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CHESTER

Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States | Member Since 2007

124
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 197 reviews
  • 637 ratings
  • 1232 titles in library
  • 123 purchased in 2014
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  • The Innocents Abroad: Or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (191)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (167)

    In June 1867, Mark Twain set out for Europe and the Holy Land on the paddle steamer Quaker City. His enduring, no-nonsense guide for the first-time traveler also served as an antidote to the insufferably romantic travel books of the period.

    Cynthia Franks says: "Twain's Hidden Gem"
    "WORLD TRAVEL"
    Overall
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    As mentioned in previous essays, Mark Twain is an acquired taste for some. “… Innocents Abroad” fascinates those who are travelers, either for fun or vocation. It is a joy to hear Twain’s reminiscence of a mid-nineteenth century voyage to Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land. There is added pleasure to a Nevadan because of Twain’s comparisons to Nevada’ open spaces, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    To this listener’s ear, “...Innocents Abroad” is an irreverent primer on travel to foreign countries; not because everything is the same but because some 21st century world travels are similar; and all world travels are given perspective by Twain’s observation.

    Grover Gardner's performance makes "The Innocents Abroad" an entertaining experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Love in the Time of Cholera

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gabriel García Márquez
    • Narrated By Armando Durán
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (549)
    Performance
    (483)
    Story
    (488)

    From the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude comes a masterly evocation of an unrequited passion so strong that it binds two people's lives together for more than half a century. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs - yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral....

    Darryl says: "Marquez is great, awaiting 100 Years"
    "LOVE AND MARRIAGE"
    Overall
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    Story

    Gabriel Garcia Márquez begins "Love in the Time of Cholera" with a sweet evocation of love and marriage between Dr. Juvenal Urbino and his 71-year-old wife, the former Fermina Daza.

    "Love in the Time of Cholera" almost loses one’s interest with the introduction of Florentino Ariza, an earlier rival for señorita Daza’s affection. Florentino seems a pale suitor when compared to Urbino. Florentino is too poor, too poetically inept, and socially immature to rival Urbino. Márquez slowly fills out Florentino’s character to make a listener interested enough to find out why he is important to the story. Márquez cleverly inserts an anonymous letter delivered to Urbino in the telling of his tale. The letter was held by a suicide victim, an acquaintance of Urbino’s, which adds mystery to the story. One wonders, is the letter related to Fermina’s earlier suitor? An answer is not given until the end of "Love in the Time of Cholera."

    Márquez’s story suggests that love does not arrive with marriage but only comes with the passage of time. Márquez concludes sex in life and marriage is ephemeral and evolving; while love is eternal and built over time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought)

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Kathleen Krull
    • Narrated By John C. Brown, Melissa Hughes
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (22)

    From DaVinci to Rembrandt, van Gogh to Matisse, and Picasso to Warhol, you'll learn about both their artistic masterpieces and their personal messes. Fun and lighthearted, yet full of solid information, trivia, and provocative commentary, Lives of the Artists presents objective, 3-dimensional biographies of the world's great artists.

    L. Worthington says: "Fascinating!"
    "EXTRAORDINARY ARTISTS"
    Overall
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    Story

    This is a brief introduction to a number of extraordinary artists, several well-known and a few rarely heard of. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Warhol, Rembrandt, Chagall, Rivera, O’Keefe, Matisse, and van Gogh are recognized by most people who have a passing interest in art. But, few art history dabblers have heard of William H. Johnson, Mary Cassatt, Sofonisba Anguissola, Maria Kahlo, Katsushika Hokusai, or Kathe Kollwitz.

    At best, “Lives of the Artists-Masterpieces, Messes” will broaden a dilettante’s interest in visual art and make a reader look up some of their work. Kathleen Krull barely touches the lives she writes about but when one sees the work of the artists she chooses, her choices of subject make the book worth reading.

    Kathleen Krull proves how little one knows of the lives of artists and their art work. As Plato wrote of Socrates, “I know something that I know nothing.”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Little Failure: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Jonathan Todd Ross
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (149)
    Performance
    (127)
    Story
    (132)

    After three acclaimed novels - The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far.

    Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimate and distinctly his own. Provocative, hilarious, and inventive, Little Failure reveals a deeper vein of emotion in Gary Shteyngart' s prose.

    HRD says: "I loved this book - funny, sad, all that nonsense"
    "IMMIGRATION"
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    "Little Failure: may seem like a humorous anecdote to some but it is also about the angst and hardship of immigration. At the age of 38, Gary Shteyngart’s “…Memoir” seems hubristic. "Little Failure" is a case in point, but the author shows more self-loathing than excessive self-pride in his story of coming from Russia to New York at the age of six to become an American.

    Shteyngart’s first book (not "Little Failure") is published with good reviews. The best that can be said about "Little Failure" is that it tells a story of growing to manhood in 20th century America. "Little Failure: is as its title says, a memoir, but it seems more like displaced hubris than any revelation about growing up; or a teaser to read one of Shteyngart’s novels. Aside from the immigrant parts of Shteyngart’s life, little new coming-of-age' ground is broken; i.e. few teaching-moments are harvested.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Mill on the Floss

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By George Eliot
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (79)

    The Mill on the Floss, first published in 1860, tells the story of Maggie Tulliver and her brother Tom as they grow from children to young adults in the small rural town of St. Ogg's, England. Intelligent and passionate, Maggie yearns to develop her mind and break free of the constraints of her provincial village. Though she loves her brother above anyone else, Tom's rigid, pragmatic personality often conflicts with Maggie's headstrong nature, with increasingly tragic consequences.

    Wendy says: "Wanda McCaddon is amazing"
    "FAMILIES"
    Overall
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    George Eliot is a woman by the name of Mary Anne Evans. The name George Eliot hides and explains a double standard that existed before Adam and Eve and continues through today. George Eliot transgressed morality in the 1860s by living with a married man, until his death, when writing “The Mill on the Floss”. “The Mill on the Floss” is semi-autobiographical.

    Very little social stigma follows men for illicit love affairs but no review of Eliot’s work escapes her association with George Henry Lewes. (As noted in Wikipedia: George Henry Lewes was an English philosopher and critic of literature and theatre. He became part of the mid-Victorian ferment of ideas which encouraged discussion of Darwinism, positivism, and religious skepticism.) Lewes became an important part of Eliot’s awakening as a literary artist; a role given substance by her life and experience with Lewes; not that Lewes was the source of her inherent ability, but an ability that could have been constrained, if not lost, in the social conventions of that day if not for Lewes’ support.

    This is a wonderful classic that has as much to say about today as it did when it was published in 1860. Eliot’s book is not meant to change human nature (as if any book could), or the way we raise our children, but it helps explain why things happen as they do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Human Stain

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Phillip Roth
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    Overall
    (341)
    Performance
    (289)
    Story
    (290)

    It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished even his most virulent accuser.

    Darwin8u says: "Spooky how Roth bends the edge of the possible"
    "HUMAN STAIN"
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    Figuratively, Phillip Roth skins an onion in his book, The Human Stain. He exposes the insidious nature of discrimination in a story about a college professor’s life.

    In a Buddhist’ way, Roth’s story stings the eyes of wisdom and the material world. The Human Stain offers layers of truth about human nature; Roth gives examples like President Clinton’s contretemps with Monica Lewinsky; stories of a “free” but tainted press; the many forms of discrimination, and incidents of female sexual exploitation. Each peel of the onion reveals a layer of stinging truth about human beings in a material world.

    By the end of The Human Stain, one is reminded of the biblical phrase, “he who is without sin can cast the first stone”. Roth’s story infers every lie (and we are all liars) leaves a stain; every human experience leaves an imprint, some of which are stains; others, the building blocks of life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Battle Cry of Freedom: Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs)
    • By James McPherson
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (484)
    Performance
    (271)
    Story
    (271)

    James M. McPherson, professor emeritus of U.S. history at Princeton, is one of the foremost scholars of the Civil War. In this informative and meticulously researched masterpiece, he clarifies the differing ways of life and philosophy that led to this shattering conflict. Abraham Lincoln wondered whether "in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government". And Jefferson Davis felt "forced to take up arms" to guarantee states' rights.

    Brian says: "Incredible audio book"
    "BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM"
    Overall
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    Ironically, it seems timely to read "Battle Cry of Freedom" because of current events in America. It is difficult to believe anyone in America ever believed one human could be another’s personal property. James McPherson shows, as late as the 19th century, many Americans believed it. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson writes, “all men are created equal”. America sought independence and fought a civil war to affirm that belief. One might ask how long it will take Thomas Jefferson’s statement to be a reality. One wonders if discrimination is baked into the character of human beings.

    McPherson’s "Battle Cry of Freedom" is the coda of the Civil War. Freedom is the heart-felt desire of every Union and Rebel soldier, every White and Black man, every woman and child. This desire for freedom has not changed in eleven thousand years of man’s enslavement by man. The only change seems to have been in who is classified as slave; i.e. that “other-than-me” unequal human being.

    McPherson offers an entertaining and educational history of the Civil War in "Battle Cry of Freedom". There are many insights to the generalship of the war, the political opinions of the time, the personalities of great and infamous leaders, and the many steps taken toward American’ freedom. However, like other strides America has taken for freedom, they seem small steps toward erasing the ugly side of human nature.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Gnostic Gospels

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Elaine Pagels
    • Narrated By Lorna Raver
    Overall
    (329)
    Performance
    (139)
    Story
    (143)

    The Gnostic Gospels provides engaging listening for those seeking a broader perspective on the early development of Christianity. Author and noted scholar Elaine Pagels suggests that Christianity could have developed quite differently if Gnostic texts had become part of the Christian canon.

    Colin says: "A must-read"
    "THE TRUE CHURCH"
    Overall
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    Elaine Pagels is a Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She has a Ph.D. in religion from Harvard University. Modern Library calls Pagels’ book, “The Gnostic Gospels” one of the 100 most important books of the twentieth century.

    For all religious organizations and particularly the Christian church, “The Gnostic Gospels” shakes the foundations of institutional religion. Like the beginning of a story of adventure and mystery, Pagels recounts the discovery of a fifty-two text collection of papyrus sheets recounting the beginnings of the Christian church.

    Frustration remains at the conclusion of “The Gnostic Gospels”, even after reading Pagels’ insightful interpretation, because gnostic documentation is, like every written document of the time, removed from “witnesses to the truth”, i.e. people who lived in Jesus’ time.

    However, the Coptic text shows that in the near-beginnings of the Christian religion there were questions about who Jesus was and what he was about; i.e. was he simply a prophet or the Son of God, was he preaching for the creation of a religion or were historical facts manipulated to create a religious hierarchal institution, was Mary Magdalene a conjugal companion or disciple?

    Pagels’ interpretation in “The Gnostic Gospels” suggests that Jesus was a prophet; that his life story was manipulated to create a religious hierarchal institution, and that Mary Magdalene was a disciple.

    The more fundamental issue in “The Gnostic Gospels” is the idea of the “Kingdom of God” being present within every human being, then and now, and that self-knowledge is the source of admittance to grace. If one believes this teaching, it does not necessarily require abandonment of organized religion but it suggests that church institutions’ only role is to aid personal revelation; not to ritualize admittance to the “Kingdom of God” by christening mankind or bludgeoning all who do not accept a church’s vision of religion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jonathan Sperber
    • Narrated By Kevin Stillwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (32)

    Returning Marx to the Victorian confines of the 19th century, Jonathan Sperber, one of the United States' leading European historians, challenges many of our misconceptions of this political firebrand turned London journalist. In this deeply humanizing portrait, Marx no longer is the Olympian soothsayer, divining the dialectical imperatives of human history, but a scholar-activist whose revolutionary Weltanschauung was closer to Robespierre's than to those of 20th-century Marxists.

    CHESTER says: "KARL MARX"
    "KARL MARX"
    Overall
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    Johnathan Sperber has gathered an impressive amount of data in a history of Karl Marx’s life. Sadly, his presentation is not equal to his collection. Unlike biographies done by Robert Caro (wrote “The Power Broker” about Robert Moses, the land planner of New York, and former President, Lyndon Johnson) or William Manchester (a Winston Churchill Biographer), Sperber fails to bring his subject to life.

    Marx is considered by some to be one of the three most influential economists that ever lived (Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes being the other two.) That influence is not felt by a reader or listener of Sperber’s biography. Sperber offers facts but leaves coherence to the consumer.

    Sperber offers a lot of information about Marx’s family life and Friedrich Engels, his primary benefactor (ironically, a capitalist factory owner). But, this is a disappointing book because it garners too little interest in the power and influence of Marx’s economic theory.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Michio Kaku
    • Narrated By Feodor Chin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (792)
    Performance
    (522)
    Story
    (520)

    In Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku—the New York Times best-selling author of Physics of the Impossible—gives us a stunning, provocative, and exhilarating vision of the coming century based on interviews with over 300 of the world’s top scientists who are already inventing the future in their labs. The result is the most authoritative and scientifically accurate description of revolutionary developments taking place....

    Gordon Lamb says: "Interesting Content, Irritating Reader"
    "YESTERDAY TODAY TOMORROW"
    Overall
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    Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist at City College of New York. He has appeared on television many times and writes extensively about future inventions and their consequence in “Physics of the Future”. Kaku’s futurist perspective is based on what is happening in physics today. He extrapolated from today’s science to tomorrow’s probability. Kaku believes that all reality, yesterday's, today's, and tomorrow's, is dictated by quantum physics. At a molecular level, quantum physics experimentally confirms all reality is a matter of probability; not certainty.

    Before leaving individual predictions, Kaku explains the Kardashev scale of civilization to contextualize the state of the world. The Kardashev scale begins at 0 and rises to Type V. Today’s world is estimated to be at .7, less than 1. Coincidentally, getting to 1 is the most dangerous level to achieve, without catastrophe. Level 1 presumes fusion power is available on a large-scale; antimatter is available in large quantities, and fossil fuels become an abandoned source of energy.

    Getting from .7 to 1 on the Kardashev scale is fraught with human potential for world destruction. Great social upheavals will occur with the evolution of energy use. Some nations will be threatened by the change. Jobs will be at risk; nation’s economies will be overwhelmed by need for change. Purpose in life will be questioned. Social structure will be challenged by new measures of status. Civilizations will either embrace or reject cooperation among nations.

    Kaku summarizes his view of the future by reflecting on a future husband’s and wife’s benefits from extraordinary scientific discoveries. Kaku opts for a utopian transition of civilization that reaches level 1 on the Kardashev scale, within 100 years.

    And so–Kierkekaardian’ fear and trembling stream through Kaku’s vision of the future because many of his predictions could as easily steer mankind to an end as a beginning.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Leslie T. Chang
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (255)
    Performance
    (130)
    Story
    (126)

    A book of global significance that provides new insight into China, Factory Girls demonstrates how the mass movement from rural villages to cities is remaking individual lives and transforming Chinese society, much as immigration to America's shores remade our own country a century ago.

    Roy says: "Cumulative Effect"
    "PICKING DAISEYS IN CHINA"
    Overall
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    Leslie Chang is perfectly suited for this journey into the heart of China’s economic transformation. Ms. Chang works for the “Wall Street Journal”. She has family experience of imperial and communist China from the 1920s to the present; she speaks Mandarin Chinese, and grew up in the United States. Chang brings intimate perspective to the dynamics of economic and social change in 21st century China.

    “Factory Girls” offers a glimpse of the tremendous cultural change occurring in today’s China. Sixteen year old girls are leaving rural China to seek their future in the City. With little formal education, they fuel the engines of China’s rapid industrial growth. Chang follows several of these amazing young women back and forth from their rural beginnings to their immersion in the difficult life of factory work.

    China is not America. Chang’s book is frightening to a parent in an American culture that practices and endorses extended childhood. Imagine an American sixteen year old daughter taking a train to a city where she knows no one, has no financial support, and is expected to make her own living. Imagine an American daughter that has no opportunity except as a barer of male children. What is a Chinese female to do if her life options are so limited? What is any human to do if their options are unfairly limited?

    “Factory Girls” is an impressive report of the massive cultural change occurring in China. It is an astounding affirmation of the “will to power” outlined by Friedrich Nietzsche. One cannot help but admire the factory girls of China as ugly as the reality of their lives seem to “too comfortable” Americans.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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