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Alexandra

Ardmore, PA, United States | Member Since 2002

ratings
45
REVIEWS
13
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
17

  • Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Margaret MacMillan
    • Narrated By Barbara Caruso
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    As professional 21st-century historians cede the literary field to the popular amateur, history and its meanings become muddled - especially in the punditocracy championed by modern media. Copious amounts of cherry-picked facts and manufactured heroes are used to create a narrative rather than give any insight into past events. MacMillan offers an antidote to this by providing the necessary tools to help interpret history in constructive ways.

    Andrew says: "What Bad Narration!"
    "Thoughtful, But Thin"
    Overall

    While this is not a bad book, if you'd read a lot of history, you might find it a bit rudimentary. Dr. MacMillan is a very insightful historian and has a great breadth of knowledge, but this book is really more at the level of a popular lecture series than an original thesis.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Philip Pullman
    • Narrated By Philip Pullman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (106)
    Performance
    (52)
    Story
    (52)

    The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is the remarkable new piece of fiction from best-selling and famously atheistic author Philip Pullman. By challenging the events of the gospels, Pullman puts forward his own compelling and plausible version of the life of Jesus, and in so doing, does what all great books do: makes the reader ask questions.

    Darcy says: "Another anti-Church tour de force"
    "Amusing and at times thoughtful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a humorous and occasionally insightful spin on the gospels. It goes without saying that if you don't enjoy an atheist author riffing on biblical themes, spend your credits elsewhere. For those that do, Pullman rather nicely deals with some of the contradictions at the heart of the biblical stories. The performance by the author is lively - this is one of the few instances where an author reading his own work does rather well.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Jane McGonigal
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (384)
    Performance
    (276)
    Story
    (272)

    In today’s society, games are fulfilling real human needs in ways that reality is not. Hundreds of millions of people globally - 174 million in the United States alone - regularly inhabit game worlds because they provide the rewards, stimulating challenges and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world. Jane McGonigal argues that we need to figure out how to make the real world—our homes, our businesses and our communities—engage us in the way that games do.

    Dan says: "Slow start But full of Fascinating Ideas"
    "Interesting but not balanced"
    Overall

    The first half of this book is a really interesting discussion of games and their psychology, what this reveals about the way we interact with our world, and a trenchant argument that at the very least, games are not the giant mind-suck you might think they are. However, the author gives a decidedly one-sided take - she's a game designer, not a social critic - and she barely addresses some of the thornier questions about games, such as their addictive nature, whether they alter attention spans, etc.

    The second of the half of the book was not as good as the first half - it is more or less an extended description of the various projects the author has worked on. Not uninteresting, but not exactly worth a few hours of listening.

    Also, the narration was certainly not bad, but personally, it sounded to me like a sophomore doing a research report. Not enough to not enjoy the book, but you might want to listen to the sample before you spend a credit.

    Those minor points aside, If you have a significant other who spends serious time with Halo, if you have kids who are sucked into Club Penguin and you wonder why - this is a book well worth your time.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Inside the Stalin Archives: Discovering the New Russia

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By Jonathan Brent
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (2)

    To most Americans, Russia remains as enigmatic today as it was during the Iron Curtain era. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country had an opportunity to face its tortured past. In Inside the Stalin Archives, Jonathan Brent asks, why didn't this happen? Why are the anti-Semitic Protocols of Zion sold openly in the lobby of the State Duma? Why are archivists under surveillance and phones still tapped?

    Alexandra says: "Misleading title"
    "Misleading title"
    Overall

    If you come to this book expecting a discussion of Stalin, how the information in the archives changed our understanding of him, and how he haunts modern Russian history, you will be very disappointed.
    This book is, in essence a travelogue about one man's adventures in Russia in the early 90s and his negotiations with the archive director for publishing rights, sprinkled with a few novel insights discovered in the archives. As travelogue, it is only second-rate (the author doesn't speak Russian that well, apparently, and the anecdotes are somewhat stereotyped - I mean come on, do we really need another description of how flying Aeroflot was an unpleasant experience?). As a description of business negotiations - well, its just not that interesting.
    That having been said, the writing is not bad and it is read admirable by the narrator.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Will the Boat Sink the Water: The Life of China's Peasants

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Chen Guidi, Wu Chuntao
    • Narrated By James Chen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (15)

    The Chinese Economic miracle is happening despite, not because of, China's 900 million peasants. They are missing from the portraits of booming Shanghai, or Beijing. Many of China's underclass live under a feudalistic system unchanged since the 15th century. Wu Chuntao and Chen Guidi undertook a three-year survey of what had happened to the peasants in one of the poorest provinces, Anhui, asking the question: have the peasants been betrayed by the revolution undertaken in their name by Mao and his successors?

    Delano says: "Essential"
    "What is really going in China"
    Overall

    I'd have to concur with the other reviewer that if you want to really understand how people in China perceive their situation, this is the best book out there. But be forewarned that although there is some adaptation for an American audience (mostly footnotes that I found disrupt the narrative), it was written for a domestic Chinese audience. If you know little of Chinese history and government, this book will be difficult to follow. Nonetheless, its incredibly rewarding.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By John Cassidy
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (340)
    Performance
    (170)
    Story
    (170)

    Behind the alarming headlines about job losses, bank bailouts, and corporate greed, there is a little-known story of bad ideas. For 50 years or more, economists have been busy developing elegant theories of how markets work - how they facilitate innovation, wealth creation, and an efficient allocation of society's resources. But what about when markets don't work?

    Ben says: "Way more than I expected"
    "Best single volume on the credit crunch"
    Overall

    Of all the books that have chronicled the credit crunch, this one is the best overall. As opposed to some other books, it focuses very little on personalities, and mostly on the problems in academic economics, finance, and policy that allowed trillions of dollars to vanish. Although the book is a model of clarity, it might be tough going for someone with no background in economics or finance. Nonetheless, if you really want to understand what happened, this is the best of the bunch!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Alexandra Harney
    • Narrated By Karen White
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    To write The China Price, Alexandra Harney has penetrated further and deeper into China's enormous ecosystem of export-oriented industry than any outsider before her. She uncover the disturbing truth about how China is able to offer such amazingly low prices to the rest of the world.

    Alexandra says: "Thoroughly Research, Balanced Account"
    "Thoroughly Research, Balanced Account"
    Overall

    This book is very thoroughly researched -- unlike many journalists who write about China, it is clear the author both speaks Chinese and has a good understanding of the culture and history. Furthermore, it is a very balanced account - neither demonizing Walmart, the Chinese government, nor factory owners, but provides a good understanding of how each part fits into the big picture. Personally, I found the level of detail just right and the anecdotes very revealing.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Marie Antoinette: The Journey

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Antonia Fraser
    • Narrated By Donada Peters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (189)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (58)

    France's iconic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous "Let them eat cake", was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime. For centuries since, she has been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history.

    Karen says: "Very Detailed"
    "Excellent, sympathetic biography"
    Overall

    This is a well-written, superbly detailed and very engaging biography of Marie Antoinette. Unlike other reviewers, I thought the narrator did an excellent job, underscoring the drama adequately, provided nice characterizations of the historical figures, and pronounced the French and other foreign names on the whole rather well. It is true that her voice can be a bit harsh at times, but I didn't find it got in the way of enjoying the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • American Theocracy

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Kevin Phillips
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (412)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (71)

    From Ancient Rome to the British Empire, Phillips demonstrates that every world-dominating power has been brought down by a related set of causes: a lethal combination of global over-reach, militant religion, resource problems, and ballooning debt. It is this same axis of ills that has come to define America's political and economic identity in the past decade.

    Miles C. says: "Excellent Work!"
    "Frightening and compelling"
    Overall

    This book is fascinating, compelling, and frightening -- and also one of the few non-fiction books I found it hard to turn off when my commute was done. A lot of the material you've probably read or heard before, nonetheless, by assembling it all together and connecting everything to broader historical shifts, the author makes a persuasive case and a really eye-opening book.
    Also, I think the narrator did a good job reading a book that doesn't naturally lend itself to an audio format.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The History of Opera

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Richard Fawkes
    • Narrated By Robert Powell
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (15)

    Here is the colorful story of sometimes temperamental composers and even more temperamental singers working in an art form which has produced some of man's noblest artistic creations. This absorbing history is illustrated by over 100 musical examples by Naxos artists as well as some of the greatest singers of the 20th century, including Enrico Caruso and Fyodor Chaliapin.

    Walter says: "somewhat disappointing"
    "Missing the music"
    Overall

    Many of the musical illustrations appear to be either missing or cut out, making it a poor listen, and the history itself, while covering the major names with brief biographical detail and few technical terms, offers little depth or insight.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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