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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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  • 145 reviews
  • 600 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 77 purchased in 2014
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  • The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By George Packer
    • Narrated By Robert Fass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (286)
    Performance
    (244)
    Story
    (251)

    In The Unwinding, George Packer, author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way, with his characteristically sharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives. The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation.

    Janet Pittman Henley says: "Can't understand the low ratings!"
    "AMERICAN ANGER, FEAR, AND FRUSTRATION"
    Overall
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    Story

    George Packer drives a stake into America’s heart in “The Unwinding”. American anger, fear, and frustration build in the minds of all—whether Republican, Democrat, Tea Partyer, or Libertarian.

    Whether an accolade of private enterprise or government, Packer offers stories of Americans that show American’ belief makes no difference because America is no longer a land of opportunity but a land of greed; not of the free but of the shackled—a risk noted by Thomas Hobbes in the “Leviathan”. The shackles come from society’s failure to protect individuals from the tyranny of special interests. One side argues that it is because of ineffective government–the other side argues it is because of too much government.

    The unwinding of the financial crises reflected in the dot-com bubble of 2000-2001 and the 2007-08 sub-prime mortgage crises unfolds in stories told by Packer in this disturbing narrative. America has become a nation of extremes with each extreme using whatever means necessary to deny success of either “tea party”, “libertarian” or “occupy wall street” followers. The consequence is a “do-nothing” congress, an ineffectual President, and a politicized Supreme Court. One is left with fear, anger, and frustration after completing Packer’s diatribe. The only consolation is in history.

    America has been in crises before–in 1776, 1789, 1865, 1929, 1941, 1951, 1967-68, 2001. Americans survived before; Americans will survive again but how angry Americans are, and how frustrating it is to watch America muddle along while Congress fails to act.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Leo Damrosch
    • Narrated By David Stifel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Jonathan Swift is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, the satiric fantasy that quickly became a classic and has remained in print for nearly three centuries. Yet Swift also wrote many other influential works, was a major political and religious figure in his time, and became a national hero, beloved for his fierce protest against English exploitation of his native Ireland. What is really known today about the enigmatic man behind these accomplishments? Can the facts of his life be separated from the fictions?

    CHESTER says: "JOHNATHAN SWIFT AND POWER OF THE PEN"
    "JOHNATHAN SWIFT AND POWER OF THE PEN"
    Overall
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    Story

    The principle of the power of the pen comes from a play titled “Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy” written in 1839 with the suggestion that “The pen is mightier than the sword”.

    Jonathan Swift is primarily remembered for “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World”; better known as “Gulliver’s Travels”. What is less well-known of Swift is that he was and is a revered Irish hero, a man blessed with the power of the pen.

    The climax of Damrosch’s biography is Swift’s publication of “Gulliver’s Travels”. Swift’s dissection of societies’ follies is as relevant today as it was in the 18th century. One might argue that “A Tale of a Tub” is equally important but “Gulliver’s Travels” resonates with all who read for pleasure, politics, or enlightenment. “A Tale of a Tub” is trapped in the time of its writing.

    There are other biographical details about Swift’s life, and Swift’s idiosyncratic habits but power of the pen is the thematic giant in Damrosch’s book. Damrosch shows how Swift became a feared satirist by England’s leaders.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (902)
    Performance
    (780)
    Story
    (768)

    Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, presents a gorgeously lucid, science book examining some of the nature’s most fundamental questions both from a mythical and scientific perspective. Science is our most precise and powerful tool for making sense of the world. Before we developed the scientific method, we created rich mythologies to explain the unknown. The pressing questions that primitive men and women asked are the same ones we ask as children. Who was the first person? What is the sun? Why is there night and day?

    Connie says: "Audio version is superb for us grown-ups"
    "SCIENCE OR SECOND COMING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    “The Magic of Reality” introduces science to children and adults that wish to see the world as a place of wondrous events and boundless opportunity. Richard Dawkins is an unrepentant atheist but his writing and presentation does not convince one of a Godless universe.

    “The Magic of Reality” is not a debate about science or second coming. Dawkins de-mythologizes the hypocritical beliefs of those who insist on the literal truth of the Bible and infers a challenge to those who believe in the reliability of organized religion. Dawkins fails to convince one that God does not exist but he believes most of humankind is fooled by an emotive mind.

    Dawkins does for general science what Richard Feynman is said to do for Physics, i.e. he makes complex theories simple to understand. Dawkins’ interspersion of apocryphal stories enliven practices and theories of real science; i.e. science’s methods and results are explained in simple language.

    Dawkins shows that mankind seeks nature’s truth through science because without science there is no future. The species, Homo sapiens, is capable of escaping extinction but only through continued exploration of science; i.e. species evolution alone is not enough.

    Dawkins notes that our sun will become so hot in two billion years that life, as we know it, will be over .Should we wait for the Bible’s “second coming” or should we plan for a future on some other planet? Dawkins book is an excellent introduction to science; not a refutation of God.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Manning Marable
    • Narrated By G. Valmont Thomas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (253)
    Performance
    (178)
    Story
    (175)

    Of the great figure in 20th-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age 39. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man.

    connie says: "invites further reading on Malcolm X"
    "FEAR AND HOPE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Driving to the office the other day, while waiting for a traffic light to change, a well-dressed youngish black man offers a newspaper titled “The Final Call” to anyone willing to make a donation to its publication. “The Final Call” is the official paper of the “Nation of Islam” (NOI) that covers news worthy events of black America and proffers the philosophy of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the NOI movement in the United States. “The Final Call” generates feelings of fear and hope. There is the fear of widening the gap between blacks and other races in America. There is the hope that black Americans will embrace belief in their ability to equal and exceed accomplishments of any race, creed, or color in America, as well as the world.

    Malcolm X is not a saint in this biography. He is shown to be a political leader in transition that touches the nerves and lives of black and white America. Malcolm X lives and dies in American history’s faltering effort to become a true land of the free, with equality of opportunity for all. Malcolm X’s life story kindles fear and hope in a world populated by “all too human” human beings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Brief History of Time

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Stephen Hawking
    • Narrated By Michael Jackson
    Overall
    (1359)
    Performance
    (582)
    Story
    (579)

    This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last 20 years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas.

    Jeff Parent says: "Great book, but...."
    "PHYSICS REFERENCE TABLE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In a physics reference table, A Brief History of Time is an old book because it dates before the year 2000. However, it remains a fairly good layman’s overview of the state of physics.

    This surprise best seller is not easy to understand in spite of its brevity and avoidance of mathematics. Without additional reading, “A Brief History of Time” is less intelligible than more recent physics-for-laymen' books (see previous reviews).

    Hawking describes the relativity of time, black holes, the big bang theory, God, and string theory (the most current research subject involving unified field theory).

    The quest for a unified field theory is part of a physics reference table that began with Newton, progressed through Einstein and Dirac, and is presently stalled at string theory speculation. The search continues, passing to future generations. Finding a unified field theory, in Hawking’s opinion, would be like reading the mind of God.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Age of American Unreason

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Susan Jacoby
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (147)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (46)

    Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon - one that is at odds with our heritage of Enlightenment reason and with modern, secular knowledge and science. With mordant wit, Jacoby surveys an antirationalist landscape extending from pop culture to a pseudo-intellectual universe of "junk thought".

    T. Andrew Poehlman says: "Interesting, but explanation by redescription"
    "KNOWING LESS ABOUT MORE"
    Overall
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    “The Age of American Unreason” interests baby boomers because it capsules events of the pig-in-a-python‘ era (babies born between 1946 and 1964). Susan Jacoby’s characterization of this era as “The Age of American Unreason” is a failed argument because of over generalization.

    Literary education is unquestionably different today than when Ms. Jacoby graduated from college but different is neither good nor bad; i.e. literary education from Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Faulkner, Charlotte Bronte, Pearl Buck and other literary giants is still being consumed by the public. New authors like Katherine Stockett, Salman Rushdie, Yann Martel, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, or Aravind Adiga, are among many newer intellectual writers. The medium may be different but the message is the same (after all, Jacoby’s book is available through audio books and e books). To suggest that the classics are not being read, understood, or appreciated today is a distortion of reality. How many literary themes have been replayed on the stage and screen? Where did the playwright or filmmaker get his or her idea?

    Who would argue that science is not advancing? The intellectual advance of quantum mechanics, cosmology, and the science of man is astounding. Philosophy is grounded on advances in Science; with continued research there will be future philosophical intellectuals like Plato, Spinoza, and William James; in fact, they are probably here now but not with history’s perspective. The frightful truth of 21st century is that there is so much knowledge available that the biggest threat to intellectualism is knowing less and less about more and more.

    Susan Jacoby is a highly sought after writer and speaker. One admires her reputation as a liberal but liberality is not a license to write junk thought.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dissolution: A Novel of Tudor England Introducing Matthew Shardlake

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By C. J. Sansom
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (779)
    Performance
    (672)
    Story
    (678)

    This riveting debut set in 1534 England secured C. J. Sansom’s place “among the most distinguished of modern historical novelists” (P. D. James). When Henry VIII’s emissary is beheaded at an English monastery, hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake is dispatched to solve the crime. But as he uncovers a cesspool of sin, three more murders occur - and Matthew may be the next target.

    Grcla says: "Very good"
    "MURDER MOST FOUL"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    “Dissolution” is a good mystery about a murder most foul.This is the first of a series of historical novels about a physically impaired Royal Commissioner that investigates crimes in the time of Henry the VIII.

    The listener is introduced to Matthew Shardlake. Shardlake is an attorney commissioned by Oliver Cromwell to investigate the murder of a fellow Commissioner. Sansom creates the feel and smell of early 16thcentury life in a Sussex monastery, 50 miles from London. More interestingly, he reveals a version of Oliver Cromwell and the great upheaval of Roman Catholics at the time of Anne Boleyn’s beheading and King Henry the VIII’s rapacious hunger for Papist' wealth. Sansom writes about social change in the 1530s. He reveals how that change muddies truth and justice, and exposes good and evil.

    What makes Sansom’s book more than a murder mystery is historical integrity and its larger human context. The story reveals Machiavellian' reasons for dissolution of the Roman Catholic Church in England. The Roman Catholic Church was not then, nor is it now, entirely good or entirely evil. As in all social change, dissolution of any human system of government, any kind of organization, throws both good and evil into the street; what remains is still a balance of good and evil but in a different organizational form. Only the future and history reveal whether social change is better or worse. Evil does not disappear with organizational dissolution or social change because evil is a part of what makes mankind human.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2999)
    Performance
    (2786)
    Story
    (2780)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    H James Lucas says: "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"
    "THE SILKWORM"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "The Silkworm" shows more of the imagination a reader expects from J.K. Rowling (aka Robert Galbraith). "The Casual Vacancy", an earlier Rowling’ novel, fatigues rather than energizes interest. In contrast "The Silkworm", though overly complicated, is entertaining.

    In "The Silkworm", Rowling continues with a character originally created by her pseudonym authorship of "The Cuckoo’s Calling". A private investigator named Cormoran Strike is investigating a grisly murder. The character Rowling describes in "The Silkworm" is a 6 foot plus “Robert Mitchum” kind of character, a self-absorbed, 35-year-old tough guy with a stereotypical Girl-Friday named Robin Ellacott. The Girl-Friday is a beautiful, intuitive, and intelligent woman; grossly underestimated by men.

    Though the story is nicely narrated by Robert Glenister, the number of characters is unnecessarily long. By the end of the book, one is confused or fatigued by trying to remember who is who.

    Rowling weaves the investigation of a heinous murder into Strike’s and Robin’s personal lives. A reader/listener is drawn into "The Silkworm" to solve the murder mystery and vicariously live the lives of one of its two main characters. Rowling introduces over 18 characters in the story. Too many to care about; too many to remember, but the story is strong enough to compel a reader/listener to want to know how it ends. It is a good story; even if it is character heavy and somewhat formulaic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Max Tegmark
    • Narrated By Rob Shapiro
    Overall
    (250)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (224)

    Max Tegmark leads us on an astonishing journey through past, present and future, and through the physics, astronomy, and mathematics that are the foundation of his work, most particularly his hypothesis that our physical reality is a mathematical structure and his theory of the ultimate multiverse. In a dazzling combination of both popular and groundbreaking science, he not only helps us grasp his often mind-boggling theories, but he also shares with us some of the often surprising triumphs and disappointments that have shaped his life as a scientist.

    Michael says: "Wow!"
    "TALE WAGS DOG"
    Overall
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    Story

    Tail wags dog is a possible headline for Max Tegmark’s highly entertaining book, "Our Mathematical Universe". Tegmark is a Professor of Physics at MIT. Tegmark offers a theory of cosmology that posits the insignificance of human beings and the advance of cybernetics (automatic controls of the nervous systems and brains).

    Tegmark offers interesting answers to all questions asked at the beginning of the book. The answers are clearly explained but often border on misanthropy, if not lunacy. Many people are willing to acknowledge humans are not the center of the universe but Tegmark concludes humans are mathematical equations derived from particles held together by dark matter and energy. Tegmark suggests what humans see, feel, touch and smell is an illusion; i.e. a movie with a beginning and end, signifying nothing but an agglomeration of atomic particles defined by mathematics. A logical extension of that conclusion is that there is no difference between a human being and a programmable machine.

    This is a fascinating book, lauded by many, and panned by some. For a perspective on physics and cosmology, "The Mathematical Universe", is a TOUR DE FORCE. For entertainment, "The Mathematical Universe" is as good as it gets.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Ethics: A History of Moral Thought

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Peter Kreeft
    • Narrated By Peter Kreeft
    Overall
    (186)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (97)

    This course addresses some of the eternal questions that man has grappled with since the beginning of time. What is good? What is bad? Why is justice important? Why is it better to be good and just than it is to be bad and unjust? Most human beings have the faculty to discern between right and wrong, good and bad behavior, and to make judgments over what is just and what is unjust. But why are ethics important to us?

    J. Maxwell says: "Surprisingly Good"
    "PHILOSOPHERS OF MORAL THOUGHT"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Professor Kreeft, in The Modern Scholar’ lectures, offers stories of interesting philosophers and what they think they know about moral thought. Ethics: A History of Moral Thought is a whirlwind tour of how philosophers define ethics. It begins in antiquity and continues through tomorrow. What one hears in these lectures may be accepted and practiced in life tomorrow or never; if never, one is seemingly confirming belief in free choice, but not much more. As a warning to the curious, the tour is circular. The tour ends as it begins.

    Nearing the end of Krefft’s lectures, he addresses the attempts of science to define morality and ethics. Krefft acknowledges the idea of observational analysis, dating back to Machiavelli’s views of history but the scientific movement gains momentum with David Hume (1711-1776), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), and John Stewart Mill (1806-1873). It seems these three users of the scientific method provide little light in their analysis of morality and ethics. Their contribution is in the use of scientific method to understand normative standards of society.

    By the end of Professor Krefft’s lectures a listener returns to Socrates suggestion; i.e. “Know thyself” because “The unexamined life is not worth living”. What you believe is what you believe. Krefft suggests we should always seek to understand why we believe what we believe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • What Is the What

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (820)
    Performance
    (365)
    Story
    (366)

    Valentino's travels, truly Biblical in scope, bring him in contact with government soldiers, janjaweed-like militias, liberation rebels, hyenas and lions, disease and starvation, and a string of unexpected romances. Ultimately, Valentino finds safety in Kenya and, just after the millennium, is finally resettled in the United States, from where this novel is narrated.

    Susan says: "A Story Aching to be Told"
    "WHAT IS THE WHAT?"
    Overall
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    Story

    As Ronald Reagan famously said, “There you go again”. Dave Eggers writes another book about a tragic human event. However, Eggers avoids character controversy like that which followed “Zeitoun”, a story about the Katrina disaster. Eggers classifies “What Is the What” as a novel, without any claim to source-vetted facts or the integrity of its primary character.

    "What Is the What" is about Sudan and its 20th century genocidal history. This is a clarifying story of the complex religious, ethnic, and moral conflict that exists in Sudan and in all nations peopled by extremes of wealth and poverty.

    God offers man a choice of cows or something called the "What". God asks, “Do you want the cows or the What?" But, man asks, “What is the What”? God says, “The What is for you to decide.”

    The father of the main character of "What is the What" explains that, with cows, a man has something; he learns how to care for something; becomes a good caretaker of a life-sustaining something, but a man who has no cows has nothing, cares about nothing; and only becomes a taker of other’s something.

    What is the What? It is more than cows; it is the enlightenment brought from education that combats cultural ignorance, and religious intolerance; i.e. the "What" is that which celebrates freedom and equal opportunity for all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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