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Jean

I am an avid eclectic reader.

Santa Cruz, CA, United States | Member Since 2010

ratings
658
REVIEWS
621
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
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HELPFUL VOTES
3256

  • The Beginning: Longhorn Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Dusty Rhodes
    • Narrated By Gene Engene
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (245)
    Story
    (247)

    Buck Cordell is a giant of a man in a giant, untamed land called Texas. He builds a cattle ranch where ordinary men all say it can't be done a cattle empire that defies all odds, a family that changes the course of Texas history, and a legacy that outlives the Old West.

    AudioAddict says: "Don't like westerns...LOVED this book!"
    "The Beginning"
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    I enjoyed this book. The story was a common one in lots of Westerns. I was particularly happy that there was no foul language or explicit sex in the book. I have stopped reading lots of books because of these two items were over done in the stories. If Dusty Rhodes keeps his books clean, he has a new fan in me. Buck obtain the money at the beginning of the story so it seems he was able to do in one year what many ranchers obtain in a lifetime of work. Other wise the story moved along with a good balance of action and character development. Looking forward to book two.

    18 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Arthur Allen
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Few diseases are more gruesome than typhus. Transmitted by body lice, it afflicts the dispossessed - refugees, soldiers, and ghettoized peoples - causing hallucinations, terrible headaches, boiling fever, and often death. The disease plagued the German army on the Eastern Front and left the Reich desperate for a vaccine. For this they turned to the brilliant and eccentric Polish zoologist Rudolf Weigl.

    Gotta Tellya says: "Good story, not quite "fantastic.""
    "An Unforgettable book"
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    This book provides an over view of the history of Typhus. The author goes into more detail of the typhus epidemics of WWI and WWII. Some scientists call typhus the war disease. Allen tells the story of Rudolf Weigl who developed a vaccine for Typhus. Typhus is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia prowazekii. The Rickettsia is in body lice and unlike in other diseases the Rickettsia also kills the host lice. The body lice live on unclean people and clothing; therefore it flares up when there is social collapse. It is estimated that three to five million people were killed by Typhus in Russia and Poland in WWII. Allen covers in-depth the problems of Typhus in WWII. He stated that the Nazis were obsessed about the disease because of particularly odious aspect of their world view. “The louse carrier of Typhus was the symbol of the Jew in Nazi racial ideology”. The Reich was determined to protect Aryans, especially its military from the malady.

    The Nazi turned to Dr. Weigl an ethnic Austrian, and Dr. Ludwik Fleck a Polish Jew to help them with a vaccine. Rudolf Stefan Weigl (1883-1957) had his doctorate in zoology and was drafted by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire during WWI to fight Typhus. In 1921 he established a research institute in Lwow Poland now called Lviv in Ukraine. He was successful in creating a vaccine. His laboratory and “lice farm” is still active today in Lviv Ukraine. Weigl saved many lives of Jews and intellectuals by hiring them in his lab.

    Ludwik Fleck (1896-1961) doctorate was in immunology. He joined Weigl in 1919 to work on the typhus research. In 1921 he developed a test to diagnose typhus. He was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp in 1943 to work on the typhus vaccine. He developed two vaccines one was worthless serum he shipped to the SS troops at the front. The effective one he used to secretly treat the prisoners.

    Weigl and Flick’s post WWII lives were under the communist rule of Ukraine. Weigl had a jealous supervisor who kept blocking his nomination for the Nobel Prize. Fleck was forced to move to Lublin Poland to teach in the University. He was accused of collaborating with the Nazis and suffered anti-Semitism. In 1957 he managed to immigrate to Israel and died in 1961.

    The book does not cover the work of the American and British scientist who also developed a vaccine or the use of DDT to kill the lice. Allen writes without sanctimony and never simplifies the people in the book. He just states provable facts. When writing about the Holocaust it is often difficult not to let emotion get in the way of the facts but the author did an excellent job staying to clinical detail. Allen avoided writing a depressing narration with a masterful attention to detail, Allen has assembled a story of tragedy, courage, scientific creativity and ethics.

    Dennis Holland does a good job narrating the book. If you are interested in scientific history or WWII history this is an excellent captivating story for you. I barely covered the highlights of the story you will need to read the book to fully understand the complexities of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The First Man in Rome

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Colleen McCullough
    • Narrated By David Ogden Stiers
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    In the first century B.C. at the height of the Roman Republic, two men set their sights on becoming the First Man - the Roman more respected than any other. Marius, a heroic man of strength and means, lacks the noble blood to contend for the First Man, but overcomes his common status when he marries into the patrician house of Caesar. Sulla, a pleasure-seeking aristocrat without money of his own, is transformed by his ambitions into a fierce and daring warrior. Together the two men will shape history as they are thrust into a raging storm....

    R. L. Roeck says: "MASSACRE! DON'T BUY ABRIGED BOOKS!"
    "interesting historical novel"
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    If you are interested in Roman history this is a good book to read. The author tells a vivid story of two men who served in the Senate in ancient Rome. McCullough illustrates in all-encompassing and extensive detail, an image of life of the upper echelons of Roman society that is wholly believable. She not only describes how meaningful a sagum is to a Roman soldier, but also tells of domestic industriousness of Julia, matriarch of the Caesar’s household. A complete historical education of the time period is interwoven by way of anecdotes, digressions, and dialogue such that a fabulously rich and complex historical novel results. The author’s research for the historical novel is amazing; the book is more or less historically accurate.

    The book revolves about its eponymous hero, Gaius Marius, Rome’s ablest general and a man destined to be a six times a Consul and his wife Julia, a beautiful aristocrat of the Juli Caesar family. (She is Julius Caesar’s aunt. Julius is a baby at the end of the book.) The other key person is the young Lucius Cornelius Sulla form the core of the story. The author masterfully illustrates through a story centered around the two men, the place of women in ancient Roman civilization, with the women of Julian family figure prominently as well. The author is terrific when writing about women. McCullough losses the story’s momentum when she is describing the politics of the time. The two men served together to win the war against Numidia (Africa) in 107 B.C.E. and held off the Cimbri and Teutonii Germanus tribes invasion between 103-102 B.C.E. Even though one man is a liberal and the other a conservative they are able to put aside their political difference to work together for the betterment of Rome. This is the first book of a series about Rome.

    The book was narrated by David Ogden Stiers. This is my second book by McCullough the first one I read by her was “The Thorn Birds”.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (370)
    Performance
    (233)
    Story
    (237)

    Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate had become a parody of itself and an obstacle that for decades had blocked desperately needed liberal legislation. Caro shows how Johnson's brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history.

    Jeff says: "DROP JAW AMAZING!!"
    "He wanted power"
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    This is a long book. Caro provides extended passages of background about a quarter of the book on the history of the Senate, from the great days of Webster, Clay and Calhoun to current times. He also went into detail about the architecture and seats in the Senate both before and after the War of 1812. Approximately half of the book covers in detail the epic battle over the 1957 Civil Rights Bill. Johnson’s magic is the main subject of the book: how he made things happen in the U.S. Senate. Johnson’s wheeling, threatening, stroking large egos, explaining why his goal was essential for the Country‘s good, he ran an institution that had never before been run by anyone.

    “Master of the Senate” is the third volume of Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson. I seem to be reading this series backwards as I started with Volume four. Caro presents a Johnson that is well rounded. We get to see him with all his warts and all, but also are given admiring recognition of all his accomplishments. Race was the great test for Johnson and the country during his years as Senate Majority leader 1955-61. Caro reveals the obstructed federal action on the cruel mistreatment of blacks in the South; no civil rights legislation had been enacted since 1875, at the end of the Reconstruction.

    For years after Johnson entered the Senate in 1949, he mostly voted with the Southerners. He chose as his mentor senator Richard Russell of Georgia, one of the most powerful men in the Senate. Johnson’s friend Philip Graham, publisher of The Washington Post, kept telling Johnson he had to do something for civil rights. In 1957 President Eisenhower proposed Civil Rights Legislation. It appeared impossible to pass the legislation, but Johnson made it happen. Caro’s description of how he did it is masterly. His strategy was to persuade the Southerners that is was in their best interest to let something labeled civil rights go through. The Eisenhower bill was focused on the right to vote, which the South denied the blacks by force and trickery. Johnson weakened the bill but if he didn’t it would not pass. Johnson thought of it as a beginning as opening to further more meaningful legislation.

    Caro shows how Johnson learned the rules of the Senate and then used them. He then learned about the men in the Senate, their vanities, frailties and their weakness. He then sold himself to each as their friend, political adviser, their sounding board their Mr.-Fix-it. He also found a way to bridge the chasm between the Southern Democrats and the Northern liberals. The author goes into detail about the Olds Hearing. I will never again watch a Senate hearing without remembering what Johnson did to this man. Olds was up for re-confirmation of the Utilities commission and Johnson destroyed the man accusing him of being a communist just so he could obtain the favor and backing of the Texas gas and oil companies. Johnson organized a sneak attack and controlled the whole hearing so the man could not have the opportunity to refute the charges.

    Caro concludes that with the single exception of Lincoln, Johnson was the greatest white champion of blacks in American History. Grover Gardner does an excellent job narrating the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lines of Departure

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Marko Kloos
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (352)
    Performance
    (327)
    Story
    (326)

    Vicious interstellar conflict with an indestructible alien species. Bloody civil war over the last habitable zones of the cosmos. Political unrest, militaristic police forces, dire threats to the solar system.

    Jean says: "Action packed story"
    "Action packed story"
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    This book picks up the story five years later from the first book “Terms of Enlistment”. Grayson and his girlfriend both have signed their re-enlistment papers. The Lunkies have pushed deeper into human held territory. The North American Commonwealth is still fighting the SAC (Chinese) and the SRC (Russians) while the Lunkies are getting closer. Grayson has become a combat controller and has done hundreds of combat jumps. Grayson and a few others are the only survivors of a battle against the Lunkies. The whole fleet was destroyed. He is then put onto a ship just pulled out of mothballs and the crews are so called trouble makers.

    Kloos’s sequel is better than the first book. In the new book he angles the story more as a pointed, critical look at how the government handles the people underneath it. Shows that a government backed into a corner will double down and become ineffective.

    The book is fast paced, action packed, exciting with plenty of back story, characters and institutions to delve into. This is the second book for a new author and he has improved from the first book. Kloos did a better job with characterization in this book than he did in the first. I discovered the first book was self published via Amazon. It did so well it was bought up by a publishing house 47 North Imprint. (Also owned by Amazon) Luke Daniels did a good job narrating the book. Daniels also narrated the first book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • John Quincy Adams

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Harlow Giles Unger
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    He fought for Washington, served with Lincoln, witnessed Bunker Hill, and sounded the clarion against slavery on the eve of the Civil War. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of La Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. John Quincy Adams was all of these things and more. In this masterful biography, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals Adams as a towering figure in the nation’s formative years.

    David I. Williams says: "Well written and enjoyable"
    "Supremely readable biography"
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    Harlow Giles Unger’s new biography of John Quincy Adams is well-written and superbly researched. The book is fast paced and supremely readable while not missing any aspect of JQA’s life. Unger seamlessly weaves the words of Adams into his narrative and Unger’s always solid research augments the story that it seems like JQA helps tell. John Quincy Adams wrote in a diary daily from age 10 to death, this along with the massive correspondence between JQA and his parents John and Abigail Adams, together with the massive amount of reports JQA submitted during his career, Unger put it all together into a fascinating biography. There is so much information in this book it is hard to even highlight the information.

    John and Abigail Adams saw to the education of their first born son and by the time he was ten years old he was fluent in Latin and Greek. He was already well read in Shakespeare and other leading literature of his day. He accompanied his father to Europe when he was 12 years old and spent his teenage years in Europe meeting all the key political, military, authors, philosophers’ people of the day. He became fluent in Greek, Latin, English, French, Dutch, Russian, German, Spanish, and Italian and learned some Swedish. JQA attended Leiden University in the Netherlands and when he returned to Boston he went to Harvard. He “read the law” with a prominent Boston attorney and was admitted to the Bar. JQA was American Ambassador to six European countries, negotiated the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812. Served eight years as Secretary of State, engineered the annexation of Florida, and wrote the core provision of the Monroe Doctrine warning European’s never again to try to colonize the Western World. He also wrote the Constitution of Massachusetts. John Quincy Adams is considered by scholars to be the best diplomat this country has had to date.

    As an attorney JQA defended the African prisoners of the Spanish slave ship Amistad. JQA argued they had been kidnapped and had a legal right to defend themselves and attempt to escape from their kidnappers. Adams successfully defended the case before the Supreme Court. The only unsuccessful period in the long history of JAQ was his presidency. I had learned in school it was because he was unable to relate to the people because he was too educated. Unger points out that JQA angered Andrew Jackson because he though Adams cheated him out of the presidency. Jackson created a new political party called Democrats or Jacksonian Democrats. Unger shows how they deliberately shut the government down so Adams was unable to have bills passed or appointments made. The only major accomplishment was he almost cleared the federal debt.

    JQA is the only former President that went on to serve in Congress. JQA belonged to no political party. He served 16 years as the representative from Massachusetts. When in Congress JQA defended Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase in his impeachment trial. Chase was accused of sedition and treason (high crimes and misdemeanors). Adams argued that the charges brought against Chase were indictable criminal acts—not political statements. He said “This is a party prosecution”. Adams defense of Chase proved the earliest significant defense of the first amendment. John Quincy obtained an acquittal of Chase and prevented an American President (Jefferson) from criminalizing political dissent. JQA ensured the founding of the Smithsonian Institution, from an endowment from a British Lord. He protected the principal and the institution can use the interest. He spurred the construction of a net work of astronomical observatories across the nation. Adams risked death by championing abolition and emancipation as a congressman.

    John Quince Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of an American diplomat/merchant and an English mother. She was born in London. They were married at the church of “All Hallows by the tower” in London. Louisa is the only first lady not to be born in the United States. In 1878 John Quincy Adam’s youngest son, Charles Frances Adams built the first memorial presidential library in the U.S. to honor his father. The library is located in Quincy Ma.

    On the personal side I noted JQA suffered from bouts of depression throughout his life. Louisa had many miscarriages and suffered from migraine headaches. I noted she had bouts of depression starting when they lived in the White House. Apparently alcoholism ran in the family from Abigail’s side of the family. JQA brother’s died of it as did one of his sons. One son “read the law” with Daniel Webster. One of the things I observed in the book was both John Q and Louisa were prodigious readers and preferred to stay home and read. I noticed Unger pointed out that reading was considered a method of education in those days. I found this to be a most enjoyable book I learned so much from it about Adams, his family and general history of the time. Unger is a noted historian and an excellent writer. Johnny Heller did a good job narrating the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Richard Hack
    • Narrated By Dan Cashman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Richard Hack separates truth from fiction to reveal the most hidden secrets of Hoover's private life and expose his previously undisclosed conduct and actions which threatened to compromise the security of the entire nation. Based on freshly uncovered files and personal documents as well as over 100,000 pages of FBI memos and State Department papers, Hack rips the lid off the FBI Director's facade of propriety to detail a life replete with sexual indiscretions, criminal behavior and a long-standing alliance with the Mafia.

    Jean says: "Power corrupts"
    "Power corrupts"
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    As with his biographies of Howard Hughes (Hughes) and Ted Turner/Rupert Murdock (Clash of the Titans), Richard Hack brings a novelist’s flair for drama and a journalist’s nose for truth to the life of J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was the Director of the FBI for more than fifty years; he served nine different Presidents and sixteen Attorney Generals. The book is well-written and meticulously researched even thorough it does not reveal any new findings. The author attempts to keep this a balanced and impartial look at the facts. He covers Hoover’s life from childhood and his relationship with his mother to establishing the FBI to his death.

    Hack’s most controversial conclusion about Hoover’s private life is that despite his weird intimacy with sidekick Clyde Tolson, and his household collection of male nudes and Chinese Ceramics, Hoover was not gay. I think you need to read the book and evaluate the facts, as the author presents them and make up your own mind on how to interpret the stated facts. The author goes into detail how Hoover set up the organization of the FBI but does not go into deal of its operation. Hack includes the headline-grabbing pursuit of Depression-era outlaws to his post-war crusade against left wing subversion. The author says little about the FBI as an institution or its crime fight methods. Over all he portrays Hoover as an intelligent, highly organized, determined , energetic, lonely and insecure man who comes off here as much as a puppet as master. Hack reveals Hoover as a consummate bureaucratic infighter aware of his vulnerabilities to shifts in political power.

    The book was originally published in 2004 and republished again in 2007. The audio book was re-mastered into digital format. Dan Cashman did a good job narrating the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Guardian Angel: V. I. Warshawski, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Sara Paretsky
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (32)

    Racine Avenue is going upscale — bad news for hand-to-mouth residents like V. I. Warshawski. As tax bills skyrocket, newcomers pressure old inhabitants into fixing up their homes or moving out. To the yuppies on the block the worst eyesore belongs to old Hattie Frizell, whose yard is “returning to native prairie, complete with hubcaps.” Their block club wants her and her five dogs gone.V. I. and Hattie have a relationship of sorts: one of those five dogs gave V. I.’s dog Peppy an unwelcome litter.

    Jean says: "Lots of suspense"
    "Lots of suspense"
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    This is the seventh book in the Warshawski series and was published in 1992. I noticed there were no cell phones, Vic was always looking for a pay phone, and I also noted she was using an Olivetti typewriter. Vic did say in the story she needed to learn how to use a computer and obtain one, she said this during a break-in, while trying to figure out how to get into the companies computer for information.

    In this story Mr. Contaras, an elderly neighbor of V. I. Warshawski, has an alcoholic friend Mitch Kruger. They both retired from Diamond Head Machine Company at the same time approximately 12 years ago. Kruger bragged he is going to be rich from Diamond Head but then he is then found dead in a sanitary canal. A neighbor down the street Mrs. Frizell was found to have traded her CD investment for junk bonds in Diamond Head. Vic is on the case with numerous threatening confrontations, middle of the night file searches, car chases and crashes, another murder, a nasty beating of her friend Dr. Lotty Hershel and the appearance in the case of Vic’s ex-husband. We have a scandal of one of Chicago oldest industrial families, union fraud, and a politically connected bank. Suspense rarely flags in a Paretsky novel.

    Susan Ericksen does a great job of portraying the flippant, mean mouth style of Warshawski. Some of the other readers in this series could not pull it off as well as Ericksen. Kathy Bates was the other reader than did a good job with Warshawski. If you enjoy the Paretsky series you will enjoy this book. Even though each book stands alone I do wish I had read this series in order so I could see the development of the various characters.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Blackett's War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Stephen Budiansky
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (42)

    In March 1941, after a year of unbroken and devastating U-boat onslaughts, the British War Cabinet decided to try a new strategy in the foundering naval campaign. To do so, they hired an intensely private, bohemian physicist who was also an ardent socialist. Patrick Blackett was a former navy officer and future winner of the Nobel Prize; he is little remembered today, but he and his fellow scientists did as much to win the war against Nazi Germany as almost anyone else.

    Jean says: "First time science used to fight a war"
    "First time science used to fight a war"
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    September 1, 2014 will mark the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the start of WWII. One of the least considered, but most critical, aspects of the War was the contest for control of the sea. The pervasive conflict, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “the Battle of the Atlantic”. Germany dominated early fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic, in its scope and significance, the sea was vast. It covered more area and lasted longer, 1939-1945, than any land campaign. More than 70,000 allied naval personnel and merchant seaman lost their lives with German Unterseeboots (U-boats) sinking more than 3,500 commercial vessels and 175 warships. The Kriegsmarine had a 75 percent casualty rate.

    Stephen Budiansky has focused the book on battle science. From 1941 to 1943 a small group of British and American Scientist, most without military experience or knowledge revolutionized the way wars are run and won. Blackett’s men taught allied military leaders to use their resources effectively and asked hard question to challenge established wisdom. In the process they created a new discipline, operation research, which plays a vital role today. Blackett emphasized more efficient and effective use of existing systems rather than costly development of new weapons. Blackett’s group focused mainly on the war against the U-boats. They developed a radar guidance system that greatly improved the accuracy of anti-aircraft guns. They advocated the installation of radar in British warship and patrol air-crate to locate U-boats. They developed tactics for aircraft depth charge attacks to increase kills by a factor of ten. The Group suggested new aircraft camouflage to avoid early detection by U-boat lookouts. The scientist also coordinated with British code-breakers to facilitate U-boat location. Blackett proved that large convoys were safer than the smaller groups the Admiralty championed.

    The real hero of the story is Winston Churchill who was in charge of the British Navy in WWI and later minister of munitions. In the 1930s Churchill was a back beach warmer of Parliament. Churchill pressed the government to bring scientific advisors into military affairs as early as 1934. The government did so and this group in 1935 developed Radar. By 1939 the British coast was lined with tracking stations, which was vital to the battle of Britain. But the British navy was resistant to Radar which deprived the British Navy of a potential early advantage against the German fleet.

    Blackett received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1948 for his work on cosmic rays, high energy sub-atomic particles, many other in the group also went on to receive the Nobel Prize. The book is well-written, contains suspenseful and lots of personal and organizational conflicts that can make the stories so colorful. I have only highlighted a few of the interesting stories and accomplishments in this book. This book is not intended for the casual reader. The subject matter is often quite technical. If you are interested in math and science or WWII history you will enjoy this book. The golden voice of John Lee helped bring the scientist stories to life.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert D. Kaplan
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    Over the last decade, the center of world power has been quietly shifting from Europe to Asia. With oil reserves of several billion barrels, an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and several centuries' worth of competing territorial claims, the South China Sea in particular is a simmering pot of potential conflict. The underreported military buildup in the area where the Western Pacific meets the Indian Ocean means that it will likely be a hinge point for global war and peace for the foreseeable future.

    Jean says: "Pending problems"
    "Pending problems"
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    Kaplan starts the book with some basic economics, geography and history of East Asia. Robert Kaplan says the Pacific will become unstable, but he does not think this must lead to war. Kaplan has found a niche writing books that are a cross between journalism and policy issues. Comparison of Asia to the Europe of 1914 is part of a bigger question about whether China just wants to be a benign regional hegemon, or if it has expansionist aims. Kaplan argues that comparisons to 1914 are overblown. He claims the big difference is Europe is a landscape; East Asia is a seascape and the oceans will act as a barrier against aggression. The author suggests the better comparison is America’s 19th century approach to the Caribbean. He says China is seeking an Asian version of the Monroe Doctrine.

    One reason he is sanguine is the absence of a great ideological struggle. Kaplan insists that the Communist party will not necessarily bully abroad because it bullies at home. I say do not forget the brutality of Leninist Chinese Party State. The book suffers from largely ignoring the East China Sea and the relationship with Japan, which I think could be much more important.

    Asia is far more complicated than Kaplan reveals. If oil is discovered in the China Sea it will only become more complicated. The China Sea is on the way to becoming the most contested body of water in the world. Kaplan said that a Singaporean said they did not wish to be Finlandized or to replace American’s embrace with China’s. The Singaporean went on to say “At the end of the day it is all about military force and naval presence—it is not about passionate and well-meaning talk”. We must remember China is building an enormous Navy and Air Force and the rise of China is now challenging the stability of the area as America’s naval dominance of the Western pacific fades.

    Kaplan ends the book with a quote of a Vietnamese proverb. “Distant water cannot put out a nearby fire.” Michael Prichard did a good job narrating the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Top Secret: Clandestine Operations, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By W.E.B. Griffin, William E. Butterworth
    • Narrated By Alexander Cendese
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (30)

    In the first weeks after World War II, a squeaky-clean new second lieutenant named James D. Cronley Jr. is spotted and recruited for a new enterprise that will eventually be transformed into something called the CIA. One war may have ended, but another one has already begun, against an enemy that is bigger, smarter, and more vicious: The Soviet Union. The Soviets have hit the ground running, and Cronley's job is to help frustrate them, harass them, and spy on them any way he can.

    Jean says: "cold war heros"
    "cold war heros"
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    Story

    This is book one of the Clandestine Operation Series. It appears Griffin is launching this series off the Argentine or Honor Bound Series. Griffin’s sketch of the immediate post-WWII bureaucratic territorial clashes has purpose; it’s an outline of how the demobilized OSS hot-war heroes become CIA cold warriors. The main Character is James D. Cronley Jr. In the book the lead characters have to fight the FBI, the Russians and other to get their job done. Cronley and his men are OSS waiting to be transferred to the newly created CIA. Captain Cronley is in charge of obtaining the German Spies that were in Russia away from being captured by the Russian KBG and turn them into working for the CIA.

    General Reinhardt Gehian, Chief of Eastern Front intelligence was a Wehrmacht General, Gehian and his men started to work for the OSS near the end of the war. He later became Chief of West German Intelligence in the 1950s. This is what I like about W.E.B. Griffin books; he places his fictional people into the real history he is writing about.

    Cronley has General Gehian and his men in an isolated Bavarian monastery while a new facility is being built for the CIA. The narrative’s ripe with meetings, confrontations, lies, subterfuge rather than fighting and gunplay, a change from the usual Griffin story. The dialogue is classic Griffin. The story is fast-paced, lots of interesting plot twists.

    I did not particularly care for the narrator Alexander Cendese. He pronounced some of the Spanish words incorrectly. I am not as familiar with German to know how he did with those words. The majority of Griffins books have been narrated by three great narrators of action books, Scott Brick, Dick Hill and David Colacci. I hope the publisher will return to one of these narrators for future books in this series.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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