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Sioux Falls, SD, United States | Member Since 2014

  • 5 reviews
  • 15 ratings
  • 285 titles in library
  • 2 purchased in 2015

  • History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Gregory S. Aldrete

    The ancient world has cast a long shadow, influencing our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.

    Matt says: "Outstanding - Informative AND Entertaining"
    "Clears up China's prejudice against the West."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    You can clearly see how the history of the totalitarian regimes for many generations created a submissive peasantry that quietly held disdain for overlords, but were held in check by their cultural upbringing until a leader rises up that can be backed in a cause! How one mother of the last Emperor destroyed the Chinese monarchy and her empire by her vain selfishness and shortsighted vision.

    The course hovers strongly around recent history and focuses on Mao Zhetung whose rise started in an era just after the fall of the last Chinese dynasty. How this little known upstart broke with Chinese tradition by running away from his prearranged marriage at 14. Later he fell madly in love and married only to have his young wife tortured to death by the government warlord. This was the turning point which placed him on a road of opposition to all power and hopes of freeing the all the peasantry under a Leninist Communist System of government that was eventually modified to a Chinese form. By happenstance, he survived many struggles and by stratagem became the last man standing. Almost snuffed out, he was saved by one man, and the advent of WWII. Out-manned, outgunned, and almost out maneuvered, he stood against his enemy, took the battle to the masses, and exiled his enemy from the mainland. He became that which he most despised: an all powerful dictator, who made rash decisions costing the lives of millions (which he blamed on the masses themselves). He was so brilliant and incompetent at the same time. Blackmailing his way into power, and maintaining an iron hand to maintain power. He dumbed down the populace to make himself the smartest man in the nation (which was not that smart). Chinese people live in constant fear of their government, but at the same time they fanatically support it.

    The recent Chinese history showed the fallacy of the communist system, which looks great on paper, but clearly was shown how it fails with the intervention of our own human nature. Corruption when positions of power are maintained; freeloader mentality when no work will still provide food, shelter, and basic needs guaranteed. [Except when there is no food, then everyone starves... together (Even though large quantities of food were shipped as trade goods from your efforts).] ; and leaders surround themselves with yes men leading to lies, deceit, blame, and cover up to stay... yes men. Only one person's opinion mattered, and there are no rules on how to find favor with that one person. Laws, promises, and contracts were made and broken shortly thereafter for the convenience of the ruling few resulting in imprisonment, brainwashing, and execution. There law has little credence, people have a mussled voice, and "it's good to be the king" (Mel Brooks - History of the World part 2) or emperor/dictator.

    I found the course very introspective. I understand why there is such animosity to the West. I do not blame them in the least when the Western nations were making record profits off of China's Opium drug addiction by actively pushing the drugs on the black market. When China pushed back, Queen Victoria turned a blind eye, the Western nations fought China and extorted money and lands. More money than China had a means to pay! They dissolved the Sovereignty of China through occupation, forced annexations, and coerced contracts under threat of violence. I would be pretty peeved at outsiders myself if I had to call this my country's history.

    However, things seem to be turning around. For better or worse is to be seen. China is teetering on the edge of greatness or poised for world domination.

    I really enjoyed the pace and clear way in which the lessons were organized. The professor has a friendly tone, and wonderful anecdotes of a personal nature for insight to the most recent of the modern Chinese history. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in trying to understand the far eastern culture.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Oh most definitely. The book "1421" and "1434" revealed how the ignorance of the Chinese Monarchy stopped man's progress, and then allowed the rest of the world to surpass it. The year 1421, the Chinese were 100's of years ahead of Europe and the rest of the world. By the end of the 19th century, the old rusty canons and aged ancient weapons were no match for the French, Russian, Japanese, and English forces. They were behind 100 years. What a twist of fate that could have changed the face of our world.

    I have moved on to another Great Courses course "From Yao to Mao. 5000 years of Chinese History". We seem to be familiar with our Western Civilization, but ignore a whole other world on the other side of the globe as if it doesn't exist. I wonder what would have happened if Marco Polo hadn't brought that first firecracker back from China and the wonders traded from the silk road. The English would still be sipping their tea in little cups, and the feudal system in Europe may still have stayed in existence without the introduction of paper from China. How we seem to forget these great impacts in our own cultures.

    Have you listened to any of Professor Gregory S. Aldrete’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    He presents the material in a very organized way, with examples to expand on new terms and ideas. He clearly anticipates the questions that certain actions leave unanswered and quickly fills in the missing link to enlighten our understanding. He does not ramble, is not monotone, stays on subject. Any time he digresses, it is with a story that elaborates the subject matter being discussed. This enhances the experience of the listener. Overall, easy and a pleasure to listen to.

    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?


    Any additional comments?


    8 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Money and Banking: What Everyone Should Know

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Michael K. Salemi

    Money and finance play a deeply fundamental role in your life. Now, let an expert professor lead you in a panoramic exploration of our monetary and financial systems, their inner workings, and their crucial role and presence in your world. As a guiding theme of these 36 content-rich lectures, you observe the ways in which economies require efficient and evolving financial institutions and markets to fulfill their potential.

    Sean says: "Desperately needs the study guide to understand"
    "Visuals and mathematical formulas expressed."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Need to stick with principles and inferences as charts and formulas used for visual explanation of ideas is not effective in an audio format.

    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    Yes very much. Most of their courses are well suited for audio.

    Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Michael K. Salemi?

    The professor was not the problem. The format was the problem.

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It did give principles that could be understood and were well explained. It just could not be followed once formulas and charts were being referred to.

    Any additional comments?


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Don't Know Much About the Civil War: Everything You Need to Know About America's Greatest Conflict but Never Learned

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Kenneth C. Davis
    • Narrated By Dick Estell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Millions of Americans, bored by dull textbooks, are in the dark about the most significant event in our history. Now New York Times bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis comes to the rescue, deftly sorting out the players, the politics, and the key events—Emancipation and Reconstruction, Shiloh and Gettysburg, Generals Grant and Lee, Harriet Beecher Stowe—and much more.

    Steven says: "Good Civil War book"
    "Good premis, poor performance."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    No. The author also was fixed at stating that the war was all about slavery, even though he also clearly showed that Lincoln had disciplined generals for freeing slaves without any authorization from Washington. The North also was allied with two slave states and that the slavery question was best left unanswered until after the war else he lose the support of two border states supporting the Union. Lincoln stated many times that the war was not about slavery, but about keeping the Union whole. Slavery was used as a military tactic to subvert the labor force in the south later near the end of the war.

    Slavery resulted in the war as the south became dependent on cheap labor to bolster the ever growing cotton industry. The author also pointed out that black slavery supplanted white and indian slavery that failed due to the slaves being able to easily disappear among their race. Black slavery was a matter of easily identifying someone who did not belong. Had the cotton gin not been invented, there is a possibility that slavery would have petered out on its own being too labor intensive to hand pick seeds out of the cotton fibers.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character is one that was absent. A woman who acted as a spy for Lincoln and submitted the plans for the siege of Vicksburg. Grant took credit and the woman was given a generals pension well after the war for her service. Lincoln was going to reveal her service after the war, but, something happened later at the theater. Grant delayed any revealing of this woman's assistance believing that it would impact his run for the presidency. She deserves the credit and for the life of me I can't seem to find her information anymore on the web.

    What didn’t you like about Dick Estell’s performance?

    The orator is boring. Definitely monotone reading at times. Difficulty putting any emotion in his reading.

    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The point where politics destroyed the full integration of blacks into society as equals when Hayes bribed the southern electorates to change their vote for him as president in return to a guarantee to take out the Union troops. He stole the election, literally, and then walked all over the rights of the blacks newly emancipated status.

    Any additional comments?

    Good information, although I thought it had an agenda that did not ring true with the historical facts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mastery

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Robert Greene
    • Narrated By Fred Sanders
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    What did Charles Darwin, middling schoolboy and underachieving second son, do to become one of the earliest and greatest naturalists the world has known? What were the similar choices made by Mozart and by Caesar Rodriguez, the U.S. Air Force's last ace fighter pilot? In Mastery, Robert Greene's fifth book, he mines the biographies of great historical figures for clues about gaining control over our own lives and destinies. Picking up where The 48 Laws of Power left off, Greene culls years of research and original interviews to blend historical anecdote and psychological insight, distilling the universal ingredients of the world's masters.

    Gare&Sophia says: "Mastery is both a goal and a destination..."
    "Sunshine hype."
    What would have made Mastery better?

    Relying upon more real principles and less positive mental attitude exercises.

    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Greene again?

    No. He must be delusional to expect spoken rules to be accepted as eternal principles. Using reason beyond credible limits to justify miraculous results. Like two shaman referring to the same thunderstorm in opposite terms. One desires sacrifice to appease the angry gods and the other declaring that the gods are fighting our battles for us in the heavens. He twists thoughts to support outlandish claims.

    Would you be willing to try another one of Fred Sanders’s performances?

    No. Reading was a repetitious rhythm that was more like a constant commercial than a book reading. He regularly mispronounced words like "omnipotent" in his readings. Always sounding exactly the same in his timbre and pace.

    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Distrust, a con in the grossest manner. I fell for these same principles and found myself irresponsibly in debt. An "attitude of abundance" does not regard lack as a possibility. My collectors would tend to disagree with that reality. Thinking it so does not make reality go away. It still needs to be addressed.

    Any additional comments?

    It is like the scripture in the bible that spoke of early members of the church saying to the poor, "go home, be fed, all is well, be happy" It did not fill their bellies any more that these words could fill ones own coffers.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Hobbit

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By J. R. R. Tolkien
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Like every other hobbit, Bilbo Baggins likes nothing better than a quiet evening in his snug hole in the ground, dining on a sumptuous dinner in front of a fire. But when a wandering wizard captivates him with tales of the unknown, Bilbo becomes restless. Soon he joins the wizard’s band of homeless dwarves in search of giant spiders, savage wolves, and other dangers. Bilbo quickly tires of the quest for adventure and longs for the security of his familiar home. But before he can return to his life of comfort, he must face the greatest threat of all.

    Derek B. says: "A grand literary adventure!"
    "Rich and ageless middle earth culture permeates."
    What did you love best about The Hobbit?

    The story operates in a well aged culture and tradition mindset. The various races have their own histories that make up their present existance.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Gandalf. He seems to be the author of many an adventrue in and out of Hobbiton, of which Bilbo seems to be just one of which we have the opportunity to be a part of.

    What about Rob Inglis’s performance did you like?

    Very well presented. The voices give their own character to the players in the story. It is consistent with the follow one Lord of the Ring series as well. This provides continuity of listening to his storytelling style.

    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Too large an adventure for such a small Hobbit.

    Any additional comments?

    The story rolls where the story rests again and again between adventures. Fortunately repose preceeds great deeds. Very realistic in the need to recover from great stresses of physical, and mental challenges. Great story in a magical land.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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