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Derek

Enthusiast

Member Since 2009

4
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 56 ratings
  • 431 titles in library
  • 18 purchased in 2014
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  • A Canticle for Leibowitz

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Walter M. Miller
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    Overall
    (862)
    Performance
    (757)
    Story
    (763)

    Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of 20th-century literature—a chilling and still-provocative look at a postapocalyptic future.

    Joel D Offenberg says: "A Classic"
    "Apocalypse Then"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I never got to the point where I was able to completely ignore the writing and go with the story. Until the final third.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Max Blumenthal
    • Narrated By Paul Michael Garcia
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (36)

    In Goliath, New York Times best-selling author Max Blumenthal takes us on a journey through the badlands and high roads of Israel-Palestine, painting a startling portrait of Israeli society under the siege of increasingly authoritarian politics as the occupation of the Palestinians deepens. Beginning with the national elections carried out during Israel's war on Gaza in 2008/9, which brought into power the country's most right-wing government to date, Blumenthal tells the story of Israel in the wake of the collapse of the Oslo peace process.

    William says: "The truth is rarely pretty"
    "Highly recommended for topicality"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This does the annoying thing that modern journalism books seem to require: provide first person narratives of events meant to be scary/perilous and assume the anecdotes provide context for various points the author is trying to make. That stuff seldom works. Here I rarely felt there was any true danger to the writer and, to the extent there seems to be some danger, it's been manufactured with some craftily deployed hyperbole.

    This is a minor complaint though. Blumenthal keeps that stuff limited (feels like an editor/agent told him, "well it's gotta have at least five journalist in peril scenes or we can't sell it") preferring to focus on illuminating facts about Israel's creation, occupation and politics that many who rely on Western media for info will no doubt find shocking/enraging. And even if you do know a lot about those things, Blumenthal's presentation is still good at engaging the reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate's Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By James Higdon
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    In the summer of 1987, Johnny Boone set out to grow and harvest one of the greatest outdoor marijuana crops in modern times. In doing so, he set into motion a series of events that defined him and his associatesas the largest homegrown marijuana syndicate in American history, also known as the Cornbread Mafia. Author James Higdon takes listeners back to the 1970s and ‘80s and the clash between federal and local law enforcement and a band of Kentucky farmers.

    Derek says: "Mixed bag, but ultimately worth a credit"
    "Mixed bag, but ultimately worth a credit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, this is an interesting book and I liked it. Second, I could never produce something on a par with it and I respect the effort and diligence that went into its creation. However, I do have a few criticisms. I found that I enjoyed the portions that were based on actual records better than the stuff that's reported from one-on-one interviews with the "hillbillies" who produced all that Kentucky grass. The author is perhaps a bit too credulous when relating some of the stories he was told by these folks. OTOH, the solid straight reporting in much of the book balances those stories with enough facts that the stories are still fun to read, if not exactly "according to Hoyle" journalism.

    My larger gripe is the author's insertion of his own book creation/subpeona to testify story near the end of the book. I found this part unnecessary and a little too self-satisfied for my taste (the Obama '08 stuff looks particularly naive in light of the way his presidency has, IMO predictably, played out). But again there is a shorter sort of coda that takes well-earned shots at a trigger happy US Marshall with some solid reporting to balance that excess. This shorter end portion, although also self-referential, works much better. It even includes a final sentence that provides a more level-headed assessment of the possibility that Obama's 2008 election would result in any positive developments in our absolutely insane war on drugs.

    Finally, I listened to the audiobook version and the narration was clear and easy to follow. Unfortunately, the narrator was clearly unfamiliar with the regional pronunciations of central Kentucky while I am not. This didn't ruin anything about the book, but each appearance of, for instance, "Lebanon" or "Courier-Journal" produced a slight self-referential smirk from this Hardin County guy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Catch-22

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joseph Heller
    • Narrated By Jay O. Sanders
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2045)
    Performance
    (1111)
    Story
    (1124)

    Catch-22 is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever, even if he has to die in the attempt.)

    Phil says: "Phenominal Reading - Story and Damn Funny"
    "Not My Bag"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A bit too much wordplay. Though I'll give credit to the chapter in the middle about Milo Minderbinder needing an Egyptian cotton bailout from the government in order to honor the sanctity of contracts. It was prescient. The Yossarian joke to Milo about how Milo needs to argue that "ensuring there's a market for Egyptian cotton speculators to speculate in is crucial to national security" has basically been adopted by today's Fed & its open discount window.

    As far as the audio goes, the narrator's General Peckham is a spot-on George W. Bush impression, so there's that. I guess.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Herzog

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Saul Bellow
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (135)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (90)

    Winner of the National Book Award when it was first published in 1964, Herzog traces five days in the life of a failed academic whose wife has recently left him for his best friend. Through the device of letter writing, Herzog movingly portrays both the internal life of its eponymous hero and the complexity of modern consciousness.

    Chris Reich says: "Grows Within You"
    "Unique Voice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Moses Herzog is a unique literary voice. I think I prefer Frank Bascombe, but you can't go wrong here.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Futures: The Rise of the Speculator and the Origins of the World's Biggest Markets

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Emily Lambert
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    In The Futures, Emily Lambert, senior writer at Forbes magazine, tells us the rich and dramatic history of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade, which together comprised the original, most bustling futures market in the world. She details the emergence of the futures business as a kind of meeting place for gamblers and farmers and its subsequent transformation into a sophisticated electronic market where contracts are traded at lightning-fast speeds.

    PHIL says: "Great concept, but falls short"
    "Should've Listened To A & P Instead"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not what I was looking for. There's nothing technical in here. Instead, it's an occasionally stimulating history of various futures markets (focusing on Chicago and traders) but since that's not what I wanted, I kind of wish I would've read that history of the A & P grocery stores.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Old Filth

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Jane Gardam
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcom
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (431)
    Performance
    (341)
    Story
    (333)

    FILTH is a lawyer with a practice in the Far East. A few remember that his nickname stands for Failed In London Try Hong Kong. But Old Filth is not as pompous as people imagine, and his past contains many secrets and dark hiding places.

    Michele says: "A Great Read, matched by a Great Reader"
    "Wrong Medium For Me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wish I had read this instead of listening to it. There were a few too many characters (some called different names either at different times, or by different people) and a few too many time shifts for me to be certain I got all I could've by listening to the audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Cormac McCarthy
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1199)
    Performance
    (665)
    Story
    (667)

    Author of the National Book Award-winning All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy is one of the most provocative American stylists to emerge in the last century. The striking novel Blood Meridian offers an unflinching narrative of the brutality that accompanied the push west on the 1850s Texas frontier.

    Chris says: "Bleak but Fascinating"
    "Indian wars fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have a thing for McCarthy, but that was bleak. I need let it sit with me awhile.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Art of Fielding: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs)
    • By Chad Harbach
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1172)
    Performance
    (983)
    Story
    (986)

    At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

    S. says: "Not Quite ~"
    "Well earned praise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had some problems with the ending. Implausibility mixed with abruptness kind of took me out of the bliss the book was generating. I won't mention specifics b/c it's not so bad that it ruins anything, so why spoil anything with specifics? And I'd hate to encourage this guy to extend his twelve years of effort to fifteen just to get an ending that I would love (yeah, I read the Vanity Fair story, who didn't?).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Empire of the Summer Moon

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By S. C. Gwynne
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    Overall
    (1058)
    Performance
    (673)
    Story
    (689)

    Few people realize that the Comanche Indians were the greatest warring tribe in American history. Their 40-year battle with settlers held up the development of the new nation. Empire of the Summer Moon tells of the rise and fall of this fierce, powerful, and proud tribe, and begins in 1836 with the kidnapping of a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower blue eyes named Cynthia Ann Parker.

    John says: "Quannah Parker"
    "Truth is bloodier than 'Blood Meridian' fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Doesn't soft pedal the actions of the Comanche/Indian the way some native peoples books tend to do and I don't hold that against the book. On the other hand, Gwynne may go a little overboard with his vivid descriptions (parts of this book make Blood Meridian look like a Little Golden Book) of Indian depredations.

    Though, to be fair, those descriptions aren't entirely free of context and the author usually gives fair accounts of white atrocities as well. Although I do recall a part, possibly the Sand Creek part, where he writes something like, "the less said about certain army war crimes, the better," or some equally ridiculous statement given his willingness to discuss every white account of Indian crimes in excruciating detail. On the other other hand, shortly after the "less said, the better" statement, he goes on to actually list a bunch of the army atrocities because, I think, he's really interested in the blood and gore stuff of the plains and the Indian wars on both sides.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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