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  • The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Jon Gertner
    • Narrated By Chris Sorensen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (215)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (179)

    In The Idea Factory, New York Times Magazine writer Jon Gertner reveals how Bell Labs served as an incubator for scientific innovation from the 1920s through the1980s. In its heyday, Bell Labs boasted nearly 15,000 employees, 1200 of whom held PhDs and 13 of whom won Nobel Prizes. Thriving in a work environment that embraced new ideas, Bell Labs scientists introduced concepts that still propel many of today’s most exciting technologies.

    Clement says: "Long Pauses"
    "A great "biography" of Bell Labs"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bell Labs played a hugely significant role in shaping our world today, a role which is surprising unknown. Gertner takes a biographer's approach to recounting Bell Labs' history. Most of the story focuses on the influential people, their personalities, their idiosyncrasies, their experiences, and how they shaped the most significant discoveries, inventions, policies, and events of Bell Labs. I think the story is probably most likely to be enjoyed by those with strong science and engineering interests.

    Gertner clearly conducted deep and meticulous research to write the book. This "biographer's" approach has a humanizing effect on Bell Labs by reminding the reader (listener) that behind this mammoth, influential institution were real people. However, as can often be the case for in-depth biographies, there are some dull moments when you get lost in the details at the expense of the story line.

    Some of the AT&T and Bell Labs policies, decisions, and approaches are controversial and one can make arguments regarding their merits or faults. As a "biographer," Gertner generally doesn't comment much on these types of ethical issues. He seems to lay out the facts, details, and people, and then let the reader come to his/her conclusions.

    Other listeners have commented on the narrator. I tend to listen at 2X or 3X, so I can't really comment on his pauses. At accelerated speeds, he was fine.

    Overall, I enjoyed Idea Factory and recommend it for better understanding the important people and events around Bell Labs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Paul Farmer, Jonathan Weigel (editor), Bill Clinton (foreword)
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins, David Ledoux, Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (17)

    Here, for the first time, is a collection of short speeches by the charismatic doctor and social activist Paul Farmer. One of the most passionate and influential voices for global health equity and social justice, Farmer encourages young people to tackle the greatest challenges of our times. Engaging, often humorous, and always inspiring, these speeches bring to light the brilliance and force of Farmer's vision in a single, accessible volume.

    Susie says: "Resist the Impoverishment of Aspiration"
    "Excellent insights from a man repairing the world"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    To Repair the World is an excellent collection of Paul Farmer's speeches, most of which were given at university commencements. Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to repairing the world, resolving inequality, and healing the sick no matter what their situation. He ignores common limitations, and in fact, is openly frustrated by arguments around whether care is "worth it" or "cost effective." These speeches share some of his insights and experiences. Paul Farmer deeply cares about humanity--both in the general sense and the very personal sense. These speeches were written to inspire his listeners to use their skills to go do something good to make the world a better place, and they are inspiring.

    Those interested in this book should recognize that a collection of speeches is different from a typical nonfiction book. The speeches are very much related, but also independent. There are many recurring themes, but no topic is deeply investigated--after all, you can only be so thorough in 20 minute speech. You get enough to be inspired, but you certainly don't get every detail. As a reader/listener, you are left to do that on your own. His speeches tend to follow a similar pattern, which you pick up on after a few chapters. Additionally, the speeches aren't live recordings, nor are they read by Paul Farmer. The narrator reads them well, but certainly not with the same feeling and delivery as a speech.

    Overall, I enjoyed To Repair the World. It is insightful and inspirational.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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