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Scott

No B.S. reviews. I'll never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.

Santa Clara, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

102
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 74 reviews
  • 88 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2015
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  • The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (969)
    Performance
    (839)
    Story
    (826)

    Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, presents a gorgeously lucid, science book examining some of the nature’s most fundamental questions both from a mythical and scientific perspective. Science is our most precise and powerful tool for making sense of the world. Before we developed the scientific method, we created rich mythologies to explain the unknown. The pressing questions that primitive men and women asked are the same ones we ask as children. Who was the first person? What is the sun? Why is there night and day?

    Connie says: "Audio version is superb for us grown-ups"
    "Should be on every high school reading list."
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    Pretty basic stuff if you are a science buff. However, pass this one along to one of those adults who really didn't pay attention in school, or to an adolescent that you care about. A great superstition-buster.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind and Changed the History of Free Speech in America

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Thomas Healy
    • Narrated By Danny Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (66)

    Free speech as we know it comes less from the First Amendment than from a most unexpected source: Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. A lifelong skeptic, he disdained all individual rights, including the right to express one's political views. But in 1919, it was Holmes who wrote a dissenting opinion that would become the canonical affirmation of free speech in the United States.

    Jean says: "How a 78 year old man can learn & change his mind"
    "A fascinating account—well-written, and well-read"
    Overall
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    The evolution of free speech in the United States turns on this remarkable account of Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous 1919 Supreme Court dissent.
    Well-researched, beautifully written, and expertly narrated, this audiobook is absolutely captivating. With freedom of speech still at the forefront of modern contention and debate, this book is more timely than ever. Thomas Healy vividly brings us back into a tulmultous era of clashes between government, anarchists, socialists, pacifists, and the changing ideals of Oliver Wendell Holmes himself.
    In this book, we see Holmes' transformation from the viewpoint that, "If you have conviction enough, and power enough, there's nothing to prevent you killing someone with whom you disagree," to, "We can only know if we are right by giving air to, and considering all diverse opinions on an issue." Through his personal correspondence, the influence of Holmes' close friends and other contemporaries on his ideas are lucidly presented, and convincingly laid out before us. This book is worthwhile from first to last—a great tribute to a key era in American legal thinking, and to one of the foremost figures in American legal thought.
    Moreover, Danny Campbell's reading is top notch. He maintains interest and energy throughout this sometimes complex and involved story, and makes listening to this account of a great turning-point in constitutional law actually exciting. While accurately conveying the meaning of the text, he manages a touch of genuine humanity that brings out the listener's sympathy for all the characters involved.
    I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about the legal basis for free speech, for history buffs of any stripe, and especially for fans of Oliver Wendell Holmes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bismarck: The Final Days of Germany's Greatest Battleship

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Niklas Zetterling, Michael Tamelander
    • Narrated By Charles Constant
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (41)

    The sinking of the German battleship Bismarck - a masterpiece of engineering, well-armored with a main artillery of eight 15-inch guns - was one of the most dramatic events of World War II. She left the port of Gotenhafen for her first operation on the night of 18 May 1941, yet was almost immediately discovered by Norwegian resistance and Allied air reconnaissance. British battlecruiser Hood was quickly dispatched from Scapa Flow to intercept the Bismarck, together with new battleship Prince of Wales.

    Rick says: "A must read for any WWII Naval Historian!"
    "Excellent writing sunk by bad narration"
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    The writing for "Bismarck" is so excellent, so compelling, and frequently so exciting that it breaks my heart not to be able to recommend this audiobook highly.

    The reason? The reading is amateurish. It simply ruins the book. I stuck it out to the end only because I wanted to learn more about the war in the North Atlantic, and about the fate of the Bismarck, but the halting, robotic narration, and the constant mis-emphasis on nearly every sentence made it tortuous indeed.

    The battle scenes are truly remarkable. One can easily envision the spectacular sights and sounds—from the ship, the men, and the huge guns. Again, however, the narration almost totally obscures both the excitement and the action. What a pity.

    Apparently, the publishers also recognized their mistake, and picked a far more skilled narrator for the reading of "Tirpitz," the story of the Bismarck's sister ship, by the same authors.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hopalong Cassidy

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Clarence E. Mulford
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Hopalong Cassidy, the iconic western cowboy hero conceived by Clarence Mulford, was immortalized in a highly popular film series starring William Boyd from 1935-1948. A tough-talking and violent character in print, Hopalong Cassidy was remade into a clean-cut screen hero who roamed the West with his sidekicks and fought villains who took advantage of the weak. Here Cassidy is drawn as Mulford originally conceived; rough-and-tumble, foul-mouthed, and thriving on brawls and gunplay.

    Scott says: "A Rip-Snortin', Rootin'-Tootin' Thrill Ride!"
    "A Rip-Snortin', Rootin'-Tootin' Thrill Ride!"
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    Topped off by some of the best narration EVER, this fast-paced, thrill-packed, humor-filled adventure story is a page right out of the Old West.

    R.C. Bray is so absolutely amazing, so totally engaging, in the telling of this tale, that his narration deserves top billing. His reading has such phenomenal focus, dynamism, and fluency, and his powerful and gritty characterizations are so wonderful, I wish I could award his narration the six stars it deserves. He portrays all the characters, men and woman alike, with complete mastery. Jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly fantastic! Honestly, this is the best narration I have ever heard—and I've heard plenty.

    As for Clarence E. Mulford's writing, it's gritty, picturesque and beautiful. I felt like I was slapping leather right along with the cow punchers, and walking bow-legged right beside them. His characterizations are so engaging, and the Old Western landscape he paints is so vivid I could see all of it in my mind's eye, and hear the sounds and silences of the wide open spaces with remarkable clarity.

    And talk about action! The book is action-packed and non-stop. What a ride! Plus, it's downright hilarious—the playful, jibing banter among the cowpokes kept me laughing throughout.

    Even the romance in the book is handled with delightful humor and just a bit of bashful awkwardness—perfect.

    One caution. This book was written in 1910, and tells the story from an American cowboy's perspective, so the racial slurs may be off-putting to some listeners. But frankly, that's the way it was, and that's the way it's told. My recommendation is to just let it go, and have fun. Both the story and the narration are worth it.

    This book is a joy to listen to. Do not hesitate. Get it. Listen to it. Again, special thanks to R. C. Bray for his terrific narration.

    This is a rip-snortin', rootin'-tootin' thrill ride!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tirpitz: The Life and Death of Germany's Last Super Battleship

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Niklas Zetterling, Michael Tamelander
    • Narrated By Pete Larkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Whilst the Kriegsmarine's surface fleet, restricted for much of the period after 1919 by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, was relatively small in comparison to the Royal Navy, it did possess a number of highly potent battleships and other capital vessels that could - and did - pose a major threat to British interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Amongst the most powerful were the two battleships - the Bismarck and the Tirpitz.

    Scott says: "A great and compelling saga, wonderfully read"
    "A great and compelling saga, wonderfully read"
    Overall
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    Story

    This book uses the great German battleship Tirpitz as the focal point for the story of naval warfare in the North Atlantic in WWII, and does it brilliantly. Much of the book isn't about the Tirpitz per se, although the mighty battleship is like a powerful chess piece lurking in the background—influencing events by its mere existence and deadly possiblities.

    Generally, the book focuses on Allied supply convoys in the North Atlantic, bound for both America, and significantly—also for Russia. It reveals the naval strategies and political maneuverings which governed the use of naval resources on both sides of the conflict.
    Essential to the story, the book gives a detailed description of "Operation Chariot," the successful attempt by the Allies to destroy the dry dock at St Nazaire in German occupied France.

    Overall, this is a thrilling and wonderful book—fascinating from beginning to end.

    Furthermore, Pete Larkin's narration is really great. He brings the story to life with clarity and professionalism. His reading style is remarkably consistent from first to last. It's his narration that turns this story of WWII naval strategy into a great and compelling saga.

    Sadly, the companion book to "Tirpitz," "Bismarck," by the same authors, is not nearly as well read. Where the narration of "Tirpitz" keeps the action flowing and makes it exciting to listen to, "Bismarck" comes across as stilted and confusing. If nothing else, these two books highlight the huge difference that narration can make.

    1 of 1 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
    (735)
    Performance
    (682)
    Story
    (676)

    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"
    "A humorous lesson in how to think—Brilliantly read"
    Overall
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    What is it—science? Fantasy? Comedy? YES! YES! And YES!

    What's fun about this book is how really crazy-sounding Randall Munroe's answers are—but what's great about it is how serious is the science. In a way, the entire book is a lesson in how to think scientifically without losing your sense of humor. Just the kind of thing that would have Richard Feynman falling out of his chair, laughing.

    To be honest, this book is so completely zany you might want to take it in smaller bites, like I did. That said, bring it on. It's great entertainment for anyone with a wry sense of humor. Also ideal for a high school student who just needs a tiny nudge in a scientific direction, or—for that matter, any high school student.

    Plus, Wil Wheaton is at the top of his form. His narration is absolutly perfect. He's energetic, lucid, and truly brilliant. And this book is the ideal showcase for his considerable talent. For fans of Wil, he's also fabulous narrating "Ready Player One," by Ernest Cline, and this narration is every bit as excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heroes of History

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Will Durant
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (155)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (62)

    At Will Durant's death at 96, in 1981, his personal papers were dispersed among relatives, collectors, and archive houses. Twenty years later, scholar John Little discovered the previously unknown manuscript of Heroes of History in Durant's granddaughter's garage. Written shortly before he died, these 21 essays serve as an abbreviated version of Durant's best-selling, 11-volume series, The Story of Civilization.

    John says: "A celebration of history"
    "For the love of history"
    Overall
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    Story

    No one loves history more than Will Durant. And arguably, no one writes more eloquently or vividly about history than he does.
    It's hard to convey the superlative experience of listening to an audiobook written by Will Durant and narrated by Grover Gardner. History is revealed in the characters, while insights are gained through the analysis of significant events and those who witnessed them.
    Durant's writing is transcendent—his use of language triumphant.
    As for Grover Gardner—he has no equal in the reading of historical prose. With his narration, stories come to reality, and characters come to life.
    This is a wonderful book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By David Fitzgerald
    • Narrated By David Fitzgerald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (199)
    Performance
    (185)
    Story
    (187)

    Nailed sheds light on ten beloved Christian myths, and, with evidence gathered from historians across the theological spectrum, shows how they point to a Jesus Christ created solely through allegorical alchemy of hope and imagination; a messiah transformed from a purely literary, theological construct into the familiar figure of Jesus - in short, a purely mythic Christ.

    skepticalDustin says: "If only I was willing to make my grandma cry..."
    "Nicely researched—but isn't there more?"
    Overall
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    Okay, the author did a pretty nice job of making his point regarding the non-historicality of Jesus—but why the limited point-of-view?
    It's really interesting to learn about the lack of evidence for an historical Jesus. So far, so good. However—why confine that evidence inside the box of Christian myths? It seems that a reasonably comprehensive look at the topic would include not only the perspective of prevailing myths, yet also include a broader scope, based on all available historical evidence.
    Perhaps the author is hoping to provide ammunition to those who chose to confront contemporary Christians with the lack of historical evidence of their savior.
    Anyway, it's a wonderful bit of research, and a great listen. However—I'm left wanting more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John Brockman
    • Narrated By Antony Ferguson, Danny Campbell, Jo Anna Perrin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (33)

    In The Universe, today's most influential science writers explain the science behind our evolving understanding of The Universe and everything in it, including the cutting-edge research and discoveries that are shaping our knowledge. Lee Smolin reveals how math and cosmology are helping us create a theory of the whole universe. Neil Turok analyzes the fundamental laws of nature, what came before the big bang, and the possibility of a unified theory. And much more.

    Gary says: "Equivalant to reading 25 books"
    "Physics in flux"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not written for laymen, but as physicist to physicist, this book outlines the future direction of physics—on both the subatomic and cosmological scales.
    This is the kind of book that makes you want to live long enough to find out the answers to the fundamental questions that contemporary physicists are asking right now.
    There's nothing "dumbed-down" about this book, and the topics are wide-ranging and fascinating. I won't claim to understand all of it, but that doesn't matter—it's really, really interesting, and well put together. We owe John Brockman a debt of gratitude for compiling this wonderful collection of perspectives on modern physics.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Palestine-Israel Conflict

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Dan Cohn-Sherlock, Dawoud El-Alami
    • Narrated By Richard Aspel
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    The new audiobook edition of this best-selling book gives a thorough and accessible account of the history behind the Palestine-Israeli conflict, its roots, and the possibilities for the future. The audiobook is divided into two parts - the first by an American rabbi and Professor of Judaism, and the second by a Palestinian lecturer on Islam. The result is a real insight into the situation, with each author giving full vent to the emotions behind the two sides of the debate - Cohn-Sherbok and El-Amini come together at the audiobook’s conclusion to debate the issues.

    Scott says: "At last—a balanced presentation of opposing views!"
    "At last—a balanced presentation of opposing views!"
    Overall
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    If this book persuades you that either the Israelis or the Arabs are the villains in the current Arab/Israeli conflict, then perhaps you need to listen to it again.
    Both sides of this issue have been thoughtfully presented—without any ranting or irrationality—in this remarkable and comprehensive analysis of the history leading up to the situation in today's Middle East.
    Suffice it to say there is great tragedy—and far too much militarism—on both sides of this conflict, and I will not presume to weigh in on either side. Only this—if we are to understand the situation in the Middle East today, the perspectives voiced in this book must be understood and acknowledged.
    I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

    1 of 2 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
    (863)
    Performance
    (461)
    Story
    (460)

    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"
    "Essential background on the Arab/Israeli conflict"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is an important recounting of the Six Day War, and also of the historical events leading up to it. The writing is slightly biased toward the Israeli point of view, yet this is understandable, given the magnitude of the Israeli victory in the conflict.
    Personally, I chose to pair my listening of this book with "The Palestine-Israel Conflict" by Dan Cohn-Sherlock and Dawoud El-Alami, to gain a more up-to-date and hopefully more balanced perspective. This remains a sensitive and difficult issue, and hopefully listening to these books will serve to break down existing prejudices and pave the way to greater understanding and compassion.
    Robert Whitfield is ideal as the narrator of this account.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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