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PHIL

San Diego, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

350
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 149 reviews
  • 154 ratings
  • 650 titles in library
  • 79 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
125

  • History of Greed: Financial Fraud from Tulip Mania to Bernie Madoff

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By David E. Y. Sarna
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (43)

    From the earliest financial scams of the 17th century, through the headline-grabbing Wall Street scandals of our times, History of Greed provides a history of financial fraud. In it, David E. Y. Sarna exposes the true and often riveting stories of how both naive and sophisticated investors alike were fooled by unscrupulous entrepreneurs, lawyers, hedge fund managers, CPAs, Texas billionaires, political fundraisers, music managers, financial advisers, and even former Mossad agents.

    PHIL says: "Occasionally uneven or plodding, but spellbinding"
    "Occasionally uneven or plodding, but spellbinding"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wouldn't call this a page-turner. Often it read like a series of newspaper articles. But, I have a fascination for fraud tales, and a legal background, and I really clicked with its thoroughness in describing the schemes, and also the procedural details of the "crime and punishment" side of the stories. I like the combo of enough story and enough technical detail to be satisfying on both fronts. The stories are not an exhaustive review of frauds from tulip days to Madoffs'. The narrative skips across big stretches of history and quickly lands in modern times. But there is no lack of lurid fraud schemes in recent years -- the most famous are here. The Madoff aftermath story was not completed as of this publication -- "The Wizard of Lies" audiobook goes deeper in detail and gives a more updated story of that. All in all, though, I am very satisfied with this book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • How to Write LOI's and Term Sheets: An Executive's Guide to Drafting Clear Legal Documents Before Bringing in the Lawyers

    • UNABRIDGED (35 mins)
    • By Jonathan Handel
    • Narrated By David H. Lawrence XVII
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Read this book before you do your next tech deal. Here's why: Executives are often called upon to write letters of intent (LOIs), term sheets, and deal proposals before "bringing in the lawyers." These documents are almost more important than the actual contract, because they establish the framework of the deal. The wrong phrasing or an omitted point can result in a flawed deal, frustrating negotiations, a loss of leverage, and unnecessary legal expense.

    PHIL says: "A very good start in this area"
    "A very good start in this area"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think this is a terrific use of 35 minutes for those interested. Of course only so much can be imparted in this time. Also there is a fine audiobook here, Dead On Arrival by Roger Royce, that may be of interest to you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Sceptred Isle Vol 6: The First British Empire 1702-1760

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Christopher Lee
    • Narrated By Anna Massey
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Christopher Lee's history of Britain provides the definitive radio account of the events and personalities that have shaped our nation. Volume 6, covering the years 1702 to 1760, looks at several firsts: the reign of the first Hanoverian king, George I; the man known as Britain's first prime minister, Robert Walpole; the first renditions of 'Rule Britannia' and 'God Save the King'; and, importantly, the first appearance of gin!

    PHIL says: "I love the series, not this one so much"
    "I love the series, not this one so much"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had just finished a print book on this era, A Very English Deceit by Malcolm Balen (centering on the South Seas Bubble but giving a lot of color of the times) which I think spoiled me. Having seen a bit of the depth and richness of Christopher Wren's architecture, alongside bits of squalor in London, next to the twists and subtleties of Walpole's political machinations, I found this audio a bit flat and spare in its depictions. I do intend to continue listening to this series though, as overall I find them very rewarding. I don't regret listening to it, but might expect a tad more here in both scope and detail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Mark Forsyth
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In his inimitably entertaining and wonderfully witty style, he takes apart famous phrases and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or quip like Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming to achieve literary immortality or just hoping to deliver the perfect one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything important to say - you simply need to say it well.

    PHIL says: "Who knew rhetoric could be so much fun?"
    "Who knew rhetoric could be so much fun?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    (Yes, that's a rhetorical question.)
    This is not for everybody, but this is probably a bookish crowd, right? (We have a second rhetorical question already? Oops, and there's another?.) If you are delighted by English words and phrases, I recommend this. The author almost dances through it, tossing jokes everywhere. The narrator is ideal -- I wonder whether my laughing aloud on my listening-walks is at the wit of the author (and his often smartly goofy portrayals of very ostensibly serious writings) or the narrator's understated puckish style that always seems casual and yet right on the edge of laughter. This is a nice trip through English poetry and literature of the last few hundred years too. There are many little deconstructions of Shakespeare, also Dickens, William Blake, a bit of Jane Austen, some Churchill, on and on.
    I see the author has other books here, and I won't hesitate to snap them up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By William D. Cohan
    • Narrated By David Aaron Baker
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were the weapons of choice at Wall Street investment bank Lazard Frères & Co. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.

    PHIL says: "Gossipy, shallow; but with limited virtue"
    "Gossipy, shallow; but with limited virtue"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was dismayed. I liked other works by this author. Here was an opportunity to map out a structure of these talented people networking, climbing, digging into the lattices of this massive corporate economy and culture at top levels, yet oddly, in the manner of old fashioned merchant bankers. Instead, we hear plenty of these haughty continental type fellows as if suddenly vaulted to some high in-group club which is itself only sketchily portrayed. Then the mutual sniping and titillating parts start. This cries out for more substantive detail. We hear plenty about every superficial aspect of the culture, such as the backward (or merely continental?) barbaric approach to many of the women working there. (Grotesque, making me happy I'm not there, even now.) OK, this is a valid part of the sociological descriptive approach, but hey, this is a book on banks, a finance work, not a brothel or a work of titillation. Or is it? A little is okay, but it this level of stuff can't carry the story at all. Ditto for the media wars surroundilng the infighting. There is mild utility to learning this, as it is a feature of NYC finance and power games, OK. It did feature into the story. Again, I differ with the author's weighting of these aspects as a driver of the book. If this kind of snipy muck (some might see Shakespearean tragedy, but I would say, without the pacing and soaring language; more conducive to needing an air sickness bag) satisfies the target audience, well, congrats to the author and publishers. I am a big finance book consumer, but apparently not this target audience. (I compare "High Financier" by N. Ferguson which had some similar features but gave me a better feel for the core of the matter: the deals being done, the challenges bested. Maybe it is too slow for some contemporary listeners' tastes.) There is some useful history here, some observations of our recent times, and it's not a total waste of time. Hence two stars, not one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Eswar S. Prasad
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    The U.S. dollar’s dominance seems under threat. The near collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008-2009, political paralysis that has blocked effective policymaking, and emerging competitors such as the Chinese renminbi have heightened speculation about the dollar’s looming displacement as the main reserve currency. Yet, as The Dollar Trap powerfully argues, the financial crisis, a dysfunctional international monetary system, and U.S. policies have paradoxically strengthened the dollar’s importance.

    PHIL says: "The best currency in a shaky neighborhood"
    "The best currency in a shaky neighborhood"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One needn't agree with the thesis here (that the dollar has reasons to remain the world's primary reserve currency for some time to come) to benefit from this smart tour of big issues in global money. The US dollar's demise has been proclaimed countless times, and for a host of reasons (many reviewed here), it keeps bobbing up to the surface for another interval as the most important global currency. Much of it might be called its enduring network externalities -- it serves needs no other currency can -- and the other contenders for various reasons haven't shown themseves ready for prime time. This continues to provide Americans an "exorbitant privilege" (a French politician's onetime term of resentment), so it is worth focusing on -- as life could be quite different in a world of faded dollar hegemony. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts, while being mentally limber for what might come next. Here I also sensed a subtext -- the USA has some unique qualities of internal robustness and stability (sometimes despite what seems like our best efforts) that this enduring buoyancy reflects. We are still in many ways a haven from world chaos, for people as well as their money.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David B. Ruderman
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Experience the evolution of all of Jewish life during the 10 critical centuries from its rabbinic foundations in late antiquity until the dawn of modernity in the 17th century. During this time, Judaism was forever affected by its encounters with the surrounding social, economic, political, and intellectual environments of both medieval Islam and Christendom. As a result of those encounters, new pathways of philosophical inquiry and religious spirituality would be formed. The Hebrew language would find new ways of artistic expression. And the role of Jews in the life of the surrounding community would be changed forever.

    PHIL says: "Starts slow and abstract, but improves"
    "Starts slow and abstract, but improves"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Early on, I caught myself thinking, it took all those words to explain that fairly simple philosophical point? But it grew on me. As with many professors who are somewhat passionate about their topic, the chapters tend to start with a fairly level voice delivery and to pick up in pitch and insistence as the lecture progresses, sometimes hitting my ears with a bit of shrillness. (I hope my lectures are not like that, but I'm afraid they are!) By the time we arrived at the Rhine Valley and the Christian world, I found the explanations moving quite well, with a fine mix of doctrine and events on the ground. Things were worse under some Christians from an earlier date than I had thought (not that I'm a scholar of this). Much insight is gained about more recent history and culture -- the roots go deep.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Sceptred Isle: The Twentieth Century, Volume 5, 1979-1999

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Christopher Lee
    • Narrated By Anna Massey, Robert Powell
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Volume 5, covering the years 1979-1999, looks at the Thatcher years, the Falklands War, and the greatest ever Royal wedding. Beyond Britain, Mikhail Gorbachev was influencing world affairs and, back in the nation's capital, a dome was being built to celebrate the approaching millennium.

    PHIL says: "I hope the rest of the series is this great"
    "I hope the rest of the series is this great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am patching up my knowledge of some history I lived through, but pretty blithely at the time. This knit the whole story of those 20 years together terrifically, connectilng dots between what I heard back then as mere fragments. Next stop: the late 1700s. I hope it is handled as deftly. The length is just right too, to give a brisk history refresher but not to bog down, as a few lengthy British histories I've read have done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Laurence Tribe, Joshua Matz
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (32)

    From Citizens United to its momentous rulings regarding Obamacare and gay marriage, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has profoundly affected American life. Yet the court remains a mysterious institution, and the motivations of the nine men and women who serve for life are often obscure. Now, in Uncertain Justice, Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz show the surprising extent to which the Roberts Court is revising the meaning of our Constitution.

    Jean says: "An unbias view of the Court"
    "Thoughtful, yet very listenable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my favorite Supreme Court book of several seen over the years. I have the utmost respect for the authors' careful exploration of many facets of issues of great importance. Those with pre-set knee-jerk views might be disappointed here or there, but I'll warrant they'll emerge the better for it. I found my own views challenged in the best possible ways.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Terror, Incorporated: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Loretta Napoleoni
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In Terror Incorporated, Loretta Napoleoni maps out the arteries of an international economic system that feeds armed groups the world over. Chasing terror money, she takes the reader from CIA headquarters to the smuggling routes of the far East, from the back rooms of Wall Street to hawala exchanges in the Middle East.

    PHIL says: "Eye-opening"
    "Eye-opening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book walks through stories of a lot of individuals and their money and logistical arrangements on the way to major terror operations. The narrator has the perfect sober, rich voice and gravitas to deliver this content.

    The book really shines when the author pulls back and gives us an overview of the evolving world political economy after the fall of the USSR. While the west was congratulating itself, economic infrastructure all over the former communist-dominated world was withering. Where there had been political discipline (bad as it might have been in its way) and such things as regional arrangements allocating resources such as water, now these little atomized separatist groups were falling back into their enclosed, impoverished little zones. There were huge vacuums opening up in societies, on many levels, with large numbers of low-opportunity youths milling around, with nihilism, desperation and radicalization hovering and ready to take root. Along come the "right" people with money, an ideology, and bingo! Large swaths of the developing world fall into this atomized militia type condition, a breeding ground for radicalism. This is masterfully portrayed along with lots of particulars.

    This history of course lacks the very latest round of developments, but gives very meaningful history. As a part of my recent studies into money laundering and offshore finance, I was curious about the bank, BCCI, and this history goes that far back (into the 80s), This sort of context vastly improves my understanding of what is happening now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gods at War: Shotgun Takeovers, Regulation by Deal, and the Private Equity Implosion

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Steven M. Davidoff
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    An engaging exploration of modern-day deals and deal-making. Gods at War details the recent deals and events that have forever changed the world of billion-dollar deal-making. This book is a whirlwind tour of the players determining the destiny of corporate America, including the government, private equity, strategic buyers, hedge funds, and sovereign wealth funds.

    PHIL says: "Private equity, M&A from a historical-legal view"
    "Private equity, M&A from a historical-legal view"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book delivers nicely on its title. The editing sequence was a little odd, inasmuch as we get a lot of history before, some 4/5 of the way through, we go through a flurry of actual laws and regulations. I was fascinated at the perspective of the 2008 meltdown and the responses of Paulsen, Bernanke, Geithner and company as "shotgun takeovers" and "regulation by deal." I see it, from that perspective, as a virtuoso performance by these fellows, given the situation they found themselves in. (Their arguable misfeasance on the way there is a whole different discussion, not in this book.) To think, once upon a time, it was J. P. Morgan who pulled such bravura moves, and we institutionalized that power into public servants. Very interesting stuff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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