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Scott

Scarborough, ON, Canada | Member Since 2006

82
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 70 reviews
  • 171 ratings
  • 392 titles in library
  • 36 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
4
FOLLOWERS
4

  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Peter Baker
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (129)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (113)

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

    Scott says: "A balanced account of the W and Cheney White House"
    "A balanced account of the W and Cheney White House"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    First off, I'll admit I was no fan of George W Bush yet still the man intrigued me. Could he really be as dumb, arrogant, and stubborn as his persona suggests? Well, according to this well written account of his White House years, the answer is yes and no. This is a nicely nuanced portrait of the Bush and Cheney partnership that really only lasted he first term of the presidency. All of Bush's failings are in display here and the author links these in subtle ways with W's character flaws. At the same time, this is hardly a hatchet job. Undeniably the Bush presidency was a time of monumental challenges, some of Bush and Cheney's own making, some not. The influence of each man on the other is depicted in an almost Shakespearian tragic way as initial successes lead to epic failures and estrangement. A compelling read that will likely not satisfy hard core Bush apologists or detractors, this is well worth the read for anyone seeking a better understanding of he partner ship that made he White House tick.

    11 of 12 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
    (151)
    Performance
    (147)
    Story
    (146)

    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!


    0 of 0 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
    (823)
    Performance
    (423)
    Story
    (423)

    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.


    0 of 0 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
    (460)
    Performance
    (431)
    Story
    (438)

    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
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    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.

    Scott says: "Gripping moment by moment account"
    "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
  • The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By David Remnick
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    No story has been more central to America's history in this century than the rise of Barack Obama, and, until now, no journalist or historian has written a book that fully investigates the circumstances and experiences of Obama's life or explores the ambition behind his rise. Now, from a writer whose gift for illuminating the historical significance of unfolding events is without peer, we have a portrait of a young man in search of himself and of a rising politician determined to become the first African-American president.

    Jeanmarie says: "Good biography"
    "Superior bio"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I usually avoid biographies of partial lives lived but was intrigued not only by the person - Barack Obama- but also by the changing cultural forces that resulted In the election of America's first African American President. Based on these two criteria, I found the Bridge both a worthy biography of the man but also of "the times", ie. the past fifty years of the struggle for civil rights and equality that made the election of an African American as President possible. Throughout this thoroughly detailed and enlightening book, Remnick profiles Obama's life, from fatherless child of an itinerant mother, through his search for identity as a youth, professional and political rise to his election as President while also embedding that remarkable story within the context of a changing American civil rights landscape. I found this book informative and inspirational and whether you are a supported of Obama or not, the story of his rise and achievements, perhaps mirroring that of America itself over the past half century, is well worth the read. I hope that one day, post Presidency, Remnick writes and releases a volume II that chronicles the complete story of Barack Obama.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Adam Hochschild
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Howard
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (203)
    Story
    (205)

    In the late 1890s, Edmund Dene Morel, a young British shipping company agent, noticed something strange about the cargoes of his company's ships as they arrived from and departed for the Congo. Incoming ships were crammed with valuable ivory and rubber. Outbound ships carried little more than soldiers and firearms. Correctly concluding that only slave labor could account for these cargoes, Morel almost singlehandedly made this slave-labor regime the premier human rights story in the world.

    Edith says: "Fascinating"
    "The true heart of darkness"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This had long been on my wish list and I am glad to have finally read it. The story of Belgian King Leopold's acquisition and rape of the Congo and its indigenous people will surely rank as one of the most brutal campaigns of pillage and murder in recent history but also an epitaph to any remaining romantic notions of colonialism in the dark continent. Hochschild's book skillfully links the character and ambitions of Leopold, a second rate monarch and first rate despot, with his desire to acquire, for his own wealth and vanity, a colony in Africa to exploit in the late 19th century. Aided along the way by Livingston and Stanley, as well as the naïveté and racism of rulers in the new and old worlds, he eventually seizes the Congo and therein establishes a colonial regime based on rubber cultivation that succeeds in lining his own pockets, achieves little for his Belgian subjects, and unleashes immeasurable exploitation and suffering on the Congolese people, the ramifications of which arguably still reverberate today. Anyone familiar with Conrad's Heart of Darkness (referenced throughout) will recognize what Leopold had wrought in the Congo. Credit to Hochschild's though for letting the facts speak for themselves rather than sermonizing. Throughout, he does not dwell solely on the evil but also focuses on the few brave activists who first sought, to little success, to expose what was going on. To me, it was this aspect that elevated the book from a run of the mill expose to a remarkable history of a little know and mostly forgotten genocide. As Mr. Kurz would say, "the horror, the horror."


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 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
    (519)
    Performance
    (462)
    Story
    (467)

    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"
    "Worthy follow up to Game Change"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Helperin and Heilemann have once again provided a hugely entertaining chronicle of the spectacle we have come to know as an American Presidential election cycle. Much like their insiders take of the 2008 election in Game Change, Double Down is equal parts historical narrative, electioneering for dummies, and tabloidesque dish on the players and personalities behind both the democratic and republican campaigns. The narrative deftly jumps between team Obama's year long re-election campaign and the Republican primaries and Romney campaign. There are lots of fascinating details throughout mixed with revealing and at times, juicy tidbits about the candidates that could only have come from a retinue of insiders. The authors don't pull any punches here with either side, though some may detect a slight team Obama bias. Nevertheless, clearly the authors have done their homework here and are establishing themselves as the preeminent chroniclers of modern American Presidential politics. I found this thoroughly entertaining and informative throughout and will eagerly await a hoped for post 2016 follow up.

    0 of 0 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
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    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
    (120)
    Performance
    (114)
    Story
    (114)

    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."

    Matt says: "Phenomenal account"
    "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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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