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James

Professor, Ohio State University

COLUMBUS, OH, United States | Member Since 2004

10
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 6 reviews
  • 490 ratings
  • 1211 titles in library
  • 85 purchased in 2014
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  • The Social Conquest of Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Edward O. Wilson
    • Narrated By Jonathan Hogan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (223)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (177)

    Edward O. Wilson is one of the world’s preeminent biologists, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the author of more than 25 books. The defining work in a remarkable career, The Social Conquest of Earth boldly addresses age-old questions (Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going?) while delving into the biological sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts.

    Gary says: "Wow, Wilson has a lot to say and boy can he write."
    "Biology as the Door to Knowing Our Destiny"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Social Conquest of Earth?

    Wilson redeemed himself for me with this book. As a psychological scientist, I always have been a bit rattled by his glib use of the word instinct, because it has never been an explanation of behavior or adaptive adjustment to the changing world. He clarified what he sees as the constant interplay of the gene enabling machinery of life in the adaptation of individuals and social groups. His explanation of epigenesis in adaption, the regultion of gene expression, put it all into proper comprehensible perspective. I will still avoid the word instinct, but he has correction outlined the limits of adaptation in the continuous interplay of coding gene expression during development and adjustment to the environment. For me, he made me see with great clarity that learning, differing as it does in different organisms and at different point in development and aging, is just another gene -expression enabled mechanism of adaptation. Inherited biological processes set limits on individual learning, as do diseases that are partly related to inhereted (or mutation produce) processes. This is a wonderful, lyrical at times, book of science that conveys profound insights into issues of existential and practical concern for all people.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it took a bit more than a weekend of walking in parks and doing chores.


    Any additional comments?

    I think people with a bit better than average knowledge of modern biology will get the most from this book. The reader, however, is superb, and does justice to Wilson's sometimes beautiful prose. This is a book to ponder in full again after some additional reflection.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (739)
    Performance
    (387)
    Story
    (385)

    In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading experts on language and the mind, explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits, denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts.

    C. J. Hamilton says: "Instant classic"
    "Psychology 101 for the 1%"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about The Blank Slate? What did you like least?

    At times the rhetoric soared. I winced at all the self-promotion—he made most sense in his arguments when he reviewed others’ work and quoted some of the outrageous statements of postmodernists. He made a very strong case in this book for materialist realism.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Steven Pinker again?

    Possibly.


    What does Victor Bevine bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Excellent delivery, although I played it at 1.25x.


    Was The Blank Slate worth the listening time?

    It was.


    Any additional comments?

    This is Pinker’s attempt to raise himself up by setting up straw men adapted from the writings of some of the great minds of the 20th Century in psychology and biology and by aligning himself with important intellectuals of a Nativist bent. He is not, however, a strong Nativist, which would be silly (as silly as his favorite linguist, Noam Chompsky, who thinks language grammar emerges from a genetically structured biological gizmo he calls, The LAD [Language Acquisition Devoce]). He praises E.O. Wilsom and Dan Dennett and and Richard Dawkins, who deserve his obescience, and who stand far above him in their translation of biology, cognition, and evolution as is possible. Nevertheless, the book contains, as I said, soaring rhetoric that is musical at times and makes as strong a case for a scientific approach to evaluating public policy as I have ever seen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The English Girl: Gabriel Allon, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Daniel Silva
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1167)
    Performance
    (1009)
    Story
    (1009)

    Daniel Silva delivers another spectacular thriller starring Gabriel Allon, The English Girl. When a beautiful young British woman vanishes on the island of Corsica, a prime minister’s career is threatened with destruction. Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, is thrust into a game of shadows where nothing is what it seems...and where the only thing more dangerous than his enemies might be the truth.…

    Janels says: "Gabriel's story takes huge strides"
    "The New Cold War"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The English Girl in three words, what would they be?

    This book was written to the same high standards of tension, motivation and geopolitical inseight as all the other novels in the series. The twist on modern Russia as an ruthless player in economic warfare was intriguing and plausible. Well worth your credit!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Automatic Detective

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By A. Lee Martinez
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    Overall
    (602)
    Performance
    (490)
    Story
    (492)

    Even in Empire City, a town where weird science is the hope for tomorrow, it's hard for a robot to make his way. It's even harder for a robot named Mack Megaton, a hulking machine designed to bring mankind to its knees. But Mack's not interested in world domination. He's just a bot trying to get by, trying to demonstrate that he isn't just an automated smashing machine, and to earn his citizenship in the process. It should be as easy as crushing a tank for Mack, but some bots just cant catch a break.

    L Lee says: "Wonderful Narration performance"
    "War Bot Turns Sensitive Detective"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Automatic Detective the most enjoyable?

    The robot probationary citizen is a clever wrinkle on the standard robot sifi novel and the hard boiled detective novel. The main character's development as both a


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The robot-loving wealthy patron with a very high IQ. The was a new approach to the


    What does Marc Vietor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Excellent interpretation of the robot's personality.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I try to extend the pleasure of books I like by listening to other things between segments of a book. Books I do not like especially, I try to finish as quickly as possible.


    Any additional comments?

    This should represent only the first in a series of books about this robot detective's adventures. I will get them all!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 11-22-63: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Craig Wasson
    Overall
    (18652)
    Performance
    (16604)
    Story
    (16564)

    On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King - who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer - takes listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

    Kelly says: "I Owe Stephen King An Apology"
    "Crazy, man. What a blast from the past!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of 11-22-63 to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print edition, but the audio edition was a flawless performance that riveted my attention.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The entire performance and the story, for me at least, was an unbelievable experience. Ithe lived those years to which the main character traveled. I know the author did too. He made them live again for me. There was so much truth in the experiences visualized about about those years. And it was more than that. The smells were right, and the attitudes and incidents were as real as my own memories. I don't know if it will work for a young person who experiences the book today, but if such a young person wants to time travel to the years that shaped the characters of the vast demographic known as the baby boomers, this book is the ticket, all the ticket they will need.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There were many moments of high drama, some that brought tears to my eyes. I will not spoil any of these for the reader.


    Any additional comments?

    King is a great writer. He captures our dreams and disappointments and fears like no one else writing in our time. He hit this one out of the park, and the reader gave me a feeling that he was talking to me like an old friend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Against All Enemies

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy, Peter Telep
    • Narrated By Steven Weber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1992)
    Performance
    (1364)
    Story
    (1383)

    For years, ex–Navy SEAL Maxwell Moore has worked across the Middle East and behind the scenes for the Special Activities Division of the CIA, making connections, extracting valuable intelligence, and facing off against America’s enemies at every turn. And then...news of a potentially devastating coalition: What if two of the greatest threats to the security of the United States were to form an unholy alliance?

    Jean says: "Against All Enemies"
    "An Adequate Thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a thriller that combines the AFPAK war with the Drug War and the right wing fear of immigration to produce a terrorism fantasy with as much blood as any psychopath could wish for. That being said it was a good ride, with appealing but flawed characters and real excitement at times. This is not the best Clancy novel, and I have read all of them published under his name alone, but I would spend my credits on it again. My only significant criticism is that there was occasional confusion that resulted from a very complex multi-setting plot and characters from three cultures mixed together and having similar sounding names. For an audio book with no visual redundancy to help the reader, I just got lost at times concerning the motivation of a character and his or her significance to the plot and relationship with other characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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