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  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

    • ABRIDGED (11 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Charles C. Mann
    • Narrated By Peter Johnson

    In this riveting, accessible work of science, Charles Mann takes us on an enthralling journey of scientific exploration. We learn that the Indian development of modern corn was one of the most complex feats of genetic engineering ever performed. That the Great Plains are a third smaller today than they were in 1700 because the Indians who maintained them by burning died. And that the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.

    Case says: "Hotly debated new theories, but NOT revisionism"
    "The audiobook just lost me"

    In reading the reviews I was beginning to think I was alone, but some others have mentioned it may be better as a read. I would say absolutely, without a doubt (sorry Audible, I love you) read the book. Let me explain. I listen almost entirely to nonfiction books, lectures, and medical journals and have for years. I have even periodically both read and listened to information to make sure I was not losing anything. So in that context, this is the first book that I just could not get the information from nearly as well by listening. I read the first 3 chapters, then bought the audiobook and listened from the beginning through 2/3 of the book, and then reread from chapter 4.

    Part of why the audio version does not work as well is that the book has numerous drawings and illustrations throughout that add to the information, but they are not referenced at all in the audio version. The other is that the author uses fairly complex sentence stucture, but the reader seems to read every sentence in the same cadence which de-emphasizes information in the middle of the sentences.

    As far as the content, I absolutely loved reading the book. It's fascinating to find out that there are even questions about the things we learned in school that were relegated to all of a couple paragraphs. It's not the final answer to the questions it raises, and it does not claim to be, but showing that there is enough new information to legitimatize asking the questions is interesting in itself.

    59 of 61 people found this review helpful
  • A People's History of the United States: Highlights from the Twentieth Century

    • ABRIDGED (8 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Howard Zinn
    • Narrated By Matt Damon, Howard Zinn

    Since its original landmark publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has been chronicling American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official version of history taught in schools (with its emphasis on great men in high places) to focus on the street, the home, and the workplace.

    Michael says: "the second half is better"
    "Extremely disappointed"

    I wish I had read these reviews before I bought this book, but friends had highly recommended this book so I bought it. I did read the Audible information through and thought it was quite misleading in the way the description did not make clear that the audiobook was a much abridged 20th Century ONLY edition. What Zinn does cover is very interesting, but a lot of listeners have probably lived through the a large part of the 20th century covered, at least I have.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful

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