophers have for centuries declared this mental entity so mysterious as to be impenetrable to science. In The Ravenous Brain, neuroscientist Daniel Bor departs sharply from this historical view, and proposes a new model for how consciousness works.

    Gary says: "Effectively demystifies consciousness"
    "A Very Interesting..."
    Overall
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    exploration of the physiological elements of the deepest mystery of our existence: consciousness. This book becomes increasing interesting after reading such authors as V. Ramachandran (The Tell-Tale Brain), Jeffery Schwarz (The Mind And The Brain) and Patricia Churchland (Touching A Nerve), all of which are available on Audible as well, and which I can also highly recommend. Bor has studied deeply in philosophy and neurology and thus can bring both perspectives to this very complicated but fascinating investigation of ourselves.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: He Said/She Said: Women, Men and Language

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Deborah Tannen
    • Narrated By Deborah Tannen
    Overall
    (155)
    Performance
    (83)
    Story
    (83)

    "My goal in this series, in addition to illuminating the patterns of women's and men's uses of language, is to enhance understanding of how language works in everyday life. I am told by students who have taken my courses that this understanding helps them in their everyday lives, as every aspect of our lives involves talking to people of the other sex - in our personal relationships, our families, at work, and in trying to get just about anything done."

    R. says: "Kind of revelatory, at least for me"
    "I Have Taught The Work Of Deborah Tannen..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    for decades, and I have found her to be the most enlightening linguistic on the topic of gender and language. The wonderful thing about Tannen is that she transcends the usual feminist approach that asserts "women must learn to talk like men to succeed" because "men are verbal bullies"--and at the same time she does not go the other way and denigrate women as passive or weak in the ways they communicate. She simply demonstrates that men and women, due to both biology and culture, approach language and social interaction differently and shows the strengths and weaknesses of both.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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