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voracious consumer of books and music... dadaist, luftmensch, knight of standards & practices... motto: to be finite is to be fallible...

new jersey | Member Since 2006

  • 5 reviews
  • 266 ratings
  • 440 titles in library
  • 23 purchased in 2014

  • Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Elliot Jaspin
    • Narrated By Don Leslie

    "Leave now, or die!" From the heart of the Midwest to the Deep South, from the mountains of North Carolina to the Texas frontier, words like these have echoed through more than a century of American history. The call heralded not a tornado or a hurricane, but a very unnatural disaster: a manmade wave of racial cleansing that purged black populations from counties across the nation.

    Gregory says: "a compelling read with a disappointing conclusion"
    "a compelling read with a disappointing conclusion"

    Buried in the Bitter Waters is a meticulously researched, compellingly written narrative of the U.S.' suppressed history of "racial cleansing" from the Copperhead conspiracies of Kentucky and Indiana during the Civil War, to the unwillingness of Forsythe County, Georgia not only to come to terms to its own history of racial cleansing, but with the legacy of that event, as mirrored by the events of 1987, when a "Freedom March" was met with a virulent outburst of racial animosity. This book is a very compelling read, until the final chapters, which are dedicated to the author's struggles to get his materials published in the Cox Newspaper syndicate -- whose flagship paper happens to be the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which has a history of downplaying or outright denying the racial cleansing and its lingering aftermath in neighboring Forsythe county. This personal narrative of backroom editorial politics, while interesting, is a distraction from the book's main theme, and would have been more appropriately addressed as an epilogue, instead of being woven into the woof of the main narrative. Despite this shortcoming, Buried in the Bitter Waters is an important work, detailing a history which haunts the United States to this day.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • Consider the Elephant

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Aram Schefrin
    • Narrated By Aram Schefrin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The common wisdom is that John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, was a failed actor and a madman. But the truth is that he was the matinee idol of his time, and the attack on Lincoln was not the act of a maniac, but part of a plan developed at the highest levels of the Confederacy. In Consider the Elephant, the story of John Wilkes Booth's life and death is told by his brother, Edwin Booth, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his age.

    Gregory says: "unfortunate choice of narrator: the author"
    "unfortunate choice of narrator: the author"

    this is a work which i wish i could have read in print, but since i can no longer process print, i listened to the audiobook with a sense of frustration, as the author's "performance" of his text is extremely distracting, as are the sporadic sound effects and the sudden use of other narrators; the narration isn't well served by the conceit of the book, which is constantly changing perspectives from constantly shifting points of view... my recommendation: if you can physically read this book, read it; if not, be forewarned that the overproduction of the narration is more annoying than it is innovative

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Oil!

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Upton Sinclair
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As he did so masterfully in The Jungle, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Upton Sinclair interweaves social criticism with human tragedy to create an unforgettable portrait of Southern California's early oil industry. Enraged by the oil scandals of the Harding administration in the 1920s, Sinclair tells a gripping tale of avarice, corruption, and class warfare, featuring a cavalcade of characters, including senators, oil magnates, Hollywood film starlets, and a crusading evangelist.

    Gregory says: "an outstanding book"
    "an outstanding book"

    this book, long out-of-print, has suddenly appeared back in print due to the critical popularity of the movie "there will be blood" -- that this book "needed" a loosely adapted screenplay to re-enter the american consciousness is an irony of Sinclarian proportions... this is a majestic book, filled with the type of realism that makes Sinclair's best works so effective; what in a lesser author's hands would have resulted in didactic diatribe, Sinclair never loses -- and never lets the reader lose -- sympathy with his characters, both positive and negative, due to the realism with which their inner and outer lives are portrayed... the narration is excellent, bringing unobtrusively to the fore, Sinclair's sense of humor, irony, and insightful social criticism... "Oil!" is that rarity amongst books -- a book that is itself a highly satisfying work, but one which -- like Samuel Butler's "Edward Pontifex, or The Way of All Flesh" -- leaves the reader wishing that the book were longer, so well drawn are the book's characters and situations... as a life-long devoted reader of Upton Sinclair, who had not previously had the opportunity to read "Oil!", i would unhesitatingly rank it as amongst Sinclair's very best works, which like so many of Sinclair's novels, leave the reader hungry for more...

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By H. Paul Jeffers
    • Narrated By Raymond Todd

    Today Grover Cleveland is mainly remembered as the only president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms. But in his day, Cleveland was a renowned reformer, an enemy of political machines who joined forces with Theodore Roosevelt to fight powerful party bosses, a moralist who vetoed bills he considered blatant raids on the Treasury, a vigorous defender of the Monroe Doctrine who resisted American imperialism.

    Chris says: "A Good Read"
    "grover deserves better"

    a (mostly) political biography, it doesn't reveal much about cleveland's personal life, nor does it communicate the vibrancy and charisma which enabled him to win the popular vote in 3 straight elections, and which vaulted him from minor political player in upstate new york, to the governorship of new york (which is given short shrift), and ultimately to the presidency. a competent political biography, with a strong narrative sweep, but one which leaves the reader ultimately unsatisfied - the relative lack of personal back-story and formative influences is quite strange, as cleveland was, as the title states, not only "An Honest President" but an open and honest man.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • An Interview with Simon Winchester

    • UNABRIDGED (17 mins)
    • By Simon Winchester
    • Narrated By Simon Winchester

    In this interview, Simon Winchester, the international best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa, talks about his new book, A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906.

    Gregory says: "Winchester as Fascinating an Interviewee as Author"
    "Winchester as Fascinating an Interviewee as Author"

    the title of this review pretty much states it all -- winchester, who is an excellent narrative historian, who artfully but with razor-sharp exactness, uses narrative to expand his inquiries to include the widest possible extent, here explains how his early geological studies influenced his last 3 works, and how he, like many geologists currently working in the field, has discerned what Winchester refers to as the "Gaia Effect" (Gaia being a human-neutral means of referring to planet Earth with the impllication that the planet MUST be considered as an all encompasing organic whole), in which the geological equivalent of the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings in the amazon and causing a dust storm in gobi desert is for episodic compensatory releases of tectonic stresses to follow one after the other -- on the other side of the world or the opposite edge of the more stable tectonic plate which caused the earthquake in a particular location to force the release of stress at other points, often extremely far removed from the first event. i recommend this interview with the same enthusiasm as i recommend ALL of Mr. Winchester's works, many of which are available on Audible

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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