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Matt

Parkdale, Australia | Member Since 2004

148
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 22 reviews
  • 29 ratings
  • 184 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
15

  • History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Gregory S. Aldrete
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (143)
    Story
    (143)

    The ancient world has cast a long shadow, influencing our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.

    Matt says: "Outstanding - Informative AND Entertaining"
    "Outstanding - Informative AND Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For me this was one of those 'Can't put it down' epic audio titles. What's more I feel a better person for having listened to it.

    Overall, very informative, thought provoking and truly entertaining. I've learned loads and am now looking for more history titles of comparable quality.

    It's massive in scope and is truly global in that it manages to weave in all the major civilisations of antiquity. I'd say he's best on Mediterranean and European cultures. At least the coverage of these cultures seems more detailed. It seems to me a Westerner's perspective. However, there's some good stuff on China, India and the Americas. I found it gave me a good introduction to these other cultures.

    It's very easy to turn history into a dry collection of facts and dates. This lecture series strikes a good balance between facts and colourful anecdotes character examinations and other diversions. For example, there is a wonderful section on the mind boggling and downright weird Spartans. I couldn't stop laughing as he talked about them. But at the same time, I learned all about a culture that up until a couple of weeks ago, for me had been little more than the name of an ancient group of war-like people who'd once fought the Persians.

    His presentation style is really good - full of enthusiasm, wonder and humour. For me he spoke at just the right pace, too. Unlike many other titles, even history - I found this very easy to listen to whilst on the treadmill, walking or doing household chores.

    I'm going to listen to this again in a month or two. Can't recommend it highly enough, it's a really excellent listen.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Ron Chernow
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (57)

    A gripping history of banking and the booms and busts that shaped the world on both sides of the Atlantic, The House of Morgan traces the trajectory of the J. P.Morgan empire from its obscure beginnings in Victorian London to the crash of 1987. Ron Chernow paints a fascinating portrait of the private saga of the Morgans and the rarefied world of the American and British elite in which they moved. Based on extensive interviews and access to the family and business archives, The House of Morgan is an investigative masterpiece.

    Courtney says: "Starts out strong but then fractures"
    "A brilliant book for history or finance buffs"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A genuine masterpiece. Beautifully written and read.

    You might think a book about banking would be dry and boring - not this one! I found it gripping..

    The Morgan dynasty's monopoly of large scale finance on both sides of the Atlantic spanned several generations. They were bankers to all the major world powers and key industrialists in the first half of the century.

    The author does a magnificent job of bringing the characters and all the high dramas to life. It's also a superb chronicle of modern history. Listening to their exploits gave me insights and perspective on history and economics that would be hard to find elsewhere.

    If you don't know anything about finance you may struggle with some of the details about financial instruments, but you'll still get a good sense of the big picture.

    Regardless of your politics or what you think about bankers, if you're at all interested in history or finance this is definitely one to get.

    Ten out of ten!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The History of Money

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jack Weatherford
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (152)
    Story
    (154)

    From primitive man's cowrie shells to the electronic cash card, from the markets of Timbuktu to the New York Stock Exchange, The History of Money explores how money and the myriad forms of exchange have affected humanity, and how they will continue to shape all aspects of our lives--economic, political, and personal.

    PHIL says: "Wide, deep, thoughtful, colorful"
    "Excellent Explanaition of Money—Very Easy Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Couldn't put it down. It's a fascinating history of mankind and man's power struggles from the viewpoint of money and modes of trade. It gives an excellent insight into what money really is.

    I'm a fairly avid consumer of history books. After reading it, I'd say any study of history is incomplete without a perspective like this.

    It's written by an anthropologist and the content seems quite scholarly. Yet, as an anthropologist the writer is an outsider to the world of economics and so uses everyday terms that are easy for a layman to understand. There were only a few points in the book where I found it difficult to follow

    I worked in the financial markets for years but have never come across an overview like this: I finished the book with a vastly improved understanding of the true nature of money and how inflation occurs. It's an excellent little book.

    It is quite old - published in 1997, so could probably do with some updates. It predates the Euro and the General Financial Crisis which stemmed from the misuse of derivatives. These were big events on the money time line. For all that, the writer does have pretty clear forward vision - he was spot on in anticipating new electronic and non-state regulated currencies such as BitCoin

    My only complaint was with the reader. He's clearly a professional so he was OK I guess, but I found his tone rather affected in parts. Especially towards the beginning.it often sounded as though he's providing commentary on a budget US real life murder mystery TV program. Every now and again he also reads a quote from an English person with an affected English accent. Why he didn't do the Roman, Greek, French , German and other foreign characters in their native accents I don't know. His style just seemed a bit inappropriate for this sort of book. It was definitely distracting at times. Either he dropped it as the book went on or I got used to it. Either way, I'd forgiven him by chapter 15.

    That little niggle aside, there's no getting away from the quality of the book. It's easy enough to listen to that could I drive, or cook wit it or it on sleep and nod off in 15 minutes ( I always rewind the next day). But it's also rich with content and perspective that you will struggle to find anywhere else without reading 10 volumes.

    If you're interested in history or economics and want something light, insightful, informative and entertaining, I'd strongly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

    • UNABRIDGED (35 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Ron Chernow
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (234)
    Performance
    (206)
    Story
    (210)

    Titan is the first full-length biography based on unrestricted access to Rockefeller’s exceptionally rich trove of papers. A landmark publication full of startling revelations, the book indelibly alters our image of this most enigmatic capitalist. Born the son of a flamboyant, bigamous snake-oil salesman and a pious, straitlaced mother, Rockefeller rose from rustic origins to become the world’s richest man by creating America’s most powerful and feared monopoly, Standard Oil. Branded "the Octopus" by legions of muckrakers, the trust refined and marketed nearly 90 percent of the oil produced in America.

    Rick says: "He makes Bill Gates look like a Pauper!"
    "A Great Listen - Fascinating and Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Found it hard to put this down. It's beautifully written and read. A very easy listen too.

    The author tells a great story but is at pains to include important historical details. It's very detailed but well paced. I like the way the chapters are organised into different sections of Rockefeller's life.

    Even though this was written in the 1990s the narrative style has a certain late 19th / early 20th century flavour to it. The reader's style works well with the words, he manages to evoke the age, steeping the listening experience in atmosphere.

    I'd imagine years of painstaking research have gone into creating this book.

    Last week I knew very little about Rockefeller. Now I know a lot about the man, his beginnings, how he built his fortune, his saintly, human, crooked and cunning sides, his mind boggling philanthropy and more besides.

    We humans love to paint others as either one thing or the other, good or bad, saintly or evil. This is a great study how someone can have so many contrasting and contradictory sides to their character. I would have loved to have met Rockefeller, especially in his old age. He was an astoundingly, fine, cunning, complex and brilliant character.

    On balance I'd say the book is quite sympathetic to Rockefeller, but that's not surprising. He was vilified from afar, but close up had a way of winning people over. The book does devote plenty of space to his misdeeds however, and lays responsibility firmly at his door for these.

    Loved it!

    I want to listen to more audio books like this.

    Strongly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • On Writing

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Stephen King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (36)

    In June of 1999, Stephen King was hit by a van while walking along the shoulder of a country road in Maine. Six operations were required to save his life and mend his broken body. When he was finally able to sit up, he immediately started writing. This book - part biography, part a collection of tips for the aspiring writer - is the extraordinary result.

    Karen says: "Part 'How to' part Autobiographical"
    "Not a fan of his genre but this is wonderful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Horror and suspense have never been my thing. I only know Stephen King's work through books that have been turned into movies.

    After reading this, I'm thinking perhaps I'll try one of his stories.

    I bought this book because it seems to be universally recommended by writers I respect.

    Glad I did as I loved it from start to finish.

    The first part, where he tells his early life story is hilarious, intimate and interesting. You get to understand why he writes what he writes. I was also left thinking I'd love to have this guy as a friend.

    He narrates beautifully. As such, I'm glad I got the Audible version first rather than the hard copy or Kindle.

    I found what he has to say about his craft humble, helpful and inspiring. He's at pains to dispel some of the common "thou shallts" of writing fiction, such as plotting out in advance and creating character dossiers in advance.

    I won't spoil it for you by summarising the rest. All I want to say is, if you write, whatever you write, you will find this useful and uplifting. You'll also be entertained.

    I'll most likely buy a hard copy or Kindle version too as there's lots of useful stuff I'd like to refer back to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Classical Mythology

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (396)
    Performance
    (350)
    Story
    (346)

    These 24 lectures are a vibrant introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you'll investigate are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek heroes, Theseus and Heracles (Hercules in the Roman version); and the most famous of all classical myths, the Trojan War.

    Matt says: "Very Informative and Entertaining"
    "Very Informative and Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Before I make any criticism, I want to say that for me, this was a "Couldn't put it down" audio book. To me this is an example of audio books at their best. I strongly recommended it. I found it entertaining, easy listening, informative and well presented.

    The speaker's delivery was at just the right pace for me and with plenty of colour. I like to listen while doing other things such as exercising and cooking and driving. That means the delivery needs to be good to hold my attention and she hit the spot for me.

    I knew a bit about classical mythology before I started, but I knew a lot more by the time I finished. Great perspective and overview.

    My only criticism is that I would have liked the stories and characters she covered to have been presented as such, rather than descriptions and discussions of the stories. Obviously these are academic style lectures, but I think a few complete stories mixed in would have added to the work. I would love to hear an expanded version where these lectures serve as a companion to properly narrated stories themselves. That would be awesome.

    One very important thing to add - she stimulated an appetite in me to learn more. I bought several other works in the same series after this. (Not all were as good as this). In retrospect, I think this is one of the most valuable things about it.



    40 of 40 people found this review helpful
  • Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward-Focused Mindset

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Bruce Rosenstein
    • Narrated By Tom Parks
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way helps any business leader uncover the future now and use this knowledge to steer his or her organization - and career - to success. The book encourages you to consider how your actions can create, influence, and affect the future for other people, as well as entire professions and organizations. In particular, it helps you develop the same kind of forward-thinking/acting Drucker mindset that led him to the highest levels of success.

    Matt says: "Dull Academic College Thesis - Too Many Citations"
    "Dull Academic College Thesis - Too Many Citations"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Obviously this is just my opinion, but honestly it ranks amongst the worst audio books I've ever bought. As an audio book this sort of thing does not work at all well. It would have been much better to present it as a series of themed index cards or a blog posts.

    I'm not questioning the quality of the subject material. However the author's presentation of it in this format was stupefyingly dull. I just could not force myself to process what he was saying and turn it into something valuable and practical I can apply to my life. That is a shame, given the standing of Peter Drucker himself.

    The only value I can imagine anyone finding in this work is as a reference manual for others who want to write about Peter Drucker, or study the man's works. It's the sort of thing you'd probably get good marks for in college.

    The author's style is passive and jam-packed with endless citations of book titles (including the edition number) and dates. There's little more to the book than that. Everything he writes seems to be interrupted with these citations. If he'd had the guts to provide a strong personal opinion, interpretation and continuous narrative - perhaps with footnotes instead of citations mid paragraph - it would have flowed better and I might have found more value in it.




    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The World of Byzantium

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Kenneth W. Harl
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (42)

    Byzantium is too-often considered merely the "eastern rump" of the old Roman Empire, a curious and even unsettling mix of the classical and medieval. Yet it was, according to Professor Harl, "without a doubt the greatest state in Christendom through much of the Middle Ages," and well worth our attention as a way to widen our perspective on everything from the decline of imperial Rome to the rise of the Renaissance.

    collin lau says: "Another piece of the puzzle"
    "A Very Difficult Listen - Not for Beginners!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sorry Prof - only 3/10 from me on this one. Too much information crammed in to too small a space and not enough effort put into engaging the audience with interesting stories.

    Considering the real life dramas that actually took place in this period, the presentation style was often disappointingly boring. That made the material very hard to retain.

    The author of this course is clearly a very learned gent who loves his subject. I wanted to know a bit about Byzantium so I decided to stay with him until the end. It was really hard work though.

    On the plus, side he covers a lot of ground. If you're already quite familiar with the period, the major protagonists and empires and want to know more you'll definitely pick up useful stuff from these lectures. As a newcomer to Byzantine history, I did learn a few things, too so it wasn't entirely lacking in merit.

    What makes it so very hard though, is his presentation style: an endless and often bewildering succession of people, dates, battles, political events, kingdoms, alliances etc- delivered at an almost uniformly high speed - with very few pauses. Imagine the audio equivalent of a long text book with very long dense paragraphs, minus headers, bullet points or any other typographical features and you'll get the idea. The pace is relentless and the overall body of work is frankly, quite featureless and dull. Certainly hard to retain.

    What makes it even more difficult is that he seemed to be speaking to an audience who already knows a lot about the subject. He also assumes that the listener fully recalls events, or people mentioned in passing in previous chapters and refers back to them in such a way that I was often left thinking - so where are we now, what's he talking about?

    At the end of it I felt quite frustrated and unsatisfied. I've just listened to twelve hours and not picked up anywhere near as much as I would have liked from the experience.

    One last thing worth mentioning: I've listened to a few of these "Great Courses" on history and classics now. During the course of going through other courses - I frequently found myself jumping on to the internet to look stuff up - authors, historical works, artwork, places etc. I was fascinated and inspired to want to learn more. I did not have that urge once with this course.



    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Richest Man in Babylon

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By George S. Clason
    • Narrated By Jason McCoy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (110)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (68)

    Travel back in time as George S. Clason takes you back to Babylon in his enlightening, insightful book on financial investment and financial success. The original version now restored and revised, this series of delightful short stories teaches economic tips and tools for financial success that have withstood the test of time and are applicable still today. Enjoy reading, and start saving today!

    Wayne says: "Do not under any circumstances buy this recording!"
    "Great material but reader is laugh-out-loud bad"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'll come to the bad comically bad reading in a minute, but first the actual material.

    I'd heard a lot about this book and expected it to be in the same vein as Think and Grow Rich and other self improvement books of the early 20th Century. I was pleasantly surprised.

    The messages for financial self betterment are very simple, yet very wise and powerful.

    It's a series of charming parables, written in a pseudo King James English style - "thou doth, thou givest" etc. Somehow, rather than sounding pretentious, their 'Ye Olde Worlde'' Biblical style gives the stories added weight and authority, making them all the more fascinating.

    The fact that the messages are presented as parables also gives them a certain charm. It makes their wisdom so much easier to hear and digest than the wordy treatises of Napoleon Hill.

    It seems as though the writer was writing for his grandchildren. I got the impression of someone patiently crafting vital lessons to young people he really loved. The stories are infused with lively historical drama and details in the style of Boys Own comic strips of the 1920s.

    As for the reader, well - he was so bad at the start that I nearly asked Audible for a refund, especially when I saw that other reviewers were of the same opinion as me.But I decided to listen it out and make up my mind at the end.

    I'm glad I did stick it out. I got used to the reader, and found myself not minding despite the breakneck speed and frequent, ignorant mispronunciations.

    Perhaps the reader did improve as he went on. I gave him two stars in the end. But my eventual enjoyment was a testament to the quality of the book rather than a drastic change in the reader's part. The material triumphed despite the odds.

    The book itself really is good. It's a concentrated source of valuable lessons about money, put in such a way an 11 year old would easily understand. It's charmingly written too.

    I'm pleased to say I decided not to ask for my money back in the end. The reader did actually make me laugh a few times too.





    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Grantchester Grind

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Tom Sharpe
    • Narrated By Jonathan Cecil
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (21)

    The instinct of the true Porterhouse man faced with a crisis is to reach for the bottle and then to fall back on the subtle tactical skills honed at Cambridge down the centuries: blackmail and kidnap. But will these be enough? Menaced on all sides - by the collapse of the Chapel, by the tentacles of organised crime, and by the hovering threat of the abominable Dog’s Nose Man - will Porterhouse be forced to unleash the most fearsome weapon in its armoury - the college food?

    Constant Reader says: "Tom Sharpe Gets Dull"
    "WARNING: Don't listen in public - too funny!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Continuously, outrageously, laugh-out-loud hilarious throughout. I embarrassed myself several times on a trip to the supermarket whilst listening to this. My uncontrolled outbursts of raucous belly laughter drew so many uncomfortable looks had to pause it.

    I'd only ever seen one TV adaptation of a Tom Sharpe book previously and this was even better.

    His caricatures of stuck up, cloistered, pompous Brits, the lower classes and unrefined Americans gangsters, who all end up colliding in the most unseemly ways thinkable are stylish, incredibly vulgar, and so, so funny, all at the same time.

    I wondered if this is something that would only appeal to Brits who know something of the ''old order", but I suspect not. If you enjoy British caricatures along the lines of PG Wodehouse or Evelyn Waugh all from the viewpoint of someone with a preoccupation with repressed, absurd, sexual deviance you'll love it. Think very up market ''Carry On" films minus the corn.

    Beautifully written - the story lines are wonderful and the dialogue is superb.

    I couldn't stop listening to this once I'd started. I got through it in 3 sessions.

    The narration is exquisite. Every character has his or her own believable voice. My only criticism is that the narrator's American accents aren't nearly as polished as the English ones. Even so, they are still unique and clearly identifiable. What the narrator lacks in the American accent department is easily made up for by Sharpe's wonderfully colourful dialogue.

    Will definitely be listening to more Tom Sharpe.

    Strongly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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