I must admit that over the years I find myself shopping at Amazon more and more. At first it was just to find a hard to find book. The first time I used Amazon was in the early 1990s I was mad because I had been to a number of books store, chain and independent, and was treated rudely as if it was too much trouble to try to find what I wanted. I contacted Amazon after not finding what I was looking for on their list and what a surprise the person was so polite and helpful and in two days called me back after finding the book and shipped it to me right away. That customer experience made me an Amazon fan. I read this book to discover more about Amazon’s founder. I had recently read biographies on Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Steve Jobs. I did note in reading these books all of them had things in common such as total focus on their goal, not afraid to fail, ruthless with competitors and workers as well as problems with dealing with people. The beginning of the book Brad Stone covers the early life of Jeff Bezos and was complimentary but as the book progressed stone seem to concentrate on the negative factors. I found the fact that Bezos thought in the long term and worked for long term goals for the company refreshing, I have found too many companies planning does not go past the next quarter. I can attest to the fact the company is customer oriented. I noted that Bezos only had a one hour visit with the author about the book but did give him access to Amazon staff. I thought it interesting that Bezos asked Stone how he was going to deal with the “narrative fallacy” in writing the book. This theory was first proposed in 2007 by epistemologist Namin Nicholas Taleb in his book “The Black Swan”. The theory says humans use narrative to turn complex realities into soothing but oversimplified stories. In other words people have to find a rational explanation for something that appears inexplicable rather than trying to accept that things happen for an entirely random reason. Stone goes step by step showing how Amazon grew from a low margin book retailer into a technology company that provides basic computer infrastructure such as storage, and computing power to other companies, a book publisher and e-book reader manufacturer, reseller of many items and to streaming videos. I was surprised to learn that Amazon also owns Zappos and Goodreads. I knew they owned a company I use a lot, Audible. It will be interesting to read another book about Bezos in about 20 years or so. Peter Larkin did a good job narrating the story.
This is a short story about LAPD detective Harry Bosch who is assigned a cold case after an anonymous tip names the murderer. The case is of the vicious stabbing of a teenage boy whose body was found in the abandoned “Brown Derby”, a famous Hollywood restaurant that was destroyed during the Riots. Bosch finds DNA evidence of the victim and the a convicted killer who is already in Prison for a similar crime but the ADA wants more evidence so Bosch continues his search for evidence. The story is a bit too short. Len Cariou does a good job narrating the short story.
In 2002 Helene Berr’s niece Mariette Job donated Helene’s journal to The Archives of the Holocaust Memorial in Paris. It was published in France in 2008. David Bellos of Princeton University translated the journal into English for American publication. Helene Berr’s journal is an account of living in profound fear, day by day, in German occupied Paris during the Second World War. The journal covers two years recording what happened to the Jews under the Vichy government. Berr’s father was a WWI veteran and a prominent industrialist. Helene tells the how she felt the first day she had to wear the yellow star. She was a student of English at the Sorbonne, and a gifted violinist. Berr tells the story of her friends, neighbors and family being set off to the concentration camps and how the people rushed into their homes to steal everything. Helene was sent to Auschwitz on her 23 birthday and after 8 months she was moved to Bergen-Belsen. She survived in Bergen-Belsen for 5 months; she was beaten to death five days before the British liberated the camp. Her writing is simple and sometimes uses enchanting prose telling a story of monstrous events. Guila Clara Kessous a French actress did a great job narrating the book.
I read somewhere that this is J. A. Jance’s 50th book. I believe this is the 9th book in the Ali Reynolds series. This book has two complicated mysteries one in England and one in Texas. Ali and Leland are in England to meet his family and B Simpson is in Texas looking into the ‘accident” of a young teenage computer hacker that his company had caught on behalf of their client the school district. Jance does a good job with developing the characters and the story details; it was no problem juggling the two mysteries in my mind while reading. The story has lots of technology and internet intrigue which sort of gives a warning about the security of your information on the net. I noted that Jance had the DNA scientist in the story been denied admittance to Oxford because she was a woman. The character goes to the USA to University and comes back to take over her Uncles DNA lab next to Oxford and only hires women. I had read that Jance was denied admission to the University of Arizona’s creative writing program because she was a woman. Women have made some progressed on the road to equality. Looks like this book is setting up for the next one to have Ali’s and B’s wedding. Karen Ziemba does a good job narrating the story.
Richard Rubin has done lots of work in researching this book. He has had to travel all over the country to meet with the veterans for the interviews but the most difficult problem was in finding them. He had to be a detective hunting down the last of the survivors of world war one. This is an engaging book with wonderful tangents such as songs of the conflict; Rubin had gathered sheet music as well as old vinyl records of world war one songs. He also read many memoirs about the conflict. I have on my list to read next, one of the books he went into detail about, “Over the Top “written in 1918 by Arthur Guy Empey. Rubin travel widely employing a keen eye, he made almost a travelogue of World War One monuments and statues. He noted almost every town or city in the country has at least one memorial monument if not more in honor of local people who served in WWI. He also traveled through the WWI cemeteries in Europe also well as monument to the American troops who fought there. Rubin also found African-Americans that had served in the various armed services as well a few women. At the end of the book he discussed the terrible treatment given the veterans of WWI or should say lack of any treatment or service. Apparently the man President Harding appointed to head the Veterans Affairs abscond with millions of dollars he had embezzled. The author also gave some explanations about how the term Doughboy came about. I hope someone will do the same for the WWII veterans before it is too late. If we were on the ball we would be gathering the stories of veterans of all the wars we have fought we are losing so much of our history. I really enjoyed this book; it was at times funny at times serious but always delightful. Grover Gardner did a great job narrating the book.
I have seen Mark Greaney name on books by Tom Clancy, I guess they were co-authors. It has been sometime since I read a book that has been none stop action and suspense. This is the forth book in the Gray man series. The book opens with Court Gentry (the gray man) making a covert entry and hit into the high profile home of a Russian Mobster, the action does not stop until the end of the book. Court goes from one crisis, escape, etc. throughout the book. Dead Eye another rouge CIA agent is out to assassinate the Israel prime minister and Gentry must stop him. Greaney seems to have knowledge of the geography of the area covered in the book but also of munitions, hand to hand combat and covert surveillance techniques with the use of small drones. This part of the story I found most interesting. Greaney appears to have great plotting skills and a flare for gripping suspense. The book makes for an exhausting/exciting get away book. Jay Snyder does a good job narrating the book.
This book is almost entirely focused on California, with a bit of discussion about other great quakes in world history. It is lucidly written and easily understandable to the lay person. The book covers both the geology of the San Andreas Fault and the history including such people as Grover Gilbert, Harry Fielding Reid who studied the 1906 San Francisco quake. Andrew Larson a geology professor at the University of California Berkeley who named the San Andreas Fault in 1895. Of course, Charles Richter who developed the eponymous magnitude scale was discussed in detail. Dvorak describes the history of all the known California quakes but goes into great detail about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. He explains the 1960 discovery of plate tectonics and how that brought better understanding to the geology of California and the understanding of earthquakes. He almost makes a guide to where to go and what to look at along with what is the meaning of what you are looking at along various site of the San Andreas Fault. He gives a description how the San Andreas Fault works and how other fault secondary fault lines develop. He states that the San Andreas Fault and its many subsidiary faults are tearing California apart. He says geological California has been in a quiet time for quakes but according to past history this is going to change. Dvorak apparently worked for the U.S. Geological Survey. Overall I found this to be a most fascinating book. Malcolm Hillgartner did a great job narrating the book.
I listen to the New York Times book review podcast and they said that as soon as “Concealed in Death” was released it went straight to number one on the NY times best seller list for fiction. This book is a bit different from the other books in the series as it deals with a cold case. This is the first time Eve has been on a cold case. It also means this book is less tech-y and more about traditional police work. The book starts with Roarke swinging a slug hammer into a wall and uncovering 12 skeletons of teenage girls who died 15 years ago. The building once contained a shelter for trouble teens. Roarke industries have purchased the old building and were in the processes of doing a remodel/rebuild of the building. Mavis plays a larger role in this book as she reveals more about her past life as a street kid. She apparently knew several of the girls that were murdered. Some new characters are introduced in the book Garnet De Winter Ph.D. who is the forensic anthropologist and a skilled facial reconstruction artist who is pregnant. Also playing a key role is two of my favorite characters Charlotte Mira M.D. and her husband Dennis Mira. The change to a cold case, more of a traditional police work, new characters adds freshness to the series. There is a layer of poignancy to this tale that adds a depth to the intriguing procedural. I am amazed that J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) can keep coming up with ideas in this long running series. I first read this series out of curiosity to see what the author envisioned the future to be like. The narrator of this series, Susan Ericksen, is absolutely magnificent.
This is one of the best books in terms of detail and insight into the brilliant character of Paul Dirac 1902-1984. Graham Farmelo, a British Physicist, has obviously done in-depth research, and I understand he had access to many of Dirac’s personal papers. The book won the 2009 Costa book award. The book is less a scientific biography than other books on Dirac, it emphasizes more the development of Dirac’s personality and the story of his relationship with his relations and colleagues. I learned a lot about Dirac, including his work on the atomic bomb during World War II. Dirac is responsible for several of the great breakthrough in 20th century physics and mathematics. He found the fundamental insight into quantum mechanics and remains the basic understanding even today. His textbook on Quantum Mechanics remains a rigorously clear explanation of the fundamental idea of quantum theory. He also developed the Dirac equation which is the basis of particle physics. He is known for developing quantum field theory, quantum electrodynamics and the understanding the role of magnetic monopoles in electromagnetism. Dirac was the youngest theoretician to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics (1933). He also won the Max Planck Medal and the Copley Medal. He was the Lucasian Professor of mathematics at Cambridge University. The chair is now held by Stephen Hawking. Dirac’s work was so advanced we are only just beginning to prove and use his work. B. J. Harrison did an excellent job narrating this long book.
Historical novels stand of fall on detail. Cornwell writes as if he has been to the 9th century Wessex. Each of his battles poses different tactical questions and different answers. His accounts of the fire and slaughter, and of Viking methods of extorting money, would seem gruesomely exaggerated if they weren’t so often based on old legends or confirmed by archaeology. “Saxon Tale’s series is about the battle for supremacy between the Saxon and the Danes in 9th century Britain. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a fictional character is the star of the series and battles for Alfred the Great of Wessex to unify Britain. The book is written in Uhtred’s voice as he looks back on an exciting life. Historically Cornwell’s, major contribution is to tell the story of Ethelflaed, an actual heroine forgotten by most scholars. She is the daughter of Alfred married to the leader of Mercia. She became known as “Lady of the Mercian’s.” Cornwell is adept at enveloping his fictional character into British history. His use of geography, instruments of battle, strategy and ancient vocabulary is faultless. Cornwell is the master of battle scenes. Bernard Cornwell is probably the best historical novelist writing today. This series is about the battle to unify Britain by the Saxons. This is a great way to learn some British history. I greatly enjoyed the great baritone voice of John Lee, who did an excellent job narrating the story.
Over the past four years I have read many books on World War One. This year (2014) marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI and many books are coming out about WWI. I have read quite a few of them already. This book, “1914: The Year the World Ended”, is by the Australian Historian Paul Ham. The book is mostly about how the world went to war and very little about the battles. Recently a number of books by other writers have covered the same ground and done so in a much more enjoyable fashion. Ham tells the story leading up to the war from Austria-Hungarian, Russian, German, Serbian, British, French and Ottoman perspectives. The author follows the ebb and flow of diplomacy in Europe in the years leading up to The Great War. He highlights the feeling of inevitability of war going back a decade that served to cloud everyone’s judgment. He points out that 1914 was a pivotal year in human history. It led to the Russian Revolution, the cold war and was the seed that allowed Nazism and World War II to grow. It changed societies and countries around the globe. It was the beginning of the end of empires and monarchies as the world had known them. At the end of the book Ham relates briefly some of the battles but only covered one “the miracle on the Marne” in any detail. Despite some flaws the author performs an important role in attempting to distill historical work for the broader audiences. As there is a number of books out on this subject I wish Ham would have covered the role of the Australians played in World War One, I think that would have make a more unique book. Robert Meldrum did a good job narrating this 23 hour book.
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