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Jean

I am an avid eclectic reader.

Santa Cruz, CA, United States | Member Since 2010

ratings
639
REVIEWS
602
FOLLOWING
12
FOLLOWERS
543
HELPFUL VOTES
3140

  • The Nutmeg of Consolation: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 14

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Patrick O'Brian
    • Narrated By Patrick Tull
    Overall
    (367)
    Performance
    (173)
    Story
    (168)

    When last seen, Jack and Stephen had been shipwrecked on a desert island in the glittering South China Sea. The Nutmeg of Consolation opens as the castaways fashion a makeshift vessel from the wreckage, only to have it destroyed in a fiery attack by Malay pirates. Only the wondrous ingenuity of Stephen, along with the unexpected appearance of one of Jack's oldest allies, leads them to escape, and to dubious safety in a penal colony at New South Wales.

    Jean says: "The Nutmeg"
    "The Nutmeg"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Patrick Tull does his usual great job in narrating this story. This book picks up where the last one left off on a deserted island building a boat to escape. I love the description of Stephen and Martin on their naturalist wanderings. I found the description of the Nutmeg as a sweet smelling ship interesting and then how they had to "sweeten" the Surprise when returning to her. Great sea stories and battles in the exotic Malay seas.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Peter Baker
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (96)

    Theirs was the most captivating American political partnership since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger: a bold and untested president and his seasoned, relentless vice president. Confronted by one crisis after another, they struggled to protect the country, remake the world, and define their own relationship along the way. In Days of Fire, Peter Baker chronicles the history of the most consequential presidency in modern times through the prism of its two most compelling characters, capturing the elusive and shifting alliance of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney as no historian has done before.

    Scott says: "A balanced account of the W and Cheney White House"
    "An objective viewpoint"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I hesitated in getting this book, I was not sure if the book was going to be a whitewash job or acrimonious, but instead I found it to be objective report. Peter Baker is a White House reporter for the New York Times. I find he has written a through, engaging and objective history of the Bush-Cheney years in the White House.

    Baker states Vice President Cheney was the most powerful vice president in history. He did more than anyone to shape counter terrorism policy after the 9/11 attack and lead us into war in Iraq. In the second term Cheney looked and acted more like the traditional vice president. President Bush generally pursued a more centrist course on many or most of the issues-over Cheney’s objection. One of the questions in the book, was Cheney always an ultra conservative Republican or did the repeated heart problems cause him to change? Before Bush left office he set up the programs to bail out of the banks and the car companies in an attempt to slow down or stop the recession/depression. The historical judgments of the Bush administration are only beginning to take shape. It has taken several years for the key people to write their memoirs and for the presidents’ friend and subordinates to offer stories they wouldn’t volunteer at the time the Bush team was in the White House. Baker painstakingly worked through all the books published so far and interviewed over 200 people for this book.

    I found the section of the book about selecting judges most interesting. I noticed that Bush selected the people whose job it was to find, obtain information on and interview attorneys for judgeship even before moving into the White House. He set about filling every vacancy on all Federal courts. He also had staff looking for a Supreme Court justice, at that time Chief Justice Rehnquist was ill and most likely would be resigning soon. Bush was surprised and pleased to be able to appoint two justices as that would change the balance of the Court. He was looking for someone who was conservative and would not change after being appointed as did Justice Souter. I noted Bush called and spoke to each person appointed to a judgeship, so they would know that he was involved in their appointment. Baker claimed no other president, had called to speak to appointees of the lower courts. Baker spent several chapters describing in detail the court selection process. As I have been reading about the Supreme Court and the legal system recently, I was excited to learn about the process from the viewpoint of the presiding President.

    The book traces the upbringing and early careers of both Bush and Cheney and follows them to the end of their time in the White House. The author’s book is notable for its scope and ambition. I am sure it will become a reference source for historians in the future. The process of disillusionment which culminated in Bush’s refusal to pardon Cheney’s aid Scooter Libby forms the heart of the book. Mark Deakins did an excellent job narrating the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Susan P. Mattern
    • Narrated By James Patrick Cronin
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (4)

    Galen of Pergamum (A.D. 129-ca. 216) began his remarkable career tending to wounded gladiators in provincial Asia Minor. Later in life he achieved great distinction as one of a small circle of court physicians to the family of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, at the very heart of Roman society. Susan Mattern's The Prince of Medicine offers the first authoritative biography in English of this brilliant, audacious, and profoundly influential figure.

    Jean says: "history of medicine"
    "history of medicine"
    Overall
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    Susan P. Mattern, professor of history at the University of Georgia wrote a meticulous and engaging biography of Claudius Galenus, also called Galen of Pergamon (Pergamum) (129ce to 226ce). Mattern’s rigorous scholarship unveils the rich, vivid layers of Galen’s life and times. Galen, a Greek aristocrat of great ambition and superior intelligence, was already a renowned physician when he arrived in Rome in 162 ce. He treated Emperor Marcus Aurelius, philosopher Eudemus and of course, the Gladiators.

    Mattern tells the story of Galen from early life to death. Mattern stresses that Galen was an exemplary products of Hellenistic culture, urbane, deeply familiar with Greek philosophy and literature as well as medical literature. Galen learned the art of oratory and debate practiced by the Sophists. Mattern reports his encounters with other physician were brutal rhetorical showdowns.

    Galen was a titan of his time. His many books would be consulted by medics for centuries to come. Where chronology is uncertain Mattern organized material by theme. In a series of chapter Mattern, combines biographical material with emphasis on some aspect of Galen’s doctrine and practice. Over all it is surprisingly an easy readable book considering the complicated material it covers. Professor Mattern managed to create a book anyone can read and understand not just the academic. James Patrick Cronin narrated the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall and the Battle for the Supreme Court

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By Cliff Sloan, David McKean
    • Narrated By Peter Jay Fernandez
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (135)
    Performance
    (105)
    Story
    (106)

    The Great Decision tells the riveting story of Marshall and of the landmark court case, Marbury v. Madison, through which he empowered the Supreme Court and transformed the idea of the separation of powers into a working blueprint for our modern state.

    Tim says: "Brings to life the early days of the USA"
    "How the Court gained its power"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The 1800 elections unveiled a schism in the body politic for the first time in U.S. history. The battle of the two party systems begins with this election. In the final days of John Adam’s presidency, he tried to appoint as many Federalist as possible to position established in legislation passed by the outgoing Federalist majority Congress. He had recently appointed John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court when John Jay refused to take the job again. A handful of commissions for justice of the peace remained undelivered when incoming Democratic-Republican President Thomas Jefferson took office. Jefferson ordered his Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver them. A disgruntled office seeker, William Marbury, sued to have his commission honored.

    The book is well-research even including some contemporary newspaper accounts. The book reads like a political thriller. Marbury V Madison is considered the most important legal case in American history. The case established the judiciary as the final arbiter of any conflict between the law and the Constitution. The authors supply Marbury’s historical context and unravels the complex fabric of personalities, politics and law that animated the case. Sloan and McKean spent most of the book on the 1800 election and the thoughts of Adams and Jefferson. I wished they would have spent equal or more time on John Marshall and how he came to his decision. The book suffers from occasionally losing momentum, dragging and poor editing. But overall the book provided a review of the history of the 1800 election, the antagonism between Adams and Jefferson as well as insight into legal history. If one is interested in American history and legal history this is a great book to start with. Peter Jay Fernandez did a good job narrating the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Remains of Innocence: A Brady Novel of Suspense

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By J. A. Jance
    • Narrated By Hillary Huber
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (26)

    Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that may be tied together in New York Times best-selling author J. A. Jance's thrilling tale of suspense that brings to life Arizona's Cochise County and the desert Southwest in all its beauty and mystery. An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In cleaning out her house, her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines that crowd every corner.

    Jean says: "A tale of family dysfunction"
    "A tale of family dysfunction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My introduction to J. A. Jance was a book in the middle of the Joanna Brady series. I enjoyed it so much I read the entire series then started on the Beaumont series. I was so glad to see a new book in the Brady series; I thought she had forgotten about. The book starts out in Great Barrington, Massachusetts where a daughter of a hoarder is forced to return to her mother’s house. Lisa Machett’s mother Thelma is dying and Lisa needs to deal with Thelma’s affairs. In cleaning the house she discovers a large amount of cash. People who help Lisa are killed; Thelma’s house is burned down on the day of her funeral. Dr. Machetts is found murdered and tortured in his home in Bixby, Arizona. He is Lisa’s half brother.

    Sheriff Joanna Brady is also dealing with the murder of Junior Dowdle, a long time character in the series, along with Junior’s body is a number of dead and mutated kittens, rabbit and small dog. Gradually the two plots weave together to form a compelling tale of family dysfunction and murder. This is a complicated read that moves forward at a rapid pace. As usual J. A. Jance has written an interesting tale. Hillary Huber did a good job narrating the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Patrick J. Buchanan
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    After suffering stinging defeats in the 1960 presidential election against John F. Kennedy, and in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Nixon's career was declared dead by Washington press and politicians alike. Yet on January 20, 1969, just six years after he had said his political life was over, Nixon would stand taking the oath of office as 37th President of the United States. How did Richard Nixon resurrect a ruined career and reunite a shattered and fractured Republican Party to capture the White House?

    Jean says: "The comeback kid"
    "The comeback kid"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I saw the author was Patrick Buchanan, I remembered him as an aide to Richard Nixon, so I understood from the beginning the book would have a favorable bias. The book covers the time frame from the defeat by JFK for the presidency in 1960 and the lost to Pat Brown for governor of California in 1962 to his winning the presidency in 1968. This time frame to borrow from Winston Churchill was his “wilderness years”.

    The GOP was split between the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater hard-liners and the more moderate Republicans represented by Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney. Nixon started courting the conservative press and laying down strategy for helping the GOP recoup losses in the mid-term election of 1966. This strategy included reassuring law and order, endorsing Rockefeller for Governor of New York, fashioning a new Republican Party of the South that rested on human rights not bigotry.

    Buchanan provides an insider’s account of how Nixon made his comeback. Buchanan bolsters his tale with copious evidence, not just his first hand memoires as a major participant but also abundant new clips and archival material. The book is thoughtful, well-written and entertaining full of intrigue and gamesmanship of politics. I did note the book revealed time and again that Nixon chose to attack opponents rather than develop solutions for problems facing the country at the time. As we are at the fortieth anniversary of Nixon resignation I assume more books about Nixon will be forthcoming. Arthur Morey narrated the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I, 1914-1918

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By John Mosier
    • Narrated By Wes Talbot
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Alongside Waterloo and Gettysburg, the Battle of Verdun during World War I stands as one of history’s greatest clashes. Yet it is also one of the most complex and misunderstood. Conventional wisdom holds that the battle began in February 1916 and lasted until December, when the victorious French wrested all the territory they had lost back from the Germans. In fact, says historian John Mosier, from the very beginning of the war until the armistice in 1918, no fewer than eight distinct battles were waged for the possession of Verdun.

    Jean says: "Hunt for the truth"
    "Hunt for the truth"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book might be a good preparatory reading for World War One. Dr. Mosier covers a number of topics, geography of France, German and French history prior to WWI, railroads and their usefulness and limitations as well as military preparedness. He explains in pain-staking detail why the French artillery was terribly inaccurate and inadequate. French politics are reviewed along with their divisive role in military preparedness.

    The author claims the lost history is actually buried history. The French army controlled all information or disinformation of the war. The author delved into this mass of suppressed information finding that each layer of command lied to the one above it as to the results of the latest offensive effort. One of the main points the author makes is that Verdun was not one battle but a series of battles fought from late 1914 to 1918.

    One need to carefully review the source of the information provided in the index and keep a skeptical viewpoint to decide for yourself, is the book a fresh viewpoint and a struggle with official “truth” or a powerful revisionist account. Mosier also points out that WWI had no hero General to catch the public attention. Whereas, WWII had many Hero Generals that has kept the public interested in WWII for years. For those interested in World War One history the book is well worth the read. The book was narrated by Wes Talbot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Terms of Enlistment

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Marko Kloos
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (477)
    Performance
    (442)
    Story
    (437)

    The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to 2,000 calories of badly flavored soy every day. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service. With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth.

    DAVE says: "Solid military sci-fi."
    "New Author"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Terms of Enlistment is Marko Kloos first book. It is an entertaining military Sci-Fi fare. It features a stagnant overpopulated human population on earth, slightly populated space colonies, a powerful military apparatus and a formidable alien. The central protagonist Andrew Grayson joins the military to obtain food and a clean place to sleep and escape the welfare ghetto of Boston.

    There is a lot to like about this book, the action is fast-paced, and the vivid descriptions of the desperate battle that Grayson and his team fight during pacification of an urban riot in Detroit are outstanding. The interaction between the soldiers is believable and the protagonist comes across as a regular guy. On the other hand, the alien encountered toward the end of the book is not particularly believable. The manner in which faster than light travel is explained is just a bit vague, no plausible explanation as to how to get around the problem of Newtonian and Einsteinium physics is provided. The flaws aside the book is extremely readable debut novel. Luke Daniels did a good job narrating the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Marja Mills
    • Narrated By Amy Lynn Stewart
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (12)

    To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is one of the best-loved novels of the 20th century. But for the last 50 years, the novel's celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almost nothing on the record. Journalists have trekked to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has lived with her sister, Alice, for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills.

    Richard says: "Story has nothing new to say about Harper Lee"
    "A Charming Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this to be a charming book and very readable book. No reporter has gotten close to the reclusive writer other than Maja Mills. In 2001 she flew to Monroeville Alabama to write about her for The Chicago Tribune. She told Alice about the Chicago library’s “One Book, One City” to celebrate the 41 anniversary of the publishing of “To Kill A Mockingbird”. To Mills surprise the sisters gave her a brief interview. Alice Finch Lee was born in 1911 and is the older sister. She is the measured steady one and is still a practicing attorney. Maja Mills had been diagnosed with Lupus in 2004 and was out on disability from The Chicago Tribune. Consequently, she moved to Monroeville, Alabama next door to the Lee sisters home. Mills states the move was with the permission of the Mills sister and with the understanding she was going to write a book. She entered easily into the world of the Lee’s and their friends. They all shared aching joints and free time to talk about books, local history, to go fishing and long car rides into the country. The book provides a rich sense of the daily texture of the Lee sister’s lives.

    The author is respectful guest of the Lee sisters, so don’t expect insider gossip. Mills describes Nelle Harper Lee (born 1926) as a down-to-earth, self assured, spirited, spontaneous, quick-witted and passionate. She is also impatient and has a temper. The author repeatedly tells of what good company the Lee sisters are. When ask about the name Harper they explain the middle name Harper, was a tribute to the doctor who saved the life of Louise (the middle sister). Mills delves into Harper Lee’s relationship with Truman Capote, who appears as Dill Harris in “Too Kill A Mockingbird”. Truman lived with his aunt next door to the Lee’s a few years when they were all children.

    The publisher delayed the publishing of the book because Harper Lee published a letter saying she did not participate in the book and did not authorize it. Alice Lee wrote a letter to the publisher saying both she and Harper Lee participated knowingly and willing in the book. So the publisher went ahead with the release of the book.

    “To Kill A Mockingbird” was published in 1960, won the Pulitzer Prize and became a classic of American literature. It still sells some 750,000 copies annually and is now sold in e-book and audio format. Harper Lee stopped talking to the press in 1965.

    I enjoyed the book and found it to a relaxing read. Amy Lynn Stewart did an excellent job narrating the book.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Robert O'Connell
    • Narrated By Andrew Garman
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    With a unique, witty, and conversational voice historian Robert O'Connell breaks down the often paradoxical, easily caricatured character of General William T. Sherman for the most well-rounded portrait of the man yet written. There were many Shermans, according to O'Connell. Most prominently was Sherman the military strategist (indeed, one of the greatest strategists of all time), who gained an appreciation of geography from early campaigns out west and applied it to his famed Civil War march.

    Jean says: "An interesting biography"
    "An interesting biography"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    William Tecumseh Sherman was born in 1820 in Ohio. His family nicknamed was “Cump”. He was the grandson of Roger Sherman of Connecticut a signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of the architects of the Constitution. WTS’s father moved to Ohio in 1811 and set up a legal practice. He fathered eleven children and died unexpectedly in 1829. WTC was adopted by Thomas Ewing a friend of his fathers and a wealthy lawyer and politician. Sherman’s brother John Sherman became a lawyer and politician. He was a U.S. Senator from Ohio during the Civil War and after.

    The first part of the book covers Sherman’s early life, his time at West point (1836) and his career in the army. The section that covers the Civil War is extremely detailed. In the Civil War Sherman was assigned to serve under Major General Ulysses S. Grant, they fought together at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Sherman was promoted to Major General and turned loose by Grant in 1864, with an independent command, to rip out the logistical innards of the Confederacy. O’Connell goes into meticulous detail in Sherman’s “March to the Sea”. This is the largest part of the book and the most through.

    The middle of the book covers Sherman’s career from after the Civil war to retirement. WTS was made General in Chief of the Army when Grant became President. WTS over saw the Westward expansion of the Nation, including the building of infrastructure such as roads, railroads and protecting settlers.

    The last part of the book covers WTS personal and family life. He married Ellen Ewing his adopted sister. They had seven children. His wife travel with him to some post but preferred to stay at her father’s home in Ohio most often. They had seven children, one son became a priest must to the dismay of Sherman. Ellen was a devoted catholic but Sherman was a Calvinist. Ellen died in 1888. O’Connell does cover some of the affairs and mistress of Sherman. No biographer, including O’Connell has made the marriage come fully to life, or his well known womanizing. This section of the book is under developed.

    Robert L. O’Connell has a Ph.D. in History and spent thirty years as an analyst at the National Ground Intelligent Center. Currently he is a visiting Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of numerous military books. O’Connell takes a fresh viewpoint from other writers I have read on Sherman to date. The book is well worth the read for those interested in Civil War history or in general history. Andrew Garman did an excellent job narrating the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Gore Vidal
    • Narrated By Gore Vidal
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (91)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (39)

    In this extraordinary memoir, Vidal recalls his accomplishments and defeats, discusses the friends and enemies he has made, and contemplates the nature of mortality. In the Navy, Vidal was forced to use point to point navigation whenever compasses failed. It is an apt analogy for his life, which has been filled with triumphs as well as controversies. Vidal has had relationships with innumerable luminaries, including President Kennedy, Tennessee Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Orson Welles, and Greta Garbo.

    Catherine says: "Point to Point Navigation"
    "An intellectual"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Listening to this memoir by Gore Vidal, I had the feeling I was spending the afternoon with an elderly man listening to his stories. A few years ago I had read a biography of General Robert Olds who in 1942 married Nina Gore Auchincloss. Gore Vidal’s famous actress mother. I like it when information in one book I read shows up in another book I am reading. Vidal came from a famous family. His father was a military pilot who in civilian life started three airlines, TWA, Eastern and Northwestern. His mother was an actress whose father was a long time Senator from Oklahoma. Gore tells about reading to his grandfather who was blind and going into the U.S. Senate to read whatever was needed to him. The book is a bit rambling but just as it would be if you were sitting having a conversation with him. His life ranged from a playwright on Broadway to a Hollywood screen writer to essayist and novelist. In the book he discusses the various famous people he knew in all types of professions. From Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy (his step sister was Jackie Auchincloss Kennedy). He also discussed Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Saul Bellows, and Marlene Dietrich, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Two people he had nothing nice to say about were Truman Capote and Richard Nixon. A few of his witty aphorism were present also. He wrote this just after the death of Howard Austen his partner for 53 years. I noticed some of the reviews of this book were negative but I enjoyed listening to Gore Vidal. He gave me a glimpse into the life of a famous writer and intellectual from the 1930 through 2005. I remember reading some of his books such as Lincoln, Burr and the novel Myra Breckinridge. Gore Vidal narrated the book himself.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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