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Amazon Customer

Chicago, IL, United States | Member Since 2010

79
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 16 reviews
  • 16 ratings
  • 158 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2014
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  • The Modern Scholar: Fundamental Cases: The Twentieth-Century Courtroom Battles That Changed Our Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Alan M. Dershowitz
    Overall
    (160)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (72)

    It was Alexis de Tocqueville who, when he visited the new republic for the first time, said that America was a unique country when it comes to law. Every great issue eventually comes before the courts. With this in mind, esteemed professor and civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz looks at history through the prism of the trial, which presents a snapshot of what's going on in a particular point in time of the nation's history.

    Amazon Customer says: "I'd rather be able to rate each section."
    "I'd rather be able to rate each section."
    Overall

    This is a book that has 5 star segments and 1 star segments. A better title is "Dershowitz talks about cases he finds interesting," but that's not bad in and of itself. Any legal scholar does that to some extent. And when he stops to talk actually about law, he offers some really interesting points, what I think of as the best kind of ideas, the ones that give you new ways to think about things, or help you focus why you disagree. However, a considerable portion of the lecture is also dedicated to "Dershowitz retries cases," which is at best dull, and at worst a cheap act of dirty pool, specifically at the points where it's plain he's just trying to win a lost case by turning around public opinion. The historical parts are about average, where his analysis is solid if a bit unremarkable. So, listen, but feel free to skip parts.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Robert G. Kaiser
    • Narrated By Erik Synnestvedt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (17)

    In this sometimes shocking and always riveting book, Robert G. Kaiser who has covered Congress, the White House and national politics for The Washington Post since 1963, explains how and why over the last four decades, Washington became a dysfunctional capital.

    Finlay says: "Answers Many Questions"
    "An American horror story with flaws in the telling"
    Overall

    There's bound to be reviewers who claim that the author's picking on Republicans, but disregard that - it's more that Republicans bear the brunt of an accident of history. The book chronicles the change in the culture of government, and specifically as it has to do not with money per se, but with spending, with the arms race that develops from pols realizing that spending on races wins, as well as the culture of lobbyists who (even with honorable intentions at times) nurtured the culture where this was possible. I'm a little hesitant to draw the picture as broadly as the author does, where money is the sole cause and the sole sustaining reason, but it's a very, very scary picture. The book does have some flaws, though. The framing story - the narrative of one important lobbyist - isn't as interesting as the author thinks it is, and the book has a tendency to get stuck in some dry, unimportant tangent for what seems like hours. The opening and closing music is also a bit excessively melodramatic. But when it's good, it's on fire.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Ken Alder
    • Narrated By Byron Jennings
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    In researching one of history's greatest scientific quests, a mission to measure the Earth and define the meter, Ken Alder stumbled on a 200-year-old secret: The meter, it turns out, is in error. This is a story of two men, a secret, and a timeless human dilemma: is it permissible to perpetuate a small lie in the service of a larger truth?

    Thomas says: "Average"
    "There's an interesting story here, but..."
    Overall

    ...this ain't it. Silly accents by the narrator (!!!) not withstanding, the story of science at the time of the French revolution, and the study and later transformation of the meter is really cool. But instead of trying to let that stand on its own, the author looks to draw a much greater sort of story that tries to wrestle with the meaning of error. It doesn't work. It doesn't work because the two stories are sort of footnotes to one another, and an exploration of the idea the book purports to would take much more than a disinterested chapter at the end. It's a shame, really, because there are so many neat-o components to this topic.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Margaret MacMillan
    • Narrated By Barbara Caruso
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    As professional 21st-century historians cede the literary field to the popular amateur, history and its meanings become muddled - especially in the punditocracy championed by modern media. Copious amounts of cherry-picked facts and manufactured heroes are used to create a narrative rather than give any insight into past events. MacMillan offers an antidote to this by providing the necessary tools to help interpret history in constructive ways.

    Andrew says: "What Bad Narration!"
    "The right audience is hard to find"
    Overall

    The author's message - that history can be abused - is a bit self-obvious to any educated person. Some of the author's particular understandings of abuse aren't obvious, and are interesting, even if some might be objectionable...or rather not objectionable, but if the point is that history can be misused, and you show an example of misuse, there's often at least a germ of an argument as to whether that use is the right use. (I can't entirely fault the book for that, because each of those discussions would likely prove exhausting, and this is more of a survey.) There are big problems, however. The general thesis is that professional historians have a duty to correct the mistakes of people who get the wrong messages of history. It's not happening, especially in the U.S. with the current anti-intellectual fervor. Similarly, the sorts of people who might be challenged by this book are the least likely to read it, and the most likely to dismiss it outright once it starts to challenge an opinion.So, the book's not bad, it's just stuck out in a sort of range that really doesn't speak to anyone. Subpar narration does not help.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Law of the Land: A History of the Supreme Court

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Kermit Hall
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    This course explores the court as a living, breathing institution - one subject to the press of public opinion yet removed from its direct impact - one whose members have as often as not been vilified or praised. Listeners will come to know the court through a thorough study of its most significant decisions. The individual lectures explore both the personalities and legal reasoning behind, as well as the political impact of, these landmark cases.

    David says: "Difficult to follow"
    "Myopic but Fun; Mislabeled"
    Overall

    It's not a history of the Supreme Court. Rather it's the Lecturer's use of ten(IIRC) cases to create an intellectual history of American Jurisprudence. It's very rhetorical. The Lecturer is looking to make his own point about the Court, so he picks cases and marshals appropriate facts (like any good lawyer) to support his view about the Court as an "ongoing Constitutional Convention." I was originally leaning towards three stars, but - while the lecturer's position is well-argued - occasionally he cuts far too sharp a read on the facts to make me wholly comfortable.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Peter T. Leeson
    • Narrated By Jeremy Gage
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (20)

    Pack your cutlass and blunderbuss--it's time to go a-pirating! The Invisible Hook takes readers inside the wily world of late 17th- and early 18th-century pirates. With swashbuckling irreverence and devilish wit, Peter Leeson uncovers the hidden economics behind pirates' notorious, entertaining, and sometimes downright shocking behavior.

    Dara says: "A great read for people who love pirate history."
    "Pirates lived in a Libertarian Paradise!!!!"
    Overall

    Basically, it's "Freaknomics" with pirates - trying to explain piracy in terms of economic rationalism. Sounds fun, right? Somewhere early on in the book, something goes horribly, horribly wrong. The book is generally unhistorical, and armed with a few facts, the author goes on to make many conclusions. Some of those conclusions are just plain strange, and a few verge into offensive territory. Most of the conclusions serve a subtext of the book, namely that the pirates created something of a perfect Libertarian society. Even I, who arcs Libertarian in thought, call B.S. on this. There's just not enough to support the claims. The picture is over the top. As such, the book is pretty well a wasted opportunity. There's not enough untainted pirate information to make it a worthwhile read on that account, and there's plenty of better writers on economic philosophy to make it a good read on that account.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Behold the Mighty Dinosaur

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By John Kricher
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (59)

    Before their extinction, dinosaurs dominated Earth's terrestrial habitats for about 160 million years. They present the ultimate puzzle in forensic science, but we have learned a great deal about them in the last 50 years. This lecture series will explain the evolutionary and ecological relationships among dinosaurs, what it might have been like to be present in their time, and the question of what ultimately brought about the total extinction of dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

    Ingwe says: "Intriguing"
    "Good, not great, intro to the topic"
    Overall

    The substance here is a little fluffy. It sounds more like the material from a professor's attempt at keeping a group of unwilling undergrads fulfilling a gen-ed requirement, which is a step down from a lot of the other Modern Scholar series. There's a LOT of unnecessary "but I'll talk about that in lecture X" and two distinct times where the lecturer goes into two different extended metaphors to explain geologic time. The chapter divisions are a bit unusual as well, feeling more like something chosen for effect rather than by logic. However, I can't really fault it for not going that deep, and it certainly succeeds as a very broad overview.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Rethinking Our Past: Recognizing Facts, Fictions, and Lies in American History

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By James W. Loewen
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (103)

    Nationalist history by textbook authors and the descendants or biographers of the famous and infamous have given history students a very skewed vision of our true history - indeed, the true history of mankind. This course is designed to enlighten and encourage you to consider the factual basis of many of our most-cherished yet glossed-over stories and the real-life characters who populate them.

    Nicholas says: "More than a retelling of history"
    "Vital in its details; flawed in its scope"
    Overall

    The title gets one star just for its iconoclasm. The biggest flaw is obvious. The lecture is looking to do a rewrite of American history starting with prehistory and the introduction of H. Sapiens to the continent. There's just no way that the lecture can provide sufficient detail on any one point. But this is information you (probably) don't know, and these are ideas you need to be thinking about. It's an important rewrite, and if you don't think you need it, the more likely it is that you do.I greatly disagree with some of the author's larger conclusions, but there are some vitally interesting facts in there that every good citizen should know.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Paul Bloom
    • Narrated By Jeremy Johnson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (447)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (120)

    Yale psychologist Paul Bloom presents a striking new vision of the pleasures of everyday life. The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing for many men. The average American spends over four hours a day watching television. Abstract art can sell for millions of dollars. Young children enjoy playing with imaginary friends and can be comforted by security blankets. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents, and go to movies that make them cry.

    Robert says: "Easy to understand, well read."
    "Questionably titled, but a good listen"
    Overall

    Let's get this straight - this book isn't about how pleasure works. It's about the author's attempt to research and explain 'essentialism,' which itself often seems like an attempt at a sort of Grand Unification Theory for a lot of environmental psych, behavorial economics, moral philosophy, et cetera, all of which are experiencing a bit of a heyday. Often, the book reads like a survey, which isn't bad, just don't expect a deep focus on any one topic. With that caveat, though, it's a good read.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Chicago Way

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Michael Harvey
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Chicago private investigator Michael Kelly is hired by his former partner, John Gibbons, to help solve an eight-year-old rape and battery case, a case it turns out his old friend was once ordered to forget. When Gibbons turns up dead on Navy Pier, Kelly enlists a team of his savviest colleagues to connect the dots between the recent murder and the cold case it revived.

    Amazon Customer says: "A wicked good storm of cliches"
    "A wicked good storm of cliches"
    Overall

    No, it isn't high literature, but it sure is fun. While the author's knowledge of Chicago sometimes comes off a bit tin, it's a great listen. It's perfectly within that two-fisted, hard-boiled, modern pulp genre, and a wonderful exemplar of it. The narration is top notch. The crime's solution and ending is almost hilariously improbable, but along the way you've just had too much fun to care.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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