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Blake

Portland, OR, United States

48
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 49 reviews
  • 84 ratings
  • 309 titles in library
  • 32 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
9

  • Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Jonathan Eig
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (49)

    Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Jonathan Eig blows the lid off the Al Capone story. Based on never-before-seen government documents and newly discovered letters written by Al Capone himself, Get Capone presents America's greatest gangster as you’ve never seen him before.

    Jonathan says: "Get this book"
    "Oh, how the world has changed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The cool thing about this book is the perspective I got on how different everything was in the 20's and 30's. Jonathan Eig has a knack for choosing the facts to include in a way that tells a good story, and omitting unnessesary, boring details. It's wild to imagine a prominant criminal in today's world being so adored by the press and the general public. It's also amazing how primitive forensic science was back then. You could just kill someone, and if you just left the state forever, you probably would never get caught. Makes me wonder how much crime was going on back then that we didn't know about.

    The narrator chosen for this book is not the most talented I've ever heard. His style is a little corny and he makes every character, even Herbert Hoover and J. Edgar Hoover, sound like Italian mobsters. Still, I think he was the right choice for this book. He's got a good feel for the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

    • UNABRIDGED (39 hrs)
    • By Rick Perlstein
    • Narrated By David de Vries
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (75)

    In January of 1973 Richard Nixon announced the end of the Vietnam War and prepared for a triumphant second term - until televised Watergate hearings revealed his White House as little better than a mafia den. The next president declared upon Nixon’s resignation “our long national nightmare is over” - but then congressional investigators exposed the CIA for assassinating foreign leaders. The collapse of the South Vietnamese government rendered moot the sacrifice of some 58,000 American lives.

    Tad Davis says: "Brilliant"
    "Not as biased as some have said"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have a different take on this book than most of its readers because I'm of a later generation. Being born in 1976, I didn't live through any of these events. I grew up during the Reagan years, and have had to learn a little history to understand his appeal. While it's clear that Perlstein has a point of view, the narrative remains factual. In fact, as a relatively liberal reader, this book, as well as Nixonland, have done a great job of helping me understand the conservative concerns and motivations of the time. The portrayal of Reagan as "always aware of the gaze of others", as the eternal optimist, as a black and white thinker, and man who sees a "good vs evil" storyline in everything, does not come across to me as contemptuous. It actually does a lot to explain the appeal that he had at the time, and why he was such a polarizing figure. This book also helped me understand the decision by the Republican Party to abandon moderate positions that placate liberals and moderates, in favor of gaining the strong recognizable party identity that has served them fairly well ever since. Any book of this sort will have some bias in what information is included and excluded. The fact that Perlstein writes in a manner that makes his own point of view obvious makes his book honest and forthright, not biased or misleading. Perlstein doesn't shy away from including plenty of unflattering facts about the liberals of the time, either.

    The narrator's voice is not my favorite, but I got used to it. He's clearly a trained professional, and he presented the material admirably.

    The writing is engaging, and the details he chooses to include really paint a vivid picture that made me feel like I was living through the time period. This is probably the book's greatest strength. Still, I do agree with those who have said that the book is too long. While Nixonland was as gripping as a roller coaster ride from beginning to end, there are stretches where this book drags a bit. Perhaps the minute procedural details of the politics of the day are more interesting to those who lived through the time period than they were to me.

    If I were to recommend one of Perlstein's books, it would certainly be Nixonland, but if you liked that one, The Invisible Bridge will be almost equally enjoyable.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Skeptic's Guide to American History

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 1 min)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Mark A. Stoler
    Overall
    (228)
    Performance
    (208)
    Story
    (205)

    To take a skeptical approach to American history is not to dabble in imaginative conspiracy theories; rather, it's to reframe your understanding of this great nation's past and actually strengthen your appreciation for what makes American history such a fascinating chapter in the larger story of Western civilization. And in this bold 24-lecture series, you can do just that.

    J. E. JORDAN says: "Let Go of the Grade-School Storybook History"
    "A fresh take, honestly."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A nice crash course that starts at the beginning. If the idea of a "sceptic's" approach to studying history is new to you, and you studied history only in high school, some of the facts presented will make you look at many events in a completely new way. I've spent the last year reading history, and still, at least 60% of his material was new to me. I felt like his economic analysis of the Roosevelt years was sound, but overlooked a several facts that led Paul Krugman to what I think is a more convincing conclusion in Krugman's "Conscience Of A Liberal". I found the material on the early republic and the 19th century to be fascinating. Especially important is the fact that the United States was never intended to be have the system that is does today. The way that I was tought history was that the founders wanted a completely democratic nation with equal opportunity for all, religious tolerance, and poplar government. If you still believe this myth, I recommend checking out these lectures.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Nation Rising

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Kenneth C. Davis
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    In the dramatic period from 1800 through 1850, the United States emerged from its inauspicious beginning as a tiny newborn nation, to a near-empire that spanned the continent. It was a time in which the “dream of our founders” spread in ways that few men of that Revolutionary Generation could possibly have imagined. And it was an era that led to the great, tragic conflagration that followed—the American Civil War.

    Blake says: "Lesser known subtexts to the standard stories"
    "Lesser known subtexts to the standard stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book covers roughly the same time period as "What Hath God Wrought" by Daniel Walker Howe, which is much longer. But "A Nation Rising" doesn't attempt to be comprehensive or broad. Instead, author Kenneth C Davis picks a handful of lesser known and particularly interesting stories, and writes a relatively short overview of each. Each story seems to be selected because it gives a perspective and challenges standard assumptions about American history.

    A few examples:
    *Aaron Burr might be getting a bad shake from historians.
    *Revolts by Slaves and Indians were a huge part of our history.
    *Andrew Jackson was a psychotic, vicious, maniac, but did some good stuff too (not exactly news, I know, but Davis writes well on the subject)
    *Jessie and John Fremont were America's biggest celebrities in their day, and their story is still a real page turner.

    This book reminds me a bit of "1861" by Adam Goodheart in the sense that both books are written in the "compilation of short stories" format. But this one is shorter, more accessible to a broader audience, and doesn't seem to be use original sources. Most of the sources cited were history writers that I've either read, or heard of. Davis' strength is in his writing ability. He possesses the story telling skills of a good fiction writer, which is what makes the book so accessible. It also helps that he chose interesting, little known stories, and cut them short enough that there weren't any boring parts. For me, this book was a good choice because I didn't have the time this month to listen for 20+ Hours. "A Nation Rising" was short, but every hour was a quality one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By David McRaney
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (496)
    Performance
    (438)
    Story
    (438)

    You Are Now Less Dumb is grounded in the idea that we all believe ourselves to be objective observers of reality - except we’re not. But that's okay, because our delusions keep us sane. Expanding on this premise, McRaney provides eye-opening analyses of 15 more ways we fool ourselves every day. This smart and highly entertaining audiobook will be wowing listeners for years to come.

    A. Yoshida says: "Not a lot of guidance"
    "Can't get enough of this stuff"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "You are not so smart" was outstanding, and this book is just as good. Sure, it's relatively short, and not especially dense. But it's interesting and informative while also being funny and entertaining. The Narrator probably makes the program. He's such a pro. Every joke has perfect timing and inflection. Every fact is clear as a bell. If I wrote a book it would be an honor to hire this guy. This book is a perfect light listen. Not too dumbed down, but not too technical, either. Simply great nonfiction entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Tony Horwitz
    • Narrated By Dan Oreskes
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (65)

    Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slaveholding South. Now, Midnight Rising portrays Brown's uprising in vivid color, revealing a country on the brink of explosive conflict. Brown, the descendant of New England Puritans, saw slavery as a sin against America's founding principles. Unlike most abolitionists, he was willing to take up arms, and in 1859 he prepared for battle at a hideout in Maryland....

    Lynn says: "Up from Obscurity"
    "Another Horwitz gem"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Serious scholarship. Great narrative. Great narrator. Fascinating subject. I don't know what's not to like here. Live John Brown or hate him, you can't say that his story is boring. Or irrelevant. I could go oping by point, but I'll put it more succinctly: if you are a lover of American history like me, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It's nearly as important a subject as exists. And his author is one of the very best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Conscience of a Liberal

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Paul Krugman
    • Narrated By Jason Culp
    Overall
    (331)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (92)

    America emerged from Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal with strong democratic values and broadly shared prosperity. But for the past 30 years, American politics has been dominated by a conservative movement determined to undermine the New Deal's achievements. Now, the tide may be turning, and in The Conscience of a Liberal Paul Krugman, the world's most widely read economist and one of its most influential political commentators, charts the way to reform.

    carl801 says: "Great Book!!!"
    "Knocked my socks off"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wasn't an avid reader of Krugman's columns or books, so I didn't realize the treat I was in for. The knowledge and conveyance of history and economics are unparalleled, and the politcal analysis is astute. One of those books where I listen every chance I get until I reach the end. I might even listen to the whole thing again. It's just that good. Solid narrator, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Chuck Thompson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    Let’s talk about secession. Not exactly the most suitable cocktail party conversation starter anywhere in the country, but take that notion deep into the heart of Dixie and you might find yourself running from the possum-hunting conservatives, trailer-park lifers, and prayer warriors Chuck Thompson encountered during the two years he spent traveling the American South asking the question: Would we be better off without ’em?

    Brent says: "Call their bluff!"
    "What can I say? I loved it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not exactly the height of scholarship, but hilarious. And informative. It's like taking a trip to a fantasy world where things like this are actually possible. A nice follow up to the more serious book called "American Nations" whose author's name slips my mind at the moment. The reader is perfect, and almost turns the book into a stand up comedy ruitine. It's a joyride that is more than worth the price of admission.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Renegade History of the United States

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Thaddeus Russell
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    Overall
    (110)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (71)

    American history was driven by clashes between those interested in preserving social order and those more interested in pursuing their own desires---the "respectable" versus the "degenerate", the moral versus the immoral. The more that "bad" people existed, resisted, and won, the greater was our common good. In A Renegade History of the United States, Russell introduces us to the origins of our nation's identity as we have never known them before.

    Rory says: "One of those books...that cause brain freeze!"
    "Hard to hate on something this entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    How can you go wrong with this one? Juicy and chalk full of crime, laziness and utter licentiousness, this book is a dream come true to history buffs who are also unprincipled slackers. That's not to say that it's not serious work, though. The research is solid and the facts are well presented. This is actual scholarship, not hacky journalism. Narrator Paul Boehmer's accent, intonation and rhythm are quite odd to me, and bug me sometimes, but he is chosen to read a lot of the best books, so I guess I'm stuck with him. You should really buy this book. It kicks ass.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Don't Know Much About the American Presidents

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Kenneth C. Davis
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey, Kirby Heyborne, Mark Bramhall, and others
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (66)

    For more than 20 years since his New York Times best-seller Don't Know Much About History first appeared, Davis has shown that Americans don't hate history, just the dull version dished out in school. Now Davis turns his attention to what is arguably the most important and most fascinating subject in American history: our presidents. From the heated debates over executive powers through the curious election of George Washington in 1789 and, for more than 200 years, up through the meteoric rise of Barack Obama, the presidency has been at the heart of American history.

    RobLokkesmoe says: "Very informative. Excellent"
    "Easy crash course. I learned a lot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is exactly what you would expect it to be. Easy listening. A nice little chunk on each president, and the occasional factoid about the office of the presidency. Nothing edgy or controversial, no strong opinions, just basically the general common wisdom on each one. Washington, Lincoln and FDR get top honors, as everyone would expect. James Buchanan and GWB get roasted. Reagan gets the predictable over rating, with Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton taking a backseat. Andrew Jackson is an excellent story line, but like Reagan he gets an A despite having plenty of downside. Still, these are pretty mainstream views and the author goes decidedly mainstream in his assessments. If you expect that going in, there will be no disappointments. Arthur Morey isn't a showy narrator, but the man has talent. He is a master of enunciation, emphasis, cadence, and clarity. Steady all the way, and never distracts. I've heard him narrate a ton of books and he's one of my very favorites. Overall, this material is excellent in the sense that it is accessible and well packaged. A sharp, professional production that is easy to listen to no matter what your politics are. Informative, but also fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Our Patchwork Nation: The Surprising Truth about the 'Real' America

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Dante Chinni, James Gimpel
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    In a climate of culture wars and tremendous economic uncertainty, America is often reduced to a simplistic schism between red states and blue states. In response to that oversimplification, journalist Dante Chinni teamed up with political geographer James Gimpel to launch the Patchwork Nation project, using on-the-ground reporting and statistical analysis to get past generalizations and probe American communities in depth.

    Joshua Kim says: "A Course on 'Our Patchwork Nation'"
    "A little bit interesting, but largly pointless"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    These guys have no balls, and this book is pretty limp as a result. Yeah, a lot of the data that they have gathered is interesting, and the way they have broken up the nation into categories is novel, but this is a long way from groundbreaking stuff. A lot of my annoyance comes from the fact that the authors are trying to be more nuanced than simply red and blue state categories, but come up with categories that feel forced. "Moneyed Burbs" is a particularly odd grouping. They say these counties have wealthy, educated residents, that can vote either way depending on the performance of thier stock portfolios. In this category they include San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Santa Fe. Last time I checked, hell was more likely to open a ski resort than these counties would be to vote Republican. The authors seem so scared to piss anyone off that they choose to report just the right facts to make themselves seem as centrist as a 50 yard line. Weak sauce if you ask me. Still, I did learn a few things about some parts of the country that I likely won't be moving to any time soon. The narrator is a champ. I'd love to hear more books read by him, because he's one of the best I've heard. If you're a big time political nerd like me, this book is worth a listen. But you'll not find it to be something that drastically impacts the way you look at elections. That's my view, at least.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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