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David

Williamsport, PA, United States | Member Since 2011

4
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  • 3 reviews
  • 456 ratings
  • 1292 titles in library
  • 240 purchased in 2014
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  • A History of Britain: Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Simon Schama
    • Narrated By Stephen Thorne
    Overall
    (70)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (62)

    The story of Britain from the earliest settlements in 3000BC to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. To look back at the past is to understand the present. In this vivid account of over 4,000 years of British history, Simon Schama takes us on an epic journey which encompasses the very beginnings of the nation's identity, when the first settlers landed on Orkney. From the successes and failures of the monarchy to the daily life of a Roman soldier stationed on Hadrian's Wall, Schama gives a vivid, fascinating account of the many different stories and struggles that lie behind the growth of our island nation.

    Gary says: "History is fun and he makes it so"
    "A History of the English Monarchy from 1066-1603"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Schama is a talented writer, and his narrative flows easily, but it is really just a popular history of the English Monarchy from William the Conqueror through Elizabeth 1. Even then, while he hits on all of the major points of that time frame, he obviously felt that there were really only a few Monarchs who deserved more than a cursory mention, leaving this very much a book in the Great Man of History tradition.

    William I, Edward I, Henry II and Beckett, Henry III and Eleanor and the Tudors all get lots of press. Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Chaucer, Shakespeare, the War of the Roses, Richard III, the Crusades and many other aspects of British history are given scant mention.

    Thorne does a fine job as narrator, and it is a well written book, with a sly wit, but the subtitle is a bit misleading.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Jonah Keri
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (101)

    In The Extra 2%, financial journalist and sportswriter Jonah Keri chronicles the remarkable story of one team's Cinderella journey from divisional doormat to World Series contender. By quantifying the game's intangibles, they were able to deliver to Tampa Bay an American League pennant. This is an informative and entertaining case study for any organization that wants to go from worst to first.

    Victor Luera says: "No Strategies or Insight"
    "A poor man's Moneyball"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Keri is very knowledgeable about baseball, but has dumbed down the subject a bit too much. He also apparently did not have nearly the access that Billy Beane had given Michael Lewis, and so relies too much upon telling rather than showing or discussions from the relevant characters.

    The title is a bit misleading, as it feels like the story he spins is 60% "Tampa Bay can never compete because of baseball's revenue gaps" or "Tampa Bay was a horribly run franchise for years", and only 40% (or less) on how the Rays manage to compete with the Evil Empire and the Sox anyway. He hints at issues between the Red Sox ownership and the Tampa ownership, but, with no access to any of the parties involved, he leaves it unexplored.

    Unfortunately for Keri, I think any book of this sort will be compared to Moneyball, and the writer to Lewis. While Keri, undoubtedly, knows more about baseball than Lewis, myself, or 99.9% of all Americans, you wouldn't know it from this book. And Keri, while a better writer than I could ever hope to be (check him out on Grantland), may be better suited to essays and articles. He repeats points, arguments and jokes (3 times referring to different sums of money as "rounding errors" for the Yankees and Red Sox), and leaves the most interesting parts of the Tampa story relatively unexplored.

    As for Lloyd James, pleasant voice, okay pacing, but either he knows next to nothing about the subject matter, or he mailed it in.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Gray Man

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Mark Greaney
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4353)
    Performance
    (3312)
    Story
    (3291)

    Court Gentry is known as The Gray Man - a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible, and then fading away. And he always hits his target. But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness. Now, he is going to prove that for him, there's no gray area between killing for a living-and killing to stay alive.

    Michael says: "High Energy Ride!"
    "If Rambo was too character driven for you..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Nice performance by Mr. Snyder as narrator. That's the good news. As to the story, it would be kind to say the plot was thin, the action remotely believable or the characters were 2 dimensional.

    I am aware that a suspension of disbelief is necessary to enjoy this genre, and I have enjoyed the entire Vince Rapp series, and just about every Ludlum, Clancy, Haig, Silva and Lee Child book I've read or listened to, but asking me to believe that he can (mini-spoiler) deliver 30 kicks hard enough to break a cement bench in 10 seconds (with a bullet wound in his thigh and his feet cut up by glass), or any of 15 other even more unbelievable feats of will and strength to propel the story forward might push the envelope a little too far.

    There is no mystery as to why anything is happening, who the bad guys are, who is double-crossing the lead character or whether he will succeed in reaching his goal. Almost every scene with the main antagonist is used primarily to enforce the idea that he is the most vile, evil man you could imagine rather than to flesh out his motives, move the story forward or provide any backstory beyond the very simplistic plot.

    The action is non-stop, but repetitious, rather like hearing about one after another of a series of Battle Royales in Pro Wrestling back-to-back. And while the dialogue is possibly more stilted than anything George Lucas ever wrote, at least it is so predictable that you can recite it along with the narrator, even though you have never heard the book before.

    If you wan to listen to this book, listen to the first hour or so, then skip ahead an hour, listen for 5 minutes, skip another hour, listen for 5 minutes, and repeat until last 20 minutes. After you then listen to the last 20 minutes, you'll be able to say you made it through this dreck without missing a thing.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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