Friedman's analysis in this book is neither left nor right, neither liberal nor conservative. As a conservative myself, his cynical view of the American "empire" and practical Machiavellian insights into sound foreign policy contradict my idealistic higher moral calling toward "liberty and justice for all mankind". In fact, now that I think of it, it could be argued that Obama's soft call towards the Middle East may be just what we need to restore stalemate-stability in a region that would be devastating to US prosperity and security were it to unite under a common banner. This and other cold, hard insights on the unintended American hegemony make this the must-read book of the year, if not the decade. I have not read his previous books, so those of who know Friedman may be like, "yeah, we know he's good", but this is my first (and definitely not last) read from this author. You high-minded Tea-Party moralists and Left-wing ivy league idealogues would be foolish not to get a second opinion on how the world really operates from an internationally recognized expert on geopolitical analysis. Get it, read it, let your jaws hit the floor. Mine did.
For those who don't know, Mark Steyn is a conservative commentator, columnist and humorist orignially from Canada. He has a great British accent and thank God he narrated this book. He has a wonderful lively delivery that makes the reading come alive: information and grave commentary are read seriously, and humorous or sardonic commentary are read with the appropriate tongue-in-cheek. He has to be one of the wittiest men to walk the planet. He is like a conservative version of John Stewart, but with alot more insight and facts to back up his targeting of the particular PC sacred cows that he skewers.
I would call this a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining book if the subject wasn't the prediction of the catastrophic end of America and the birth of a post-American world where looney dictators with nukes and totalitarian communist regimes are going to have far more influence on international politics than the bankrupt and impotent US and the rest of rest of the civilized Western world.
It's not all hopeless for Steyn though, for if enough of us can tap into that ruggedly individualist, subversive American spirit now we just might be able to breath new life into this radical experient in self-government as the rest of the Western welfare states sink below the waterline. If your under 40 don't forget, you're the one getting stuck with this collossal big-government nanny-state bar tab, so you might as well forget about retirement, you got five lifetimes of Chinese debt to pay back!
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in politics and enjoys excellent political humor. No one other than looney dictators and big-government technocrats will be offended, and no animals were harmed in the making of this audiobook. Get it!
First, Johnny Heller has to be my favorite Audible narrators... a great gravely voice and an engaging reading. So the book has that going for it right out of the gate. Mamet's writing is smooth and flows like a stream of consciousness in essay after essay. His sentences are constructed informally, or conversationally, yet always with erudition. You get the sense that this is writer who lives what he speaks. Thomas Sowell's prose is in the same category of delivering dense nuggets of wisdom while crafting a clever and quotable sentence. I would love to say this book holds something for everyone, but I don't know whether liberals will read this book. I would hope they do, this book presents truth and wisdom and life experience wrapped in expert prose, it is a joy to listen to. But I don't think liberals like to challenge their innate sense of moral superiority by opening up their philosophy and egos to criticism, no matter how savory. We conservatives are fortunate to be living in a time when great thinkers and wordsmiths are now fleshing out the philosophy of our movement, recapturing and retooling the old wisdom of our great culture, and to be able to hear all these ideas brought to life in well-crafted works both written and spoken. This book is a notable milestone on the road to rediscovery of our American identity, who we are and what we envision for our future and our children's future. I dare say it is the "Common Sense" of our generation. In this battle of visions for America's future they have Krugman, we have Sowell; they have Maddow, Olberman and Sharpton, and we have Prager, Bennett, and Medved. They have most of Hollywood and we now have Mamet.. I'll take those odds all day long.
Considering the controversial and politically sensitive subject of this book, the author's strategy was clearly to combat the expected charge of bigotry by almost exclusively quoting the Koran, the news media, history books, and Islamic religious and political leaders such that the bulk of the material is not the author's interpretation, but rather the words of the Koran and the interpretation of its Muslim leaders. Given this almost legalistic style, I will say the redundancy of Koranic scripture can be a bit grinding. After 4 hours of chapter after chapter of quotations calling for violence, intolerance, bigotry, killing, oppression, conquest, torture and jihad I couldn’t believe I was only halfway through the book! However, the book did start looking at historical and current events related to Islam about then, so my interest was renewed. The realistic look at the Crusades was really a gem, having been educated in the liberal tradition, I believed the Crusades to be spontaneous, unjustified acts of European aggression. However, it is interesting to realize that the Crusades were chronologically a response to Muslim aggression, not a cause of it. It is also interesting to think that without the distraction that Crusades created against aggressive Islamic designs on Europe, European civilization may never have had the opportunity to progress securely, and then to flourish to create the culture we live in today... otherwise, no Galileo, Boticelli, Mozart, Shakespeare, Newton, Faraday, Dickens, Curie or Einstein. Overall the book is very informative, if anxiety-provoking. It seems we are facing a single-minded intolerant adversary of militant religionists committed to conquest and subjugation of nonbelievers, and our politically correct tendencies may be a great detriment in assessing this threat and its ability to be negotiated with. The book gives a perspective on the current terroristic and jihadist crisis one will not find in the news. Get it!
A history of the RAND corporation would normally not be at the top of my reading list, but the book title and editor's summaries made it appealing enough to try it, plus all the other audiobooks I had been listening to were political commentary, so I wanted a change to something more factual, as opposed to opinionated and agenda-driven. Fortunately this book was perfect, and I do not have buyers remorse in the least. The author really does an excellent job (and the narrator also) of creating an interesting history of the RAND corporation.
RAND stands for Research and Developement, which is the American civilian think-tank which influenced military technology and planning, Cold War diplomacy, wartime strategy, and many other topics, even branching into social science, medical science and educational areas of research as well. This book covers the contributions and careers of the most interesting "RAND-ites" as well as the growth, change, and significant historical events RAND corp was involved in since its inception in the mid 20th century. RAND had a big impact on major parts of American history in the 20th century. I would describe Soldiers of Reason as a history book that is well researched and written in a very interesting and readable way. As a non-history buff, I found it a light, enjoyable (but still solid, authorative, well-researched) listen over about a week during my daily commutes in my car. A true history buff may find it even more intense and enthralling. Definitely worth a listen if you have an interest in either RAND or American military and political stragety in the modern age.
This book is social and political commentary elevated to the level of art. Each chapter moves quickly and draws you in, Wiker's prose is sophicated, witty and clear, and the narrator was excellent. You learn alot with each chapter, a short history of the author and summary of each book, then an analysis of the book, focusing on the major themes, and learning how each book/author "twists" moral and ethical concepts of truth, history, ethics, morality, society, humanity, individualism,religion, science etc etc, and ultimately what the bad outcomes were for followers or society in general, as applicable. I went through 4 hours in one afternoon, then finished up the next 2 hours the following day. Just awesome. Finally, I can say as a conservative agnostic I didn't find anything evangelical in Wiker's writing, though clearly it seems he is a Christian with his morality firmly set in the Judeo-Christian tradition (most conservatives do, regardless of faith)... but this is hardly a reason to be insulted or disgusted by this book, unless you despise religion above all else. The writing and narration alone merits at least 3 stars, and if you like the content too, then it's 5 stars, easy! Get it!
If you are looking for an overview of conservative philosophy this book would be the best place to start. A well-written and comprehensive overview of the most important conservative books (at least according to the author), this book has eye opening and rich content for anyone who thinks that conservative philosophy is just "free markets" and "small government". There is much much more than that to conservative thought and values; this book really gives an interesting overview. Who would have thought conservativism goes back over 2000 years! Nicely recorded and pleasant to listen to as well. 5 stars, get it!
The book truly lives up to all the praise heaped upon it. Great narration, enjoyable, profound. Everyone should take a listen.
I love Beck's other books, but this is apparently a montage of one segment from his daily radio show. Each of the many news stories point out the insanity and destructiveness of the left-wing in our government. Since I don't get a chance to listen to his radio show, the format is initially novel and interesting, with its sarcasm and wit and even the music (it didn't bother me at all), but the repetition of the same segment over and over made it kind of grating. The editor/producer really should have broken it up with a different type of format in between every 3 or 4 segments, such as a longer editorial from Beck about one important issue. In the end, this is just a cut and pasted collection of audio clips from the show, not something new that took creative effort to put together. Hard core Beck-heads may love it, but it may be best to listen to it one or two segments at a time rather than listening all in one sitting as i did.
This book is an adventure brochure of the most extreme places on Earth where scientists need to go to experiment and observe, in pursuit of the boundaries of scientific knowledge. If you're going to find the Higg's Boson or prove String Theory, that's just the way it is. So the author goes around the world, and to the poles, describing the incredible feats of engineering and harsh environments where this science is done. The author has a way with words, and his descriptions are poetic. The hard science in the book is kept to layman's terms, no equations, no complex scientific analogies. On the whole, it is a good book, I listened to the entire thing and enjoyed it. 4/5 stars only because it is more about the extreme locations where physics is being done, rather than the extreme concepts in physics itself. Great narrator.
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