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Chapel Hill, NC, United States | Member Since 2003

  • 4 reviews
  • 20 ratings
  • 700 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2015

  • The Known World

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Edward P. Jones
    • Narrated By Kevin Free

    Henry Townsend, a black farmer, bootmaker, and former slave, has a fondness for Paradise Lost and an unusual mentor, William Robbins, perhaps the most powerful white man in antebellum Virginia's Manchester County. Under Robbins's tutelage, Henry becomes proprietor of his own plantation, as well as of his own slaves. When he dies, his widow Caldonia succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart.

    Rachel says: "wonderful and highly recommended"
    "Will be a classic of African American literature"

    Reminded me of Toni Morrison's "Paradise." Much more readable than Faulkner. The first time you read it for the plot. Then read it again for the way everything links together. There are so many different and opposing types of characters whose inner lives are convincingly conveyed. Jones opens new territory by describing slavery as a commonly accepted economic system, with free blacks being even more likely than free whites to own slaves. Wealth and caste are as divisive as race, and a social hierarchy based on wealth as much as skin color means that below God are wealthy whites, then wealthy blacks, then middle class whites, then middle class blacks (a problem category), then poor whites followed by Indians followed by poor blacks, followed by slaves. My only problem is that Jones claims to have done little research, and made up his county to avoid being held to historical sources. But nevertheless, Jones raises so many important themes in this novel that are supported by historical sources. Anyone who likes African American literature or who is interested in the history of slavery or the American South should read this novel. Slavery is a divisive issue in several black families here (no white families). For some, like Caldonia?s mother, is the only source of wealth, a wealth worth murdering for. For others, like Henry, it is simply a means to an end, and for some, like his parents, the entire system is morally objectionable.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • How To Read and Why

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Harold Bloom
    • Narrated By John McDonough

    Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University, Berg Professor of English at New York University, and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. He has written more than 20 books of literary criticism. From a lifetime of writing and teaching about literature, this great scholar exhorts readers to consider the pleasures and benefits of reading well.

    Barbara says: "Like a review of my graduate English degree"
    "Like a review of my graduate English degree"
    If you could sum up How To Read and Why in three words, what would they be?

    Brilliant, engaging, influential

    What other book might you compare How To Read and Why to and why?

    "A Jane Austen Education": Both books deal with how literature can and should change your life.

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

    He sounds just like I'd imagine Harold Bloom to sound--professorial and profound. The pauses are in all the right places.

    What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

    Why we should memorize poetry, and his interpretations of certain works are truly memorable.

    Any additional comments?

    Bloom chooses a few works from each period English and American literature and shows why they are the most important, how they should be read and interpreted, and how they should be savored and remembered.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Andrew Roberts
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion, and claimed the lives of more than 50 million people. Why did the Axis lose? And could they, with a different strategy, have won? Andrew Roberts's acclaimed new history has been hailed as the finest single-volume account of this epic conflict. From the western front to North Africa, from the Baltic to the Far East, he tells the story of the war - the grand strategy and the individual experience, the cruelty and the heroism - as never before.

    Mike From Mesa says: "A very interesting book with some shortcomings."
    "Very interesting new history"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Storm of War to be better than the print version?

    My eyesight is not good enough to read long books, but I did check out this title and it's good in the print version also. It has at least 10 pages of black and white photographs, the type is a decent size, and it's altogether a nice book. The audio version adds the "actiing"--the reader gives us Churchill's accent, Stalin's accent, Hitler's accent, Patton's accent--he is very good at differentiating between British English and American English when anyone's words are quoted. There are many direct quotes taken from diaries, published memoirs, interviews, and these add excitement and realism to the plot line.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Storm of War?

    I haven't finished listening to it yet, but the most memorable part so far seems to be the author's thesis that Hitler's war was the first ever fought for ideological reasons over everything else, including economic reasons. Although Hitler wanted "Lebensraum" (living space) for an expanded Germany, he also made military decision that were militarily stupid because of his racial ideologies. For example, when he invaded Poland, he had to stop to kill as many Jews as possible by putting them in ghettos as well as mass executions, and he even arrested the farmers even though he needed food for his army. When he invaded Russia, he first took over the Baltics, Ukraine, and other parts of western Russia where separate nationalities had retained their culture, which hated Soviet Russia because of forced collectivization, mass murder, forced starvation, and many other atrocities committed by the Russians, and would have gladly collaborated with Hitler's armies to help him defeat Soviet Russia. But instead of pretending to be friendly with these newly invaded nationalities, he insisted that his troops remember their primary objective of mass extermination of the Western Russians to provide lebensraum. They were to kill as many people as possible, especially the Jews and Slavs, and to not form any army divisions out of foreigners who would have gladly fought with him if his forces had treated his newly occupied peoples as liberators instead of conquerors.

    Have you listened to any of Christian Rodska’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I don't think so. This one is very good.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. It is four parts long, and since I'm always doing something else (gardening, exercising) while listening, I decided to listen to Part II again before proceeding to Part III, in case I missed anything.

    Any additional comments?

    Great book and a great performance. The dialogue and details make even the parts of the war I don't much care about, like Rommel's desert campaign, very interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Zack Lynch, Byron Laursen
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    From foolproof lie detectors to sure-fire investment strategies to super-enhanced religious and aesthetic experiences, the insights and revelations within The Neuro Revolution will foster wonder, debate, and in some cases consternation. Above all, though, they need to be understood by those who will be most affected - all of us.

    Barbara says: "Interesting topic"
    "Interesting topic"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The author is very enthusiastic about how Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) will create a new epoch in law, in business, and in medicine, but spends too much time explaining familiar ideas and concepts.

    Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

    The author made sure that his concept--one concept--was very easy to follow, at the expense of boring readers with knowledge of the subject gleaned from just magazines and newspapers, to say nothing of those readers who may have learned more.

    Any additional comments?

    This is the third or fourth book I've listened to in which the author claims to have known absolutely nothing about a subject before researching it intensely for the purpose of writing a book. One can learn a lot of fascinating things from the outside observer's point of view, but also be surprised at an author's missing some essential point or getting an important fact wrong. I felt uneasy as I listened to this author, because he draws gigantic conclusions based on little evidence and seems to start with even less than a literate person's understanding of different fields. I felt like he was an untrustworthy first person narrator.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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