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Nicholas Wienholt

Cronulla, NSW, Australia | Member Since 2011

  • 2 reviews
  • 6 ratings
  • 228 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015

  • Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Hampton Sides
    • Narrated By Don Leslie

    In the fall of 1846, the venerable Navajo warrior Narbona, greatest of his people's chieftains, looked down upon the small town of Santa Fe, the stronghold of the Mexican settlers he had been fighting his whole long life. He had come to see if the rumors were true, if an army of blue-suited soldiers had swept in from the East and utterly defeated his ancestral enemies.

    russell says: "Unforgettable"

    I listened to this title while driving across the traditional homeland of the Navajo, which in some ways made the words more alive than they would be if listened to elsewhere, but even allowing for the dual enchantment of the land combined with the words, Blood and Thunder is a masterpiece. I've subsequently listened to the entire book again, and it was as good as the first time.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jared Diamond
    • Narrated By Rob Shapiro

    We human beings share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. Yet humans are the dominant species on the planet - having founded civilizations and religions, developed intricate and diverse forms of communication, learned science, built cities, and created breathtaking works of art - while chimps remain animals concerned primarily with the basic necessities of survival. What is it about that two percent difference in DNA that has created such a divergence between evolutionary cousins?

    Mark says: "Up to the usual high standard"
    "Though experiments are fine but...."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    One paragraph neatly captures all the flaws in this book. To quote:
    "Have we already killed off all big animals that we might kill off? Obviously not. While the low numbers of whales led to an international ban on whaling for commercial reasons, Japan thereupon announced its decision to triple the rate at which it kills whales 'for scientific reasons'. We have all seen photos of the accelerating slaughter of Africa's elephants and rhinos, for their ivory and horns respectively. At current rates of change, not just elephants and rhinos but most populations of most other large mammals of Africa and Southeast Asia will be extinct outside game parks and zoos in a decade or two."

    Some of the main conclusions of the book rest on the arguments of this paragraph, and yet it is so weak and sloppy that you can't help but question how weak the rest of Diamond's arguments and conclusions are. Take the whale number argument - Japan takes about 1000 minke whales a year, and the global population is somewhere around 500,000. Japan's commercial whaling is totally repugnant, but based on all the figures I can see, it in no way risks any extinctions.

    Similarly, the elephant and rhino extinction hypothesis rests on "we've all seen pictures". Ouch. Maybe the author and his editors were tired once they got to this stage of the book, but to not even try to mingle a bit of science with the hearth-wrenching photos, Diamond lost me totally at this point. 23 years after publication, the rhinos and elephants are still there. According to Wikipedia: "According to the World Wildlife Foundation the population of African elephants in Southern Africa is large and expanding with an estimated 300,000 now roaming the sub-region. Overall, the total population of African elephants is estimated to be around 700,000 compared to the Asian elephant population of 32,000. Large populations of elephants are confined to well-protected areas. However, less than 20% of African elephant range is under formal protection."

    What could Jared Diamond have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Anecdotal evidence is fine, but needs to be backed up by hard science.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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