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Scott

Scarborough, ON, Canada | Member Since 2006

99
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 76 reviews
  • 177 ratings
  • 411 titles in library
  • 45 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
    (61)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (56)

    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
  • The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Kent A. Kiehl
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (70)

    We know of psychopaths from chilling headlines and stories in the news and movies - from Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy to Hannibal Lecter and Dexter Morgan. As Dr. Kent Kiehl shows, psychopaths can be identified by a checklist of symptoms that includes pathological lying; lack of empathy, guilt, and remorse; grandiose sense of self-worth; manipulation; and failure to accept one’s actions. But why do psychopaths behave the way they do? Is it the result of their environment - how they were raised - or is there a genetic component to their lack of conscience?

    DORIS H. says: "An autobiography with splatter of neuropsychology."
    "Ev'thing you wanted to know but were afraid to ask"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    This book is a mostly entertaining, first hand account of Kiehl’s professional experiences studying criminal psychopaths. It is informative without getting too technical (though there is a heavy focus on Kiehl’s brain imagining work) and the listener will come away with both a sense of who/what constitutes a psychopath as well as the somewhat unsettling notion that there are still more unknowns than knowns about its causes and treatments. Kiehl relates all this in a breezy, informal narrative that includes many fascinating case studies of youth and adults he has worked with over several decades. The title is probably misleading – Kiehl makes no claims to having any great gifts or abilities to relate to psychopaths but what the book does admirably is to shed light on the many falsehoods, misconceptions, and unknowns we have about this (thankfully) small sub-set of humankind. The narration is good in conveying Kielh as the “kind of guy you would like to go out with for a beer” while also subtly reminding the listener that these are real people we are hearing about. My only complaint is that the narrative occasionally diverges too much from the topic or digresses into detailed tangents (e.g. the procuring of various MRI machines) that could have either been edited down or out. Still, as long as you are neither scared off or repulsed by the topic, TPW is worth a read.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to Avian Flu

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Phillip Alcabes
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (8)

    The average individual is far more likely to die in a car accident than from a communicable disease...yet we are still much more fearful of the epidemic. Even at our most level-headed, the thought of an epidemic can inspire terror. As Philip Alcabes persuasively argues in Dread, our anxieties about epidemics are created not so much by the germ or microbe in question - or the actual risks of contagion - but by the unknown, the undesirable, and the misunderstood.

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

    There are aspects to this audiobook that are much to like. It ably recaps mankind’s fear of and responses to outbreaks of disease and illness along a historical timeline in a sort of Epidemiology 101 primer way. In this respect it is informative without being trivial and will interest listeners with little or no understanding of the topic. In using an expansive definition of “epidemic” to include conditions which arguably are neither illnesses nor necessarily transmittable (e.g. autism, obesity), the author is able to focus more on mankind’s social response to perceived causes and “cures” rather than disease pathology. In this regard, Dread can intrigue by tracing how little our thinking has evolved over the centuries in our need to 1) find a cause for each epidemic and 2) equate that cause with an ethnic, religious, behavioural, or other scapegoat to both fear and blame. Still, I found it difficult to really get into this book. Despite the intriguing title, the writing style is dry and academic, akin to reading a textbook and the professorial tone of the narration brought me back to some of my worst experiences as a University freshman. In the end, this book may be better suited to skimming rather than listening to from start to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • De Niro: A Life

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Shawn Levy
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    In this elegant and compelling biography, best-selling writer Shawn Levy writes of these many De Niros - the characters and the man - seeking to understand the evolution of an actor who once dove deeply into his roles as if to hide his inner nature, and who now seemingly avoids acting challenges, taking roles which make few apparent demands on his overwhelming talent.

    Scott says: "As meticulous as its subject"
    "As meticulous as its subject"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This is an exhaustive and thoughtful portrait of perhaps the greatest American actor of the latter 20th century. De Niro primarily focuses on the actor and his works moreso than the man, which given Robert De Niro's well-known reticence toward the media and interviews shouldn’t come as a surprise. Nevertheless, Levy has authoritatively researched his subject and seems to have gathered every possible quotable snippet RD has put on the record. What I particularly enjoyed about this bio was its critical take on its subject: Levy is not afraid to interpose his views in a balanced way on the actor's work as well as draw on other critics appraisals which makes this neither fawning nor a hatchet job. The end result is a bio that reveals the man primarily through his work, going in depth on his most iconic pictures and roles as well as collaborations with directors such as de Palma and Scorsese. In all, I found this very enjoyable, almost a companion to be read while either watching or reflecting on RDs movies. To this end, De Niro will appeal to film buffs as well those who want to understand the man in relation to the icon rather than those looking for a trashy tabloid take (though RD’s relationship with his artist father, his many spouses, children, and business enterprises are not glossed over). The breezy narration does not distract you from the material to the point I forgot I was listening to an audiobook. Well worth the read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Billy Joel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Fred Schruers
    • Narrated By Kirk Thornton
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than 100 hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon.Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles Joel’s rise to the top of the charts, from his working-class origins in Levittown and early days spent in boxing rings and sweaty clubs to his monumental success in the '70s and '80s.

    Scott says: "Fawning but likeable bio"
    "Fawning but likeable bio"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about Billy Joel? What did you like least?

    This bio has much to love and hate, which seems to mirror the often dichotomous opinion people (or music critics) have of the Piano Man. Schruers covers all the bases of Joel's life from his ancestors hegira from Nazi Germany, to his early days on Long Island, through pop stardom and later touring years. As might be expected from Schruers somewhat abbreviated treatment, each episode is covered in an almost cursory way with little time for in depth exploration of Joel's musical influences, cultural context, or critical interpretation. The hits, loves, tribulations, drug and alcohol abuse just breeze by and readers hoping for critical analysis or even behind the scenes details may come away disappointed. Nevertheless, Billy Joel has its pluses. Schruers notes in his sources the hundred+ hours of interviews and access Joel gave him; add to this the interviews with others in Joel's entourage plus voluminous research and what you get is a book that brims with quotes for every occasion that often illuminates Joel's personality and humor. But therein also lies the problem. One gets the sense that this is less a biography than ghostwritten autobiography and Schruers' access may have come at the price of a reluctance to delve with any depth or criticism into the darker aspects of Joel's life. The end result is a sympathetic, almost fawning bio that will neither offend nor illuminate but should appeal to those interested in a quick, breezy read and whose curiosity about the Piano Man would be satisfied with a Joel on Joel treatment.


    What about Kirk Thornton’s performance did you like?

    I quite enjoyed the narration, particularly Thornton's stabs at imitating Elton John, Keith Richards and other musicians. That aside, the narration is jaunty and befits the material.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2012)
    Performance
    (1192)
    Story
    (1196)

    Neil deGrasse Tyson has a talent for guiding readers through the mysteries of outer space with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. This collection of his essays from Natural History magazine explores a myriad of cosmic topics. Tyson introduces us to the physics of black holes by explaining what would happen to our bodies if we fell into one; he also examines the needless friction between science and religion, and notes Earth's status as "an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos".

    Lind says: "Well written and well read"
    "Accessible and fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Death by Black Hole?

    For those with a layperson’s interest in physics, Death by Black Hole is an entertaining and informative read. Tyson is a respected Astrophysicist and media personality, most recently recognizable as the host of the re-booted mini-series Cosmos. Those familiar with him will recognize in DBBH a few pet themes that underlie his works: first, that there is beauty, structure, and grandeur in the visible and invisible universe and secondly, that humanity’s best mechanism for understanding and explaining these lie in the application of the scientific method of inquiry. Having said that, DBBH is essentially an anthology of self-contained essays grouped by various themes, ranging from the foundations of knowledge and science, the biological and evolutionary origins of life, to the physical laws and structure of our visible and invisible universe. If this sounds heavy handed (it isn’t), Tyson also playfully diverges into explanations of how popular sci-fi movies get the science wrong, the multiple ways the universe is trying and failing to kill the collective us, and why so many of our commonly held axioms (“the sun always rises in the east”) are not quite correct. In lesser hands, this could come across as boorish but Tyson has a knack for infusing it with a tongue and cheek, sometimes self-deprecating, humor (as the title implies) that makes the material accessible while never condescending to the reader. As for the narration, I admit to being surprised after listening to the audiobook when I discovered that Tyson himself didn’t narrate it; hats off to Dion Graham for a lively reading and bang on impersonation. While DBBH would never be mistaken for a high school physics text, or even a mass market but more serious take such as Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”, I highly recommend this audiobook, particularly for younger (or young at heart) readers who want to learn more about, to quote Douglas Adams, “life, the universe, and everything”.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • World Order

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Henry Kissinger
    • Narrated By Nicholas Hormann
    Overall
    (58)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (53)

    Henry Kissinger has traveled the world, advised presidents, and been a close observer and participant in the central foreign policy events of our era. Now he offers his analysis of the twenty first century's ultimate challenge: how to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historic perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.

    Scott says: "More retrospective than future oriented"
    "More retrospective than future oriented"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    There is much to like in this audiobook, which essentially plays out like an extended TED talk, provided you agree with Kissinger’s realpolitic take on nation states balance of power. As might be expected, he lays out his analysis/arguments in a thoughtful, logical progression and the sum amounts to a region by region history lesson on how nation states, motivated by self-interest, strive to achieve a balance of power with their neighbours/rivals so that no nation becomes too strong or too weak. Failure to achieve this balance creates a dangerous, destabilizing effect. In a sense, peace is maintained under this type of framework and World Order takes the reader through a history lesson on how this has evolved in various geopolitical regions over the last 500 years. The roots of HK’s worldview clearly haven’t evolved much over the past 50 years and at 91, it would probably be a bit folly to expect HK to change now. And hence, this underscores a fundamental weakness in World Order. As alternate theories aren’t offered, one doesn’t come away with the sense that this is true historical analysis, nor poli sci primer. As it focuses largely on the nation state, which arguably has less importance in the 21st century than it did in the previous, it hardly qualifies as a prescription either, though HK does touch on some of the challenges ahead (ie. Nuclear proliferation, non state groups, interconnected global communication). Still, I wouldn’t call World Order outdated, nor should it be tossed aside lightly; rather, listening to it is akin to spending the day with an elder sage, who still offers much wisdom and experience to impart but whose worldview is still firmly rooted in the past. It is worth the read as long as the reader always bears in mind that this is The World According to HK.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Randall Munroe
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    Overall
    (254)
    Performance
    (242)
    Story
    (240)

    Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there were a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

    Charles says: "Good in Smaller Chunks"
    "Trivia taken to the extreme (squared)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The premise of What if, applying science to absurdist, hypothetical scenarios, is the sort of thing that should appeal to the geek in me but I can’t say I liked this book as a whole. Munroe based it on his popular website (I hadn’t visited it before reading What if) and the scenarios he examines seem to be drawn from submissions from its readers. He infuses this mix of absurdity crossed with science with liberal amounts of tongue in cheek humor but I found it became a bit grating after awhile, not because the subject matter needed to be treated with more respect (it doesn’t) but because I think it would have been funnier to let the absurdity of the scenarios/answers speak more for themselves. Particularly irritating were the short (non) answer responses to some questions which came off as condescending rather than funny. With that out of the way, What if does a good job of taking the listener through the science behind the answer to the scenario without getting bogged down in too much detail. Munroe also indulges the reader by extending the example further than the limitations of the original question – just to see what would happen. Aside from the humor part, I think the key to whether you will love or hate this book lies in whether you really are that interested in how hard you would need to shoot a hockey puck in order to knock someone over. For me, I wasn’t and although a few scenarios peaked my interest (if all humans simultaneously aimed a light at the same spot on the moon, would it be visible), there weren’t enough to sustain my attention.


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

    Fine narration - well done Wesley Crusher!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael B. Oren
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (832)
    Performance
    (432)
    Story
    (432)

    In Israel and the West, it is called the Six Day War. In the Arab world, it is known as the June War or, simply, as "the Setback". Never has a conflict so short, unforeseen, and largely unwanted by both sides so transformed the world. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Lebanon, the Camp David accords, the controversy over Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the intifada, and the rise of Palestinian terror are all part of the outcome of those six days.

    Patrick says: "Great overview of Middle East troubles"
    "A definitive account"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Six Days of War the most enjoyable?

    The title to this audiobook is somewhat misleading as this is really about the events which led up to the war as well as an almost minute by minute recounting of the combat. About half of the book is devoted to each. With almost 50 years elapsed, and with access to a seemingly treasure trove of historical documents, Oren has pieced together a finely detailed, arguably definitive recounting of the momentous events which reshaped the Middle East, founded the “modern” state of Israel, and propelled a generation of religious and sectarian conflict since. For readers of history, those with an interest in the Middle East, Israel, or the interplay (or failures) of diplomacy and warfare, there is lots here to captivate – from the larger than life political and military leaders, to the half-hearted efforts of diplomacy, to the military strategy and tactics involved. Oren takes pains to move the narrative along by balancing the goings on of all sides during the inexorable march to war and thereafter and there are the occasional revelations, some of which I found genuinely startling. While this could have formed the basis of a suspenseful page turner, the focus here is really on factual information told (and capably narrated) in a straightforward manner yet I found the results anything but dry or plodding. My only criticisms are that the maneuvering of forces and locations of battles are at times, difficult to follow without benefit of maps. As well, the cessation of the war, aftermath, and ramifications are dealt with comparatively briefly. Nevertheless, I would say these are relatively minor and that this book is well worth a listen.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Service: A Navy SEAL at War

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Marcus Luttrell
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (481)
    Performance
    (450)
    Story
    (457)

    Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell returned from his star-crossed mission in Afghanistan with his bones shattered and his heart broken. So many had given their lives to save him-and he would have readily done the same for them. As he recuperated, he wondered why he and others, from America's founding to today, had been willing to sacrifice everything-including themselves-for the sake of family, nation, and freedom.

    Heidi says: "love this book ~ add it to your must read list!!"
    "Not as compelling as Lone Survivor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    This follow-up book to Luttrell’s excellent Lone Survivor will appeal to those with an interest in the role of special ops in modern warfare (read: War on Terror), particularly the Navy SEALS. Unlike Lone Survivor, which more or less followed a conventional narrative structure in telling the story of the disastrous Operation Red Wings mission, Service reads more like a collections of loosely connected essays, with sections on his relationship with his SEAL brother Morgan, deployments in Iraq, the camaraderie of his fellow SEALS, as well as a few firsthand (and narrated) accounts of what life is like as the wife of a SEAL. All of this is written in Luttrell’s characteristic gung ho, patriotic fashion which is comes across more pronounced as an audiobook rather than read as a paperback. In the end, I didn’t find this as compelling as Lone Survivor (in some respects, it literally covers the same ground) yet I found it hard to dislike the message or even more so, the messenger. As long as you are willing to overlook these, then Service has a lot to offer about Luttrell and what it means to serve as a SEAL.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Lawrence Wright
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall, Lawrence Wright
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    A gripping day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter persuaded Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to sign the first peace treaty in the modern Middle East, one which endures to this day.

    Jean says: "Magnificent"
    "Gripping moment by moment account"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I quite enjoyed this look behind the scenes of the negotiations that led to the Egypt/Israel peace treaty. Wright has a reputation as a fastidious researcher and chronicler of modern middle eastern geopolitics and he doesn't disappoint here. As they say, the devil is in the details and this couldn't be more true not only of the level of detail provided here but also in the fitful negotiations which resulted in the Camp David accord. Wright interweaves his moment by moment account of the thirteen days of negotiations with backgrounder material on the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict as well as the personalities of Sadat, Begin, Carter, Dayan, Weizmann and others and how the interplay of these played a crucial role in not only achieving the accords but just as interesting for the reader, almost derailing them. Of particular note here is the illuminating role (the much maligned, but recently seen in the literary world in a kinder historical light) Jimmy Carter played not only in facilitating the talks but on numerous occasions, saving them when all appeared lost. The end result is is a gripping (I won't say thrilling; that really isn't Wright's style), almost claustrophobic insiders view of the talks as well as a treatise on the art of negotiation, facilitation, and peace making. Anyone despairing of middle eastern politics today would do well to read this book to understand how seemingly intractable differences can be overcome/set aside in the broader pursuit of peace and the role that peacemakers must play in order to achieve it.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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