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Michael

NAPERVILLE, IL, United States | Member Since 2005

98
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 25 reviews
  • 456 ratings
  • 585 titles in library
  • 29 purchased in 2014
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  • Moonwalking with Einstein

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Joshua Foer
    • Narrated By Mike Chamberlain
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1499)
    Performance
    (1019)
    Story
    (1015)

    Foer's unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives. On average, people squander forty days annually compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people. But after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget.

    Christopher says: "Got the Ball Rolling"
    "Historically proven methods that work"
    Overall

    I love his style of writing...fun and chatty. Nice introductory chapters and a technique I learned while listening on the train (for half an hour) that allowed me to come home and impress my kids by having them write down a 50-digit number and then me recalling it digit-by-digit in order for them after studying it for 10 minutes.

    I never thought about it before, but the book points out that before pen and paper, anything that needed to be preserved had to be memorized. That is why so many of the techniques mentioned in the book are from antiquity and continue to stand the test of time.

    The mind likes sequential memories. Memories that are stored as part of a story that are made as multi-sensorial in the mind as possible are easily recalled. After finishing the book and applying some of the techniques, I can attest to the fact that my mind does operate in this fashion. Once a memory association is started vast amounts of information can be easily stored and retrieved. It is like knocking over the first domino in a series. They just lead into the next thought, which leads into the next. I was amazed how effortless it becomes once you get going.

    The book also chronicles the author???s story of covering both the U.S. and world memory championships as a journalist that ultimately led to his own appearance in the tournament one year later. No spoilers here regarding how he did.

    His story, the history of memory, and how to apply some of these memory methods make for an enjoyable book with practical applications in your daily life. I have been inspired to see how big of a memory athlete I too can become. Highly recommend.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • The Rosie Project: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Graeme Simsion
    • Narrated By Dan O'Grady
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1598)
    Performance
    (1462)
    Story
    (1460)

    Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a "wonderful" husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical - most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent - and on a quest of her own....

    Margaret says: "A fun listen"
    "In My Narration Hall of Fame"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first thing that jumps out at me in this book is the narration by Dan O’Grady. As David Aaron Baker is to the Odd Thomas series and Davina Porter is to Claire Randall Frazier in the Outlander series, Dan O’Grady is Don Tillman here. Each of their performances in these books is fantastic, outstanding; there can be no other for these books, good. I mention the narration first because even before the story blooms, their efforts have already captivated me. There are few, if any, narrators I dislike and feel for the most part, all do excellent, professional work. However, the combination of an extraordinary story with a narrator that brings that story to life by truly becoming that character is a rare thing. So, I am very excited to add Dan O’Grady’s performance to the aforementioned short list in my newly created Narration Hall of Fame !

    Did I mention how great the narration was?

    For those of you familiar with the television series The Big Bang Theory, this book will remind you a lot of the socially challenged, Sheldon Cooper character. In this case, Don Tillman, like Sheldon, exhibits many of the classical Asperger’s symptoms. They even have similar occupations, Sheldon the theoretical physicist and Don, the geneticist. The story line revolves around Don wanting to find a partner, which he refers to as the “wife project”. As you can imagine, he undertakes a rigorous scientific approach to this task - - as you would expect someone with this personality trait would do. In light of the book trailer tagline, the art of love is never science , you can envisage the outcome.

    I have to admit, I found many similarities to myself in this character. Not to that severe degree, but I could easily become like Don (who is a little less extreme than Sheldon) if I were to allow myself to (take a look at my profile to understand). Therefore, I am encouraging my wife to read this one and am very curious as to her reaction and opinion. I am eagerly anticipating the sequel to be released in September 2014. This is an outstanding romantic comedy that will appeal to all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Jay Barbree
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Much has been written about Neil Armstrong, America's modern hero and history's most famous space traveler. Yet, shy of fame and never one to steal the spotlight, Armstrong was always reluctant to discuss his personal side of events. Here for the first time is the definitive story of Neil's life of flight he shared for five decades with a trusted friend - Jay Barbree.

    Brenda says: "Best book I've read in years!"
    "A Profound Personal Impact"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Nothing influenced my life more than the early NASA programs, especially the Apollo missions. I still remember myself as a young 8-year-old, watching the moon landing along with the rest of the world. I was the perfect age upon which this historic event would ensure maximum impact.

    A fond memory is going outside with my Dad and looking up at the moon and wondering if we could see the light from the craft circling the moon while Neil and Buzz where on the surface. I was in awe. Surprisingly, these events did not inspire me to be an astronaut but rather the awe of the universe sparked my curiosity and desire to become an astronomer.

    Even at eight years old, I was voraciously reading every astronomy book in the adult section of the library. I memorized planetary data like sport stats on my baseball cards. I subscribed to Sky & Telescope magazine to keep appraised of the latest news in the space program and astronomy news in general.

    The following year, for my 9th birthday, I received the best birthday gift of my life—a telescope. I cried. I wanted that more than Ralphie in the movie, A Christmas Story, wanted his Red Ryder BB gun. I used that thing at every opportunity to check out the universe and witness astronomical events no matter the time of day. I was ecstatic. I was gaining astronomical knowledge and I had the tools. I was on my way to becoming an astronomer!

    Time passed and I eagerly awaited my time until I could go to high school to learn more about astronomy and take physics sophomore year. I knew physics was required for an astronomer and was already looking at colleges to see where I might like to go to get my degree. Life was good.

    Then came sophomore year and physics; followed by the end of my dream. I had always been an “A” student except when it came to physics and geometry. I could not grasp working with vectors in physics nor theorems in geometry. While doing well in all other classes, I barely passed these two. I was defeated. If I could not handle high school level courses related to my dream, how could I expect to excel in those courses in college?

    In hindsight, I believe I gave up too early and should have attempted it again in college, but what did I know? I still view being an astronomer as my dream job but don’t get me wrong; my life has turned out pretty darn good. I have a wonderful, healthy family and we are happy and comfortable. I have upgraded my telescope over the years and have maintained my passion for astronomy. Today I am among other things, a husband, father, son, brother, and. . . amateur astronomer.

    Don’t know why I wrote all this. Not your typical review or commentary but it was cathartic. Reading this book made all these wonderful memories come flooding back and that’s the impact of the book upon me. So, I suppose I just want to thank America and NASA for all the wonderful things they did in helping shape this former little boy’s life.

    Good luck, Mr. Gorsky!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jerusalem: The Biography

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Simon Sebag Montefiore
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (156)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (133)

    Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence. This is how Jerusalem became Jerusalem, and the only city that exists twice - in heaven and on earth.

    Ethan M. says: "In-depth and gripping history of 3,000 years"
    "Two Reviews For the Price of One!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Two distinct ideas came to mind as I listened to this one. Since I could not weave them into one coherent treatise I thought I’d share them both.

    Commentary #1
    - If you like John Lee as a narrator, this book is possibly for you.
    - If you like your history dense, this book is probably for you.
    - If you wonder why this area continues to be so f*ed up, this book is likely for you.

    Sadly, Jerusalem’s history has been determined by dynamite, sword, and blood. It’s violent past has earned it the moniker, “The maim, rape, and pillage capital of the world”.

    SO,. . .

    - If you like beheadings, heads on poles, heads on gates, or mutilated bodies left rotting on the ground for years and/or enjoy the putrid odor as a result this book is for you.

    - If you like eviscerations, bisections, slow dismemberments starting with fingers and toes and working your way through the body joint-by-joint, or dismemberments of noses, ears, hands, etc., for punishment, this book is for you.

    - If you like hangings, garroting, fingernail pulling, or heads crushed in vices, this book is for you.

    - If you like eye gouging, hacking of bodies until they are no longer recognizable as human and then kabobed, this book is for you.

    - If you enjoy torture such as being forced to drink molten gold, or suicide bombings this book is for you.

    I don’t know if it was the author’s intent but I interpret the overriding theme to be the historic brutal violence of this place. I had known of the Crusades and assumed there were military battles but never imagined the sickening degree of violence. It reminds me a quote from William Wilberforce (an English social reformer and abolitionist) that I referenced in my review of The Slave Ship, that sums it all up for me, “So much misery condensed in so little room is more than the human imagination has ever before conceived.”

    Commentary #2
    (George Burns speaking as God) “What in my name have you done? Yeah, you! I’m talking to all of you. Christians. Muslims. Jews. Arabs. Europeans. Palestinians. You know who you are. You, who invoke my name. This disgusting, vile, abhorrent behavior has gone on for over 2,000 years and must stop. What’s wrong with you people? Did you lose or misunderstand the tablets I sent down regarding your expected behavior? I have granted you dominion over all my creations and in return I ask you to follow 10 simple rules. Is that really too much to ask?

    As your Father, I try to be understanding and patient. And, like a father, I am sometimes forced to discipline. Remember, the 40 days/nights of rain? Sodom and Gomorrah? The plagues of Egypt? How soon children forget. But, be forewarned! Know that I’m watching. Learn to play nice with the other children and stop justifying your actions in my name. I am a God of peace and love. Don’t make me bring all of you up here for your personal judgment. If that happens, let’s just assume I won’t be in a good mood.”

    As-salamu alaykum. Shalom Aleychem. Peace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Statues That Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Terry Hunt, Carl Lipo
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (260)
    Performance
    (223)
    Story
    (223)

    The monumental statues of Easter Island, both so magisterial and so forlorn, gazing out in their imposing rows over the island’s barren landscape, have been the source of great mystery ever since the island was first discovered by Europeans on Easter Sunday 1722. How could the ancient people who inhabited this tiny speck of land, the most remote in the vast expanse of the Pacific islands, have built such monumental works?

    C. Telfair says: "Love Those Mysterious Islands!"
    "No More Mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Easter Island was always a mysterious place I've wanted to see. Now that I'm getting older, it is officially a bucket list item. While still an exotic destination, this book has taken all the mystery away. Everything (the statues, the people, the deforestation) solved. Great to read about and glad to finally have answers but while all very interesting it lessens the appeal of one of my favorite places. A little mystery is good.

    I don't have too much to say on this one without spoiling it, so I will sum it up with a quote from Commander Barclay of the HMS Topaz from the book. It is regarding the consequence of Europeans arriving on the shores of Easter Island.

    "It is a sad fact that in these islands as in North America, wherever the white man establishes himself, the aborigines perish."

    No matter how benign their intent, makes me wonder what would happen to us should aliens ever come to Earth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ready Player One

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ernest Cline
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    Overall
    (10675)
    Performance
    (9941)
    Story
    (9945)

    At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

    Travis says: "ADD TO CART, POWER UP +10000"
    "Miss the characters already"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like books that leave you with that bittersweet ending - glad to have reached the end but sad to know you’ll be leaving the characters you love behind - this one is for you.

    I loved this book! The references to the 80’s were fun and brought back some great memories from my earlier years. This is one of those few books that I thought about constantly when I was not listening to Wil Wheaton reading to me. I could not wait to commute to and from work. I could not wait to do my chores around the house. I could not wait to get back to this book. Even though I don’t listen to audiobooks before bed (I prefer to just read at that time), I would still find my last thoughts of the day drifting to the characters in this book rather than the typical stresses of everyday living.

    This was my first experience with Wil Wheaton as a narrator and I was very impressed. I would highly recommend him as he is now one of my favorite readers.

    Great story, great nostalgia, and great narration all add up to a great feel good story – yet I’m sad to have finished it. :-(

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Susan Cain
    • Narrated By Kathe Mazur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3979)
    Performance
    (3425)
    Story
    (3402)

    At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

    Teddy says: "Thought provoking and Uplifting.... A++++++++!!!!!"
    "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What an affirmation! While listening to this book, I was constantly reminded of Al Franken’s Saturday Night Live character, Stuart Smalley, and his mantra, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Well, those who understand me do. Full disclosure, according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I’m an ISFJ.

    There were so many points of affirmation for me—things I intuitively knew. Things I’ve tried to share with others mostly to no avail. This book supplies all the data I need to support my case. Unfortunately, I don’t think the people who need to read/listen this book (extroverts) will.

    The book is not an “introverts are superior” diatribe but rather an explanation of how we can leverage personality types most effectively. There is no right or best personality type but like life in general, we need to understand each other for more harmonious relationships. Whether these relationships are family, work, or social, applications of understanding are documented throughout the book.

    There was one example in the book that hit particularly close to home. Although SAT or IQ scores do not support it, people who talk more are perceived as leaders. And, which personality type talks more? Extroverts. Now, assume that both extroverts and introverts have an equal amount of good ideas. Who is going to get their way more? Extroverts. This could be dangerous because they’re going to get their way more meaning that many of their bad ideas are also going to be implemented.

    Oh, another thing I intuitively knew but now have support for is brainstorming sessions. Studies show the larger the number of people involved in a session, the less effective they are. A 9-member group is less effective than a 6-member group which is less than effective than a 4-member group which is less effective than a 2-member group. The suggestion is to conduct brainstorming sessions electronically. Collect comments and then share them anonymously and build from there. One of the reasons is that most introverts are better writers than speakers.

    Other examples from the business world give tips for how both introverted and extroverted leaders can best work with their subordinates of each type. Take advantage of each of their strengths. Such as how studies show that introverts “inspect” and extroverts “react”. Neither adjective should be taken as derogatory but instead as strengths. Allow introverts time to examine and solve. Studies show they are more persistent trying to solve unsolvable problems. The famous introvert, Albert Einstein said, “It is not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” My hero.

    A final word on the narration—fantastic. Please listen to rather than read this book. Kathe Mazur does a perfect narration in a “Quiet”, calm, soothing voice. Very appropriate “in a noisy world that can’t stop talking”.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Symbol

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9023)
    Performance
    (3250)
    Story
    (3327)

    Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol. Within minutes of his arrival, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object is discovered in the Capitol Building. The object is an ancient invitation, meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of hidden esoteric wisdom. And when Langdon's mentor is kidnapped, Langdon's only hope of saving him is to accept this invitation and follow wherever it leads him.

    Frank says: "Not his best"
    "Don't understand haters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don’t get all the haters of the Dan Brown books. Are you really going in with the expectation that these books are going to be award-winning, works of art? If so, do you critique every book you read with that same expectation? It would be a pity if you did.

    Like movies, I don’t expect every one I watch to be an Academy Award winner. If I did, that would certainly narrow the number of films I’d see. No, I go to be entertained (whatever that may mean on any particular day). That’s the way I look at the books I read, particularly fiction and I think Dan Brown’s books are very entertaining. They are a fictional escape.

    We’ve all seen the stats that show how few books Americans are reading these days (present company excluded) and I think these types of books are an excellent way to get the masses to pick up, read, listen and get back involved in books. That’s what it is all about…like starting children with books from an early age, once they’re in, who knows where it can lead them. I want more of my friends to read books and if this is the hook, then I’m happy to bait it and reel them in.

    My personal opinion of the Lost Symbol was that I liked it, but after reading all his other books I found this one more predictable. Still it was entertaining and I recommend it. I think many others will enjoy it as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World's Favorite Soft Drink

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Michael Blanding
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    Ever since its "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" commercials from the 1970s, Coca-Cola has billed itself as the world's beverage, uniting all colors and cultures in a mutual love of its caramel-sweet sugar water. The formula has worked incredibly well, making it one of the most profitable companies on the planet and Coca-Cola the world's second-most-recognized word after hello.

    Michael says: "Say it ain't so"
    "Say it ain't so"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’ve read the anti-Coke reviews of this book and went in with the sneaky suspicion that the author had an agenda and I began reading with that understanding. I believe anyone could pick any company and write a book about them in a similar style.

    I have to say as a marketing researcher myself, I found the history of the company extremely compelling and appreciate their marketing and branding from their earliest days. I found it clever the way they thought to get people to drink more Coke. . . bigger bottles. Seems so simple now but back then it was an innovation and now look at the sizes of the sodas we drink today--Big Gulps, Super Big Gulps, etc. It is reminiscent of how toothpaste manufactures got people to use more toothpaste. Think about it, how do you do that? Bigger holes in the tubes! Marketing genius.

    So while I enjoyed all of that, I have to say I—with relief, ultimately agree with my fellow Goodreaders and can sum this up by saying, Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be Coke (or any soda for that matter) drinkers for which there are many reasons. The first being health. I still cannot believe that researchers cannot definitively prove there is nothing more than correlation (not causation) between high fructose corn syrup and obesity and/or diabetes. In my mind, the stuff is poison and it is in everything.

    Second, I now feel they abuse marketing and show little ethics in this regard. Research shows that infants begin to recognize brands between 6 and 18 months of age. By age 3, children begin requesting brands. Coke manipulates this to their advantage through such marketing campaigns as the cute polar bears and Santa. For the 12 and under cohort, they target such shows as Spongebob Squarepants and for the teen group, they use product placement on shows such as American Idol as well as targeted advertising. While believing in capitalism and the goal of being an industry leader, you must do it responsibly. I don’t think that Coke does this.

    Then there are the Coke wars in Mexico and Colombia. We exploit these markets by manufacturing our Coke there where the people become obese through drinking it as Coke drains their water supplies leaving little clean water to drink. The result is the population has to drink the cheap alternative Coke as a water substitute. Coke also overlooks union battles in these countries. These battles ultimately lead to murder in many cases for which Coke assumes no responsibility. Ironically, these two countries ship us their “Coke” but in powered form (cocaine). While one is legal and the other not, the result is unhealthy for all.

    It kills me to believe this about one of my favorite brands. While I don’t think I can boycott their products as they are just too ubiquitous, I will severely limit my use of them in my household. C’mon Coke to what’s right and become a good corporate citizen.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Abigail Adams

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Woody Holton
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (38)

    Abigail Adams offers a fresh perspective on the famous events of Adams's life, and along the way, Woody Holton, a renowned historian of the American Revolution, takes on numerous myths about the men and women of the founding era. But the book also demonstrates that domestic dramas---from unplanned pregnancies to untimely deaths---could be just as heartbreaking, significant, and inspiring as the actions of statesmen and soldiers.

    Michael says: "A Remarkable Woman"
    "A Life Well Lived"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Fantastic book...especially if you've read/listened to John Adams. I have to comment once again on the remarkable and mellifluous voice of Cassandra Campbell. As soon as I noticed she was the reader I was in. I highly recommend that you look for her.

    Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absenses as a career public servant.

    Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absenses as a career public servant.

    It was interesting to learn how archaic society's view of women was during that time and how she struggled for her own identity within those constraints.

    From John Adams and hearing about the love letters they wrote, I had the impression that life between the two was all lovey-dovey but it really wasn't according to this. Additionally, the book details the sensitive perspective of the family trials and tribulations as they relate to family relationships. From John Adams, I knew of the key personal tragedies but they were told from John's male perspective. Not that any of the events were less painful to him but they were written with less emotion that a female does (we're just wired different).

    I was most impressed with Abigail's financial savvy and contribution to the family's wealth through investing and her own business. This woman could do it all...and she did!

    Remarkable...a life well lived.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Annie Jacobsen
    • Narrated By Annie Jacobsen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1427)
    Performance
    (995)
    Story
    (1003)

    Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now.

    A User says: "Reality, always more interesting than fiction."
    "A great biography"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not what I thought it would be???but still surprisingly better!

    I had anticipated a book about UFOs and the secret testing and/or cover up of alien beings. Instead this is basically a biography of Area 51 and its environs. Well researched and documented with people who were willing to talk to set the record straight about what happens there. Some of it more mundane and some scary, but all very interesting.

    The stories told are compelling and the narration by the author, professional. It made for a highly interesting and entertaining book. An amazing biography that I highly recommend for UFO buffs and those interested in history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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