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David I. Williams

Keithville, LA, United States | Member Since 2007

92
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 42 reviews
  • 108 ratings
  • 825 titles in library
  • 29 purchased in 2015
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FOLLOWERS
11

  • American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Jon Meacham
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (196)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (45)

    In American Gospel (literally meaning the "good news about America"), New York Times best-selling author Jon Meacham sets the record straight on the history of religion in American public life. As Meacham shows, faith, meaning a belief in a higher power, and the sense that we are God's chosen, has always been at the heart of our national experience, from Jamestown to the Constitutional Convention to the Civil Rights Movement to September 11th.

    David I. Williams says: "Though Provoking"
    "Though Provoking"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The issue of religion, both public and private, has had a place in the United States ever since our founding. Jon Meacham brings a historian's eye to this interesting and complex issue. The men who founded the United States came from diverse backgrounds, yet they had many things in common. Meacham shows that the ethics and morality of the Bible have informed and defined the history of the United States from the beginning.

    Religion informs the way that we discuss issues and forms our public lives as well as our private lives. Jefferson used religious imagery when writing the Declaration of Independence. Abolitionists used the gospel to fight slavery. The issue was not couched in economic terms, but in the terms of a system that was evil in its nature. Franklin Roosevelt believed that the New Deal was a Christian imperative to help the poor. Martin Luther King, Jr. couched the Civil Rights movement not as a political movement, but as a spiritual movement.

    This is an issue that still divides our nation today. This book will help to set the stage for understanding the complex ways that religion in general and the Christian religion in particular still defines how we talk about political and social issues. Both liberals and conservatives will take issue with different points of this book, but maybe that's a good thing. Whether or not you agree with every point you will find a lot to think about with this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Jazz 101

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By John F. Szwed
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Jazz 101 is a fascinating entry into the world of jazz, for the beginner, novice, or jazz enthusiast. Szwed takes listeners on a tour of the varied and nonlinear history of jazz, exploring how it developed from an ethnic music to become America's most popular music and then part of the avant-garde in less than 50 years.

    Tim says: "Great book for understanding Jazz"
    "Pretty Good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A pretty good overview of Jazz. Any writer of a subject like jazz has to pick and choose what he will talk about and what to leave out. Everyone will have some quibble, but overall it's a decent introduction. It is a little outdated since it came out before the era of iTunes and Spotify.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Bob Brier
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (66)

    What is it about ancient Egypt that still captures our imaginations? How did it grow from a few villages along the Nile into the greatest power the world had ever seen? Explore these questions and more in these 12 entertaining lectures that tell the stories of the great pharaohs and the daily realities of Egyptian life.

    J. says: "Bob Brier all day every day..."
    "Wonderful Series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this short series on the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. Great lecturer. I am going to go right now and download his larger series on the History of Egypt.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Iliad of Homer

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (86)

    For thousands of years, Homer's ancient epic poem the Iliad has enchanted readers from around the world. When you join Professor Vandiver for this lecture series on the Iliad, you'll come to understand what has enthralled and gripped so many people.Her compelling 12-lecture look at this literary masterpiece -whether it's the work of many authors or the "vision" of a single blind poet - makes it vividly clear why, after almost 3,000 years, the Iliad remains not only among the greatest adventure stories ever told but also one of the most compelling meditations on the human condition ever written.

    Elan says: "Vandiver never disappoints"
    "Well done!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excellent short series on the Iliad. Dr. Vandiver does a wonderful job of bringing the story to life and exploring the themes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Justice Antonin Scalia Speech on Constitutional Interpretation (03/14/05)

    • ORIGINAL (57 mins)
    • By Antonin Scalia
    Overall
    (401)
    Performance
    (172)
    Story
    (170)

    U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia makes remarks on the topic of "Constitutional Interpretation." He speaks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

    Jeff says: "Supreme Court for Dummies"
    "Wonderful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In this lecture Justice Scalia lays out the case for using originalism to understand the Constitution. He does an excellent job of making his case that the best way to understand the Constitution is to understand what it meant when it was written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • St. Nick

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Alan Russell
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    When Santa Claus is a cop, you better watch out. It’s not looking like a very merry Christmas for San Diego cop Nick Pappas. Suspended from his job, alienated from his family, and persecuted by the press, he’s sorely tempted to turn his gun on himself. Except for his first name, he couldn’t possibly have less in common with jolly old St. Nicholas. But when a local mall decides it needs a secret Santa to help collar some vicious muggers preying on its holiday shoppers, Nick’s persuaded to red-suit up so as to take the naughty punks down and avert a ho-ho homicide.

    David I. Williams says: "Wonder Christmas Cop Story"
    "Wonder Christmas Cop Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Nick Pappas is a cop who is trying to hold his life together as he waits to see if he will be able to keep his job. As he sits alone on Thanksgiving morning he gets a call from his old partner. His parter runs security at a local shopping mall and they have a problem with muggers. He offers Nick a job to help tracking down the muggers. It isn’t until Nick gets to work that he discovers that he is actually going to be working undercover. As Santa Claus. Now he has to deal with crying children, tired parents, and a way to overenthusiastic elf while keeping an eye out for the predators who are targeting the mall’s shoppers. While on the job Nick meets others who are performing as Santa. One of the other Santas, a college drama major, ropes Nick into a gig at a children’s hospital where Nick befriends a young boy with a terminal illness. At the same time he comes across a letter to Santa from a young girl who has not been able to celebrate Christmas. Now Nick finds himself trying to locate the young girl, bring comfort to a dying boy, and find a group of muggers. All of this while coming to grips with the incident that may still cost him his job. Along the way Nick begins to remember what Christmas is about. Now with the help of a reporter, a very odd elf, and many others Nick will juggle all of these cases and in the process try to regain his own life. Will the magic of Christmas prevail?

    St. Nick is a well written, clever, fun book. It is a cop story and not a traditional mystery. The story does touch on a lot of heavy subjects such as childhood homelessness and childhood diseases. Even though the book seems to have something to say about several issues it never does so in an overbearing or heavy handed manner. I tend to be drawn to more hardcore mystery and tough cop novels so I was unsure about this book as I started. The writing and the characters won me over. The characters are very enjoyable and cleverly written. Alan Russell has a real knack for story telling and it comes through in this book. This is a wonderful, lighthearted, and uplifting novel. I thoroughly enjoyed Nick Pappas and the supporting cast. I look forward to reading about these characters again in future novels.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Life Lessons from the Great Myths

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor J. Rufus Fears
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (42)

    Change the way you think about some of the greatest stories ever told with this examination of the most important myths from more than 3,000 years of history. The ways in which the human imagination can transform historical events, people, and themes into powerful myths that endure through the ages is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

    Angela says: "Lots of lecturing, not much teaching"
    "Amaznig series of Lectures"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Throughout the history of mankind myths have given us our higher. In this wonderful series Professor J. Rufus Fears looks at a number of these myths and examines what they meant in their own time and what they can teach us today.

    The myths in this series cover the entire period of Western Civilization. From Gilgamesh and The Bible all the way through the Greek and Roman periods, the Medieval period, and up to our own times. Fears examines the kernel of truth in many of these myths and shows that most have some form of history behind them. He also shows that these stories convey truths that can serve in our own time. This means that while there is some history in the myths we shouldn't get bogged down in debating every historical fact. Instead we should look at what truths these stories convey and learn.

    I am sure that there will be those who object to Dr. Fears' selections. They focus entirely on what we call the Western Tradition. Of course this encompasses nearly four thousand years of literature and history that spans the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the British Isles, and North America. These myths are the myths that inform us in the modern world. They contain the wealth of a cultural heritage that we ignore to our own poverty of mind and spirit.

    Throughout the course there are a number of themes that Dr. Fears draws from these stories. Some of them are intended to resonate deeply with the audience in our own time. On multiple occasions he discusses the problems associated with pre-emptive war, particularly in the Middle East. Perhaps the American leadership and the American people could have avoided many of the mistakes of the past decade if we had spent more time reading the classics and less time on other subjects. He shows us the importance of following your dream.

    This is true of the characters in the myths as well as those who pursued the study of these myths. On several occasions he points out the intrepid amateurs who ignored the "pot-bellied" professors and found Troy, Knossos, Mycenae, and other locations deemed as mere fantasy by the experts of their time. This is just one sample of the dry humor that he shares. Personally I found Dr. Fears speaking style to be quite enjoyable. With his soft Southern accent and the subject material he often reminded me of a preacher delivering a classic sermon that would be discussed in great depth after church.

    I have read myths since I was a very young child and have always enjoyed them. In college I majored in history and took as many English courses as I could. There I saw first hand what damage has been done to our culture in the university setting. History and Literature studies no longer examine the higher aspirations and truths. Instead, History has become a dull plodding world of sociologists. There are notable exceptions, as the Great Courses show us. Literature studies have fallen prey to the post-modernist and the Freudian. It is refreshing to find a professor who still remembers that our stories, whether we call them history, legend, or myth, are what make us truly human. I plan to get everything I can find by Professor Fears and I hope that you will as well.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Companions: Forgotten Realms: The Sundering, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By R.A. Salvatore
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (624)
    Performance
    (578)
    Story
    (575)

    This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore's beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore's signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt's fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life - the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.

    Roger says: "BWAHAHA! R.A. Salvatore does it again!"
    "Best Drizzt Novel Yet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The world is changing. That is the theme of The Sundering, the new series from Forgotten Realms. In this six book series the writers promise us new and world changing events. The first novel in this series is The Companions by R. A. Salvatore. As a fan of the Drizzt series of novels I was very excited when I saw this title.

    First with The Dragon King and then in Gauntlgrym the friends of Drizzt knows as The Companions of the Hall died. It was heartbreaking to lose these characters. In the following three books Drizzt spends his time trying to come to grips with his loss and move on. Little did we know that something this special and amazing was in store.

    There are so many surprises and changes in this book that it is hard to review. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises. Let us just say that we get to see our favorite companions again. They have been sent back with a mission. They must help Drizzt in his greatest struggle. Their path back will be strange. It will be dangerous. As they move through the challenges before them they grow and mature in new and powerful ways.

    Salvatore uses this book to really develop the characters of the Companions. After reading this book I can’t wait to see how the story continues. To avoid spoiling the story I won’t say much about the plot. I will say that this is one of Salvatore’s best novels to date and it made me laugh, it made my cry, and it left me wanting more. If you are a fan of the Drizzt novels then I suggest you buy this book now.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Simon Price, Peter Thonemann
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    To an extraordinary extent we continue to live in the shadow of the classical world. At every level, from languages to calendars to political systems, we are the descendants of a “classical Europe,” using frames of reference created by ancient Mediterranean cultures. As this consistently fresh and surprising new audio book makes clear, however, this was no less true for the inhabitants of those classical civilizations themselves, whose myths, history, and buildings were an elaborate engagement with an already old and revered past - one filled with great leaders and writers....

    David I. Williams says: "Excellent overview of the Classical World"
    "Excellent overview of the Classical World"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are thousands of books about the classical world so one might ask if we really need another. The answer is yes we do. Our understanding of the past is constantly changing as new information is discovered. New writers have new ways of looking at old subjects. Most of all as the world we live in changes we need new books to help us connect with a past that is constantly moving.

    The Birth of Classical Europe is a wonderful introduction to the ancient world. The authors focus on Greek history and then move on to Rome. They do not spend a lot of time on the civilizations of Mesopotamia, the Ancient Near East, and Egypt. That is not because of any Eurocentric prejudice, but rather they focus their story on one specific region. They spend a lot of time on Minoan and Mycenaean cultures. Using archeological discoveries from the last 20 years they build up a picture of the ancient world that is a little less catastrophic than the previous pictures that we have had. They argue more for a story of a sequence migrations that ends with assimilation. This is a little less sudden than the image of hordes of invaders wiping out the natives and resettling the region.

    The authors spend a lot of time with ancient authors and recognize the value of the ancient sources. They do not accept the ancient stories at face value, that would of course be a mistake. Instead they look at the archeology and see how that illuminates the stories. Often credible theories of the past can be built when one uses this method.

    This book is not meant to be a comprehensive history of the ancient world. Instead it is an introduction to the period. As the first volume of The Penguin History of Europe its purpose is to give the reader an understanding of the foundations of European civilization. The book is designed for the general reader. If you are not well read in the period you can pick this book up and learn a lot. I consider myself to be moderately well read in the period and I learned a lot. The Further Reading section at the end has a wonderful list of books, both scholarly and general reader, that should keep the person interested in the period satisfied for a long time to come.

    I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to learn about the ancient world. This can be read as a general reader book and could also be used as a high school level textbook for home schoolers or others interested in providing young people with well written book that is informative and enjoyable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6240)
    Performance
    (5728)
    Story
    (5729)

    A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.

    Cynthia says: "Shadows Dissolved in Vinegar"
    "A Beautiful Book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Neil Gaiman is one of the most interesting storytellers of our time. From his award winning Sandman comic book series to his award winning novels like American Gods he has shown an amazing ability to look beneath the surface and give us a dream like experience of reality. His newest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no different. It is often hard to tell what is real and what is a dream. Or is it all a dream?

    The Ocean at the End of the Lane is, at one level, the story of the narrator as a seven year old boy. The novel begins as the narrator is taking a drive down memory lane after a funeral. He drives past his childhood home and then finds himself going to the home of a childhood friend. He goes around to the back and sits down. As he sits he begins to remember the events that took place when he was seven. The seven year old boy is very familiar to me. At one level he is a reconstruction of Neil Gaiman as a child. I see myself in the boy as well. I too found my friends in books and preferred their company to that of other children. Like the narrator and the author some of the first books I remember are the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis.

    The world of this seven year old is turned upside down when the man who is renting a room in their house commits suicide. This suicide wakes up something primordial. At the scene of the suicide the narrator meets Lettie Hempstock. At first Lettie seems to be nothing more than an eleven year old girl living with her mother and grandmother. These three women are far from normal. They are something larger and more powerful. By accident the narrator lets a great evil through into our world. Now, with the help of the Hempstock women he has to try and contain this evil and send it back where it came from.

    This is more than just a story of childhood fantasy. It is the story of good against evil. Of powers beyond our control invading our world and trying to turn it upside down. It is the outside world trying to rob the innocence of children. It is the story of losing something, of something being taken as we grow older. Actually it is a story of childhood fantasy. It’s not the awakening to evil, it is the realization of good. Gaiman lists G. K. Chesterton as one of his childhood influences. Perhaps this quote from Chesterton’s essay “Red Angel” would help illuminate this book:

    “Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”

    This is an amazing book. I am not sure that it would be appropriate for small children. I say I am not sure, not because it is frightening. I think that this book is more than that. I think that this book is for those who need to find the belief in something bigger than themselves.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Training Ground: Grant, Lee, Sherman, and Davis in the Mexican War 1846-1848

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Martin Dugard
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (91)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    Nearly all of the Civil War's greatest soldiers - Grant, Lee, Sherman, Davis, and Jackson - were forged in the heat of the Mexican War. This is their story. At this fascinating juncture of American history, a group of young men came together to fight as friends - only, years later, to fight again as enemies.

    Richard says: "Excellent Story"
    "An Interesting Look at the Mexican War"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Grant, Sherman, Lee, Longstreet. These are all names familiar to people who have studied the CIvil War. These were the men who fought each other in the most devastating war in United States History. In Training Ground Martin Dugard reminds us that these men were not always enemies. In the war with Mexico these men and many others fought side by side. Training Ground is not a full history of the Mexican War, it is more of a history of the men who fought the war together as young officers and would later command opposing armies. Dugard traces the early biographies of US Grant, James Longstreet, William Sherman, and Robert E. Lee. We see how these men went to West Point and entered into an army that promised very little in the way of a career and promotion.

    The primary character in the story is a young US Grant. Each chapter is introduced with a quotation from Grant’s Memoirs. In his later life Grant was highly critical of the actions of the US Government in both provoking a war and then in the way that the Democratic leadership sought to run the war in a highly politicized manner. Of course the young Grant that we meet in these pages is less concerned with the political implication of the war. He is far more interested in getting back home to his love Julia.

    The Mexican War was indeed the Training Ground for the Civil War. If you are familiar with the history of the Civil War you can’t help but feel a little sad as you read this book. You know the history of these young, anxious, promising young officers. You know how they will end up opposing each other. Reading this book I couldn’t help but wonder what the US Army would have looked like had the Civil War not occurred. What would have happened if an army commanded by Lee with Grant, Longstreet, Jackson, Sherman, and the others have been able to do. With that much brilliance they could have stood against any army in the world. Instead they were forced by political forces to fight each other.

    Training Ground gives a good overview of the Mexican War. It also gives an insight to men who would shape history only thirteen years later. This is something that a lover of American History or the Civil War should enjoy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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