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Scott

Scarborough, ON, Canada | Member Since 2006

68
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 63 reviews
  • 164 ratings
  • 379 titles in library
  • 29 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
4
FOLLOWERS
4

  • Thank You for Your Service

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By David Finkel
    • Narrated By Arthur Bishop
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (50)

    No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel shadowed the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they carried out the infamous surge, a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed all of them forever. Now Finkel has followed many of those same men as they’ve returned home and struggled to reintegrate - both into their family lives and into American society at large.

    Scott says: "Wrenching"
    "Wrenching"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Thank You for Your Service to be better than the print version?

    Haven't read the print version.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Not every book is a pleasant read but some are important reads and this certainly fits that category. The narrative follows a handful of servicemen who served in the Iraq war and their families. Their stories are interconnected by time, place, and experiences with a tragic incident in the Iraq war as the unifier. The book illustrates both the obvious and hidden costs to those who served - loss of comrades, survivors guilt, physical injury, PTSD, an uncertain post war life, families who can't quite be what the soldiers need them to be, despite their best efforts. What is both tragic and compelling is that the reader - like the servicemen and their families - can never quite be certain what the outcome for each person would be but that is the point.


    What about Arthur Bishop’s performance did you like?

    Very good. Far from a dry performance, the listener feels as though he is hearing firsthand the subjects speaking to him.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    How a comment made to a soldier meant to be a compliment was interpreted as a criticism that eventually leads to a multitude of problems and guilt for that soldier. Tragic.


    Any additional comments?

    For anyone who wants to better understand what it means to return home and move on from war, this is probably as close as a non combatant will ever get to it. Thank you for your service and just as importantly, thank you for your sacrifice.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Jules Witcover
    • Narrated By Jason Culp
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    In this, the first definitive biography of Vice President Joe Biden, renowned journalist Jules Witcover examines the fascinating life of a man who, with his tenacity, outspokenness, and charming smile, has shaped Washington politics for the past 40 years and who now serves as the 47th vice president of the United States.

    Scott says: "Sympathetic but dull bio"
    "Sympathetic but dull bio"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Like him or hate him, most would agree that Joe Biden is at least an interesting personality. Add in an experienced and respected journalist/author in Jules Witcover and you would expect a compelling if not hard hitting read. Yet what results here is a rather pedestrian, by the numbers biography, devoid of any real insights. Most of the major events of Biden's personal and political career are covered, from the tragic accident that claimed his first wife, through his senate campaigns, with particular focus on the various Supreme Court confirmation hearings he chaired, through the 2008 election and his first year as Veep. Though clearly a fan, Witcover does not gloss over Biden's penchant for verbal gaffes and the accusations of plagiarism. Still, there is not much depth here and Biden's role, stance, or opinions on more than a few of the more major political events of the past thirty years (e.g the end of the Cold War, the rise of terrorism, the Clinton impeachment, the George W Bush presidency) receive only a cursory treatment. The end result reads somewhat like a campaign bio: factual but dull and uncontroversial. Given Biden's outspokenness - both for the public betterment and occasionally, his own detriment, it's a shame that this book couldn't match its subject.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Star-Spangled Men: America's Ten Worst Presidents

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Nathan Miller
    • Narrated By Andy Caploe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Picking America's best presidents is easy. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt usually lead the list. But choosing the nation's worst presidents requires more thought. In Star-Spangled Men, respected presidential biographer Nathan Miller puts on display those leaders who were abject failures as chief executive. With pointed humor and a deft hand, he presents a rogues' gallery of the men who dropped the presidential ball, and sometimes their pants as well.

    Scott says: "Trite but fun"
    "Trite but fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    For fans of the Presidency, this ranking of the ten worst executives provides fun but cursory reading. When ranking the best or worst Presidents, there is often broad consensus and little controversy over say the top five and the same applies here. It is when you get to six through ten that the disagreements and, well, fun set in. I can't say I was surprised by any of the men in Miller's list nor their rankings. Therefore, you won't find any surprises in here. He does a nice job providing a brief bio of each of his subjects as well as his reasons for why theirs was a failed or disappointing Presidency. None of it is approached in a scholarly fashion, but more as an extended op ed piece and I thought it was approached in a generally unbiased manner. It all makes for lightweight reading that will appeal to those with an interest in the presidency and historical trivia. Note that this was written during the Clinton administration so he, George W Bush and Barack Obama are excluded. An added bonus feature at the end are the two most overrated Presidents one of whom frankly surprised me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By John Toland
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (66)

    This Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Told from the Japanese perspective, The Rising Sun is, in the author’s words, "a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind, told as it happened - muddled, ennobling, disgraceful, frustrating, full of paradox."

    Scott says: "The pacific war from inside the Japanese empire"
    "The pacific war from inside the Japanese empire"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Comprehensive and compelling history of the war in the pacific from the Japanese empire point of view. This is gripping military as well as political history which seeks to shed light on the motivations of Japanese society and the military clique which led Japan into and through its disastrous policies of aggressive expansionism. It is reminiscent of Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and I would say is a must read for those with an interest in WWII. Toland intersperses the narrative with many first person accounts as well as analysis. Pulls no punches while at the same time offers a nuanced take of events. My only criticism is that the primary focus here is the pacific war against the United States with far lesser detail given to the India, Burma, and China. Nevertheless, I found this a monumental work of history. The narration is very capable and keeps things moving along.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Max Hastings
    • Narrated By Stewart Cameron
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (39)

    With an introduction read by Max Hastings. A companion volume to his best-selling ‘Armageddon’, Max Hastings’ account of the battle for Japan is a masterful military history. Featuring the most remarkable cast of commanders the world has ever seen, the dramatic battle for Japan of 1944-45 was acted out across the vast stage of Asia: Imphal and Kohima, Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Soviet assault on Manchuria.

    GEORGE says: "Great Book; Very Poor Presentation!!"
    "Gripping history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a monumental work covering the last year and a half of the WWII pacific theater. I found this wide ranging and expansive, offering insights at the geopolitical level, through military strategy, to the on the ground/sea fighting. I found it gripping from beginning to end. The narrative is effectively punctuated by frequent first-person accounts which is not often found in this genre. As well, Hastings takes pains to present the perspectives of all sides of the conflict and also weighs in on such ongoing moral controversies such as Japanese and allied war crimes, the morality of total war, the competence of the leading strategists and military commanders (in particular MacArthur) and the use of the atomic bombs. This is thoroughly enjoyable and informative reading and I will definitely be looking to read more of Hasting's works.


    What three words best describe Stewart Cameron’s performance?

    The narration is competent and Cameron punctuates the first person accounts by invoking various accents. Still, given that the war in the pacific was fought mostly by Americans, I found Cameron's English accent oddly out of place and had a hard time getting past it.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Jordan Ellenberg
    • Narrated By Jordan Ellenberg
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (50)

    Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia's views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can't figure out about you, and the existence of God.

    Bonny says: "Mathematics is the extension of common sense..."
    "Fun for mathies"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    So this is the book for those who were always intrigued about how any of high school algebra and calculus would ever be useful/applicable in the real world. From the first anecdote - about how in it was ultimately decided where to place extra armour in bombers during WWII - this book had me. Math was never my best subject but I found this all intriguing and fun - a mix of Freakonomics, Malcolm Gladwell, and trivia rolled into one. Ellenberg - a college math professor - doesn't talk down to the reader and be warned, he takes us through various equations that underlie the real world problems at stake so some fluency in math is helpful but not necessary. I'll be the first to admit I got lost in some of the equations and logical problems which probably make the print edition of this an easier go than the audiobook format. Still, it should not deter you and it all adds up to great fun that is informative and at times, surprising. Ellenberg narrates this himself in a lively manner which makes you wish you had him in place of you fill in the blanks math teacher of your younger days.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Virus Hunt: The Search for the Origin of HIV

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Dorothy H. Crawford
    • Narrated By Alice Gilmour
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    The hunt for the origin of the AIDS virus began over 20 years ago. It was a journey that went around the world and involved painstaking research to unravel how, when, and where the virus first infected humans. Dorothy H. Crawford traces the story back to the remote rain forests of Africa - home to the primates that carry the ancestral virus - and reveals how HIV-1 first jumped from chimpanzees to humans in rural southeast Cameroon. Examining how this happened, and how it then travelled back to Colonial west central Africa where it eventually exploded as a pandemic, she asks why and how it was able to spread so widely.

    Scott says: "Amazing piece of medical detective work"
    "Amazing piece of medical detective work"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This book is an epidemiologist's dream. This is an utterly engrossing history of the hunt for the origin of the HIV virus. I was completely surprised that scientists seem to have been able to trace the origins of HIV to seemingly pinpoint places and times, stretching back further than I had previously thought. Rather than one continuous storyline/narrative, the author breaks this up into chapters that weave parallel but ultimately converging lines of investigation, tracing back from those first diagnosed, through the carriers who were the unwitting spreaders of the pandemic, through the disparate strains of HIV that became identified and laid a train back to the places and animals of the virus' origins. Incredible and would strain belief if not true. This audiobook had me from minute one. Still, I can't give it a full five stars. At time, I found the writing a bit dry, as if reading a collection of scientific papers. A more skilled writer might have found a way to craft this more as a whodunit in the spirit of a good true crime writer for instance. For instance, you never get much of a sense of who any of the multitude of scientists are behind the investigation - thus the narrative appeals solely to the intellect rather than any emotion. As well, I found myself getting lost at times in the array of different names of primate species, their lineage, as well as the alphanumeric strains of the different HIV strains. Indeed, the audiobook frequently references various diagrams and figures that would only be accessible in the actual book and would help clarify things. Still, those with a curiosity or interest in the origins of this modern pandemic will enjoy this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Richard J. Miller
    • Narrated By Roger Clark
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (17)

    In Drugged, Miller takes listeners on an eye-opening tour of psychotropic drugs, describing the various kinds, how they were discovered and developed, and how they have played multiple roles in virtually every culture. Drugged brims with surprises, revealing the fact that antidepressant drugs evolved from rocket fuel, highlighting the role of hallucinogens in the history of religion, and asking whether Prozac can help depressed cats. Entertaining and authoritative, Drugged is a truly fascinating book.

    Scott says: "Interesting reading but heavy on the biochemistry"
    "Interesting reading but heavy on the biochemistry"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I enjoyed this audiobook but have a background in the field. The author takes us throughout each of the various classes of mind and mood altering drugs, both prescription and illegal, offering a brief history of each, their uses, effects, efficacy etc. Most, if not all the drugs covered here will be familiar to most readers and there is lots of interesting details, trivia, and factoids. This isn't a book for anyone searching for the right "med" - rather, is more of a history of man's flirtation with and apparent need for, mind altering experiences. I was captivated throughout. My only criticism was that the author tends to delve a little too deep into the biochemistry of each drug which tends to overwhelm the reader at times. As well, I got the sense the title was the publisher's ploy to make this rather academic book more appealing to the lay reader. Still, for anyone with an interest in the history and science behind many of our modern drugs of choice to either treat or self-medicate psychiatric illnesses, this is the book for you.


    What does Roger Clark bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    No complaints about the narration. Could have been dry given the subject matter but to the credit of Clark.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Randall Kennedy
    • Narrated By Randall Kennedy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    It’s “the nuclear bomb of racial epithets,” a word that whites have employed to wound and degrade African Americans for three centuries. Paradoxically, among many black people it has become a term of affection and even empowerment. The word, of course, is nigger, and in this candid, lucidly argued book the distinguished legal scholar Randall Kennedy traces its origins, maps its multifarious connotations, and explores the controversies that rage around it.

    Scott says: "A must read - pulls no punches"
    "A must read - pulls no punches"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Quick quiz - how many books would you read about the biography of a single word? Exactly. Well, you should read this one. This is a real tour de force of our most racially charged word - its etymology, evolution, uses, jurisprudence, controversies - you name it. Kennedy does not shy away from controversy; he readily offers his view on the often conflicting, frequently confounding examples in which the use of the N-word has contributed to racial inequality, landed parties in court, benefitted entertainers, and excused (or not) criminal behaviour to name a few. I found this mix thoroughly eye opening, entertaining, and informative. Illustrating his arguments with case studies keeps the narrative moving along and prevents this from being a pure op ed piece. The fact that Kennedy narrates this himself heightens the authenticity of his arguments and it certainly is well narrated. A thoroughly enjoyable must read not only for those with an interest in race relations but also for those with a curiosity about the evolution and cultural impacts of language.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Randall Balmer
    • Narrated By James Lurie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (5)

    Evangelical Christianity and conservative politics are today seen as inseparable. But when Jimmy Carter, a Democrat and a born-again Christian, won the presidency in 1976, he owed his victory in part to American evangelicals, who responded to his open religiosity and his rejection of the moral bankruptcy of the Nixon Administration. Carter, running as a representative of the New South, articulated a progressive strand of American Christianity that championed liberal ideals, racial equality, and social justice - one that has almost been forgotten since.

    Jean says: "Interesting"
    "Sympathetic bio - makes its point"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Interesting bio of one of the more maligned Presidents of recent history. Balmer offers a sympathetic portrait of Carter, drawing attention to his multitude of achievements while underscoring well known on the record failings. For any Carter detractors, this book won't likely make them fans but hopefully would at least ameliorate the exaggerated negativity which has come to characterize the Carter presidency. As a bio, I would rate this only so so - it is really about a ten thousand foot overview of the man and his presidency - I would have preferred more depth and detail. What makes this compelling however is Balmer's assertion that the rise of Carter paralleled the rise of the Evangelical voting block, something from which he initially benefitted before they abandoned him. I found this pretty persuasive. On this basis, I found it well worth the read, but will still seek out a more comprehensive and definitive Carter bio at some later point.


    What about James Lurie’s performance did you like?

    No complaints here. Enjoyed the narration.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • American Spies: Espionage Against the United States from the Cold War to the Present

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sulick
    • Narrated By Robert J. Eckrich
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Sulick reveals six fundamental elements of espionage in these stories: the motivations that drove them to spy; their access and the secrets they betrayed; their tradecraft, i.e., the techniques of concealing their espionage; their exposure; their punishment; and, finally, the damage they inflicted on America's national security.

    Scott says: "A fascinating history of infamy"
    "A fascinating history of infamy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Enjoyable, always interesting history of the most (in)famous spies of the past seventy years. Sulick breaks the book into chapters delving into various historical periods, e.g. Cold War Soviet spies, Viet Nam era, 1980's, military spies, age of terrorism, etc. and this helps frame common themes the perpetrators tended to have in common (e.g ideology, greed, corporate espionage, sense of grievance etc). The end result? Not only an absorbing recounting of the perpetrators, their crimes and the influences that shaped them, but also the challenges law enforcement faced in catching them. Engrossing stuff. I liked as well that the author frequently cited sources which is a bit unusual for this genre IMO. This book had me captivated from beginning to end. My only gripe was that major cases were given the same level of detail/treatment as more minor, obscure cases.


    What about Robert J. Eckrich’s performance did you like?

    Far from dry. Managed to imbue a sense of drama in the narration without being overdone.


    Any additional comments?

    For lovers of spy genre fiction, this would make a useful companion reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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