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CHESTER

Chet Yarbrough, an audio book addict, exercises two cocker spaniels twice a day with an Ipod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears. Hope these few reviews seduce the public into a similar obsession but walk safely and be aware of the unaware.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States | Member Since 2007

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 165 reviews
  • 607 ratings
  • 1165 titles in library
  • 83 purchased in 2014
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  • How the Mind Works

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    Overall
    (523)
    Performance
    (419)
    Story
    (412)

    In this delightful, acclaimed bestseller, one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists tackles the workings of the human mind. What makes us rational—and why are we so often irrational? How do we see in three dimensions? What makes us happy, afraid, angry, disgusted, or sexually aroused? Why do we fall in love? And how do we grapple with the imponderables of morality, religion, and consciousness?

    David says: "Excellent, but a difficult listen."
    "HOW THE MIND WORKS"
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    “How the Mind Works” delves into the process of thought; i.e. how it is tied to an evolutionary process and how it is common to all humans but emotively different in males and females.

    In completing Steven Pinker’s book, it seems that some mind modules are inherited and others are learned. What seems puzzling is why Pinker suggests that the evolution of man and the way the mind works is near an end rather than a beginning or mid-point. Humankind has gotten this far through adaptive evolution, why will adaptation not continue to evolve? With a changing environment, it seems logical to believe that the human species will either adapt or parish, and knowing which will happen, is probabilistically unknowable. Are we headed for dystopia and extinction, utopia and eternal life, or happiness and a fulfilled life?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Sean Carroll
    • Narrated By Professor Sean Carroll
    Overall
    (146)
    Performance
    (133)
    Story
    (132)

    Time rules our lives, woven into the very fabric of the universe-from the rising and setting of the sun to the cycles of nature, the thought processes in our brains, and the biorhythms in our day. Nothing so pervades our existence and yet is so difficult to explain. But now, in a series of 24 riveting lectures, you can grasp exactly why - as you take a mind-expanding journey through the past, present, and future, guided by a noted author and scientist.

    Michael says: "Get From Eternity to Here instead"
    "THE FOURTH DIMENSION"
    Overall
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    Time, as a fourth dimension, is a mystery that Professor Sean Carroll partly unravels in a lecture series titled Mysteries of Modern Physics. Carroll helps Physics’ dilettantes, like this essayist, broaden understanding of the mechanics of the universe; albeit at the cost of some confusion and a headache.

    Carroll defines words that are commonly understood by Physics’ students and vaguely or not understood by everyone else. He defines time’s arrow, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics. Each definition offers insight to the mystery of time.

    Time remains a mystery at the end of Carroll’s lectures. Travel to the future seems a possibility but travel to the past, a logical impossibility. Carroll speculates on the idea of a multiverse from periodic reversals in the arrow of time that creates new universes from new big bangs. There is much more in Carroll’s lectures that tickle the synapses and light up dendrites of a listener’s mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Thomas A. Shippey
    Overall
    (191)
    Performance
    (168)
    Story
    (169)

    Odysseus. Robinson Crusoe. Harry Potter. What do these memorable characters have in common? Why do we turn to certain stories again and again? And what impact have they made on world history? These 24 eye-opening lectures give fresh insight into some of the greatest heroes in world literature, from warriors such as Beowulf and Odysseus to unexpected heroes such as Uncle Tom and Sancho Panza. Professor Shippey gives you an inside glimpse into the writer's process.

    SC in SC says: "Outstanding! Myth, Legend & History Come Alive"
    "FOUNDATIONS OF LITERATURE"
    Overall
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    Story

    Professor Thomas Shippey fails to show how hero and legend stories are unique, repeated, and expanded upon in new literature about similar characters and adventures. The Heroes and Legends’ lectures are grade school snapshots of literary heroes and heroines. Shippey disappoints the listener by not drawing on his vast knowledge of "Heroes and Legends" in literature.

    The lectures would have been more interesting if Shippey added more insight like his note that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes creates a foundation for dual heroes. Shippey shows how Blomquist and Salendar in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” carry the legend of Holmes into the 21st century. That is insight a listener is looking for; not a book report on chosen hero and legend literature.

    In his last lecture of the series, Shippey talks about a house of legends with prescribed foundations. That should have been his first lecture. He is intimately familiar with the books he discusses but he fails to bring heroes and legends together in a format that describes the foundation of "hero and legend" literature.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Grapes of Wrath

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1591)
    Performance
    (1388)
    Story
    (1396)

    At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are forced to travel west to the promised land of California.

    RSolomons says: "Every Character a Gem!"
    "HARDSHIP AND TRAGEDY"
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    John Steinbeck, in “The Grapes of Wrath”, vivifies and immortalises the great depression. For those of us too young to remember the 1930’s depression, there is Henry Fonda’s 1940 movie classic. “The Grapes of Wrath” is the story of Tom Joad (played by Henry Fonda), Steinbeck’s principled hero, who begins and ends a family’ tale of hardship and tragedy.

    One falls in love with the Joad family in “The Grapes of Wrath” because of its human warmth. The Joads, like many mid-western’ families in the great depression, lose their 40 acre farm because of poor farming practices and growing farm consolidation in the twentieth century. Steinbeck paints pictures of greedy banks foreclosing forty acre homesteads and bulldozing farm houses to combine farm tracts for corporate land owners. The Joad family is evicted from their 40 acre farm. They sell their plow team, farming tools, and non-essential belongings and buy a beaten down Hudson truck. They reframe the Hudson to carry passengers and possessions from Oklahoma to California. They are lured by a flyer that says there are good paying jobs in California for the unemployed; however, there are so many bankrupt farming families that respond to this flyer; the Joads find good paying jobs are a fiction; i.e. pay scales are driven down by mass unemployment and employer’ “greed”. The Joad family journey is filled with hardship and disappointment with the only listener’ or reader’ pleasure coming from vignettes of familial affection; i.e. family bonds; bonds held together by an indomitable mother.

    In 2013, “Grapes of Wrath” offers lessons to Americans that deny the importance of a “safety net” for the unemployed; the dangers of a widening gap between “haves and have not’s”, and the fragile nature of the environment. Unbridled capitalism tears the fabric of society when it ignores minimum standards of living, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the environmental consequence of human greed. Rand ignores capitalism’s evil potential and Steinbeck exaggerates it.

    Like Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, “The Grapes of Wrath” shows an extreme end of an ideologue’s perception of American capitalism; i.e. both authors deny or exaggerate human nature to make their points. Rand pictures capitalism as the fountainhead of prosperity and a perfect society; Steinbeck sees capitalism as a vehicle of destruction, a “dog-eat-dog” existence that breaks families apart and destroys society.

    The truth is Rand and Steinbeck have written two highly entertaining books with opposite, myopic visions of the value and truth of capitalism; i.e. Rand envisions libertine capitalism while Steinbeck proposes collective capitalism; neither of which acknowledge the truth of human nature. Mankind is both good and bad and cannot be left in a state of nature. Human nature in a capitalist society must be prudently regulated by a deliberative government that balances the interests of its citizens.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Things Fall Apart

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Chinua Achebe
    • Narrated By Peter Francis James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (302)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (220)

    Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger.

    Darwin8u says: "Achebe's Magnum Opus"
    "CIVILIZATIONS COLLIDE"
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    Chinua Achebe explains what happens when civilizations collide in “Things Fall Apart”. Achebe lived a life that proves the truth of his novel.

    Achebe was born in Nigeria but educated in English at the University of Ibadan, the oldest university in Nigeria (founded in 1948). Achebe, born in 1930, wrote “Things Fall Apart” in the 1950s (published in 1958). It sold more than 12 million copies and was translated into more than 50 languages. It is a story of the changing face of Nigeria. (Sadly, Achebe died this year on March 21, 2013.)

    Without knowing Achebe’s background, a first reading of “Things Fall Apart” begins in confusion but as the story progresses its meaning and value become clear. Two thirds of the book explains life in an African village that is untouched by a white man’s world or any civilization outside of its clan and its related communities. The listener is being offered an understanding of an African village’s culture.

    From the perspective of the clan’s leaders, “Things Fall Apart”. Achebe gives the world a first-hand account of how a tribal culture is destroyed. One proud culture is replaced by another proud culture; first with small steps, and then with generational leaps. The good and bad of one culture are replaced by the good and bad of another.

    After listening to Achebe’s book, one guardedly chooses to believe that cultural evolution is moving toward a better life for Africans.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I, Claudius

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Robert Graves
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    Overall
    (1419)
    Performance
    (705)
    Story
    (710)

    Here is one of the best historical novels ever written. Lame, stammering Claudius, once a major embarrassment to the imperial family and now emperor of Rome, writes an eyewitness account of the reign of the first four Caesars: the noble Augustus and his cunning wife, Livia; the reptilian Tiberius; the monstrous Caligula; and finally old Claudius himself. Filled with poisonings, betrayal, and shocking excesses, I Claudius is history that rivals the most exciting contemporary fiction.

    Chris says: "Unsurpassed, addictive brilliance"
    "RULE OF KINGS"
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    Robert Graves, in “I, Claudius”, infers that women are the primary source of destruction and construction in the Roman Empire from the 1st century BC through the turn of the millennium. This idea reminds one of “The Canterbury Tales” and its characterization of the preeminent role of women in the rule of civilization.

    Graves’ novel is considered by some (e.g., the Modern Library and Time Magazine) to be one of the 100 best English-language novels in the 20thcentury. Maybe–but this rendition of the work seems only mildly entertaining, albeit interestingly informative. It is about the life and times of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (a.k.a. Claudius).

    “I Claudius” is an indictment of hereditary rule and endorsement of Republicanism. The split between Hereditary Monarchy and Republicanism did not heal after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Graves paints a picture of how ugly and debauched a line of hereditary descendants can become. However, his writing seems more theory driven than character driven. Livia is easily seen as a Machiavellian character but not as a human being. Graves achieves some success in humanizing the inhumanity of Caligula but Livia is only a stick figure. One may agree with Graves’ theory of hereditary kingship’s decline; however, one may easily disagree with Modern Library’ and Time Magazines’ high literary praise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • FREE: Mitosis: A Reckoners Story

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 3 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    Overall
    (479)
    Performance
    (447)
    Story
    (448)

    Epics still plague Newcago, but David and the Reckoners have vowed to fight back.

    Thomas says: "He is back!"
    "MITOSIS"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sanderson’s creative writing talent is displayed in Mitosis. It is a story about beings that freely duplicate themselves. However free-to-duplicate has a cost in Sanderson’s story; the cost is a weakening of the original and each materialized being that is duplicated. These duplicating beings plan to rule the population of a city called New Chicago. Their plan is foiled by a human that loves Chicago hot dogs. He is an employee of New Chicago’s “Epic” strongman (New Chicago’s present ruler).

    There is a price associated with the word free. The price is consequence of choice. However, freedom-to-choose is an unqualified iteration of the word free. Human beings are free when they have freedom-to-choose. In an equitable society, freedom-to-choose is only qualified by physical and mental consequence of action; i.e. physical consequence might be execution by government while mental consequence might be suicide.

    What remains qualified in the word free in Sanderson’s short story is that both rulers, the present and aspiring ruler, are “Epic” beings. The inference in the story is that one ruler believes in freedom of choice; the other does not. Mitosis is a nice short story; written by a good author with a great imagination.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight's Children

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Salman Rushdie
    • Narrated By Lyndam Gregory
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (593)
    Performance
    (382)
    Story
    (372)

    Salman Rushdie holds the literary world in awe with a jaw-dropping catalog of critically acclaimed novels that have made him one of the world's most celebrated authors. Winner of the prestigious Booker of Bookers, Midnight's Children tells the story of Saleem Sinai, born on the stroke of India's independence.

    Marc-Fr says: "Outstanding book, superb narration"
    "GOD AND THE SNAKE"
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    "Midnight’s Children" is about God and the snake. Written by Salman Rushdie, it is a story about religion and knowledge. It raises issues about God, Allah, Shiva, Buddha and many fundamental religious beliefs. In "Midnight’s Children", Rushdie uses a satiric pen to tell the story of India’s independence and the role of religion in Indian/Pakistani society.

    "Midnight’s Children" is a “coming of age” saga about one child born at the strike-of-midnight August 15, 1947, the day India became an independent nation-state. Rushdie demythologizes religion and promotes humanism by telling a story of India and Pakistan’s history. He infers the prime mover of life is human nature; not God.

    Rushdie uses the snake as a symbol of knowledge; knowledge that contains both good and evil. Rushdie writes that snake venom kills and heals; i.e. it kills when there is too much; heals when used in correct proportion. Saleem, as a young boy, survives early death with administration of the right proportion of venom; i.e. the right amount of knowledge.

    Prominence of a nose is a recurrent theme in Rusdie’s story. At times, Rushdie’s writing is laugh-out-loud funny, like when he describes the prominence of a big nose. Though the clairvoyant quality of Saleem’s life is lost when his nose is operated on, the nose offers other extraordinary powers. A listener is inclined to believe, as Saleem matures, that a nose knows about life and living in the Middle East and other regions of a troubled world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lawrence Wright
    • Narrated By Morton Sellers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1276)
    Performance
    (1140)
    Story
    (1130)

    A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than 200 personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists - both famous and less well known - and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

    Chris Reich says: "Scared the Hell Out of Me"
    "GOING CLEAR"
    Overall
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    Without vilifying any one religion, Scientology, like all organized religions, is a belief system manufactured by man. Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, writes an informative, titillating. and believable book about Scientology. After listening to “Going Clear”, the human failings of Scientology are stripped bare with a force as explosive as the abuse of parish children by Catholic’ priests. The many testimonials of Scientologists that say Scientology “improved their lives” infers some value in its teachings; however, like all organized religions, it is subject to human failings. No organized religion in recorded history has been without human failure.

    Wright names the names of the most famous Scientologists with Tom Cruise and John Travolta at the top of the list. But, he also explains why lesser lights, like Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, Greta Van Susteren, continue to follow the religion. What makes the story more interesting is why some of the early members are leaving; i.e. Paul Haggis, Bruce Hines, and possibly, Tommy Davis, a wealthy follower and former spokesman for Scientology.

    Wright amplifies interest by revealing secrets of the religion, some of its leader’s alleged violence, and mysteries of disappearing members.

    Where will Scientology be 100 years from now? Will Hubbard’s myths become a gospel of truth or will Scientology fall into the dustbin of history’s failed cults?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1219)
    Performance
    (1044)
    Story
    (1055)

    Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down.

    Darwin8u says: "Mantel Pulls the History out of the History"
    "THE PLAY'S THE THING"
    Overall
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    Story

    “Bring Up the Bodies” fictionally recreates the history of King Henry the VIII’s schism with the Roman Catholic Church. Hilary Mantel writes the story of Anne Boleyn’s demise and Thomas Cromwell’s role as the King’s henchman in separating Boleyn’s head from her body. Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies” reminds one of Hamlet’s “The play’s the thing!” which will out the truth.

    Anne Boleyn is never characterized as a weak, simpering woman but as a passionate, calculating, and forceful female that refuses to be cowed by the King, Cromwell, or her lascivious and narcissistic family. She hates like a man but uses her feminine allure to seduce a King and transfix a multitude of suitors.

    Mantel shows that Henry the VIII is the dominant force in decisions made in England but the instrument of execution for the King’s decisions is the brilliant, irreligious pragmatist and tactician, Thomas Cromwell. Mantel’s first book, “Wolf Hall”, sets the stage for Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power; Mantel’s second book “Bring Up the Bodies” is the play, with Cromwell as the main actor, the Queens as supporting actresses, and noblemen as bit-players; with the King as producer and director.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Lisa Randall
    • Narrated By Carrington MacDuffie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (88)

    The latest developments in physics have the potential to radically revise our understanding of the world: its makeup, its evolution, and the fundamental forces that drive its operation. Knocking on Heaven's Door is an exhilarating and accessible overview of these developments and an impassioned argument for the significance of science. There could be no better guide than Lisa Randall.

    Amazon Customer says: "Love the book, hate the title"
    "LEADERSHIP IN SCIENCE"
    Overall
    Performance
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    Lisa Randall believes the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is one of the wonders of the world, competing with the pyramids of Egypt in its colossal achievement. Located near the border of France and Switzerland, it is the largest construction project ever built.

    “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” is the story of the Collider’s creation, inner workings, and scientific objectives. It is also a story of America’s loss of leadership in science.

    A quibble one may have with Randall’s book is that she digresses into derivative finance to suggest that more scientific analysis would obviate the kind of financial disaster that occurred in 2007. She suggests that proper analysis of real estate derivatives would have stopped the madness. The naiveté of that argument is that there were a few that saw the collapse coming but their scientific analysis only convinced a small number of people. Few financial “geniuses” chose to believe real estate derivatives were a financial instrument of destruction. How different is that from the scientific community’s position on global warming?

    Scientific analysis misses part of what makes human’s human; i.e. minds can know something and still act irrationally; not to mention, rationality is often in the mind of the beholder. Randal admits as much in writing about beauty and truth and clearly notes that they are not necessarily equivalent because of human subjectivity. If one can make millions of dollars off a quant’s mistaken calculations, what incentive does that person have to ignore the opportunity?

    Randall convinces one of the formidable reality of the LHC and its potential contribution to science. America may have missed a chance to be a leader rather than follower of one of the 21st century’s great contributions to science, the Large Hadron Collider.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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