"This American Life" has exposed us to so many superb essayists that it's hard to lift one above the crowd, but David Rakoff is one of the best. He presents himself unapologetically and with just enough of a sense of self-absorbtion that any apology would seem, well, fraudulant. Rakoff's tight writing, keen observation, and wry wit combine to produce a work of self & social satire that stands with the best. I wish I could give 4 1/2 stars instead of 4, because a 5 star rating is just too much, implying perfection. The imperfection of the presentation is only that it's abridged.
The story of Ted Kennedy's life is, in so many ways, the story of us all. Not in the details and personal reflections but in the ways in which his family and his personality shaped and was shaped by the critical events of the last century.
When I began "True Compass" I knew I would enjoy it but I had no idea how compelling a story it would be. At nineteen hours the unabridged version still seems short!
Kennedy told his story in a simple, accessible style that was clearly from his heart. He didn't try to psychoanalyze himself or his family, it's wasn't his style. Instead he simply related the amazing accounts of his life in a way that invites the reader to listen and understand. His story allows us to not only understand more fully the makeup of the Kennedy Clan and the dynamics which shaped their activities in both the civic arena and their private lives, we see through his own eyes the struggles that came with the Kennedy legacy.
Reading Ted Kennedy's story provides a new layer of understanding about many of the critical events of the 20th century. It is a story that reveals the way human agency is always at work to shape the world around us. Ultimately, then, with this new understanding, the astute reader should be inspired with a deeper understanding of the difference each of us can make in our world today.
Of course this is an audiobook and regardless of the quality of the story, the reader must communicate with humanity and clarity, and in this task John Lloyd excels. There are times when I had to remind myself that this wasn't HIS story, the expressiveness of his narration was so powerful.
This is a story that definitely deserves the time to be read, cover to cover. But it is also a story that takes on a new life when you HEAR it read and experience the richness of who Ted Kennedy was in this intimate, personal way.
You can read Dawkins, Harris, or Dennett and find yourself informed, inflamed, or even affirmed, but none of them is as "humanly" insightful as Julia Sweeney. This is not juat another comic "rant" about the foibles of religion. Sweeney's deep personal journey was not just about her reactions but also about her explorations. She speaks profoundly as someone who both feels the emotional implications of her journey and the knows the intellectual basis for it. If you've ever been anywhere near the route she's traveled, you'll recognize the terrain as if it's being described by an old friend. If you've been afraid to take the journey, Sweeney's caring and poignant account will urge you forward. And if you're threatened by such journeys of discovery, you might just discover there's less to be afraid of that you thought. All of this is delivered in Julia Sweeney's impecable comic timing - she's speaking from the heart but she's also speaking as someone who knows how to get her message across in a way it can be heard and enjoyed. At 2 hours, this audiobook is just the right length to engage you but not overwhelm you. Buy, listen, enjoy, and think.
As one of America's preeminent writer's, Philip Roth sets the standard for depth and insight in his novels, and "Everyman" is a worthy addition to his canon. Without judgement or irony, Roth takes us into life's struggle with demons and angels. Roth unfolds, not so much a story, as an observation, capturing the pain of life in such of peace, if not happiness. Whether this speaks to the universal human condition I cannot say, but as a someone who walks with those who are struggling with their live's meanings, I can say that Roth gives something to reflect upon with every turn of the page. This should be required reading.
I have to begin by saying that I am not a connoisseur of Star Trek novels (this is my first). I've enjoyed the shows and movies, but haven't looked for deep philosophy or meaning far beneath the surface...interesting characters, fun stories, some exicting missions, a compelling view of the human condition...that's what Star Trek is to me. With that proviso I have to say that this audiobook was GREAT! Indeed there was NO character development, dots from previous Star Trek stories were connected and, yes, Shatner sounded a little silly as Data. But it was a great ride! There was suspense, excitement, surprise...all the right emotional notes were hit, and Shatner's performance of the abridged story was just perfect. No one else could have been as convincing as he was. Yes, it highlighted the invincibility of James T. Kirk, but isn't that part of what we love about Star Trek, the larger-than-life aspects of so many of the characters? "The Return" hits all the right notes without being unduly pretentious or compromising anything that makes Star Trek so enjoyable and fun. The production is impecible and the length is just right so your commute can be a little less boring for a day or two. Beam aboard for the ride and you won't be sorry!
As one of the premier authors of the Star Wars series, James Luceno is known for the depth of his insights and the skill of his storytelling. In "Dark Lord" he demonstrates his skills at their finest. The story brings the Star Wars fan into new revelations about the development of critical characters and the abridged story moves smoothly, holding the listeners interest throughout. The production value of the story is a treat, providing plenty of "extras" to enhance the listeners enjoyment of the audio and nothing to get in the way.
"Dark Lord" is a true triumph in the Star Wars pantheon.
I find that listening to comedy and mystery suits best my "audible" tastes so coming across the description of "Bimbos" I knew I had a book credit to burn and was looking for something mindless to hear. In that sense, I was not disappointed. The story is quite dated by the fact that Sci-Fi "Cons" are far more sophisticated today and that computer technology has come so pervasive that the picture of Sci-Fi fans staying away from the "tech room" is laughable, just as is the image of a professor gushing about using "electronic messages" to send mail to colleagues instead of paper! The story is, well, fairly predictable and the characters are mostly one-dimensional. Her treatment of the subject of "Cons" DOES constitute a kind of social critique on the mindlessness of "fandom" of all stripes and the mystery is, well, not all that mysterious. There are a couple of interesing and all-too-brief hints at character-development that begin to delve into the psyche of those whose lives find meaning nowhere else but in living out someone else's fantasy. All that being said, the narration helps carry the weak plot and taking it along for an eight-hour bus trip was just the way to get through it. Fun in places, boring in others, Bimbos is nothing but a little junkfood for the mind, if you've got the time.
What the careful listener will hear in this report is what was publically buried for the sake of bi-partisan agreement - that while there had been a growing awareness of and response to terrorism the Bush Administration was so determined to destroy the legacy of the previous administration that they ignored the evidence of a clear, present and immediate danger to the citizens of this country. The report provides clear evidence of the ideological hubris which blinded (and blinds) those responsible for the security of our nation from their task. Written clearly and concisely the Commission's report shows why the security of our country was compromised and why it continues to be. A must-read (hear) for understanding the state of the world today!
There are those who didn't understand that there was a difference between Al Gore & George Bush in 2000. There is no better evidence for the critical difference there is than listening to Al Gore's searing indictment of the junta that took power in 2001.
Let's get this straight - whether you're liberal or conservative, you've got to have a sense of humor to appreciate Al Franken. You've got to be able to appreciate when he's being sarcastic and when he's being straight. You see, in order to be "Fair & Balanced," Al has to overstate the case for the left in order to "balance" the lies he exposes of the right. Therefore, you're not going to hear a "balanced" explication of the "left," you'll hear a committed, intelligent liberal explain how life looks through the eyes of a committed, intelligent liberal, with no apologies. What you'll also get are facts - PLENTY OF THEM! Team Franken DID the research and painstakingly excoriates the lies of the right, point by point. Let me put this clearly - you will not hear the folks on the right take Franken on over his criticism of their lies, because they can't. He's nailed them dead-to-rights. You'll also get Al's fantastic reading of his own material, which is the way it ought to be received. Al sounds as if he's speaking without notes, from memory. His narration communicates more than the printed page every could, by itself.
So - listen to Al report the lies, and then YOU decide - while you're having a great time!
Brown weaves the legends of the Church into a wonderful web that will keep you listening until it's finally unraveled. Brown clearly knows his stuff and the listener will find his story informative and provacative as well as enjoyable. The only reason I held back one star was that as he unfolds the mystery, Brown makes sure to go back and connect all the dots for the reader (listener), not trusting that his narrative is sufficiently strong, which it certainly is, that the the reader can make the connections her or himself. As for the narration, the strained accents and melodrama of the narrator can take some getting used to, but the story is so powerful that soon any awareness of the narration is left behind. A highly recommended choice!
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