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Matthew S. Maynard

Member Since 2011

  • 4 reviews
  • 14 ratings
  • 382 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2015

  • Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Jeremy Scahill
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner

    A largely untold facet of the war on terror is the widespread outsourcing of military tasks to private mercenary companies. Accountable neither to the citizenry nor to standard military legal codes, these largely unregulated corporate armies are being entrusted with ever-greater responsibilities on behalf of the nation.

    Stanley says: "Truly frightening"
    "Full of irrelevancies"

    Tom Weiner is an excellent narrator and I look forward to listening to anything he's done. His vocal talents are second to none, and it shows in his narration of this particular book. Now that I've covered everything good about this audiobook, let's review the bad.

    Scahill has written a highly irrelevant book that does nothing to address relevant questions raised about the role of civilians in military operations in the style of a private mercenary company such as Blackwater (now known as Xe). He wastes a chapter or two at the beginning describing the ancestry of Erik Prince (Blackwater's owner) and the family's political connections, relying mainly on the pejorative to make a thinly veiled argument that Christians are not to be allowed near politics.

    He then enters into a multi-chaptered diatribe against the neoconservatives/Bush administration/mercenary industry, peripherally relating each chapter's subject to Blackwater but spending most of each chapter on something completely unrelated.

    This book was a chore to listen to, but Weiner's vocalizations made it bearable. I recommend you avoid it and look for something with more depth.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Sean Parnell, John Bruning
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    At 24 years of age, U.S. Army Ranger Sean Parnell was named commander of a forty-man elite infantry platoon - a unit that came to be known as the Outlaws - and was tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a mountain valley along Afghanistan's eastern frontier. Parnell and his men assumed they would be facing a ragtag bunch of civilians, but in May 2006 what started out as a routine patrol through the lower mountains of the Hindu Kush became a brutal ambush.

    Chris says: "Great book...Everyone should listen to this book!!"
    "Platoon Leader for a new Generation"

    You may be familiar with Platoon Leader by James R. McDonough, the story of an Army Infantry Officer forward deployed in Vietnam. Outlaw Platoon is much the same book, set in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan in 2006. Mr. Parnell's service in the army as leader of an infantry platoon in the 10th Mountain Division is portrayed brilliantly by Ray Porter.

    The story covers his initial deployment and assignment as platoon leader and the 16 months that followed, in which his unit saw combat against an enemy that is more cunning and dangerous than they are given credit for. Through several firefights the grit, pain, and loss of combat are described in forceful detail by Mr. Porter's professional vocal talents and Mr. Parnell's skilled writing.

    This is highly recommended listening for anyone interested in the difficulties of leading men under fire, the torture of modern combat, or the philadelphos-style love only found in cohesive, well-led combat units. I expect this will be required reading in more than a few West Point classrooms in the near future, if it isn't already.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • That Every Man Be Armed

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Stephen P. Halbrook
    • Narrated By Phillip J. Sawtelle

    This is the most comprehensive work ever written on the right to bear arms, which is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Halbrook presents a powerful argument based on philosophy, history, and legal precedent that the American citizen's right to possess arms is as fundamental to democracy as is freedom of speech.

    Michael A. Rakestraw says: "Fantastic Information, horrible production."
    "Excellent reference, lousy audio"

    First off, this book should be the first you reach for if you are looking for an easy to read guide to firearms jurisprudence in the United States. The only thing that could enhance it is an updated version that includes a description of the Heller case.

    That being said, the audio is horrible. It is almost as if the book was first recorded in the age of reel-to-reel tapes and then transformed into a computer age recording. It is difficult to understand at times but nevertheless it is a convenient one volume summary of everything related to the Second Amendment and the law.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Pierre Bayard
    • Narrated By John Lee

    Eliminate the impossible, Sherlock Holmes said, and whatever is left must be the solution. But, as Pierre Bayard finds in this dazzling reinvestigation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, sometimes the master missed his mark. Using the last thoughts of the murder victim as his key, Bayard unravels the case, leading the reader to the astonishing conclusion that Holmes - and, in fact, Arthur Conan Doyle - got things all wrong: The killer is not at all who they said it was.

    Kelty says: "Not too good."
    "This guy is a little crazy"

    First, the good: the narration is excellent and the book is relatively short. Now that that part is done, let's get to the bad stuff.

    The author starts well, but then spends the middle of the book discussing a strange metaphysical theory where characters from fiction can enter our world and we can enter theirs. It is heavily distracting, and it doesn't help relate his theory that Beryl Stapleton is behind the murders in the book and is perhaps channeling the spirit of the murdered barmaid who was imprisoned by Hugo Baskerville at the beginning of the story.

    It's an interesting story, raising good questions about the case as related by Doyle's pen. It is well written so as to keep you guessing as to who Bayard will eventually accuse once he gets done with his odd inability to distinguish between reality and fiction. All told, I probably wouldn't pick up anything else by this author but definitely would look for stuff from this narrator.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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