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Cynthia

Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

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  • 179 reviews
  • 179 ratings
  • 431 titles in library
  • 67 purchased in 2014
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  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs)
    • By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Narrated By Malcolm Gladwell
    Overall
    (4522)
    Performance
    (3993)
    Story
    (4016)

    In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks. Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago.

    Pamela says: "Another new perspective on life"
    "The Art of (Unconventional) War"
    Overall
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    Story

    Every few years, Malcolm Gladwell publishes a fascinating, engaging book on an overarching sociological concept. He started in 2000 with "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," defining that point as "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." Gladwell isn't creating trends, as the subjects of his 2008 book "Outliers: The Story of Success" do. Gladwell, after extensive research, gives the concepts names and stories everyone can understand.

    "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" (2013) is a collection of stories about people who do things differently, either because they are different or because they have no choice but to ignore 'conventional wisdom' to fight and win. Gladwell provides many examples of underdogs using unconventional warfare: Irish Catholics; a girl's under 12 basketball coached by a dad who'd never played the game; The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and the American Civil Rights Movement . . .

    By illustration, Gladwell tells the story of Emil Freireich, an oncologist and an incredible social misfit in the pediatric oncology ward he worked in. Dr. Freireich's inability to let emotions into his work - and his ability to think beyond common practices - made him instrumental in finding cures for childhood leukemia. Hundreds of thousands of people owe their lives to a man with the bedside manner of a gruff truck driver who has had one too many coffees and still has five hundred miles to go before the sun rises again.

    Gladwell also points out the loss that can happen when someone tries to fit in the wrong place and wrong time. He illustrates that concept using a woman who went to an Ivy League university and lost her passion for science among all the 'big fish' in the competitive shark classes. If she'd gone to a state university, which actually had more qualified, published professors, she would be living her dream now. I have two teenagers, and that resonated with me. My oldest, inculcated by the mantra of 'you must get into A Good College', wonders if I know what I'm talking about when I tell him I want him to find a school that's good for him. Now I've got backup.

    Gladwell's books are occasionally fiercely criticized by the scientific community, because they are too general; or because someone believes he has misinterpreted studies and data. Those are valid points, but Gladwell isn't writing a peer reviewed article for publication in "Evolutionary Behavioral Science". He's writing for everyone, not just PhD's and MD's, and he's writing to start a conversation, not answer all questions.

    I've heard Gladwell in interviews, but this is the first Audible Gladwell book I've listened to. (I have the rest of in hardback, and my favorite is 2005's "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.") Gladwell is a great narrator.

    The Audible comes with a PDF file with a photo Gladwell discusses extensively in the book; charts and graphs; and footnotes.

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    299 of 310 people found this review helpful
  • The Advocate's Conviction: The Advocate Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Teresa Burrell
    • Narrated By Laurel Schroeder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Sabre Orin Brown's clients keep disappearing. With seemingly no connection between the cases, Sabre enlists the help of her southern PI friend, JP, and her best friend, Bob, to find each of them - before it's too late. In her race against the clock, Sabre must determine whether contemporary horrors are being buried in the shadow of dark traditions - or if it's something else at work.

    Cynthia says: "Not Your Ordinary Lawyer Mystery"
    "Not Your Ordinary Lawyer Mystery"
    Overall
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    Story

    "The Advocate's Conviction" (2012) is Book 3 in Teresa Burrell's "Advocate" series. The series isn't a clichéd lawyer series with a hard boiled criminal lawyer whose cynicism is rivaled only by her drinking. Sabre Orin Brown is a court--appointed children's lawyer, and this series isn't "attorney-porn" (Attorney-porn: one case at a time; lots of time to strategize and plan; a great jury;,and everyone but the bad guy likes the lawyer.) Sabre has lots of cases at the same time; she gets stressed out and annoyed; she needs help and asks for it; her cases are always in front of Judges, some of whom are real jerks; and sometimes her clients hate her.

    Burrell has always been great at plots, and "The Advocate'a Conviction" is the best yet: it's tautly woven, keeps-you-guessing-til-the-end good, and surprisingly plausible. Burrell sometimes writes dialog like the attorney she is. Some of the characters use vocabulary that is much better than their education.

    Sabre represents children from two very different families torn apart by alcohol and drugs. Both run away after getting involved in the juvenile justice system. The contrast between the two families is stark. One family desperately wants to stay together - and the other? The situation was so horrible, it's surprising that the child wasn't removed earlier. Or, at least it seems surprising.

    Burrell is great at subtly engendering sympathy even for secondary/supporting characters. It's a neat way to make Sabre's world more complex and real.

    Burrell's been trying out different narrators. Laurel Schroeder seemed a little too clipped, fast and mechanical in the first part of the narration. About halfway through, she seemed to relax and understand the characters.

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    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By Nathan Wolfe
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (186)
    Performance
    (163)
    Story
    (164)

    In The Viral Storm, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic. Wolfe's research missions to the jungles have earned him the nickname "the Indiana Jones of virus hunters," and here Wolfe takes listeners along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips - to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases....

    Raymond says: "Well Researched and Explained by a True Expert"
    "Timely. Terrifying. True."
    Overall
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    I scanned my bookshelf before I wrote this review. Carl Zimmer's "Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures" (2001), has a top shelf place that belies it's origins: I "borrowed" it from a JPL scientist who was more interested in his own biceps than the universe. Dr Nicholas P. Money's "Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard: The mysterious world of mushrooms, molds and mycologists" (2002) and "Carpet Monsters and Killer Spores: A Natural History of Toxic Mold" (2004) have truly honored places - Dr. Money loves mold like I love my kids, and he's got that dry, Monty Python wit to go with it.

    Nathan Wolfe PhD's "The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age" (2012) was a natural fit. if it weren't for the current Ebola outbreak making everyone interested in pandemics, I would wondered just how well Audible knew me. Wolfe isn't as amusing as Money, but I don't think Wolfe aims to be, and I don't think Money can play the serious guy, no matter how deadly on point he is.

    Wolfe discusses HIV/AIDS at length. As a virus, it's intriguing and horrifying. It's mutable and recombinant - but it's transmitted by intimate contact and blood, so it's a relatively contained epidemic. So is HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts in some variations - and cervical cancer in others.

    Wolfe presciently addresses the current Ebola outbreak two years before it happened. Some might say that Wolfe was making a lucky guess in "The Viral Storm," but Wolfe wasn't guessing. He knew what was coming, period; and he got the who, what, where and why pretty much right, too. Well, Wolfe didn't have actual names for the "who" but he got the professions/jobs/work of those who first contracted Ebola right, and he definitely has the "how" down. Ebola will burn itself out eventually - it's an inefficient transmitter but lethal, burning through its hosts fairly quickly and killing more than half of those it infects. The question is how many will it kill this time?

    What makes Wolfe's book truly scary is the cleverness of the viruses. HIV/AIDS hid its hosts, and it took years to develop a diagnostic test. At the beginning of the epidemic, an HIV+ person could unknowingly infect those he or she loved, not discovering the illness for years. And Ebola - it doesn't just kill, it takes the loved ones who care for the infected, too. Viruses are small, with very little genetic material - and some can combine with other viruses to make a lethal new microbe. It's as if viruses are sentient and bent on taking over the world.

    It's a fascinating, challenging, and so very frightening listen.

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    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5780)
    Performance
    (5386)
    Story
    (5385)

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

    Paige says: "Not his Wheal-house"
    ""Fascinating" - Spock"
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    was too young to watch the 79 episodes of Star Trek in their original run (1966 - 1969). As after school reruns in the late 1970's - well, 'TOS" (as "The Original Series" is now referred as) was on after reruns of "The Brady Bunch (1969 - 1974) and "The Partridge Family" (1970 - 1974). Star Trek:TOS was perfect for winding down after a grueling day in Junior High School, which equaled the TV screen for alien life forms and mysterious rituals.

    Even back then, I remember that the men, women, and telepathic beings that wore 'Redshirts' weren't going to live to the end of the episode, and maybe even to the first commercial break. Unless, of course, James Doohan's "Scotty" was in red - and he was known to wear science blue or command gold from time to time. The 1999 Sci-Fi parody film "Galaxy Quest" illustrated the quintessential Redshirt, "Guy" (Sam Rockwell), killed off on his only appearance on that fictional show, captured the resigned terror perfectly.

    John Scalzi's "Redshirts" (2012) explores an alternate universe where the unnamed writer (adroitly narrated by Wil Wheaton) is literally [reviewer's pun intended] a god to the Redshirts. In our 'real world', a Redshirt goes on an 'away mission' and is cannon fodder, gone by the first commercial break. In Scalzi's alternate universe, Redshirts are working folks who know when to disappear to another level of the ship to avoid a deadly away mission, and who are well aware of the misfortune of a promotion to the bridge or a Deck 6 to 12 assignment.

    I'll guarantee that as someone who remembers Star Trek:TOS; still hasn't seen many of TNG episodes; and is somewhat aware that there are other Star Trek series, but never watched them; and saw a couple of the movies when they got to Netflix, there must have bern a ton of inside references I missed. But that didn't stop me frown enjoying "Redshirts" anyway.

    I did have to listen to the last couple of chapters more than once. Let your mind wander for a few seconds when your Prius is cut off on the 5 North at the end of a day when the Santa Ana winds are relentless, and you'll miss a major plot twist.

    And did I mention Wil Wheaton? Oh, only once. For so many reasons, he was absolutely perfect narrating this book.

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    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Catherine Pelonero
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (70)

    Written in a flowing narrative style, Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences presents the story of the horrific and infamous murder of Kitty Genovese, a young woman stalked and stabbed on the street where she lived in Queens, New York in 1964. The case sparked national outrage when the New York Times revealed that dozens of witnesses had seen or heard the attacks on Kitty Genovese and her struggle to reach safety but had failed to come to her aid or even call police until after the killer had fled.

    Linda Lou says: "EXCEPTIONAL TRUE CRIME BOOK"
    "When Indifference becomes Evil"
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    Novelist Stephen King (1947 - present) makes places evil and sometimes sentient characters in his novels. "'Salem's Lot" (1975) was the first chilling fictional King town I read. Later, he created the adjacent, inimical town of Derry, Maine, in "It" (1986). Derry's utter indifference is its most deadly trait.

    In 1964, the chilling indifference of real-life Kew Gardens, NY, met the psychopathic Winston Mosley. The combination was deadly. Mosley slaughtered a screaming, bloody Kitty Genovese in front of at least 37 neighbors who admitted seeing or hearing him over 45 minutes. There were hundreds more neighbors who didn't admit to seeing or hearing Mosley attack her twice outside large apartment buildings.

    I don't remember when I first heard about this murder, but I do know even 50 years later, it's often cited as the ultimate anecdote of apathy, fear, and - as I remember it, contempt for the victim.

    Growing up in the Midwest long before the internet age, I heard stories that Genovese shouldn't have been out as late as she was; that she'd dressed proactively; or that she'd been killed in a domestic dispute with an angry boyfriend and the neighbors thought it was just one of the couple's regular spats. Catherine Pelonero's "Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences" (2014) dispelled the myths I'd too readily accepted. Kitty Genovese managed a bar, and was on her way home from work. She wasn't wearing a miniskirt and high heels. She was a lesbian in a loving, committed relationship, and she did not know her murderer, Mosley, a serial killer.

    The 1964 Kew Gardens was complicit in Kitty Genovese' murder, an 'unindicted co-conspirator'. Mosley knew his hunting grounds so well that he counted on the neighbors 'willful blindness' At trial, his attorney unsuccessfully argued that his flagrant attack was proof that he was 'schizophrenic' and should be found "Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Defect". Mosley even managed to terrorize a New York neighborhood 4 years after he was convicted and sentenced to death, escaping from a hospital visit and terrorizing a small town for a week.

    [Reviewer's note: The term "schizophrenic' was used in 1964 to refer to people who have what is now differentiated as the mental diseases bipolar disorder and separately, schizophrenia; and mentally disordered sociopaths and psychopaths. See, for example, Robert Hare, PhD, who developed guidelines for diagnosing psychopathy (someone without conscience) in the late 1980's, publishing the PCL-2 checklist in 1991. Schizophrenia is commonly defined today as a disease, sometimes treatable, where the affected person cannot tell the difference between what's real and what's not real. Mosley does not fit the modern definition of schizophrenia.]

    Kitty Genovese' killing did spur an important change in public safety: it lead to the creation of what is now the 9-1-1 system. In 1964, calling the police meant calling an Operator, and hopefully being transferred to the right police department; or trying to figure out the right department yourself. It took some work, and at least some Kew Garden residents thought it would be a pain, and that anyway, someone else was probably already calling anyway. Surely they were.

    There have been follow up reporting and other books. According to Pelonero and other writers, Kew Gardens in the 21st Century remains defensive, insular, and maintains no interest in 'getting involved'. It's as if the place itself is bad, like the fictional Derry.

    Dina Pearlman's narration was almost robotic in the second section, which distracted me.

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    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Forgetting to Be Afraid: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Wendy Davis
    • Narrated By Hillary Huber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Wendy Davis has had her share of tough fights. Raised by a single mother with a ninth-grade education, Davis began working after school at age fourteen to contribute to the family finances. By the time she was nineteen, she was living in a trailer park with a baby daughter and holding down two jobs. But rather than succumb to the cycle of poverty that threatened to overwhelm her, Davis managed to attend community college and Texas Christian University, graduate from Harvard Law School, and go on to serve nine years on the Fort Worth City Council. She set her sights on the Texas state senate—and in 2008 defeated a longtime GOP incumbent in a race widely considered one of the biggest recent upsets in Texas politics.

    Cynthia says: "Raise Your Hand, Raise Your Voice"
    "Raise Your Hand, Raise Your Voice"
    Overall
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    June 25, 2013 was an unexpected and thrilling day for my family. That afternoon, I'd idly been scrolling through Twitter and started to see posts about a filibuster of an anti-choice bill in the Texas State Senate. Intrigued, I kept an eye on the feed, #StandwithWendy. My sis, D--, lives in (and loves) Austin, so we started texting each other. NPR mentioned it.

    When I got home, I turned on every CSPAN and news channel I could find. Nothing at all. I knocked urgently on my 16 year old son's door. "I can't find it!" I yelled. "What, what?" he asked. He'd spent the last two years locked in his room, listening to alternafe music and guarding his privacy. I explained, and intrigued, he went to his gaming computer and found the feed on YouTube. We sat together and watched, texting his Aunt D-- I kept screen shots of some of those messages. From me to D--: "Yell as loud as you can it's working" and "Keep yelling they can't take roll". From D-- to me: "Dude I'm deaf and mute" and "No one is leaving here" after rumors of post-midnight arrests.

    My son got to see what a real, live participatory democracy is. I was looking up the Texas Senate Rules and sending them to D-- so we could try and find out if SB 5 had passed, so he got to see how what seems like abstract rules really work. He also got to see the low side of politics like the egregious change of time on records. It might have worked - except for the 200,000 people following it on social media.

    Obviously, I was going to read/listen to "Forgetting to be Afraid" (2014). The actual filibuster is paper Chapter 19/Audible Chapter 20. It answers many questions I had, such as, "Why was that particular bill in front of the Texas Senate on the last day of term?" "What happened to the audio feed?" It wasn't a technical glitch after all. Arse, "How did she make it 13 hours without going to the bathroom?" I know the answer now, and it was almost TMI - but a better solution than the one of thought of.

    There's no surer way to get me to prod me into an immediate read than to have the press argue about what the writer said. It worked for me with Robert Gates' "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" (2014). I wouldn't have read/listened if the pundits hadn't argued about it - and it was fantastic. And Hillary Rodham Clinton's "Hard Choices" (2014) - that I would have listened to eventually, but not as soon as I did. I guess it proves the truism: all publicity is good publicity.

    The book is, in and of itself and aside from the abortion issue, controversial. It wouldn't be if the facts were considered and repeated in context. Yes, Wendy Davis had an abortion. Actually, by medical definition, she had two: one to terminate a never-viable ectopic pregnancy, and the other to stop the agonized suffering of a much wanted and loved daughter, Tate Elise, who was not going to be able to live outside of Senator Davis' uterus. And it is true that she and her husband divorced after he helped put her through law school, but the divorce was more than a decade after she graduated.

    As to the actual story, it's more interesting than most. Davis wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth - it was more like a plastic spork. And the trailer park story - yes, it's true.

    As to writing style - it was more Harvard than Texas. Personally, I prefer the twang. I was about to criticize the narrator's pronounciation of Spanish words, but I decided to check first, and discovered that Texas Spanish isn't necessarily the same as California/Mexican Spamish. Especially when it comes to "San Jacinto".

    The title of this review is from a quote of Leticia Van de Putte, a fellow senator who famously said, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

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    6 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Megan McArdle
    • Narrated By Mia Barron
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (71)

    Most new products fail. So do most small businesses. And most of us, if we are honest, have experienced a major setback in our personal or professional lives. So what determines who will bounce back and follow up with a home run? If you want to succeed in business and in life, Megan McArdle argues in this hugely thought-provoking book, you have to learn how to harness the power of failure. McArdle has been one of our most popular business bloggers for more than a decade, covering the rise and fall of some the world' s top companies and challenging us to think differently about how we live, learn, and work.

    Ray says: "Good Book"
    "Successful Failures"
    Overall
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    'm not a 'B-School graduate'. My undergraduate degrees is in Business Administration. It's from a prestigious private university. I could have chosen to go on to get a Master's from the same place. Instead, I chose to get a Juris Doctor, and I've been a litigator ever since.

    Do I want to manage people? Unless it's a trial team assembled on an ad hoc basis, I would rather clean tile grout with a toothbrush. I still love the theory of business management. I've been following it for the last quarter century. I work for a Major Company (you've heard of it) and I get to watch how the theories come and go, from the managed point if view.

    Some trends are a flash, or so radical they won't happen for at least a generation - but it Is fun to watch management try the ideas. Adam Grant's "Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success" (2013) is an example. Nice idea, but it didn't work for the Soviet Union (1922 - 1991) and it's not working now. It might eventually - but the world's leading economy, the United States, and it's business leaders aren't at the tacit socialism Grant proposes.

    Megan McArdle's "The Upside of Down: Why Failing Well Drives Our Success" (2014) discusses a "trend" that's working well, from the perspective of the managed worker: learning from failure. I'm using "trend" in quotes because it sounds like a facile lesson, but it's really not. It's also not new - "Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years" (2008) is a wonderful book on the same subject by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui.

    After discussing Old Coke/New Coke (THE quintessential B-mistake), "The Upside of Down" and "Billion Dollar Lessons" talk about different failures; the ways to approach and analyze them; and their causes.

    McArdle distinguishes an accident as "while there's lots of things you could have done differently, there's nothing you should have done differently" (Chapter 5 on Audible) and "failure" as a "mistake, performing without a safety net." It's a good way to distinguish them. McArdle emphasizes that a lot of mistakes are the result of large, well funded research that carefully asks exactly the wrong questions, or asks the right questions in the wrong situation.

    "The Upside of Down" is thought provoking, but there's an issue that I'd like to see addressed more fully: how to create an atmosphere where employees aren't subtly - or sometimes even overtly - required to hide mistakes, especially those that can compound and result in failure. After all, even one of the world's most successful investors, Warren Buffett, reported an $873,000,000 investing mistake to shareholders May 1, 2014. Referring to a bad investment, Buffett said, "Most of you have never heard" of the company, he wrote. "Consider yourselves lucky; I certainly wish I hadn't." What a no-nonsense way to share a problem without sharing the blame.

    The Audible narrator was fine, but the editing was rough - there were some long pauses.

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    7 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By National Commission on Terrorist Attacks
    • Narrated By Ken Borgers, Sal Giangrasso, Charlton Griffin, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (384)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (90)

    The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9-11 Commission, was created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. This independent, bipartisan commission had the task of producing a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the attack, including preparedness and immediate response, and providing recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

    SLP says: "Absolutely Outstanding Historical Document"
    "Still so very relevant"
    Overall
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    Story

    At the beginning of every September, A&E takes a few hours away from 'reality' shows like "Duck Dynasty", "Storage Wars" and "Flipping (some American city hit hard by the Great Recession)" and shows actual reality - 9/11 documentaries, or somtimes, sanitized 9/11 docudramas. The History Channel sets aside "Ice Road Truckers" and "Ax Men" and returns to its roots and spends the weekend showing various aspects of 9/11, from a long interview of former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani to a three hour show exploring conspiracy theories.

    I don't watch those shows, but it's not out of sense of boredom or a misplaced sense of outrage that basic cable is exploiting the anniversary. 9/11 is history, and just like my father has had a life long fascination with World War II (he was alive for the bombing of Pearl Harbor) I have a fascination for what happened, and why, that beautiful September morning. The reason I don't watch the shows is first, I'm really primarily a reader/listener; second, "The 9/11 Comission Report" (2004) is so thoroughly researched and well written, it was a finalist for a National Book Award, and no non-fiction show compares to it; and, finally, I was watching CNN as the attacks happened. I don't have to see what happened on video again. I remember all too well.

    I read the entire book on line in 2004, and every year since then, I listen to parts of this book. I've been doing this long before I joined Audible. Since the book has always been in the public domain, it's been available through Librivox for years. The Librivox version was read by 19? 20? volunteer readers, the year of its release, and the quality ranges from astoundingly good to mediocre, especially with pronunciation of The Middle Eastern names. After 10 years of war, we are all mich better at Arabi names.

    The question is, isn't whether the book is worth the time. It most definitely is. It's like reading/listening to a Tom Clancy on steroids. So, then, is it worth it to buy on Audible a book you can listen to or read on line for free? It definitely was and is for me. I was able to easily download it to my iPhone, although it's 200 + mB, so make sure you're on WiFi when you do. It's well narrated, and the production quality smooth. The speed of the narration is a bit of an issue - one narrator is much slower than the others. Listen to that narrator at 1.25 speed, and it's fine.

    Which leads me to why I listen or read, year after year. I worry that I'll forget. No, I'll never forget some things - like watching the second plane crash into the other tower, as it happened. But I worry that I'll forget the littler things, like Barbara Olson, the wife of then Solicitor General Theodore Olson, was on Flight 77 when it was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon, and she called him during the hijack. Conservative Theodore Olson was fresh from successfully representing George Bush in Bush v Gore (2000). Theodore Olson subsequently turned to Gore's lawyer, David Boies, and together, they were responsible for overturning laws against same sex marriage. I wonder if somejow, that singular assault on democracy on 9/11 made Theodore Olson a formidable champion of civil rights for a group that hadn't been embraced by the political right.

    This book also has the clearest explanation of Islam and the difference between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims that I've found. It explains a Caliphate - which is even more relevant today than it was 10 years ago, when the report was published. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (prosaically nicknamed ISIS) controls far more land than Osama bin Laden ever did.

    I listen to remember; to think of how we all changed; and to keep trying to understand why.

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    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Curse of the Pogo Stick: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (61)

    In Vientiane, Laos, a booby-trapped corpse intended for Dr. Siri, the national coroner, has been delivered to the morgue. In his absence, only Nurse Dtui’s intervention saves the lives of the morgue attendants, visiting doctors, and Madame Daeng, Dr. Siri’s fiancée.

    Cynthia says: "Curse of the Audible Series Addict"
    "Curse of the Audible Series Addict"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm out of credits for the month. I have at least half-a-dozen Audible books bought on special, waiting for a listen, so I'm not totally bereft of listening options. But Audible, Audible, how about a BOGO on books in a series? I'll have to pause at Book 5 "Curse of the Pogo Stick" (2008) until I can afford last 4 Dr. Siri Paiboun mysteries.

    At the end of the civil war when the communists have assumed power, 72 year old Comrade Dr. Siri Paiboun, a French trained Laotian field doctor longs to quietly retire. Instead, he is pressed into very reluctant service as the National Coroner of Laos. Book 1 "The Coroner's Lunch" introduces Dr. Siri, who's learning to do autopsies with an outdated French textbook. The stunningly green eyed Dr. Siri is a catch for any woman who remembers a time when a radio was an even greater technological sea change than the iPhone. Dr. Siri runs into Madame Daeng on Book 4 - and in Book 5, he marries in a boring bureaucratic exchange of paperwork, followed by a traditional wedding. A pregnant Nurse Dtui and her investigator husband, Posee (spelling, I don't know!) and a cheerful Mr. Gueng are there to celebrate.

    Shortly after their ceremony, a Hmong clan badly in need of supernatural assistance kidnaps Ya Ming. That's a particular problem for Dr. Siri, who is the physical host for the ancient spirit. Ya Ming is able to help the Hmong with their problem; and Dr. Siri solves a more human mystery at the same time. As always with Cotterill, the spiritual is a neat listen and a respectful introduction to non-Western beliefs, but the earthbound mystery isn't solved by 'idolum ex machina'.

    The narrator is smooth, and his British? Australian? English is smooth, and he handles Laotian and Hmong words easily.

    Worth the credit, as always. And my birthday is coming up - now I've got something to ask for.

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    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Anarchy and Old Dogs: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (60)

    An elderly man has been run down by a logging truck on the street in Vientiane just opposite the post office. His body is delivered to the morgue of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the official and only coroner of Laos. At the age of 73, Siri is too old to be in awe of the new communist bureaucrats for whom he now works. Before he can identify the corpse, he must decipher a letter in the man’s pocket—it is written in invisible ink and in code.

    Cynthia says: "CSI: Vientiane, Laos"
    "CSI: Vientiane, Laos"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I used to have a crush on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's Dr. Gil Grissom, so adeptly played by William Petersen. And Petersen as Will Graham in Michael Mann's "Manhunter" (1986)? Based on Thomas Harris' 1981 "Red Dragon" prequel to the book/film "The Silence of the Lambs" (1988/1991), Petersen as a fictional investigator is tenacious and cooly ironic.

    Gil Grissom/William Petersen, I'm sorry. I will always admire your entomological wizardry - but my forensic adoration had been replaced with the 1977 version of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the 73 year old National Coroner of Laos. Dr. Siri's impossibly green eyes are a tell that he is the host of a millennia-old sprit - but only Buddhists "in the know" recognize the shaman Ya Ming in the Laotian National Coroner.

    In Colin Cotterill's "Anarchy and Old Dogs" (2007), the resourceful Dr. Siri is faced with a puzzle Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret would love. The question wasn't how an elderly man died: it was the result of a marriage of a poorly made Soviet truck with badly designed brakes, and a man blinded by cataracts who couldn't have seen it coming. Dr. Siri's question: who was the man, and why had he just picked up a blank "letter" sent from a town near the Thai border?

    Dr. Siri's sardonic comments about communism and bureaucracy are a wonderful complement to the equally snarky repartee of his oldest friend, Comrade Civilai. Civilai and Dr. Siri are both founding members of the Pathet Lao. Civilai's adept maneuvering has gotten him party respect, a large house, and even access to a plane and pilot. Dr. Siri uses Civilai's privileges to solve the mystery, and to find romance.

    I enjoyed the narration - as always, Clive Chafer's pronunciation of Lao, Hmong, and French words are an easy listen.

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    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • FREE The Gray Man

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Mark Greaney
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    Overall
    (1304)
    Performance
    (1152)
    Story
    (1175)

    Court Gentry is known as The Gray Man - a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible, and then fading away. And he always hits his target. But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness. Now, he is going to prove that for him, there's no gray area between killing for a living-and killing to stay alive.

    Rollin says: "Gripping, unremitting action"
    "WETSU, Gentry, WETSU!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mark Greaney's 'Gray Man' is Courtland Gentry, the quintessential loan wolf American assassin/hero. Gentry is a patriot and soldier, abandoned by a fickle Central Intelligence Agency he served as a paramilitary soldier. He's not DEVGRU veteran or a Special Forces operative. Gentry's got the same - or even better - training, but with unlimited financial resources and the stamina and speed of an endurance athlete.

    Since "The Gray Man" (2009) is the start of a series, I'm not spoiling the story by mentioning Gentry survives. The plot - and the suspense - is the number of bad guys that end up dead, and in what nearly impossible way Gentry kills them. Why is Gentry being chased by covert assassination organizations from two dozen second and third world countries? Who is the real brains and what is the real reason for what's happening? Does the weaponry/science work? And is it well written, and worth the listen?

    Grearney, of course, answers the first few questions. As to the weaponry/science issue - well, I found one really obvious "no way would that EVER work" scientific scenario (I am a veteran and I do know my armaments) but by the time it happened - well, I was completely hooked. Maybe the particular emptying of cartridges and subsequent explosion could never have worked, but I could have come up with something that did - and I was too enamored of Gentry to let Greaney fail him.

    At the same time I listened to - and really enjoyed - "The Gray Man" I wondered what Audible algorithm or Amazon metric pointed me to this book and this author. I have yet to have a mystery solved by a cat show up as a suggested purchase; I've never read or listened to a book involving aliens, or crystals, or both; and as to romances - well, I listened to one once because the author and I share a last name, and for the first time ever, invoked Audible's "No questions asked" return policy. I realized that as a listener/reader of some fiction and a lot of non-fiction military history, I must fit some psychological/marketing profile. Audible, can you let me know what that is? I'll forward it to my therapist - it will probably save six months of analysis.

    This is not the book the 2007 movie "The Gray Man" was based on. That's about Howard Hamilton "Albert" Fish, one of the first identified psycho-sexual serials in America, who was given that sobriquet before he was executed in 1936. Grearney's Gray Man, with his unshakable sense of right, is the moral opposite of that long ago psychopath.

    The title of this review comes from a response my basic training platoon had to a drill command. It's pronounced 'wet sue' and it means "We Eat This S*** Up".

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    3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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