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Michael

United States | Member Since 2010

16
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 180 ratings
  • 405 titles in library
  • 66 purchased in 2014
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  • Heat

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Bill Buford
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (317)
    Performance
    (114)
    Story
    (115)

    From one of our most interesting literary figures, former editor of Granta, former fiction editor at The New Yorker, acclaimed author of Among the Thugs, a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook.

    Grant says: "One of my favorite food books to date."
    "A Foodie's Delight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Foodies will find Bill Buford's story of working in Mario Batali's New York restaurant kitchen as a journalist "tourist", to be very entertaining. He clearly becomes entranced by what he experiences and spends much more time learning the craft than was needed for a magazine article. The story of the time he spends in Italy, in particular, learning how to make pasta and how to be a butcher is both touching and entertaining, and the entire book contains just the right amount of wry humor. If you enjoyed Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential you will find Heat to be an enjoyable companion piece.

    I agree with other reviewers that the narrator could have been better. He does attempt to convey emotion as needed, and does a fairly good job of it. He has difficulty with foreign pronunciations, though, and even a few words in English are mispronounced. I don't expect a narrator to be multi-lingual, but if narration is the profession you have selected, at least learn the pronunciation of the foreign languages whose words appear frequently, in their original form, in English - such as Spanish, French, and Italian. He also had trouble keeping several characters' accents consistent, particularly restaurateur Marco Pierre White, who was narrated with several different accents. I consider that to be just plainly sloppy work. Lastly, I would describe the narration style as sounding like a parody of Phil Hartman (SNL) doing a parody of a narrator reading a '40s detective novel, arched eyebrow included.

    Overall, even given the narrator's shortcomings, I found "Heat" to be a very entertaining listen, and recommend it for anyone with a deep interest in food and the chaotic and passionate lifestyle behind it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

    • ABRIDGED (11 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Charles C. Mann
    • Narrated By Peter Johnson
    Overall
    (1114)
    Performance
    (586)
    Story
    (594)

    In this riveting, accessible work of science, Charles Mann takes us on an enthralling journey of scientific exploration. We learn that the Indian development of modern corn was one of the most complex feats of genetic engineering ever performed. That the Great Plains are a third smaller today than they were in 1700 because the Indians who maintained them by burning died. And that the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.

    Case says: "Hotly debated new theories, but NOT revisionism"
    "Interesting...but take it with a grain of salt"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    If you have an interest in early American and pre-Columbian American history, this book is definitely worth a listen. It is thought-provoking and makes you re-think much of what you have previously learned, but don't take it all in at face value. There is a lot of credible evidence that Mann uses to back up these new theories, but there is also a lot of speculative theory without compelling evidence, and incredible extrapolations based on shaky data.

    Overall, it is a worthwhile listen that will expand your thinking about ancient Native American cultures. Just keep in mind that the author is a journalist, not an archaeologist or anthropologist, and be sure to wear your critical thinking cap when you listen to it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By John McWhorter
    • Narrated By John McWhorter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1208)
    Performance
    (936)
    Story
    (934)

    A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar. Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue distills hundreds of years of fascinating lore into one lively history.

    Anderson says: "Great for casual linguists"
    "Concise - Excellent Author Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue is a concise introduction to the evolution of the English language, and is a great choice for anyone who is interested in learning more about the history of English without making a huge investment of time. This book makes connections further back in history than other books and gives more focus to grammar rather than the more common emphasis on vocabulary. It gets a bit speculative about some influences, such as possible Phoenician influences, but those speculations make it more fun. It is a good companion piece to Melvyn Bragg's "The Adventure of English", also available from Audible. John McWhorter, the author, does an excellent job of narrating, and this audiobook is a great example of the value an author who is also a capable narrator can bring to narrating their own work. The passion they have for the topic comes through in their narration and it makes it fun to listen to them. Well done!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By David J. Linden
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    Overall
    (246)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (150)

    You've probably seen it before: a human brain dramatically lit from the side, the camera circling it like a helicopter shot of Stonehenge, and a modulated baritone voice exalting the brain's elegant design in reverent tones... to which this book says: Pure nonsense.

    Francisco says: "Best general-public Brain Science book to date"
    "Excellent Overview of the Brain"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    The Accidental Mind provides an excellent overview of the development and processes of the human brain. It is long enough to have covered a broad spectrum of topics and to have gone reasonably in-depth, but still concise enough that it held my interest throughout. The narrator, Ray Porter, did an outstanding job. He was animated, did an excellent job of channeling the author's intent, and wasn't an enunciating drone as so many non-fiction narrators are. I'm actually interested in seeing what other audiobooks this narrator has read - a first for me.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (323)
    Performance
    (263)
    Story
    (256)

    In this classic, the world’s expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association....

    Amazon Customer says: "Good premise, but reads like a text book"
    "Textbook For Linguists"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I have always had an interest in language, but this book goes WAY too in-depth for my interests. I enjoyed the first quarter of the book and it held my interest with cognitive science and evolutionary theory related to language development. Then it moved long-term into highly-detailed language structure and other details that couldn't hold my attention - think 9th grade grammar on steroids. I stuck with it for a few more hours and also tried skipping ahead, but I knew I was wasting my time and bailed on it half way through. It didn't help that the narrator is the type who over-enunciates and has a passionless, unnatural speaking style that reminds you with every syllable that they are a professional narrator with apparently zero interest in the topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Michael Shermer
    • Narrated By Michael Shermer
    Overall
    (797)
    Performance
    (576)
    Story
    (573)

    In this, his magnum opus, the world’s best known skeptic and critical thinker Dr. Michael Shermer—founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and perennial monthly columnist (“Skeptic”) for Scientific American—presents his comprehensive theory on how beliefs are born, formed, nourished, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished.

    Leigh says: "Great material. Not-so-great narration."
    "1st Half Good...2nd Half Not So Much"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This audiobook was engaging and interesting for the 1st half, but went downhill from there. The first half references brain research and neuropsychology to support Shermer's positions and it was an enjoyable listen. The second half left me yearning for it to come to an end. The second half is mostly an opinion piece on politics, in which Shermer is the best example of forming a belief then filtering the evidence to support it, and a LENGTHY exposition on the history of astronomy that went way beyond what was needed to prove his point. Astronomy is interesting, but I purchased this audiobook to hear about brain science. I rated this audiobook a 3 to average a 4 for the first half and a 2 for the second half.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Michael Pollan
    • Narrated By Michael Pollan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (705)
    Performance
    (628)
    Story
    (630)

    In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements - fire, water, air, and earth - to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world....

    Matt says: "Michael Pollan Fans Will Love It."
    "Very enjoyable listen!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    As a long-time foodie, home chef, and serial do-it-yourselfer, I greatly enjoyed Michael Pollan's treatise on food alchemy. The story is engaging, I learned a few new things, and Pollan does an excellent job of narrating in a natural, conversational tone. I only listen to audiobooks during my long commute, and I found myself anxious to get back on the road so I could listen to it some more. If you're passionate about food and cooking, you won't be disappointed!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815 - 1848

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Daniel Walker Howe
    • Narrated By Patrick Cullen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (495)
    Performance
    (294)
    Story
    (288)

    In this addition to the esteemed Oxford History of the United States series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the Battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era of revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated America's expansion and prompted the rise of mass political parties.

    Amazon Customer says: "Excellent"
    "Biased and Ponderous"
    Overall

    I have listened to many history books from Audible, and have enjoyed the vast majority of them. This is the first one I couldn't complete. I almost gave up on it a couple of times but stuck with it, but just couldn't go on by the time I was about 3/4 of the way through. Though there was certainly a lot of interesting content, the book's and the audio's faults became too much to bear.

    Though I expect some bias from virtually every historian, I do still expect them to provide a reasonably balanced perspective. Though I am not a fan of Andrew Jackson, the author's treatment of him is very one-sided. The author also obviously takes a great personal interest in American religious history and drones on for too long and in too much detail. Though it's an important topic, it could have been covered more successfully in much less time and detail. I appreciate that the author doesn't gloss over the suffering and injustice that minorities and Native Americans experienced, but again it's very one-sided.

    Regarding the audio, the narration and editing of this audio book is the worst I have heard. The narrator speaks in a monotone and his acute enunciation is unnatural and becomes annoying. There were frequent short edits throughout the audio that were jarring because of the change in tone, timbre and volume. This was the worst audio editing of any audio book I've listened to, and I've listened to many.

    I expect better of the Oxford series and have enjoyed other titles in the series. This volume was a disappointment and makes me hesitant to purchase any others.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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