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Eric

Toronto, ON, Canada

50
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 119 ratings
  • 291 titles in library
  • 2 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
6

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1147)
    Performance
    (941)
    Story
    (931)

    We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

    Teddy says: "Excellent Book All Over"
    "I'd kill for another book this good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Without question of the best audiobooks I've listened to, out of over 100 so far. An exploration of the decline in violence through human history, taking pains to make a coherent, substantive and well supported case for every assertion it makes. Detailed and technical without being dull, this book makes one of the best cases I can imagine for the general advancement of the species and the triumph of modernity. Exceptional.

    30 of 31 people found this review helpful
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By John McWhorter
    • Narrated By John McWhorter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1190)
    Performance
    (921)
    Story
    (919)

    A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar. Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue distills hundreds of years of fascinating lore into one lively history.

    Anderson says: "Great for casual linguists"
    "Enjoyed this much more than I expected to"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I grabbed this book on a whim based mainly on the amusing title, and because I've been enjoying some linguistics podcasts lately. I thought this might be mildly interesting, informative, and since it's relatively short, it would be easy to get through. My only disappointment was that it was over so quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and find myself idly thinking about some of the points the author raises while going about my day to day business. Definitely worth the listen if linguistics, grammar or the history of language seem at all interesting to you. Well written, well narrated and much more interesting than this subject sounds like it will be.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Steven Kotler, Peter H. Diamandis
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (661)
    Performance
    (561)
    Story
    (556)

    We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions of people. This book is an antidote to pessimism by tech-entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler.

    Ryan says: "A catalog of positive innovations on the horizon"
    "Paper thin treatment of a deep subject"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was ambivalent about this book until he started to get to technologies that I actually know something about, and then found myself shocked at how superficial and off the mark their treatment was. I actually strongly agree with the general thesis of this book, but they treat each individual technology they touch on as a done deal, something definite and inevitable.

    I stopped listening to this book around 2/5ths of the way through, as I just couldn't listen any further. I believe the future is going to be brighter than many pessimists think, and I do believe that new technologies will solve many problems that appear to be intractable today, but I find their discussion to be too certain of which specific technologies will succeed, and too certain that ALL of our problems will be solved.

    Would not recommend this book if you're looking for a serious treatment of a highly complex subject. Would recommend this book if you're looking for a superficial cheer-leading overview of a few specific technologies that may or may not pan out.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Battle

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Cornelius Ryan
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (233)
    Performance
    (219)
    Story
    (219)

    The Battle for Berlin was the culminating struggle of World War II in the European theater. The last offensive against Hitler’s Third Reich, it devastated one of Europe’s historic capitals and marked the final defeat of Nazi Germany. It was also one of the war’s bloodiest and most pivotal battles, whose outcome would shape international politics for decades to come.

    GB says: "Thanks to Dan Carlin of Hardcore History podcasts."
    "It's exactly what you're hoping it will be"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Outstanding over all, the narrator is excellent, and able to shift voice for different speakers without being distracting or annoying. The book itself is an excellent account of the fall of Berlin, and the most vivid that I've come across - bringing to life what is often a footnote or lone paragraph in more generally WWII books. Highly detailed without being plodding, dense or at all inaccessible, overall a must read for history fans.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Tamim Ansary
    • Narrated By Tamim Ansary
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (437)
    Performance
    (293)
    Story
    (285)

    Until about 1800, the West and the Islamic realm were like two adjacent, parallel universes, each assuming itself to be the center of the world while ignoring the other. As Europeans colonized the globe, the two world histories intersected and the Western narrative drove the other one under. The West hardly noticed, but the Islamic world found the encounter profoundly disrupting.

    David says: "A history of the world before the West mattered"
    "Better than I expected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I procrastinated listening to this for a while, but devoured it in less than a week once I started. Ansary reads his work well, the pace is fast enough to prevent sections from dragging, but he manages to fit in enough detail to tell the story. What makes this so interesting is that he is not trying to give a comprehensive, detailed account of history, and in some places, he's not even worried about accuracy, so much as he is trying to tell you the history and the stories that Muslims tell themselves. Well worth the listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The March of the Ten Thousand

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Xenophon
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (292)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (117)

    Translated by W. E. D. Rouse, The March of the Ten Thousand is one of the most admired and widely read pieces of ancient literature to come down to us. Xenophon employs a very simple, straightforward style to describe what is probably the most exciting military adventure ever undertaken. It is an epic of courage, faith and democratic principle.

    Benedict says: "An intelligent leader"
    "Much more accessible than I thought"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this in a fit of enthusiasm after hearing the recommendation on The History of Rome podcast. It languished in my library for over a year before I finally decided to listen. I genuinely enjoyed the story, learned more than I expected about ancient Greece and much to my surprise, found it more engaging and accessible than I'd expected. Definitely worth checking out for anyone at all interested in ancient Greece or ancient warfare.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Zachary Shore
    • Narrated By Zachary Shore, Kevin Pariseau
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (127)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (32)

    We all make bad decisions. It's part of being human. The resulting mistakes can be valuable, the story goes, because we learn from them. But do we? Historian Zachary Shore says no, not always, and he has a long list of examples to prove his point.

    Andy says: "helpful extension of the genre"
    "Worth the listen, enlightening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Good book overall, a worthwhile look at the mental stumbling blocks that cause people to commit to counter-productive courses of action. I found the case he makes for each of his points interesting, and I was able to look at my own decision making in light of each of his points. I did find some of his made up words a little annoying, insisting on using "Cause-fusion" to refer to the confusion of causal relationships irritating, especially when it conjugated into other verb forms, "He was cause-fused..." I also found his example for the final chapter to be too mired in his own interests - as a blind person, he was clearly interested in the example of another blind person recovering part of his site, but the example ended up feeling somewhat contrived, and went on too long.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Hampton Sides
    • Narrated By Don Leslie
    Overall
    (382)
    Performance
    (143)
    Story
    (147)

    In the fall of 1846, the venerable Navajo warrior Narbona, greatest of his people's chieftains, looked down upon the small town of Santa Fe, the stronghold of the Mexican settlers he had been fighting his whole long life. He had come to see if the rumors were true, if an army of blue-suited soldiers had swept in from the East and utterly defeated his ancestral enemies.

    russell says: "Unforgettable"
    "Publisher's summary does not do it justice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At its core, this is the history of Manifest Destiny in action. First, this is an outstanding book, and covers an arc of history of the American west spanning from the first decades of the 1800's to the end of the Civil War. The narration mainly follows the extraordinary life of Kit Carson, who managed to be at the center of an astonishing number of historical events in the west. The first act covers the early days of the west before modern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California were incorporated into the Union and the Santa Fe trail represented the limits of the frontier. It then follows the wars and annexation that consolidated the US's presence in the west, the establishment of the Oregon Trail and immigration that followed. The third act of the book focuses on the Navajo and the tragic attempt to settle them at Bosque Redondo, and this final part of the book is moving and tragic, but ends on a hopeful note. The narration is excellent, and although like many history books, it can feel a little slow at parts in the beginning, the pay off is definitely worth it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tamerlane: Conqueror of the Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Harold Lamb
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (57)

    In yet another superb historical work, Harold Lamb brings the mighty Tatar leader to vivid life and shows how this ruthless commander used his superior intellect and magnetic leadership to overcome one obstacle after another. Tamerlane was truly one of the most remarkable personalities ever to emerge from the steppes of Central Asia.

    curt says: "The man that conquered Afganistan"
    "Exploring an ignored time and region in history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Harold Lamb is a master who brings characters in history to life. While I preferred "Hannibal: One Man Against Rome", I found this to be an excellent book. History too often seems to pretend that central Asia doesn't exist and that the Romans were the only empire builders worth remembering. I knew nothing of the events and people described in this book before I listened to this book, and now wish to learn more.

    Some people complain about the narration, although I'm not sure what they didn't like. Charlton Griffin does an excellent job and adds a dramatic flair to the reading that some seem to dislike. (What would they prefer, a dry recitation?)

    My only complaint is that I still feel like I know too little. I'm so ignorant of the region and its history, that I struggled to tie the story to the modern world. I don't know if I could find Samarkand on a map, and didn't recognize half the place names he mentioned, even when he placed them "near modern wherever". But that is only a complaint of the scope of my ignorance of the region and its history, and not of the book itself.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Barbara Demick
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (1614)
    Performance
    (1025)
    Story
    (1031)

    Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years - a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and the unchallenged rise to power of his son, Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape never before seen, Demick brings to life what it means to be an average Korean citizen, living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today.

    Gohar says: "The man who wants to be GOD"
    "One of the best audiobooks I've come across"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I could devote paragraphs to gushing on the particulars but won't; this audiobook was excellent in every way that matters. The narrator is excellent, clear and compelling without being distracting. The subject itself is horrifyingly surreal and absolutely gripping.

    This book really drove home how sophisticated social control and propaganda systems can be, and how effective they can be in controlling entire populations. It also drove home how important free speech and critical thinking really are to democracies. A must for understanding the humanity of the North Koreans and how an entire people could be held so firmly under the thumb of someone who shouldn't even rate as a plausible cartoon super-villain.

    Absolute must listen.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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