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Delano

Philadelphia, PA, United States | Member Since 2008

132
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 24 reviews
  • 35 ratings
  • 149 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
3

  • Introduction to the Study of Religion

    • ORIGINAL (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Charles B. Jones
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (12)

    The religious experience is an extraordinarily powerful force that can define and shape the communities it creates. Over the course of 24 lectures, Professor Jones takes a vibrant first look at the discipline known as religious studies and shows how other fields-sociology, psychology, anthropology, and phenomenology-have tried to explain the complex relationship between individuals, cultures, and faith.

    SisterLucia says: "Not at all what i was looking for"
    "Serious but accessible introduction to the field"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having read other books on religious studies before, I find that this course does an excellent job of introducing all of the most influential ways of looking at religion. It conveys as well a clear sense of how the field has changed over time, and does so from a very balanced perspective.

    Compared to the other courses and audiobooks available on the subject, this is exceptional in how serious and up-to-date its treatment of the material is. It could be better, though. Some people I think have complained that it is "too theoretical." The problem is not too much theory, but rather a bit more emphasis on where each theory came from and not enough on how it has been used more recently. Thus, much time is spent on the biography of each thinker and the particular cases he (always "he") considered. For example, we hear a lot about how Emile Durkheim thought religion helped create social unity among Australian aborigines, but almost nothing about how many scholars have subsequently drawn on his ideas to examine religion and communal ties in other societies, including our own.

    The speaker is very engaging--I always listened to this while commuting or doing chores, and never found myself losing track of the lecture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A New History of Christianity in China

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Daniel H. Bays
    • Narrated By Christine Marshall
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    A New History of Christianity in China, written by one of the world's the leading writers on Christianity in China, looks at Christianity's long history in China, its extraordinarily rapid rise in the last half of the 20th century, and charts its future direction.

    Carolyn Iga says: "Great book, unbearable to listen to"
    "Accessible, balanced overview of a complex subject"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bays is a solid scholar in this field, and he has clearly made an effort to present the nuances of this topic in a way that even listeners who don't know specialist terminology or even basic Chinese history can follow his points.

    Considering that this is a history book, the narrator does a decent job of avoiding monotony. I very much appreciate that she took the time to learn how the q's and x's in Chinese words are supposed to sound. Oddly she didn't bother with the consonants, so that most of the time she says "Tang" like she's ordering orange drink in Cincinnati.
    I also wince every time she pronounces "bas-relief" as "bass-relief"--the word comes up several times--but this is minor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Samir Okasha
    • Narrated By Peter Ganim
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (25)

    What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scientific explanation, revolutions in science, and theories such as realism and anti-realism.

    Jamie says: "Excellent introduction"
    "Useful ideas, lifeless reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This give a solid, if simple, introduction to this field of philosophy--a good preparation before listening to the Great Courses lectures on the topic.

    I think the book is actually fairly well-written and often witty, but it comes across as a bit dull because of the reading. I often wonder whether or not this is actually read by computer software, in an experiment to test whether or not customers can tell the difference.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve Jobs

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Walter Isaacson
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (11835)
    Performance
    (10246)
    Story
    (10225)

    Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

    Jeanne says: "Interesting man"
    "Simplistic and repetitive"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A two-dimensional portrait. Seeks simple explanations for each of his actions.
    Not a minute goes by without hearing "passion," "desire for control," or "hardware and software should be closely integrated."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Difference Engine

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (139)
    Story
    (140)

    The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It is a prime example of the steampunk sub-genre; It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer called Engines. The fierce summer heat and pollution have driven the ruling class out of London and the resulting anarchy allows technology-hating Luddites to challenge the intellectual elite.

    Delano says: "Starts strong, falls off"
    "Starts strong, falls off"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First of all, Simon Vance does an amazing job with this book. All kinds of British accents, and he nails each of them. The perfect ideal of expressiveness without melodrama from start to finish. So this is what a professional sounds like. If only I could get serious nonfiction books narrated with this level of talent.

    The novel: written by two people, and it shows. It gives the impression that they worked together for a while, agreed to work separately on the rest, and then both mailed in half-baked work when they ran out of time. The first 1/3 is absolutely gripping and fascinating. The next 1/3 is a mediocre action story climaxing with a gunfight in a burning warehouse (the ultimate action cliche). The last 1/3 is told as a series of disjointed fragments revealing large chunks of leftover plot, as though the writer didn't have time to weave them together to give pacing and complexity.

    I felt the book was worth my time, but ended up mourning the much better novel that could have been if the high standard of the first section had been kept up.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Richard Rhodes
    • Narrated By Richard Rhodes
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    Richard Rhodes' landmark history of the atomic bomb won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Now, in this majestic new masterpiece of history, science, and politics, he tells for the first time the secret story of how and why the hydrogen bomb was made, and traces the path by which this supreme artifact of 20th-century technology became the defining issue of the Cold War.

    Delano says: "Abridged??"
    "Abridged??"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It would be much better to have the entire book. They cut out one of the parts I had most wanted to hear; apparently he discusses the reasons why thermonuclear bombs aren't made as destructive as technologically feasible. Who knows what else is missing from this version.

    Otherwise the book is quite good, a nice balance of technology, biography, and politics. And a good reality check on what nuclear stockpiles really entail for society.

    Rhodes is not the smoothest reader in the world, but I enjoyed hearing the author reading his own writing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Orientalism

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Edward Said
    • Narrated By Peter Ganim
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (58)

    This landmark book, first published in 1978, remains one of the most influential books in the Social Sciences, particularly Ethnic Studies and Postcolonialism. Said is best known for describing and critiquing "Orientalism", which he perceived as a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East. In Orientalism Said claimed a "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture."

    Amazon Customer says: "Why now? Because it's about now."
    "We're lucky to have this on audio"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the academic world, this book has become well-known and influential that a realistic estimate of its impact has the sound of hyperbole. That makes it worth reading in the same way as Plato's _Republic_ or Machiavelli's _The Prince_; you may not agree with all or even much of its arguments, but there's much value simply in knowing what these ideas are that so many people are thinking and talking about.

    For those who don't know the book, it describes the connections between how European empires (and the US, somewhat) controlled the Middle East politically, fantasized about it, and studied it, arguing that these were all aspects of the same structures and processes. It suffers from a certain amount of contradiction and one-sided argument, but I think that when Said was writing in the 1970s the other side of the argument--the pro-colonialist side--was more frequently heard than it is now.

    Another reviewer complained that he quit after listening for 45 minutes and finding that it was all generic political arguments. I think that reviewer never got past the new preface, which does go on for something like 45 minutes. The preface was added around 2004 and is mainly a fairly standard critique of the US invasion of Iraq from the perspective of its early years. There's no solution but to be patient and wait for the book itself to begin.

    I've had a print copy for years and never got around to reading it, but am finding the audio version pleasant going. Said's writing is much clearer and jargon-free than many of his admirers--he is a scholar of literature, after all. The reader does well enough to keep my attention, and handles fairly well the French words that show up regularly. There are times when he sounds exactly like a computer-generated voice reading text, but his reading doesn't put me to sleep.

    1 of 1 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
    Overall
    (267)
    Performance
    (226)
    Story
    (225)

    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"
    "Good, but not his best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't regret the time or money I spent on this book, but I can certainly see why it's not as famous as his _Collapse_ or _Guns, Germs and Steel_. Part of the problem is that some of his points here are also made, more convincingly and intriguingly, in those other books.

    Another problem is that some of his arguments here seem shaky even to a non-expert like me. For example, Diamond suggests that menopause evolved to help women survive to care for their first few children by preventing death in childbirth later on. If so, why does menopause not occur until AFTER most of a women's children are old enough not to need care by the mother? He also argues that the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances arose from the desire to show off one's strength and health by poisoning oneself and surviving. This is not convincing either: why wouldn't most societies use more toxic and less enjoyable chemicals if showing toughness was the main result?

    His chapters that focus on comparing humans to other animals are much stronger, and the sections on language and art are the high points of the book. The section on the advantages of hunter-gatherer over agricultural societies will be nothing new to anyone who knows ancient archaeology or the "paleo diet", but is still enjoyable.

    Bottom line: If you haven't read or heard Diamond's other books first, start with _Collapse_ (the unabridged version) and then _Guns, Germs, and Steel_. They're much, much better. But this one is still better than most of what's out there.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Search for Modern China

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Jonathan D. Spence
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    The history of China is as rich and strange as that of any country on earth. Yet for many, China’s history remains unknown, or known only through the stylized images that generations in the West have cherished or reviled as truth. With his command of character and event - the product of 30 years of research and reflection in the field - Spence dispels those myths in a powerful narrative. Over four centuries of Chinese history, Spence fashions the astonishing story of the effort to achieve a modern China.

    John says: "An undisputed classic"
    "Excellent book, lazy narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a classic textbook on early modern and modern Chinese history. I've very happy to see it finally appearing in audio form, and I hope there are more on the way.

    I have one complaint: The pronunciation of most of the Chinese names is so wrong that the reader might as well be making up random noises. For example, "zhou" is pronounced "joe," not "zoo," and it matters because "zhou" appears in the names of most Chinese geographic locations outside Beijing and Shanghai. It would take 10 minutes for the reader to learn the absolute basics of how to pronounce Chinese names. By being too lazy to take those 10 minutes, the next 20? 30? hours of audio lose much of their value for any listener who hopes actually to learn something.

    18 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Super Crunchers

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Ian Ayres
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (659)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (111)

    Today, number crunching affects your life in ways you might never imagine. In this lively and groundbreaking new audiobook, economist Ian Ayres shows how today's best and brightest organizations are analyzing massive databases at lightening speed to provide greater insights into human behavior. They are the Super Crunchers.

    Jon says: "Great book on"
    "Not enough information"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book gives the feeling of repeating over and over the message that statistical analysis is more accurate than the judgment of an individual expert. What's missing are specific examples of what kinds of information are being collected, how they are analyzed, and what has been learned from them. There are some examples, but it feels like for every one minute of specifics there are ten minutes of the book's main idea being repeated yet again. I kept checking to see if this was the abridged version, but it's not. The whole thing feels like an advertisement telling business executives, "Hire a lot of quantitative analysts, trust that they're more accurate than anyone else, and don't try to understand what they're doing." Perhaps the author was told to produce something dumbed-down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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