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Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

  • 352 reviews
  • 352 ratings
  • 574 titles in library
  • 33 purchased in 2018

  • Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Pamela Meyer
    • Narrated By Karen Saltus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    People - friends, family members, work colleagues, salespeople - lie to us all the time. Daily, hourly, constantly. None of us is immune, and all of us are victims. According to studies by several different researchers, most of us encounter nearly 200 lies a day. Now there’s something we can do about it. Liespotting links three disciplines - facial recognition training, interrogation training, and a comprehensive survey of research in the field - into a specialized body of information developed specifically to help business leaders detect deception....

    Reader says: "The Book is a Lie"
    "To Tell You the Truth . . . (not so much)"

    According to Pamela Meyer each person, on average, is subject to 200 lies - a day. I was astounded – I don’t see 200 people a day. Some days, I only see my family and my co-workers in the small branch office I work at.

    Where are the lies? I started thinking about it: it happens when several of my Facebook friends ask to “Add my birthday.” They’ve been duped by an advertiser seeking personal information, and it gets passed along. The lies are in the ads I get to enlarge a certain body part. The products can’t work – I don’t even have the requisite body part. The lies are on CNN, Fox News, during interviews of people later found guilty of horrible crimes. And there are white lies I hear, when I ask my son or daughter how school was, and they say “fine” to deflect me from asking about an Algebra or Physics test they may have tanked. Sometimes, I’ll never find out things weren’t really “fine” – the test turned out well, and I’ll chalk the crankiness caused by stress for teenage hormones.

    People lie, and Meyer’s book is a great guideline for realizing when that happens. I am a litigator, and I learned a lot of the techniques she outlines by years of experience. For example, if someone uses the phrase “To tell you the truth,” what comes out next usually isn’t the truth. It might have a little bit of truth, someplace, but it might be a complete fabrication. If someone smirks while testifying, they are lying and expect a judge or jury is too stupid to catch it.

    I wish this book had been available 20 years ago.

    29 of 38 people found this review helpful
  • Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Laura Spinney
    • Narrated By Paul Hodgson

    In this gripping narrative history, Laura Spinney traces the overlooked pandemic to reveal how the virus travelled across the globe, exposing mankind's vulnerability and putting our ingenuity to the test. As socially significant as both world wars, the Spanish flu dramatically disrupted - and often permanently altered - global politics, race relations, and family structures while spurring innovation in medicine, religion, and the arts.

    NYDenizen says: "Interesting story, but terrible narrator"
    "A Predilection for Those in the Prime of Life"

    About 20 years ago, I watched a PBS show on the flu pandemic of 1918 that was probably PublicResourceOrg’s, “We Heard the Bells: The Influenza of 1918.” In 1998, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology wanted to obtain tissue samples of the virus. There was a group of people that went up to Alaska with lots of equipment and white hazmat suits to try to exhume bodies. They weren’t successful, but Dr. Johan Hultin, a retired San Francisco pathologist who flew up to Alaska on a commercial flight with his wife’s pruning shears and a cooler, was. He talked to locals; found graves that were in the permafrost; and obtained permission to remove lung tissue samples from people who probably died of influenza.

    I was fascinated by Dr. Hultin’s innovation and chutzpah, which was a match to the cleverness and tenacity of the H1N1 virus that killed (conservatively) 50,000,000 people, and perhaps up to 100,000,000. When I learned that my grandmother’s uncle, a physician, had died of the flu, I was hooked on pandemics, viruses, and vaccines. Laura Spinney’s “Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World” (2017) was an easy choice.

    Ms. Spinney’s reseach is exhaustive, ranging from the probable beginnings of the flu before common era, to medieval Europe, and up to the twenty first century. The book talks about identifying viruses as opposed to bacteria as a cause; and debunking the ‘miasma’ or bad air transmission theories. The discussion of the geographic origin of the flu eliminated Spain as the source - even if it’s also known as ‘The Spanish Flu’.

    There are discussions about decimation of towns, cities, countries and even entire armies. Spinney doesn’t come to the conclusion that the flu determined the victors of World War I, but she convincingly argues that because Woodrow Wilson was sick with the flu, he was unable to effectively negotiate the Treaty of Versailles. Punitive terms against Germany ended up causing World War II. The flu changed the world in ways great and small.

    The book was finished before the flu pandemic of 2017-2018. That is raging as I write this review. As Bloomberg Business reports, “Flu is Causing 1 in 10 American Deaths and Climbing. Along with the pneumonia it spawns, this year’s epidemic may be killing 4,000 people every week.” Michelle Cortez, February 9, 2018. There’s a lot about vaccines, how they were discovered, and why they work. Anyone looking for support for an anti-vaccine theory isn’t going to find it in “Pale Rider”.

    “Pale Rider” is a much more in depth look at the flu than John M. Barry’s “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History” (2004), which I read about the time it came out. Barry’s book was an appetizer to Spinney’s full course.

    I was not wild about the way “Pale Rider” was organized. It seemed to meander, both geographically and temporally. In a text version of the book, where it’s easy enough to skip back a few pages to check context, that’s not a problem. On Audible - well, that doesn’t work so well. Also, there weren’t any footnotes or endnotes with source materials. I haven’t read this author before, but it’s clear from the text that it was carefully researched. Those can be tedious to read, but a .pdf accompanying the Audible would have worked.

    The title of the review is a quote from the book.

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    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Firoozeh Dumas
    • Narrated By Firoozeh Dumas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father's glowing memories of his graduate school years here.

    Elfie says: "Insightful, witty and funny"
    "Even Funnier as an Audible"

    I read Firoozeh Dumas’ “Funny in Farsi” (2003) around the time it was first published. I’d heard an interview with Ms. Dumas on KPCC, one of the Southern California NPR stations, and she was quite funny. She sounded just-out-of-college young. I imagined her as one of those impeccably dressed, fashionably made-up women I sometimes saw on their lunch breaks from finance jobs in Century City.

    The print book (I read it long before Kindle) was good, but I mentally stumbled over pronunciations. I’d had French in high school, but the Persian threw me - especially people’s names. At the time, I didn’t know very many Iranians, and I was mystified by the liberal sprinkling of z’s and k’s, and wondered just how “j’s” sounded. It was a fraught linguistic quandary in an area once called Alta California, that belonged to Spanish speaking Mexico.

    Hearing Ms. Dumas narrate this Audible made a huge difference for me. It went from a mildly amusing read to a listen that had me smiling and laughing on the Metro Gold Line on the commute home. I am not sure if people knew I had ear buds in, but occasionally there are riders who have animated arguments with the empty seat next to them, so I fit in.

    Beijing raised as an immigrant in the United States isn’t easy - especially from Iran. Ms. Dumas had to act as a language and cultural interpreter for her mother. She bore the task cheerfully, but that’s a big burden for kids. Her parents had to flee a country in revolution, and ended up penniless in money-obsessed Southern California . Ms. Dumas is Muslim, a religion that was mostly misunderstood and mysterious when she was growing up - although that’s probably better than the fear many people have today.

    It was great fun to hear about the era and the America I grew up in from new eyes. We are the same age and have things in common. We both went through a salt dough ornament phase (1 cup salt, 4 cups flour, and 12 oz. water, and avoid all temptation to taste the stuff). We both moved in grade school, upending budding friendships. We both had embarrassing parents that we love dearly. Mine were just embarrassing for different reasons, like insisting on driving me and my friends everywhere (they’d be called helicopter parents today), while hers were embarrassing because their customs were different and Americans didn’t understand them.

    “Funny in Farsi” is a great way to learn about a different culture.

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    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Richard Rhodes
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    What do Hedy Lamarr, avant-garde composer George Antheil, and your cell phone have in common? The answer is spread-spectrum radio: a revolutionary inven­tion based on the rapid switching of communications sig­nals among a spread of different frequencies. Without this technology, we would not have the digital comforts that we take for granted today. Only a writer of Richard Rhodes’s caliber could do justice to this remarkable story. Unhappily married to a Nazi arms dealer, Lamarr fled to America at the start of World War II; she brought with her not only her theatrical talent....

    Darryl says: "fascinating short bio"
    "An Idea Must be Reduced to Practice"

    I can remember hearing about Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) and George Antheil (1900-1959) in the early 1980’s, when I was in the Army and learning radio theory. Frequency hopping was key to security, and even in the digital age, it wasn’t an easy concept. She was right up there with Nikola Tesla for me, who I knew for wave theory, ship-to-shore communications and long distance radio receivers. I didn’t know for years that Tesla was also an electrical engineer- just as I didn’t know Ms. Lamarr was also a movie star. Pre-internet, we couldn’t just look things up, and in the age of 5 TV channels that didn’t even broadcast from midnight until 5 am and no VCR’s (predecessors to DVR’s) old movies were hard to come by.

    “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World” (2011) has a really great explanation of the science of radio waves and frequency hopping. I know the technology, and this book is as spot on as possible without actually trying it out with radios. Richard Rhodes also has a good discussion of patents, patent law, and how Ms. Lamarr applied for and received her patent, and how she adapted the invention to show it worked. There is very little about other inventors and scientists who were active at the time to put the work and her advancements in context, and that wound have been nice to know.

    Rhodes discussion of Ms. Lamarr’s relationship with her co-inventor George Antheil was so detailed that I could see them in my mind, working together. The legal complexities associated with the patent were fascinating. I actually do wonder if the military discounted her work because she was movie star - or if maybe they wanted to use it secretly, without paying royalties or giving credit. The technology she developed is widely used in Bluetooth technology, but long before that, it was used in missile guidance systems.

    I was disappointed that the book didn’t have more about Ms. Lamarr’s acting career. Rhodes has a detailed discussion of Ekstase (1933), her first film. That movie showed her having an orgasm, a first for a non-pornographic film. It was quaint by today’s standards, but that post-coital cigarette would raise eyebrows today. After her escape from a stultifying marriage to a wealthy man, she moved to Hollywood - and, well, this book gives her acting career short shrift. I’m not sure what movies she was in, who her costars were, or how she got along with her directors. She was married 6 times, and very little is mentioned about any of her husbands except her first husband Fritz Mandl (1900-1977), an Austrian industrialist and fascist. In short, as fascinating as the book is, it left off half of her life. I wish Rhodes had written a far more detailed book about her life.

    There’s a new very highly rated documentary by Alexandra Dean called “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” (2017) that I plan to watch to find out more.

    The title of the review is a quote from the first chapter of the book, discussing patents.

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    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Daily Show (the AudioBook): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Jon Stewart - foreword, Chris Smith
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman, Jay Snyder, Kevin T. Collins, and others

    This oral history takes the listener behind the curtain for all the show's highlights, from its origins as Comedy Central's underdog late-night program hosted by Craig Kilborn to Jon Stewart's long reign to Trevor Noah's succession, rising from a scrappy jester in the 24-hour political news cycle to become part of the beating heart of politics - a trusted source for not only comedy but also commentary, with a reputation for calling bullshit and an ability to effect real change in the world.

    Diana says: "Not narrated by the interviewees"
    "The Truth was Hard to Come By"

    For several very busy years, when I was working and running kids to and from school, soccer practice and band, my only source of news and entertainment was Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” In a half an hour, after dinner and before baths and reading, I got to hear the major national stories, keep up on politics, and had some laughs. It was my touchstone to an adult life.

    I enjoyed listening to “The Daily Show (the Audio Book) An Oral History as told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests” (2016) and learning about how the show developed. I loved the behind the scenes of some major coups that made the show what it became. I was vaguely aware that Senator John McCain appeared as part of his campaign, but I didn’t realize that his appearance took “The Daily Show” from satirical pranksterism to genuine political reporting and commentary.

    I’d forgotten some of the reporters/correspondents who appeared over the years. Sure, there are the incomparable and irrepressible Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee - but I’d forgotten Steve Carrell and the amusing Al Madrigal. I never even knew that Mo Rocca, who I adore on NPR’s “Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me . . .” was a regular. Listening to the Audio Book was a little like going to a reunion of bitingly funny classmates.

    I was surprised about how much work went into - and still goes into - the show, especially the admirable amount of fact checking. It would be easy enough to pass off an incorrect story as a comedy skit, but that just doesn’t happen.

    I was surprised that the book didn’t particularly work well as an Audio Book. Jon Stewart didn’t read his part, and neither did the other correspondents. That was a little disappointing, but not insurmountable. Where the real problem came in is that there were a lot of direct quotes - it was an oral history, after all - but there wasn’t a way to know from the listen whether someone was being quoted and who it was until the end of the quote. If I’d seen the written version, I would have known from indents and italics; and I could have looked at the end of the quote for the name when I wanted to know ahead of time who was talking. And the aforementioned Mo Rocca? Well, either WBEZ and NPR mispronounce his name every week, or this Audio Book got it wrong when they pronounced it like Almond Roca instead of like “rock-a-bye”.

    The title of the review is a quote from Chapter 10, and refers to information provided (or not provided) about the Iraq War.

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    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • How to Get Run Over by a Truck: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Katie McKenna
    • Narrated By Katie McKenna
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    People often say, "I feel like I've been run over by a truck." Katie actually was. On a sunny morning bike ride in Brooklyn, 24-year-old Katie McKenna was forever changed when she was run over by an 18-wheeler. Being crushed under a massive semi wasn't something Katie should have survived. After 10 hours of emergency surgery, she woke to find herself in a body and a life that would never be the same.

    Leah says: "How to book on gratitude"
    "Putting Your Pieces Back Together "

    Confession: I felt like I should read/listen to this book because I’m a personal injury defense attorney. I’ve taken thousands of depositions (asking someone questions under oath), of people who were in accidents, but those are rigid, formal, fraught with tension, filtered with expectations and choked by lawyers. I never get the whole story.

    I hoped Katie McKenna’s “How to Get Run Over by a Truck” (2016) would give me more insight about what actually happens to someone who is badly hurt in an accident - how someone handles surgeries, recovery and pain. I was expecting an uncomfortably angry book, earnest and dreary, plodding, sprinkled with the pedantic use of medical terms, argumentative and blaming - in short, a longer version of a deposition.

    Ms. McKenna’s book is engaging and clever. “How to Get Run Over by a Truck” is well written, wry, self-deprecating and hopeful - and the performance by the author was a delight. She was angry from time to time, but not unfairly. Surprisingly, she was not mad at the driver that her over. That was an accident. What really upset her was the occasional casual cruelty of some of her doctors. They didn’t just kick her when she was down. They metaphorically dragged her to the roof of a tall building and tried to push her off.

    The medical care she needed to mend was extraordinary, complex, and caused exquisite, excruciating pain. Ms. McKenna’s descriptions were uncomfortably evocative - especially because sometimes she wasn’t given enough opioids. She suffered, and without good reason. It was a grim time for her, but the book isn’t grim - it’s resilient, and sometimes Coke Zero out-the-nose funny.

    Ms. McKenna’s Catholic faith was a major part of her recovery, and she talked about it -,but not in the facile way of a weekday sinner and a Sunday believer. She and her family prayed to the Virgin Mary, and her family said novenas for her. The book didn’t proselytize or moralize - her faith was simply as important to her recovery as traction, antibiotics and regular visits from friends and family.

    I suppose I should recommend this book for other lawyers hoping to gain insight, or for doctors who need a good dose of empathy - but that’s too limiting. It’s a hard story about someone who’s been through something awful, but it’s just plain a good listen.

    The title to this review is also the title to Section II of the book.

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    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Dave Grossman, Loren W. Christensen
    • Narrated By Dave Grossman

    On Combat looks at what happens to the human body under the stresses of deadly battle and the impact on the nervous system, heart, breathing, visual and auditory perception, memory - then discusses new research findings as to what measure warriors can take to prevent such debilitations so they can stay in the fight, survive, and win. A brief, but insightful look at history shows the evolution of combat, the development of the physical and psychological leverage that enables humans to kill other humans, followed by an objective examination of domestic violence in America.

    Daniel says: "A solid read. Very informative and rivreting."
    "Divide the Sorrow, Multiply the Joy"

    When I listen to Audible books, I make a habit of bookmarking sections I think are particularly interesting to make sure I talk about them in the review, and quotes that I think might make a good title. When I finished listening to Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman’s “On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace” (2013, 3rd Ed.), I had 27 bookmarks - and I had stopped bookmarking halfway through.

    This book had a profound effect on me. It helped me understand physical and mental reactions to stressful situations that I encounter on a regular basis. I’m not in law enforcement and I haven’t been a soldier for more than three decades, but part of my job is fighting. Even after two decades of wading into the fray, there are times I feel my heart in my throat, my palms itch, and then my focus narrows so that all I hear and see is what I need to win. It’s when that doesn’t happen I don’t do so well. Grossman explains it all, and what to do to go straight to focus. Rigorous preparation and rehearsal works. Tactical breathing helps. So does routine vigorous physical exercise, to minimize adrenaline dumps.

    My own personal insights aside, Grossman talks about one of the most important and controversial public concerns: mass shootings, especially in schools. He convincingly argues - and extensively uses published, peer reviewed studies to support his position - that the repeated, indiscriminate exposure of children to violence in the media is the leading cause of violence later in life. Children up to a certain age can’t distinguish movies and television from real life, and seeing hundreds of murders growing up destroys. Just ask the children of Aleppo and South Sudan.

    Grossman points out that the video games kids play on are the same, with slight modifications, as video simulators used to train soldiers across the world. No wonder the Eric Harris and Dylan Klebolds that continue to haunt our schools are such marksmen. Dave Cullen’s “Columbine” (2009) and Andrew Solomon’s “Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity” (2012) tried to explain why mass shootings happen, but I think Colonel Grossman, in his acronym laden rougher retired military vernacular, was more eloquent. He also has the tacticians eye for understanding a combat situation.

    Grossman’s position on mass shootings in no way undermines the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms. In fact, he supports it. What he proposes is a curtailing of the 1st Amendment freedom of speech, the right of television, movies and the internet to show repeated images of violence to children, to indoctrinate them. And you know what? The Supreme Court has long limited commercial speech. Grossman argues that giving children unlimited exposure to simulated violence is child abuse, and he’s right.

    Grossman’s extensive discussion about the causes and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was simple and revelatory. I would have had a much easier time reading and understanding David J. Morris’ “The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (2015) if I’d run across “On Combat” first.

    I had an issue with the naming of one of Grossman’s key concepts: he describes a soldier or law enforcement officer who watches after and protects ordinary citizens as a “sheepdog”. The concept is a good one - it’s someone who’s trained to fight and knows how to watch and worry, to use force when necessary, but doesn’t try to hurt people, her flock. The problem with the term is that it’s gained traction among the military and law enforcement, but civilians haven’t heard it. They hear “sheepdog” and think big fluffy, messy dogs with dreadlocks and hair in their eyes, not the warrior protectors Grossman refers to. The word invites ridicule. I don’t know a better term for it, though, so I just hope it gets used more often until people stop making fun of it.

    The title of the review isn’t ironic. It’s from a concept Colonel Grossman emphasizes in recovering from trauma.

    Colonel Grossman narrated the book himself, and it’s always nice to have an author read their own work.

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    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Michael Wolff
    • Narrated By Michael Wolff, Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    With extraordinary access to the West Wing, Michael Wolff reveals what happened behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of our time in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country—and the world—has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.

    Jerry R. Nokes Jr. says: "Not as credible as one would like."
    "That was some weird sh**"

    There’s a sure way to get me to read a book: threaten to sue the author. Add in a daring publisher - Henry Holt & Co rush released the book 4 days early, on January 5, 2018, before Donald J. Trump’s lawyers could file an injunction to stop its release - and I’m at the head of the electronic line buying my copy. I would have listened to Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” (2018) anyway, but I wouldn’t have set aside my Audible daily Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post to listen. Charles Harder, Esq.’s cease-and-desist letter made this book irresistible.

    The day after the book was released, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart . . .” (@realDonaldTrump, Twitter, January 6, 2018.) After listening to “Fire and Fury” I don’t think Mr. Trump’s tweet was meant to reassure Americans as a whole or Trump voters in particular. He was trying to soothe himself, and convince the few people that matter to him that he’s really intelligent, and that he deserves respect, no matter what his cabinet and cronies think.

    Who actually matters to Mr. Trump, according to Mr. Wolff? Vladimir Putin, of course, and above all others; and surprisingly, Rupert Murdoch. Mr. Trump craves recognition that he’s more clever, more adored, and more powerful than any other President, ever. He’s particularly set on destroying his predecessor’s accomplishments, working his way backwards. He started with Democrat Barack Obama’s signature health plan, but he’s nullifying some of Republican George W. Bush’s achievements as well. Perhaps what’s saddest is his fixation - stalking and doxing, really - of his vanquished opponent, Hillary Clinton. If she doesn’t matter, why does he keep bringing her up?

    Mr. Wolff answers the question of how Mr. Trump got elected - he’s quite charming and likable in person. He’s attracted some important wealthy donors, like Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah. His bravado - his chutzpah - inspires so much confidence in others, they don’t see even their own flaws. That’s a gift.

    Steve Bannon and Breitbart News were part and parcel of the Mercer’s support. Shambling, disorganized and disheveled, and possibly “on the spectrum” as Mr. Wolff puts it, Mr. Bannon was key in delivering Mr. Trump the states he needed to win the electoral college. Mr. Bannon was ill suited for life in the White House, and was unceremoniously dumped in August 2017 - leading to his candid and self-destructive cooperation with Mr. Wolff for “Fire and Fury”.

    Mr. Wolff debunks the conceit that Mr. Trump’s whimsical orders and sudden changes are deliberate tactics, meant to unnerve people and make him appear strong. Mr. Trump stumbles into things, like inadvertently causing riots across the country while implementing the travel ban. He doesn’t have the political background to understand how legislation works, and doesn’t ken that the legislature, judiciary and executive branches are separate and co-equal branches of government. Mr. Trump doesn’t know he doesn’t know, and that has wreaked havoc on the White House and the United States since January 19, 2017.

    There’s a part of the book that’s laugh-out-loud funny, especially on Audible. It’s Mr. Wolff’s description of former White House Communications Director (for about 2 seconds) Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci. Narrator Holter Graham ran with Mr. Wolff’s raucous description, and it’s not to be forgotten.

    As interesting as it is, by Michael Wolff’s own admission, it can’t all be true. The problem for me is that I don’t know what’s fact and what’s fiction, so it’s only a 3 as a book for me.

    The title of the review is a quote by George W. Bush, about Mr. Trump’s inaugural address.

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    35 of 61 people found this review helpful
  • The Princess Diarist

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Carrie Fisher
    • Narrated By Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford.

    Gretchen SLP says: "Fireworks at Midnight"
    "I Would Never Not Be Princess Leia"

    There are some authors and some books so important to me that I create my own book release schedule and events. The winter of 2016, I did that for Carrie Fisher’s "The Princess Diarist" (released November 22, 2016).

    First, I got Ms. Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking" (2008) on Audible. I was delighted that what was a ‘memoir lite’ in print was a 5 Star listen and a Diet Coke our-the-nose laugher. After all, how many people have woken up next to a corpse, or have superpowers and can make people gay? I watched the original Star Wars trilogy - IV, A New Hope (1977); V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980); and VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) for probably the 30th time. I rewatched VII - The Force Awakens (2015), but only for the 3rd or 4th time. I love that Princess Leia didn’t live happily after - she became General Organa, a rebel leader, skilled tactician and brilliant fighter.

    I had planned to go see Ms. Fisher on her book tour. I was going buy several hardback editions of “The Princess Diarist” and have her sign them. One copy would be for me and one for my friend D-, who wants to know all things Harrison Ford. D- actually talked me into a midnight showing of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984) on the release date. I had to buy the Audible version, but that would be after I’d seen her at the signing. I expected to enjoy it more that way. Yes, I know - I was fan girling in a way completely unbecoming a middle aged mother, but Carrie Fisher was worth a little bit of my dignity. She wouldn’t have minded - she called signings “celebrity lap dances” but signings at ComicCons kept her bills paid.

    Fisher’s death on December 27, 2016, hit me the way that only the death of a favorite author can hit an adoring reader. There’s such a loss - she won’t be writing anymore astoundingly insightful, inspiring and often amusing memoirs. We know she had a three month long affair with Harrison Ford. She adored and loved him in a way only a 19 year old with only one other real boyfriend can love a strikingly handsome 33 year old married man who never mentions leaving his family for her. Actually, he never offered - and she, too insecure and shy, never asked. We’ll never know quite what the relationship consisted of, except lots of longing and silence.

    This book was well written and well read, but hard to listen to, knowing she’s gone.

    The title of the review is a quote from the book.

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    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Medieval World

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Dorsey Armstrong
    • Narrated By Professor Dorsey Armstrong Ph.D Duke University

    Far from being a time of darkness, the Middle Ages was an essential period in the grand narrative of Western history. But what was it like to actually live in those extraordinary times? Now you can find out.These 36 lectures provide a different perspective on the society and culture of the Middle Ages: one that entrenches you in the daily human experience of living during this underappreciated era.

    Rocco says: "Prof. Armstrong is an rockstar. Loved her class."
    "The Dark Ages become Vibrant"

    I’m a “Great Courses” fan. I’ve learned basic codes and secret writing from Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius’ "Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History" (2011). I’ve walked through the Sahara and waded on the banks of the Nile with Bob Brier in "The History of Ancient Egypt" (2013). Now, I’ve lived through what was far from The Dark Ages with Dorsey Armstrong in “The Medieval World” (2009).

    I was fascinated by the chapters on the spread of Christianity and monasticism. Later in the course, theres a chapter on how Islam influenced the medieval world and the Byzantine Empire. A lot of history courses taught to Westerners give short shrift to Muslims. This one does not. There’s also a really neat chapter on the Viking invasion. I come from a long but undistinguished line of Swedes. I like to imagine that somewhere, centuries ago, my great-great-great x6 grandparents got restless and maybe adventurous and took over known civilization for a century or two before they started making krumkake and fermenting mass quantities of lutefisk.

    This course comes with a 144-page PDF download. It’s not a transcript of the lectures - it’s kind of an abridged but illustrated course textbook, complete with study questions. It’s pretty cool, but I become historical obsolete just using that term. “Sick” might be the 21st century term for so great anyone might like it.

    The lecture on the Norman Invasion and its record in the Bayeux Tapestry - that was pretty neat. I’d like to see that some day. There are lectures on daily life in medieval cities, agrarian villages, and of course, royalty. There’s also my favorite medieval topic: plague. It’s just one chapter, half an hour, but for anyone who wants to know more, there is Dorsey Armstrong, PhD’s The Great Courses “The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague” (2016). That’s a 5 Star listen.

    Dorsey Armstrong is my favorite Great Courses instructor. I’m disappointed there’s only one more course of hers to listen to.

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    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Robert Garland
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Garland Ph.D. University College London

    These 24 dramatic lectures examine key events from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome to medieval Europe and Asia. Spanning thousands of years and three continents, this course illuminates fascinating historical dramas on the individual scale.

    Mike McGuire says: "Excellent material, engaging presentation."
    "An Audible Tardis"

    I listened to more than half of Robert Garland’s “Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds” (2015) when I was on a solo summit/trail run up to the top of Mt. Wilson, one of Southern California’s Six Pack of Peaks. The day was unbearably hot and arid, and I desperately needed to mentally be somewhere other than running thousands of feet up and down that mountain. If I’d thought about what I was doing, I wouldn’t have kept going.

    “Living History” took me back into a temperate Mediterranean world to watch Julius Ceasar’s assassination and funeral. 14 years later, Mark Antony and Cleopatra - Queen of Egypt and Julius Ceasar’s former inamorata - entered into a mutual suicide pact. The great soldier and strategist Mark Antony dies, followed by Cleopatra a year later. Half a century later, the cult leader Jesus Christ and his followers are spied on by the Romans, who eventually decide Christ is a subversive and put him to death in a very painful and publicized way, to send a message to others. There are lectures on Hannibal, Punjabs, the Visigoths, and several chapters about Muslims.

    The lecture about Socrates really stuck with me - I can actually recall where I was on the trail when he died.

    “Living History” isn’t Eurocentric, even though Professor Garland specializes in Greece and Rome. I appreciated the breadth. How can you know History if you ignore a good portion of the world? The lecture series does not include any significant events from cultures of the Americas, such as Peru’s Norte Chico civilizations. That was contemporaneous with Ancient Egypt, but South American cultures lacked a written language until the end of the first millennium CE.

    Dr. Garland gives the lecture, and he is okay - but at points, he’s too close to the microphone and there’s slight feedback.

    The title of the review was coined from Dr. Who. It’s a time machine, TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space).

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    1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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