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Nikoli Gogol

Edmonton | Member Since 2005

139
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 49 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 107 purchased in 2014
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10

  • Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By William Rosen
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    Overall
    (248)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (71)

    The emperor Justinian reunified Rome's fractured empire by defeating the Goths and Vandals. At his capital in Constantinople, he built the world's most beautiful building, married the most powerful empress, and wrote the empire's most enduring legal code, seemingly restoring Rome's fortunes for the next five hundred years. Then, in the summer of 542, he encountered a flea. The ensuing outbreak of bubonic plague killed 5,000 people a day in Constantinople and nearly killed Justinian himself.

    joan says: "More history than Disease"
    "A Credible Theory That Explains Current Events"
    Overall

    Picture this. In the 6th century AD, the Emperor Justinian decides to re-conquer what had been the fullest extent of the Roman Empire from his base in Constantinople. He sends an underequipped general, Belisarius, on this mission.

    Through guile and tactical genius, Belisarius regains the Roman Empire beating every enemy he faces: Vandals, Goths, and Gauls. North Africa, Italy, the Levant, and parts or modern day Europe are re-conquered. This accomplished, the newly conquered empire could have been the modern colossus governed under a newly codified set of laws sponsored by Justinian.

    Unfortunately, Constantinople and the rest of the empire suffer from a plague that kills 25,000.000 people (a very large percentage of the world’s population at the time) and continues to kill in subsequent years.

    Immune from the plague are the isolated tribes of Arabs who come under the sway of a merchant, Mohamed, who preaches a new religion that features jihad. The newly conquered territories cannot be held by Byzantium and the effects of the plague have effectively shaped the modern world.

    The book is complex and the narrator does the best he can but the story can be followed.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Marathon: The Battle That Changed Western Civilization

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Richard A. Billows
    • Narrated By Jeremy Gage
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (36)

    Published to coincide with Marathon's 2500th anniversary, a riveting history of the historic battle. The Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. is not only understood as the most decisive event in the struggle between the Greeks and the Persians, but can also be seen as perhaps the most significant moment in our collective history. 10,000 Athenian citizens faced a Persian military force of more than 25,000.

    Aaron says: "Effectively evokes the world of ancient greece"
    "Misleading Title"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a 9 hour book referring to the battle of Marathon. The first six hours are about the political history of Athens and its neighbors. The next hour is devoted to the actual battle where most descriptions are prefaced by “according to Herodotus”. Then it becomes a survey of architecture, drama, philosophy and sculpture.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil and Bobby Hull: How Hockey's Original Million-Dollar Man Became the Game's Lost Legend

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Gare Joyce
    • Narrated By Bernard Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    In his prime, few could dispute Bobby Hull's athletic brilliance - the first to have five fifty-goal seasons, the highest scorer on the 1976 Canada Cup team, the first to use the slapshot as a scoring weapon, and the first hockey player to sign a million-dollar contract. With his body-builder torso, and his 100 mph volleys across a rink, the world of hockey glory was his to lose. And he did. With his publicized marital troubles and his defection from the NHL to the WHA, Hull's star began to fall, leaving him broke and in exile from the game.

    CaptHowdy says: "Learn the Names."
    "Great Story, Horrible Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bobby Hull was a phenomenal player who revolutionized the game. More than anyone else, he caused the NHL to expand to cities where the NHL would not have ventured and his efforts resulted in raising the salaries of players.

    I watched Bobby Hull play live and on television. He was a complete player who could skate, shoot, and pass better than anyone else on the ice with him. Off ice he would spend endless hours signing autographs, talking to fans, and submitting himself to interviews.

    The author shows a darker side to Bobby Hull and the ugliness of the business of hockey. The NHL will never live down the fact that they kept Hull from participating in the 1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Summit.

    The narrator spoils the story by not having done his homework. He pronounces Russian and Swedish hockey player names flawlessly but completely butchers half of the Canadian players' and sports officials' names. Take the name Henri Richard, it is not pronounced as Bernard Clark chooses as the Shakespearean Kings Henry and King Richard. Rather the correct pronunciation is "On-Ree Ree-shard". This mangling renders some of the play by play accounts to be ridiculous and grating. Worse, no 10 minutes of narration goes by without a mispronounced name.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tamerlane: Conqueror of the Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Harold Lamb
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (142)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (59)

    In yet another superb historical work, Harold Lamb brings the mighty Tatar leader to vivid life and shows how this ruthless commander used his superior intellect and magnetic leadership to overcome one obstacle after another. Tamerlane was truly one of the most remarkable personalities ever to emerge from the steppes of Central Asia.

    curt says: "The man that conquered Afganistan"
    "A Monster Depicted A Military Figure"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although the author describes some of Tamerlane's atrocities, he is far too kind to a brutal monomaniacal warlord.

    Tamerlane is estimated to have killed 17,000,000 people, about 5% of Earth's population at the time. He would have enslaved huge numbers, maimed or wounded others, and left orphans and widows.

    His attacks stretched from the Levant to China. He eradicated most of the Christians from Asia. Baghdad never recovered from his sack of that city. An equal opportunity aggressor, he attacked Hindus in Delhi and other cities. To what end? He claimed to be the aligned with Allah but he slaughtered many Muslims. Personal glory, captives, plunder is a more likely motivation.

    Harold Lamb is a popular writer, not a serious historian. Many of his comparisons of tactics are related to what Napoleon did. Lamb also has biographies about Hannibal, Suleiman, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan, all of whom waged wars of aggression.

    The narration is too rapid. There are too many characters to keep track requiring rewinding. An accompanying map and chronology would have been helpful.

    It should be noted that Chechnya was Tamerlane's stomping ground and that radicalized older of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers was named after Tamerlane, namely, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Medea Benjamin
    • Narrated By Hillary Huber
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    Weeks after America invaded Afghanistan in 2002, Medea Benjamin visited that country. There, talking with victims of the strikes, she learned the reality behind the "precision bombs" on which US forces were becoming reliant. Now, with the use of drones escalating at a meteoric pace, Benjamin has written this book as a call to action. Drone Warfare is a comprehensive look at the growing menace of robotic warfare, with an extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who "pilots" these unmanned planes, who the victims are, and what the legal and moral implications are.

    Nikoli Gogol says: "The Future of War and the End of Privacy"
    "The Future of War and the End of Privacy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Out of a concern about objectivity, I would not have bought this book if I knew beforehand that the author is a prominent left wing activist. I am very pleased to have listened to this audiobook.

    The book describes the use of drones in war as killing and surveillance platforms. Considerable detail is given about the types of drones that exist or are in planning stages. Civilian use is described where drones are used or a growing number of purposes from patrolling borders to fighting forest fires.

    The author then presents a long list of negative factors in the use of drones.

    The chief concern is that they are proliferating at an exponential pace. Other countries and non-state entities, including terrorists, are acquiring them. The use of drones is being explored at national, state, and municipal levels.

    Drones malfunction and operators are prone to error. This can lead to the killing or maiming of civilians.

    Medea Benjamin devotes much of the book to legal and moral concerns associated with the use of drones. These are too numerous and complex to summarize in a review but they are well reasoned, researched, and presented. Whether you agree with Benjamin or not, you should be aware of these issues. Drones will have an increasing worldwide role in the coming years.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Russia: Part Two: The Rise and Fall of the Soviets

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Martin Sixsmith
    • Narrated By Martin Sixsmith
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    Martin Sixsmith continues his history of Russia, from the tumultuous events of 1917 to the country’s re-emergence as one of the world’s most powerful nations. After the whirlwind of the revolution, the Bolsheviks struggled to consolidate their victory. To rescue the economy and save the regime, Lenin made concessions to the people. But after his death, Stalin introduced forced collectivisation and industrialisation, condemning the Soviet people to conditions worse than those experienced under the Tsars.

    Nikoli Gogol says: "Re-Broadcast of a BBC's "Russia: The Wild East""
    "Re-Broadcast of a BBC's "Russia: The Wild East""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    There is an astonishing lack of proportion and emphasis. The communist regime killed millions of peasants. The prison system established by the communists was a source of slave labor as well as a means of suppressing dissent. The Russians dealt with minorities in a particularly bloody and brutal manner. While each of these topics is covered, it is hasty. Instead, Martin Sixsmith spends an inordinate amount of time on covering the day-to-day minutia of the USSR's downfall and his coverage of it for the BBC.


    If you’ve listened to books by Martin Sixsmith before, how does this one compare?

    I have read his Putin's Oil which is a superior work.


    Did Martin Sixsmith do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    This is a rebroadcast of BBC's "Russia: The Wild East, Part 2" presented in 25 episodes. Although Sixsmith is the primary narrator, there are interviews, clips from news accounts, tape recorded speeches of historical figures, quotes from poems, choirs singing in the background, etc. In many respects the historical characters speak for themselves.


    Could you see Russia: Part Two: The Rise and Fall of the Soviets being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    There is far too much turf to cover for this to be made into a movie.


    Any additional comments?

    Martin Sixsmith is a BBC journalist who served in the USSR, Poland, and Washington. He was Tony Blair's Director of Communications and has written both fiction and non-fiction books. I would recommend this audiobook for someone who wants a general overview of the events of the past century. However, it does not come close to describing the full magnitude of atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet regime.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Founders of the Western World: A History of Greece and Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Michael Grant
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Through his in-depth analysis, Michael Grant introduces us to the political, military, cultural, social, economic, and religious life of the times that were the building blocks of what we now call the Western World. He creates a vivid panorama of the Greco-Roman world by bringing together the most dramatic events on record from its beginnings in 1,000 BC to the fall of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD.

    Nikoli Gogol says: "Good Introduction to Classical Greece and Rome"
    "Good Introduction to Classical Greece and Rome"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Founders of the Western World?

    Michael Grant has written extensively about Greece and Rome and this is a summary of his larger works. It provides fundamental information about eras that continue to influence our daily lives.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Founders of the Western World?

    In an introductory book of this nature one would expect discussion of politics and wars. Grant includes this but also spends a an impressive amount of time on the arts of the period.


    What about Wanda McCaddon’s performance did you like?

    Professional job of narration.


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

    The film could only be a length documentary as the topic of the book spans over a millennium.


    Any additional comments?

    Audible should be providing the copious maps from the book as a download.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Rock 'n' Roll and American Society: Part One: From the Beginning to 1960

    • ORIGINAL (7 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By William McKeen
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    An author and university professor whose books include scholarly works on the Beatles and Bob Dylan, William McKeen here tackles the role of popular music in American culture. Beginning with the emergence of rock in the 1950s, and including the meteoric rise of artists such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, McKeen examines the growth of the recording industry while incorporating the social and intellectual history of the country.

    Nikoli Gogol says: "Informative But Factually Flawed In Some Respects"
    "Informative But Factually Flawed In Some Respects"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The author describes the roots of Rock 'n Roll from the time of Charlie Patton forward to 1960s. There is the obligatory nod to Robert Johnson. Various genres of music from blues to country to gospel have an influence on an emerging musical format. In addition to artists like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bo Diddly, Buddy Holly, there is coverage of DJ's, record producers, songwriters, and managers who are described in this account. The lecturer often indicates the influence particular musicians had on those who followed.


    What other book might you compare The Modern Scholar: Rock 'n' Roll and American Society: Part One to and why?

    Any collection of articles by Lester Bangs. Audible has many biographies and autobiographies of musicians.


    What about the narrator’s performance did you like?

    The author and narrator are the same and the presentation is in lecture format. The lecturer is polished and easy to follow.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    A movie could probably not be made of this subject.


    Any additional comments?

    Audible usually provides an accompanying booklet in PDF for with a Modern Scholar title but fails to do so here.The lecturer makes some grating errors and omissions. Johnny Cash did not put tissue paper under the strings of his guitar to achieve his sound. Country music of that era did not feature drums so Cash would put regular paper under his guitar strings to mimic the snap of a snare drum. Les Paul is mentioned as a pioneer who made electric guitars and experimented with multi-track recording. However, completely unmentioned was Leo Fender who had a far greater influence. Leo Fender made the first electric bass guitars that truly give rock music its drive and its rhythm. His Stratocasters and Telecasters are used by more musicians than Les Paul guitars. Finally, Leo Fender made wonderful amplifiers to suit the needs of musicians, including the need for distortion and reverb.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Peloponnesian War

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Donald Kagan
    • Narrated By Bill Wallace
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (39)

    For almost three decades at the end of the fifth century BC the ancient world was torn apart in a conflict that was, within its historical context, as dramatic, divisive, and destructive as the great world wars of the 20th century. The Peloponnesian War pitted Greek against Greek: the Athenians, with their glorious empire, rich legacy of democracy and political rights, and extraordinary cultural achievement, against the militaristic, oligarchic Spartan state.

    B. Leddy says: "Good supplement to the real thing"
    "Just The Facts And You Will Need Maps"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this book in advance of reading Thucydides' "The Peloponnesian War".

    The author presents the work in an objective manner, providing an account of what transpired and not engaging in polemics or comparing this war to others.

    The story is impossible to follow without reference to maps. Just as an example, geographic place-names like Naupaktos, or Mthone, or Locris are bandied about and there is no way of knowing what the author is referring to without reference to maps. To remedy this, I borrowed Kagan's book from the library but though it has multiple maps, they are of poor quality. You are best off by following along with "The Landmark Thucydidies" by Robert Strassler. Pity that Audible did not provide a pdf file for maps and names.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Pamela Des Barres, Dave Navarro
    • Narrated By Pamela Des Barres
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (84)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (71)

    As soon as she graduated from high school, Pamela Des Barres headed for the Sunset Strip, where she knocked on rock stars' backstage doors and immersed herself in the drugs, danger, and ecstasy of the freewheeling 1960s. Over the next 10 years she had affairs with Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Waylon Jennings, Chris Hillman, Noel Redding, and Jim Morrison, among others. She traveled with Led Zeppelin; lived in sin with Don Johnson; turned down a date with Elvis Presley; and was close friends with Robert Plant, Gram Parsons, Ray Davies, and Frank Zappa.

    Armstrong says: "Dont waste your money...........please"
    "A Charming Account of R&R Heroes From Groupie"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The expectation of a book authored by a groupie is that it would be a salacious tell-all about sexual encounters with musicians. There is plenty of that in the book but the author is unfailingly positive and generous in her description of her amours.

    There are three things that make this book a standout.

    First, Pamela Des Barres can write. Although her book is based on her diaries, the book is wonderfully descriptive and witty in her unique style.

    Secondly, Pamela Des Barres can narrate. This is her story and listening to the book is like having Pamela Des Barres tell her life story directly to you. Her voice modulates particularly when quoting someone and she otherwise personalizes the story for the listener.

    Thirdly, Pamela Des Barres is very upbeat and happy.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Bush Tragedy

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Jacob Weisberg
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    In this first important consideration of the George W. Bush presidency and its profound impact on the state of the world, Jacob Weisberg crafts a wide-ranging portrait that is both balanced and insightful. Weisberg traces the evolution of Bush's political philosophy from its roots in his early life and his years as governor of Texas through the events of 9/11 and his turbulent two terms in office.

    Nikoli Gogol says: "Ahead of the Crowd"
    "Ahead of the Crowd"
    Overall

    This is an excellent book published before all of the Bush staffers begin to write their memoirs after his term.

    W is an easy target. A biography critical of W can be piecing together by recounting endless verbal tics and the instances he is caught in a lie. This author is personally acquainted with W and says that he is far smarter, wittier, and more charming than his public persona.

    The author’s premise is to cast W as Henry V in Shakespeare’s play by that name. Bush Sr. is obviously Henry IV. Henry V spends an indolent youth boozing it up with Falstaff and on accession to the throne, he attacks France, wins the Battle of Agincourt, and becomes one of England’s best loved kings.

    This is obviously not how things will turn out for W and for that matter the real Henry V is castigated by historians. W’s approval ratings are in the 20% range. His legacy does not appear to promising. According to the author, W is devouring books to find a favorable comparison to political figures that were vindicated by history.

    Whether or not you like W, if you are interested in the man, you should read this book.

    25 of 29 people found this review helpful

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