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Kevin

Trying to support 1) the comparably smaller non-fiction selection and 2) the few here that are not misinformation. Got mind? Use it.

Member Since 2014

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 16 reviews
  • 22 ratings
  • 71 titles in library
  • 37 purchased in 2014
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  • The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By (edited by Clayborne Carson)
    • Narrated By Levar Burton
    Overall
    (206)
    Performance
    (79)
    Story
    (78)

    He was a husband, a father, a preacher - and the preeminent leader of a movement that continues to transform America and the world. Now, in a special program commissioned and authorized by his family, here is the life and times of Martin Luther King, Jr. Featuring King's I Have a Dream Speech.

    John-Mark Stensvaag says: "A Fascinating Slice of History"
    "Great overview of MKL's ideas and times..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. to be better than the print version?

    MLK translates well in any format as each offers a different perspective. The first 2 audio speeches were not very clear, so it's recommended to do a quick search for the speeches online and read along with the audio.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's an important piece of history, and many of the subjects covered are still very relevant. Non-violent progress is a fundamental human struggle.

    If there's every an autobiography worth reading, this would be one of them.


    Have you listened to any of Levar Burton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I actually really enjoyed the narration, clear and easy pace.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    MLK describing the darkest moments of his many protests, the social and personal dilemmas...

    "Even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some great fulfillment."


    Any additional comments?

    This autobiography is so large in scope that it serves as a great introductory overview of MLK and his times, with audio excerpts of his speeches.

    I was more interested in digging deeper into some of his beliefs and tactics, which needs to be found elsewhere, a 9-hour autobiography is limited. Despite being an autobiography, this was pieced together after MLK's death so it does do a good job covering his ideas and speeches.

    Now, how about an unabridged audio version of Malcolm X's autobiography?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By David Graeber
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (22)

    Democracy has been the American religion since before the Revolution - from New England town halls to the multicultural democracy of Atlantic pirate ships. But can our current political system, one that seems responsive only to the wealthiest among us and leaves most Americans feeling disengaged, voiceless, and disenfranchised, really be called democratic? And if the tools of our democracy are not working to solve the rising crises we face, how can we - average citizens - make change happen? David Graeber, one of the most influential scholars and activists of his generation, takes listeners on a journey through the idea of democracy.

    Kevin says: "Must-read: such insight, an awakening!"
    "Must-read: such insight, an awakening!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Democracy Project?

    This is one of the handful of gems that make you think in profoundly-different ways.

    I heard excellent reviews of Mr. Graeber's book "Debt: the First 5000 Years", but I thought I'd like a more general book to start with and this was perfect.

    Explores our assumptions of "democracy", and how Corporate and Government bureaucracy are top-down hierarchies which are quite simply contrary to real democracy.

    I've often assumed "anarchism" was somehow extreme or unrealistic, but this book made a very compelling case for how horizontal decision-making is desirable and even practical, featuring numerous real-life examples along with common sense analogies.

    This book also tackles the morality of debt and the morality of work head-on, most relevant and fascinating!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Only special books manage to shake one from one's stupor, or present clear explanations for those nagging ideas that were never understood. This is a lot to ask for, but this book delivers!

    Also recommended is Matt Taibbi's book "Griftopia"


    Which scene was your favorite?

    On top of everything, this book is surprisingly uplifting. Revolutions and revolutionary ideas do indeed cascade into society and our collective consciousness, often seemingly against all odds.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    These book connected so many dots and opened up a new world of ideas and possibilities. For a non-fiction, that is the highest accolade.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2305)
    Performance
    (1847)
    Story
    (1846)

    The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues.

    Robert says: "Interesting but wandering"
    "Gonzo journalism at its wildest!"
    Overall
    Performance
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    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Jon Ronson narrating a Jon Ronson adventure is highly recommendable. Gonzo journalism at its wildest: crazy events with vivid detail about a fascinating topic.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    As always Mr. Ronson cleverly weaves informative background information into his twisting-and-turning narrative. So, you get some exposure to psychiatry and "psychopathy" during your wild ride down in the trenches of the madness industry.


    Any additional comments?

    This is clearly not meant to be a textbook; concise systematic review is neglected as the author hurls you right into the action. But it is nonetheless insightful, and you will find the experience most enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (184)
    Performance
    (160)
    Story
    (165)

    This collection brings together 12 of the finest short stories of prominent American feminist author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. "The Yellow Wallpaper", Gilman's best-known work, was first published in 1892 and represents an important examination of 19th-century attitudes toward women's physical and mental health.

    David says: "Feminist literature or Lovecratian horror?"
    "Classic short-stories, perfect narration!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What about Kirsten Potter’s performance did you like?

    Perfect, she got me right into the stories.


    Any additional comments?

    "The Yellow Wallpaper" is truly a gem. "When I was a Witch" was also a standout. Makes me want to read her non-fiction work as well...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    Overall
    (1193)
    Performance
    (978)
    Story
    (969)

    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"
    "Epic topic sure to stir up debate!"
    Overall
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    What did you love best about The Better Angels of Our Nature?

    This is truly a colossal topic to tackle, even 800+ pages leaves many areas untouched. However, there are certain themes in this book that provide some insight or at least some grounds for debate regarding the historical trend of violence and human nature.

    Highly recommended to first read Pinker's "The Blank Slate", a truly excellent non-fiction that focuses more on human nature and ideologies. "How the Mind Works" is also excellent; it is more technical and more within Pinker's expertise.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Better Angels of Our Nature?

    This book sure did stir up some lively debates. I think it's important to first note that Pinker's book is about violence, not oppression/unfairness/"bad things", etc. So overall, I would agree that many forms of violence have been in decline, at least since the time when history was adequately-documented.

    However, I would suggest that the evolution of ideas is not completely synonymous with improving the human condition. Negative ideas also evolve. Thus, while primitive forms of oppression like race and gender slavery are in decline, other forms of oppression continue to evolve and become further entrenched in our society. Example: unaccountable multinational corporations that force laws to pass without democratic scrutiny using hordes of lobbyists/less-than-transparent political systems/public's apathy, and can manipulate scientific research/marketing/media.

    I've heard several dissident voices criticize the book's lack of interest in covering economic oppression. I do wish Pinker touched on this more, but I imagine he defined violence in the most strict form in order to keep the book's scope manageable. And sadly, if he did talk about economics I am sure he would open up a new can of worms, straying even further from his area of study and likely making this overall work less credible.


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

    Perfect.


    Any additional comments?

    While I found many of Pinker's arguments to be compelling, I felt he glossed over the section on future dangers, particularly nuclear proliferation and climate change. True, no nukes have been successfully dropped on a population since the end of WWII, but it takes much more than "oh, well, it hasn't happened yet" to argue that our control over the situation is anywhere close to acceptable.

    For example, John Oliver did a great commentary on USA's current nuclear weapons fiasco (search up "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Nuclear Weapons"), and the USA is supposed to be the most advanced nuclear weapons country in the world!

    I can appreciate what Pinker and Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist) are trying to get across (i.e. how much human progress has achieved and given such obvious improvements we have to continue to encourage such progress), but anytime you tackle such a large & complex scope you run the risk of over-simplifying certain topics to make it better fit your overall arguments.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By E. Fuller Torrey
    • Narrated By Stephen McLaughlin
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    E. Fuller Torrey's audiobook provides an inside perspective on the birth of the federal mental health program. On staff at the National Institute of Mental Health when the program was being developed and implemented, Torrey draws on his own first-hand account of the creation and launch of the program, extensive research, one-on-one interviews with people involved, and recently unearthed audiotapes of interviews with major figures involved in the legislation. As such, this book provides historical material previously unavailable to the public.

    Kevin says: "Devastating analysis on US mental health policy!"
    "Devastating analysis on US mental health policy!"
    Overall
    Performance
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    What made the experience of listening to American Psychosis the most enjoyable?

    This audiobook starts pretty slow, but the historical preamble sets the stage for the more-concise facts that start pouring in during the 2nd half.

    The topic of mental health, de-institutionalization, lack of accountability, and for-profit "solutions" are highly relevant. Just walk in the city and you'll encounter the consequences when you pass the homeless people muttering to themselves. And that's only the portion that are not incarcerated or in for-profit nursing homes (which should be used for the elderly).


    What about Stephen McLaughlin’s performance did you like?

    Honestly took me a while to get used to, but the story makes up for it.


    If you could give American Psychosis a new subtitle, what would it be?

    When making public policy, use science/research/evidence over ideology.

    In this book, the shutting down of State mental hospitals was based on ideology around society and mental health that sounded good but parts of it were simply not backed by scientific evidence (which admittedly was sparse during that time since psychiatry was still in its infancy). The movement had no chance of evolving during the Nixon/Reagen era: they not only supported privatization, they were hostile to psychiatry!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Julian Assange
    • Narrated By Tom Pile
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (56)

    Cypherpunks are activists who advocate the widespread use of strong cryptography (writing in code) as a route to progressive change. Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of and visionary behind WikiLeaks, has been a leading voice in the cypherpunk movement since its inception in the 1980s. Now, Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us.

    Tyler says: "Excellent"
    "Musings on the struggle for freedom & the Internet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Cypherpunks rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Powerful topic and unique format (the book is mostly discussions between Julian Assange & three other hacktivists, and I found the format refreshing and easy-to-follow). Definitely recommended.


    Any additional comments?

    A perfect precursor to this book would be "This Machine Kills Secrets", which provides a great overview of the backbone historical details of modern encryption, all in an easy-to-understand and open-minded narrative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Christian Parenti
    • Narrated By Vikas Adam
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    From Africa to Asia and Latin America, the era of climate wars has begun. Extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and state failure. In Tropic of Chaos, investigative journalist Christian Parenti travels along the front lines of this gathering catastrophe - the belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial nations and war zones girding the planet's mid-latitudes. Here he finds failed states amid climatic disasters.

    Kevin says: "Absolute must-read topic!"
    "Absolute must-read topic!"
    Overall
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    Story
    If you could sum up Tropic of Chaos in three words, what would they be?

    Open your eyes.


    Any additional comments?

    This book's topic is critical for anyone who is not deluded enough to think they and their children/grandchildren can live in a protective bubble regardless of that happens to the rest of the world.

    The book exposes the convergence of climate change with previous trends of economic imperialism and Cold War arms/violence. Thus, this book primarily frames the issue of climate-induced poverty, migration, and xenophobia in the political theater.

    At first glance I might prefer more analysis on the economic side, but I do appreciate the author's argument that the #1 priority is to curtail greenhouse emissions and not wait for any drastic restructuring the world's socioeconomic structure. However you frame it though, both are connected.

    For more environmental details, try "Eaarth" by Bill McKibben

    A great read/listen on free market/austerity consequences to public health: "The Body Economic"

    For more economics:
    "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" (Piketty)
    "All the Presidents' Bankers" (Prins)
    "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap" (Taibbi)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By David Stuckler, Sanjay Basu
    • Narrated By Tim Andres Pabon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    In The Body Economic, Stuckler and Basu mine data from around the globe and throughout history to show how government policy becomes a matter of life and death during financial crises. In a series of historical case studies stretching from 1930s America, to Russia and Indonesia in the 1990s, to present-day Greece, Britain, Spain, and the U.S., Stuckler and Basu reveal that governmental mismanagement of financial strife has resulted in a grim array of human tragedies.

    Kevin says: "Powerful & Relevant facts on Austerity & Health..."
    "Powerful & Relevant facts on Austerity & Health..."
    Overall
    Performance
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    Where does The Body Economic rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The topic of how economic ideologies affect healthcare policies, and how that in turn affects you, me, our families and friends... well, it's an essential topic indeed.


    What other book might you compare The Body Economic to and why?

    Plenty of gems like this one to broaden one's understanding of Economics and how it actually works in the real world. It is critical to realize how much of establishment Economics is more ideology than actual science! Austerity is clearly a mechanism to funnel money to the top, no one can argue the atrocious short-term consequences and this book demonstrates the long-term consequences are not rosy either.

    Other related non-fiction gems:
    "Capital in the Twenty-First Century"
    "A Fighting Chance" (Elizabeth Warren's memoir, easy read)
    "Retirement Heist" (technical but very informative)

    I've heard impressive reviews for the following:
    "Wall Street: A History" (Geisst)
    "Predator Nation"
    "All the Presidents' Bankers"
    "The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires"
    "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism"
    "The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use 'Plain English' to Rob You Blind"


    Have you listened to any of Tim Andres Pabon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Perfect narration: clear and easy-to-follow-along pace.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Asides overarching facts, this book provided personal cases to make the reader/listener realize that there are faces, lives, and loved ones behind each statistic.


    Any additional comments?

    The writers of this have their hearts in the right place, but keep in mind their background (healthcare policies) restricts them to frame questions in that arena... which does offer new perspectives, but clearly this topic needs to also be explored in the economic arena more deeply. There are many "but why?" moments to economic events that the story encounters but cannot address.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How the Mind Works

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    Overall
    (545)
    Performance
    (434)
    Story
    (427)

    In this delightful, acclaimed bestseller, one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists tackles the workings of the human mind. What makes us rational—and why are we so often irrational? How do we see in three dimensions? What makes us happy, afraid, angry, disgusted, or sexually aroused? Why do we fall in love? And how do we grapple with the imponderables of morality, religion, and consciousness?

    David says: "Excellent, but a difficult listen."
    "Essential book on the mind. Challenging listen."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to How the Mind Works again? Why?

    My approach is to take notes/bookmark throughout the book the first time, so I can refer to certain sections in the future.

    Definitely has enough info in this book to be a textbook, but fortunately it is a more enjoyable read.


    What other book might you compare How the Mind Works to and why?

    Steven Pinker's other masterpiece "The Blank Slate" is still my favorite non-fiction. "How the Mind Works" is a more technical and challenging read/listen, but both are highly recommended based on their wealth of researched facts and arguments.


    Any additional comments?

    Probably the best way to absorb "How the Mind Works" is to read it. I found myself rewinding multiple times to re-listen to the more technical parts. Be prepared to exercise your mind, and you will be rewarded.

    For an easier listen, "The Blank Slate" is just as informative; it is more on societal impact of our understanding on the mind rather than the technical mind mechanisms explored in this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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