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David Petry

Santa Barbara, CA USA | Member Since 2011

7
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 20 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2014
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  • The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By David McCullough
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (206)

    This monumental book tells the enthralling story of one of the greatest accomplishments in our nation's history, the building of what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Brooklyn Bridge rose out of the expansive era following the Civil War, when Americans believed all things were possible.

    Kathy says: "The Great Bridge"
    "The little story about the biggest bridge"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a reader, as a historian, I wanted to love this book. I even took it on a long flight. But the book mires itself too much in a narrow view of politics that could have been dispensed with (and made clearer) in a tenth of the space.

    The book delivered on the designer and the design, and on the construction (if skewed a bit heavily to the caissons). If that were the whole book and the politics were winnowed down, I would have given this a 4. To get the big five, because McCullough is a good writer, I would have also gotten a lot more about what was going on in the world of the 1860s to the 1880s. Carnegie is in the book as a potential steel supplier, and the different types of steel are discussed, but these things were big pendulums in the world, and even a paragraph about the force and direction of that pendulum would have made this story connect in a vibrant way to a lot of history. There were a whole host of missed opportunities like this.

    Not the big glorious flowing history that fires all the synapses that I wanted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • True History of the Kelly Gang

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Peter Carey
    • Narrated By Gianfranco Negroponte
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (80)

    Ned Kelly's name resonates in Australia the same way the name Jesse James does in America. Was he a crusading folk hero or murderous horse thief and bank robber? Who was the real Ned Kelly? As the impoverished son of an Irish convict, Kelly was cheated, lied to, and abused by the English. Committed to fighting back against oppression, Kelly and his gang of outlaws eluded police for nearly two years.

    Margaret says: "Brilliant and Poetic"
    "Adjectively excellent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is not like any outlaw story I've ever read. It is told from Ned's own lips and a short way in you've forgotten there's a narrator or an author. These are Ned Kelly's own writings, damn it, and told in his own voice.

    The story is engaging, taut and utterly authentic. It is peopled with a humanity that oozes with veracity. The good and the bad are hardly imagined in this tale. There is the living and the loves, the family, the life under someone's thumb. And through it all, I felt like I was there and found myself sneering once or twice, 'adjectively.'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Janet Reitman
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1051)
    Performance
    (870)
    Story
    (881)

    Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's fastest-growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of "volunteer ministers" offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of government to further its goals.

    Matt says: "My cup of tea."
    "Perfect overview"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I was ten, eleven, twelve, I used to stop by the Scientology storefront in Hollywood occasionally and grab one of their questionnaires. I'd take it home, answer it, and bring it back in. They'd analyze it very quickly (as I recall) and sit me down with someone who would talk about what my answers revealed. It was my first exposure to personal analysis of any kind and was surprisingly useful and telling for me.

    But I never went beyond that, never paid, never read a book, never considered believing.

    Then, many years later, I realized I had a very dark view of the organization and I wanted to reconcile my various naievetes. This book, certainly slanted to the negative side of the story, provides some hints to the positive side, and gave me an excellent understanding of why I have seen the organization with such dark lenses. It also helped me better understand how I could explore the positive and effective areas of Hubbard's work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By P. W. Singer
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (141)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (86)

    A military expert reveals how science fiction is fast becoming reality on the battlefield, changing not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and ethics that surround war itself. Singer’s previous books foretold the rise of private military contractors and the advent of child soldiers - predictions that have proved all too accurate. Now he explores the greatest revolution in military affairs since the atom bomb: robotic warfare. We are now seeing a massive shift in military technology....

    Nelson Alexander says: "Techno-Sprawl: A Dissenting Opinion"
    "More and better than I bargained for"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Working for a robotic-oriented firm, and with peers moving into other robotic fields, I wanted to get at least a sense of the military aspect of robotics. Singer, however, gave me exactly what I wanted and so much more. The book is a history of robotics, technology in warfare, and military robotics. But it also delves into the legal, moral, and cultural issues around robotics and robotic warfare, and reveals the very real ties between the military and modern science fiction. The book is a view into our modern world, and into our future, in a surprising and compelling way. I was surprised by how avidly I wanted to listen to this book. I know I will listen again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Coolidge

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Amity Shlaes
    • Narrated By Terence Aselford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (200)
    Performance
    (173)
    Story
    (172)

    Calvin Coolidge, president from 1923 to 1929, never rated highly in polls, and history has remembered the decade in which he served as an extravagant period predating the Great Depression. Now Amity Shlaes provides a fresh look at the 1920s and its elusive president, showing that the mid-1920s was in fact a triumphant period that established our modern way of life: The nation electrified, Americans drove their first cars, and the federal deficit was replaced with a surplus.

    Jean says: "Silent Cal"
    "Hidden gem"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This telling of Coolidge's life, career, presidency, and after is tonic for the times. This was a principled individual who sought to steer in a sensible way, and in small ways. Well-written, well-researched, and well-read. The book flows and feels complete. There were aspects of the era I missed in this book, though, too. Prohibition is hardly mentioned among other large influences and events of the era. But overall, excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By John M. Barry
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    This is a story of power, set against Puritan America and the English Civil War. Williams's interactions with King James, Francis Bacon, Oliver Cromwell, and his mentor Edward Coke set his course, but his fundamental ideas came to fruition in America, as Williams, though a Puritan, collided with John Winthrop's vision of his "City upon a Hill."

    Bruce says: "Fascinating Story and Legacy"
    "Would love to listen, but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Richard Poe, narrator of this book, pauses for from 1 to 3 seconds between every sentence. I listen while I ride my bike to work, while I walk the dog, while I drive and I find it impossible to retain any continuity with the subject. Constantly rewinding to figure out who or what is being covered. The book itself sounds fascinating. But after chipping away at an hour of it, I admitted defeat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 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
    (258)
    Performance
    (219)
    Story
    (225)

    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!"
    "Unexpectedly Good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book unfolds the last four decades in the United States using stories of people who lived it. They include the rich, the poor, the obscure, the famous, and the stories weave through the America experience in a way that explains where we've been and what has happened. Well-read.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Ray Kurzweil
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (591)
    Performance
    (470)
    Story
    (465)

    For over three decades, the great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine.

    Sean Gately says: "Great Idea, terribly slow and painful listen"
    "Snoozer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Who is George Wilson and why is he reading this book? He enunciates words likes he is explaining to three-year-olds, but back in the 1950s when boredom was considered a just punishment of the young. I listened to an hour and realized that I had paid attention to maybe 20 minutes of it. CANNOT continue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Kent Hartman
    • Narrated By Dan John Miller
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (129)
    Story
    (130)

    If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew - whether you knew it or not. On hit record after hit record by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music - sometimes over the objection of actual band members....

    Diana Haynes says: "Fascinating Story Well Told"
    "A bit sing-songy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Very interesting material, but written and performed as though for sixth graders. A list of these musicians' works would be a welcome addition.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • On Intelligence

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee
    • Narrated By Jeff Hawkins, Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1425)
    Performance
    (327)
    Story
    (328)

    Jeff Hawkins, the man who created the PalmPilot, Treo smart phone, and other handheld devices, has reshaped our relationship to computers. Now he stands ready to revolutionize both neuroscience and computing in one stroke, with a new understanding of intelligence itself.

    James says: "Epiphany"
    "Big promise, small return"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hawkins shows up with such great credentials - inventor of the Palm, neuroscience researcher - and with such big promises - a model of intelligence. The first real model ever invoked. And, yes, he delivers. But the concept is simple, and perhaps it is earth-shattering to some. But he continually offers very simple examples and extends them to boredom. He could have gone into greater detail, could have offered more complex examples, could have compared small mammalian brains to larger, to humans. To precortical brains. (He does, but like everything else in the book, quite briefly and lightly.)

    He debunks Artificial Intelligence (AI) and neural networks, but then his examples of the future possibilities following his model are often already in existence. Maybe formulated in a different manner, but HOW is it different? He also does not address the transformation of the web from a network of links to a data-driven decision-making entity, further along the path of intelligence than AI. This data model has moved voice recognition, one example of failed AI efforts he bemoans in 2005, to a fair level of functional success.

    The book just seems tepid. Not the tome that incites you to think and then rethink that I thought and then unthought it might be...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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