I lost interest in the material mostly because of the presentation. This was my introduction to Scientific American Mind, and perhaps this isn't their best. The first story was much more of an argument about why brain scans should not be used in assigning culpability in trial than a discussion of the science of brain scans. The other stories were better, but they lacked the depth of detail that I was hoping for. I will try another edition and hope the content and presentation are better.
This is my introduction to Mr. Hamilton, and I couldn't be happier with the book and his writing. He accomplishes a fine balance between exposition and pace, exposing the information needed to understand the world of the story but not getting lost in endless detail. You won't understand everything within the world the first time it is discussed, but don't worry, your understanding will build each time it is discussed. Just let yourself become part of the story, and you'll understand everything in time.
The narrator has an excellent voice and does accents very well, but doesn't have a broad range of voices to differentiate characters. Since Mr. Hamilton doesn't waste time with "he said," "she said," after every comment, many times I found myself unsure who was speaking. A wider range of voices would have helped.
I highly recommend The Dreaming Void, and I am now downloading book 2.
I loved every minute of this book and hated to have it end. You may think that a book about cadavers would be maudlin, but Mary Roach brings a wonderfully appropriate humor to the telling of the tale. This book is far more than a tale about dead bodies. It is a history of science and how cadavers advanced our knowledge of anatomy, a look into how our thoughts about cadavers has changed, and a consideration of how we would like our cadavers treated when we pass.
And although I have critized Ms. Frasier's reading of another book, I take it all back (the last book was poorly recorded). She was perfect for this performance. Thank you Ms. Roach for being so fascinated with cadavers that you wrote this thouroughly fascinating book about my future self.
This is some interesting material, but poorly written and poorly performed. I'm not a writer myself, but I am a reader and can tell when a writer has missed the mark. The authors were FBI agents, and they write in the dry style of a law enforcement officer who writes many reports. Although they try to make it more interesting, too often I found myself thinking that they went in a different direction at a moment where they could have delved deeper into a person or the personal part of situation. Discussion of the situation seems to be where they feel comfortable. Unfortunately, the performance was even dryer, and about half way through the book the author's accent became annoying when he repeatedly pronounced "unsub" like "onsub," and when he pronounced bible like it had 3 syllables (bi-uh-bull). One word of caution: if you can't make it past the first couple minutes, this book is not for you. I was cringing, but thought the brutally graphic content was permissible because it was an excerpt from a conversation with a serial killer. At the end of the section you find out that it's the author's view of what the actual killer might have been thinking. As an introduction of what an Investigative Profiler does "getting into the mind of a serial killer" it is effective, but I thought it was over the top.
A friend recommended this book and my first thought was, "it doesn't sound like what I like." I couldn't have been happier to have been wrong. And while I thought I would find the story of cannibus most interesting, I was wrong again. Amazingly, it was the lowly potato and apple that I liked most. Who would have thought that the plants would have such interesting stories? Well, now I can say that I know. Thank you Mr. Pollan and Mr. Brick.
The book is primarily a presentation of composite characters from the author's practice. Although somewhat entertaining, it doesn't discuss as much of the science about psychopathy as I would have preferred. The recording was difficult to listen to, with the narrator's inflection based mostly in volume changes rather than pitch. Words at the beginning of sentences were spoken much louder, trailing off at the end of sentences to something almost inaudible. And every 2nd or 3rd word was punctuatued with higher volume. It was almost painful to listen to at times, whle other times I struggled to hear. Quotes were even worse; while some narrators use a slightly different voice to indicate a quote, this narrator uses a breathier, lower voice. Very difficult to hear! One other comment about the recording: when a phrase seems completely disconnected from the text around it, it is a heading. No pause, no change in voice; just a disconnected phrase that the listener soon realizes was a section heading thrown between sentences.
What Charlie Wilson, the CIA and various others did was pretty extraordinary, but the telling is anything but. Mr. Crile’s choice to delve into the background of every character as a way of explaining the motivation for playing a part in the Afghan resistance is distracting. I also found it confusing the way Mr. Crile, attempting to tell the story chronologically, also bounces back and forth in time, again attempting to unveil all the significance of each event, choice, meeting, etc. Rather than rewind constantly to figure out where I was in time and where the timeline had diverged, I decided to let go of the details and try to keep track of the bigger picture. Mr. Crile fails in one other important point - at the end of the second section (of three) I found it difficult to find a compelling reason to keep listening. We already know the ending, but unlike Mr. Eichenwald’s excellent "Conspiracy of Fools," there is no suspense or intrigue here. There are colorful characters who overcome many obstacles; there are colorful stories with humorous or interesting outcomes; but those ingredients don’t complete the recipe of a good story.
This is one of the first non-fiction books I've listened to and it is simply outstanding. It unfolds more like fiction than most of the novels I've read, but the characters and situations are far more believable and intricate than fiction could offer. Kurt Eichenwald has sifted through 20 years of Enron history, taking only the information needed to tell this story and lays it out in such a way that the listener feels part of the unfolding action. I cringed, shook and wept as if I was in the office, conference room or kitchen at that moment. Some of the credit should be given to the narrator, Robertson Dean. Mr. Dean's ability to capture the emotion with nuanced changes in tone and pace was integral to the experience.
Some may find the number of characters difficult to keep up with. There are literally hundreds, but Mr. Eichenwald does a good job reminding us of the role each plays when they enter the story after a short absence. More complicated are the dealings inside the company. I found myself glazing over at the in depth description of the finances, but quickly found that I didn't need to completely understand them. In the end it's the impact of each deal that is important, and Mr. Eichenwald sums up each deal, its meaning and its relative idiocy after giving the full explanation. The detail is simply frosting on the cake for those who understand that kind of stuff.
The unabridged book weighs in at about 30 hours, and I'm so glad I accidentally clicked on the full version. I'm wondering where I found 30 hours in under 30 days. I listened at the gym, in the car and in my home, the player attached to my hip. If you're considering whether to get the abridged or unabridged version, I highly recommend taking the plunge into the full 30 hours. You won't come up for air until it's done, and then you'll wish the pool was deeper.
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