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Alan

ROSLYN HEIGHTS, NY, United States | Member Since 2007

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 6 reviews
  • 18 ratings
  • 264 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
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  • Double Down: Game Change 2012

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Mark Halperin, John Heilemann
    • Narrated By Robert Fass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (540)
    Performance
    (482)
    Story
    (487)

    Drawing on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Heilemann and Halperin deliver another reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, Double Down offers a panoramic account of a campaign at once intensely hard fought and lastingly consequential. For Obama, the victory he achieved meant even more to him than the one he had pulled off four years earlier.

    Tony says: "Game Change 2.0"
    "If you like political gossip this is your book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Double Down again? Why?

    The insider's view of the 2012 presidential campaign. If you want mud to sling, if you are looking for juicy details and facts about the major players this is your book. This book will tell you of the main actors, the strategies and tactics both campaigns employed and the obstacles that had to be overcome. Looking for why Chris Christie was not chosen as VP here you'll find the reasons. Want to know why Romney did or did not do something you'll find the answer here. If you're interested in politics you will want to read this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (143)
    Performance
    (127)
    Story
    (129)

    College football has never been more popular - or more chaotic. Millions fill 100,000-seat stadiums every Saturday; tens of millions more watch on television every weekend. The 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama had a viewership of 26.4 million people, second only to the Super Bowl. Billions of dollars from television deals now flow into the game; the average budget for a top-ten team is $80 million; top coaches make more than $3 million a year; the highest paid, more than $5 million.

    Lee Hutch says: "Excellent!"
    "Even for those who are not college football fans."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I never attended a power football school. I am not a great college football fan. Still I enjoyed this book. If you want to know of the problems facing all big time programs this is the book. If you want to know about the role of money and recruiting abuses this is your book. If you want facts demonstrating the hubris and complicity of the NCAA is the sport than this is your book. You can see the role of money in the sport that leads to both good and bad outcomes. Football success not only pays for other sports but it leads to increased alumni donations and greater student enrollments. But the NCAA is also about its money. It's about March Madness and selling game rights. As much as it is claimed the NCAA is run by its member colleges it's all about its money. You want examples? Read the book. Want to know the secret of a successful college football program? The coach. The coach then recruits players. To recruit players you need to invest in facilities. To make money you have to invest money but only about 20% of Division I schools are in the black.

    Want to see scandals enumerated? They go through the usual recruiting violations, sex and academic scandals. How to avoid these scandals is also delineated. But it also shows how football is also the way out of the cycle of failure for many students. Even as urban recruits have gang associations and youth criminal records that they then bring with them as recruits to college campuses that adds the risk of crime and scandal to these programs there are many for whom academic scholarships are the way out of the cycle of poverty. College athletics are big business and Division I college football is huge business. This book dissects this business and does so without being boring, or peachy,


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Pat Conroy
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (192)
    Performance
    (174)
    Story
    (165)

    Pat Conroy's father, Donald Patrick Conroy, was a towering figure in his son's life. The Marine Corps fighter pilot was often brutal, cruel, and violent; as Pat says, "I hated my father long before I knew there was an English word for 'hate.'" As the oldest of seven children who were dragged from military base to military base across the South, Pat bore witness to the toll his father's behavior took on his siblings, and especially on his mother, Peg. She was Pat's lifeline to a better world - that of books and culture.

    Sandra says: "Santini should have stayed dead"
    "No book Conroy writes is not worth reading."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Death of Santini again? Why?

    I would guess everyone knows that Pat Conroy's fiction is based on his real-life family. The importance of parents is almost as seminal as water in Conroy's fiction. Here we have the real story of Conroy's father, The Great Santini. Conroy the non-fiction writer is never as good as Conroy the novelist. HIs works of fiction, as emotionally difficult as they are, are still transcendental experiences. His works of nonfiction lack the emotional impact and the soaring language found in his novels. But they are never bad reads nor are they ever uninteresting. They are just not as brilliant as his fictional works.If you are unfamiliar with Conroy's fictional work you should read those books first. If you are aware of his fictional work then this book will bring you both joy and facts with which will lead to insight that inform reading his fictional work. While he spends time growing up the son of a dominant and abusive father if you are looking for a primer for each of his factional works you may be disappointed. It is a sort of eulogy to a father who loved the fame his son brought him and to whom his abused son, nonetheless, loved. It is the story of a family with too much mental illness. Conroy does not dwell long on these incidents but he does write of his brother's suicide, his sister's instability as well as his own descent into madness. He does not spare us the gory details of his mother's and father's abusive relationship--hardly a surprise to any reader of Conroy's fictional accounts of their marriage. You get additional details of this ultimate outsider to bring to his fiction. You see the social slights small down elites inflict on both him and his family and how these acts of social violence were met. You read the familiar Greek tragedy that make up the relationship of the Conroy siblings. You meet the Chicago Conroys and recognize the meilleure that created the Great Santini. However bad your own family experience growing up you will again thank your stars that you did not grow up in this family or these siblings. The saddest part of this book is that I fear it may be the last published work of this great writer.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Year Zero: A History of 1945

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Ian Buruma
    • Narrated By Gildart Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (11)

    Drawing on hundreds of eyewitness accounts and personal stories, this sweeping book examines the seven months (in Europe) and four months (in Asia) that followed the surrender of the Axis powers, from the fate of Holocaust survivors liberated from the concentration camps, and the formation of the state of Israel, to the civil war in China, and the allied occupation of Japan. It was a time when terrible revenge was taken on collaborators and their former masters; of ubiquitous black markets, war crime tribunals; and the servicing of millions of occupation troops, former foes in some places, liberators in others.

    Alan says: "Terrific book that I enjoyed immensely"
    "Terrific book that I enjoyed immensely"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Year Zero: A History of 1945 again? Why?

    A classic work of narrative history. 1945, the author argues, is the starting point for the modern world that will later be called the Pax Americana. Elites and society that comprised the Axis forces are defeated. English and French forces that comprised 2/3 of the Allied forces are bereft of energy. Social mores are in disarray and for this one year will remain so. Men are either absent or socially castrated. Women have moved out of their subservient roles and by necessity taken over the care and feeding of their families. Women all over Europe set out to celebrate the war's end. Even in detainee camps there was an explosion of sexual life. It led to a dramatic rise in STDs and the single greatest rise in fecundity in world history.

    The Iron Curtain had yet to come down. Churchill was about to be voted out of office. France was still extracting vengeance from those who collaborated with the Nazis. . The Chinese communists had yet to win their civil war with the nationalists. Japanese society was about to be remade. Korea and Vietnam had yet to emerge from their colonial experiences. The United States had to emerge from the political shadow of FDR. For a single year the social, economic and political order was in flux. This was as true in Europe as it was in Asia. The post war order had still to emerge. The Soviet Union had still to reign in its soldiers who were raping and stealing at whim or to establish its client states in Eastern Europe.

    The book was fascinating. It is well written. It is full of interesting observations and facts. It was a joy to read and I highly recommend it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Doug Stanton
    • Narrated By Jack Garrett
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (48)

    From the New York Times best-selling author of In Harm’s Way comes a true-life story of American soldiers overcoming great odds to achieve a stunning military victory. Horse Soldiers is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war against the Taliban on horses. Outnumbered 40 to 1, they pursued the enemy army across the mountainous Afghanistan terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which was strategically essential to defeat their opponent throughout the country.

    NOKWISA says: "Wild Ride"
    "Superficial account of the war in Afghanistan"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This book tells the story of the initial military response to the attack on US soil from Al Qaeda before it was sidetracked by the military misadventure in Iraq and America's return to Afghanistan with large numbers of military forces on the ground. American special forces who were sent into Afghanistan to help the warlords that composed the Northern Alliance fight and defeat their Taliban enemies. The books title is somewhat a misnomer. Northern Alliance forces rode horses into battle and therefore so did those American special forces personnel. 13th century society used 13th century technology to transport their forces into battle. American special forces were in Afghanistan to call in American air power and it is American air power that is the crucial factor in the Northern alliance victory. It is a story told simply from the perspective of those American special forces. We learn little about the warlords American forces are helping to win. We learn little about the strategic imperatives or tactical goals that bring these special forces to this region. This is the story of the fighters and their experience. It is not the story of the generals to whom they report or their civilian superiors in Washington.

    The book is a tad tendentious. The forces of good triumph over the bad. The Taliban do perfidious acts but in the end that perfidy does not win the day. There is no investigation of those forces we are helping, little about the 13th century we are encountering, nor the political forces in Pakistan that we will later have to deal. There is no attention giving to the military expertise of these Northern Alliance forces. Tactical and strategic decisions are accepted without comment. Their bravery is presented as a fact, though no mention of why they were on the way toward defeat prior to American intervention might challenge this assumption. American power is seen as great and insurmountable. The first American warrior to die in this conflict is a CIA officer and its from friendly fire. There are limitations to even smart bombs dropped from 20,000 ft.

    This is not a good book, let alone a great book. It will be of interest of those of us who like stories about American military success and triumphalism. If you were unaware of the facts of the initial American entry into the Afghan civil war then this will be a useful book worth reading. If you are looking for a book with a larger perspective this is not it. If you want to read the intimate story of those special force soldiers who helped the Northern Alliance forces capture victory then this is a book you will want to read.


    Would you recommend Horse Soldiers to your friends? Why or why not?

    Anyone who is interested in military history will want to read this.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Sheri Fink
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (659)
    Performance
    (580)
    Story
    (586)

    In the tradition of the best writing on medicine, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the listener into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days.

    Cynthia says: "Five Days in Hell/Years in Purgatory"
    "A missed opportunity; a book to avoid"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Five Days at Memorial?

    This is a book that could have been so much more had the author had any talent beyond headline grabbing. This book's greatest failure is the author's inability to move the story past the immediacy of tabloid journalism. It reports without any critical analysis leaving the reader, who lacks expertise, with the authorial responsibility to fill in the missing gaps and determine which voices are correct or the most accurate. It's raison d'etre is not how medical institutions function in a crisis but with the accusation that euthanasia was committed. It is an important story. This book might have been important. What happened in New Orleans also happened in New York City after Sandy and may happen again in other cities.

    The book does not cover so many important issues that bubble up from the story being told. It leaves out of its purview the role of privately owned, for profit hospitals in preparing for and responding to these crises. It gives almost no coverage to what happened beyond this hospital on a local, state, Federal level that left medical personal incommunicado, literally in darkness, with no idea when rescue would happen, and in fear of attack either from residents from the surrounding area or from those in equally squalid conditions. She leaves unanswered why the individual most thought was coordinating relief was a private nurse with only a few hours of disaster courses, not a FEMA employee or even in contact with FEMA. Yet the myopia is only a part of the frustration one will experience with this book.

    The only reason this book was written is because allocations that euthanasia occurred at this hospital were made. The author skews the story in order to assign blame when the story she tells is that people in isolation, in desperate straights, without electricity, without, air conditioning, in fear for their safety, suffering from sleep deprivation and hope of rescue as low as could be imagined, were doing their best to deal with the overwhelming challenges they faced. It might be argued that some of these issues are dealt with in the second section of the book. This would be false. The author does write of how medical personal behaved in Haiti after the earthquake. She brings up, briefly, how NYC hospitals managed when Hurricane Sandy struck. But her analysis is always superficial and is essentially useless. In both cases, individuals did not fear isolated. They did not fear for their personal safety. They were in contact with the outside world. They did not feel hopeless and helpless. They remained in control and in communication with the outside world. They were not part of for profit health corporations who had no plan with how to deal with a disaster of this magnitude nor did they feel any urgency to provide support to these beleaguered medical personnel. There is not analysis of health care provided by for-profit hospitals versus publically supported hospitals.

    Then there is the larger issue of life and care of those elderly who are in a persistent vegetative state. The issue is touched upon. Indeed, it is held up as a banner to the reader and the author as a bludgeon to beat individuals she clearly feels behaved improperly. Yet it is a subject that ought to be explored in depth, particularly since it is the costs of these services that are helping to make health care so expensive--and the reasons for-profit health care exists. As important as this subject is from the perspective of policy or morality it is analyzed from the selfish perspective of individual relatives of patients in this hospital or from a moral absolutist position. Even the author seems to suggest that those she believes behaved improperly and who deserved to be held criminally accountable, did so under the best motives. Since her focus never leaves the surface we have no idea why those individuals reached the conclusion that their actions were necessary and the humane because the author's reporting occurred while they were under criminal pearl.

    There is no historical analysis, there is no institutional analysis, there is little that ever does more than scratch the surface of any subject. All voices are granted equal weight and are rarely ever put in larger context. There is no authorial shaping of the story. It is the retelling of a story from the myopic and disjointed perspective of each individual, that had it some shape might have offered a valuable look at how and why people performed how they did.The reader is left screaming at the page at false conclusions made, for cheap attacks or for the superficiality of the information offered and the analysis offered. This may be an important story but it will have to be told by others as this author is lost and whose ability is unequal to the task.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Sheri Fink again?

    Very doubtful.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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