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Mike

Silver Spring, MD, United States | Member Since 2009

51
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 36 ratings
  • 252 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
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  • Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man's Fight for Justice

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Bill Browder
    • Narrated By Adam Grupper
    Overall
    (114)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (98)

    Red Notice is a searing expose of the wholesale whitewash by Russian authorities of Magnitsky's imprisonment and murder, slicing deep into the shadowy heart of the Kremlin to uncover its sordid truths.

    Amazon Customer says: "This is an absolute "YES" as your next read/listen"
    "Gutsy, chilling and important."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Browder paints a portrait of modern Russia through his own very personal story.

    The first half of his book is interesting but drags ever so slightly. It recounts Browder's rise, at Solomon Brother and then as a fund manager focusing on the country in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR. It describes his dealing with the Oligarchs of that era, and ascension to become as the country's largest foreign portfolio investor by the late 1990s/early 2000s.

    In its second half, the book pivots from international business biography to political and criminal intrigue. Here, in riveting terms, Browder recounts how in the late 2000s a cabal of shadowy apparatchiks from the Russian FSB and interior ministry, acting with the backing up the State, stole hundreds of millions by falsifying tax refunds fraudulently procured on behalf of one of his companies. It explains the methods employed and names to people responsible, and describes how he was blamed, intimidated, exiled him from the country, and ultimately shows how and why one of his attorneys, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered. By the end of the book, it is 2015 and Browder is living in Britain in very real fear for his life.

    Taken at face value, Browder's story affirms the very worst fears about what the Russian state has become two decades after the collapse of communism. Taken at face value, in my opinion, Mr. Browder has every reason to be fearful for his life.

    The best thing about the book is that Mr. Browder does not flinch in telling his story. He does not pull any punches. By directly addressing the Putin regime - by naming names, connecting the dots, detailing the tactics employed by the Russian state to obfuscate the truth and discredit its opponents, and showing the astonishing and cynical depth of the regime's contempt for the rule of law and international norms - Mr. Browder places himself alongside the likes of a very small group of gutsy writers (Anna Politkovskaya comes to mind) who have sought to pull back the curtain on the ugly truth of the New Russia.

    The main reason I give the book 4-stars instead of 5-stars is that it is (through no fault of the author's) highly specific and personal, focused almost entirely around Mr. Browder and his experiences in Russia. It does not offer many new, concrete insights beyond those that Browder experienced personally. The result is many of the most intriguing and seemingly consequential mysteries from the New Russia - the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings; the 2003 jailing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky; the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the assasination of journalist Anna Politivsaya - are dealt with superficially if at all.

    Nonetheless, Mr. Browder's story is by itself sufficiently remarkable to render this book a valuable contribution to the (conspicuously small) body of literature offering real insight into the modern Russian kleptocracy. Kudos to him for having the courage to tell his story, and the story of Sergei Magnitsky. Well worth the credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Michael Bar-Zohar, Nissim Mishal
    • Narrated By Benjamin Isaac
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (66)

    In Mossad, authors MichaelBar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal take us behind the closed curtain with riveting, eye-opening, boots-on-the-ground accounts of the most dangerous, most crucial missions in the agency's 60-year history.

    John says: "Amazing Real Stories"
    "Israeli Intelligence through Iraeli Eyes"
    Overall
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    Story

    The best thing about the book are the stories. They are all interesting and several are excellent. The way the book is organized prevents the authors from developing characters, however, and the book sometimes fails to place stories in their correct political / security context. However, the book's high-tempo, and the excellent access the authors appear to have to the participants, more than compensates for these limitations. My biggest knock is that the book is self-congratulatory, and at times the author's own political agenda seems to the surface. The authors offer little depth, and few strategic insights, though they provide enough detail, action, and clandestine nuggets to almost overcome that problem.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Ben Macintyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (464)
    Performance
    (420)
    Story
    (415)

    Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby's best friend and fellow officer in MI6.

    Michael Eaton says: "The Greatest Spy -- Ever Discovered"
    "Perfect blend of history, analysis, action."
    Overall
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    The first book I've not wanted to turn off at any point in a very long time. If you enjoyed listening to Robert Littell's "The Company" I think this book will appeal to you.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Patrick J. Buchanan
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    After suffering stinging defeats in the 1960 presidential election against John F. Kennedy, and in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Nixon's career was declared dead by Washington press and politicians alike. Yet on January 20, 1969, just six years after he had said his political life was over, Nixon would stand taking the oath of office as 37th President of the United States. How did Richard Nixon resurrect a ruined career and reunite a shattered and fractured Republican Party to capture the White House?

    Mike says: "Great history of Nixon in the wildernest"
    "Great history of Nixon in the wildernest"
    Overall
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    Would you consider the audio edition of The Greatest Comeback to be better than the print version?

    The narration was excellent. The only person who could do it better is Buchanon himself. I think the print version would be cool to see the pictures of these men during that era, but otherwise I don't think anything is lost in the audio.


    What other book might you compare The Greatest Comeback to and why?

    1. The tempo of the book is much like that of "Jack, We Hardley Knew Ye" - by Kenny oddonell and Dave Powers. However, while Buchanon seems to admire Nixon as a politician, he does not worship Nixon personally in the way the Kennedy men did JFK.2. The subject matter overlaps closely with "Nixon Land," and other of Ron Perlsteins books. But these books are quite complimentary.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Riding shotgun across the Repunlican Right during the heart of 1960s with a Tricky Dick and a young Pat Buchanan.


    Any additional comments?

    Worth the credit

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

    • UNABRIDGED (39 hrs)
    • By Rick Perlstein
    • Narrated By David de Vries
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (100)

    In January of 1973 Richard Nixon announced the end of the Vietnam War and prepared for a triumphant second term - until televised Watergate hearings revealed his White House as little better than a mafia den. The next president declared upon Nixon’s resignation “our long national nightmare is over” - but then congressional investigators exposed the CIA for assassinating foreign leaders. The collapse of the South Vietnamese government rendered moot the sacrifice of some 58,000 American lives.

    Tad Davis says: "Brilliant"
    "Compelling and superbly researched history"
    Overall
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    Where does The Invisible Bridge rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The Invisible Bridge is an awesome accomplishment. It is the latest installment of what is shaping up to be a modern masterpiece from Rick Perlstein. The book covers the prior between 1972-1976. It's greatest strength is the way that it recounts an enthrawling political narrative by placing it squarely within the context of the larger social and historical forces buffeting the nation in the mid 1970s.

    In its way, Invisible Bridge ranks with Robert Caro's epic LBJ epic series and Morris's TR trilogy as the best American history I've listened to on audible.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Invisible Bridge?

    The chapters dealing with watergate and Nixon's final year were excellent and could be a book unto themselves. But if the contest between Reagan and Ford is really at the heart of this book, these were some of its highlights:

    1. The mini biography of Reagan is outstanding.
    2. The author's treatment of the U.S. bicentennial
    3: Ford to City: Drop Dead
    4. The authors investigation of the early 1970s battles over school textbooks.
    5. The authors treatment of the 1976 GOP convention


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

    The book often made me chuckle. I was listening to it I was walking around with a grin. This author has a good sense of humor and a knack for deploying anecdotes, to reveal basic truths about the characters, and to tie the book's broader themes together.


    Any additional comments?

    The book is not politically biased. It has no contemporary political agenda.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp - on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Kenneth P. Vogel
    • Narrated By Jonathan Yen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    A series of developments capped by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision have effectively crowned a bunch of billionaires and their operatives the new kings of politics. Big Money is a rollicking tour of a new political world dramatically reordered by ever-larger flows of cash. Ken Vogel has breezed into secret gatherings of big-spending Republicans and Democrats alike, from California poolsides to DC hotel bars, to brilliantly expose the way the mega-money men (and rather fewer women) are dominating the new political landscape.

    Mike says: "Money & Politics. Not much more."
    "Money & Politics. Not much more."
    Overall
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    Would you listen to Big Money again? Why?

    This is not the kind of book that I would read a second time. It is an entertaining narrative, but its real value is that it provides a wealth of timely information about a subject that is changing and evolving rapidly. If you are considering purchasing the book, the time to do it is now. If you wait until after the 2014 elections, much of the information will be moot.

    The book sets out to explain the way money flowed into US federal elections in 2010 and 2012, and in this succeeds wonderfully. It is a thorough overview and history of campaign finance during this period and is packed with information that helps the reader understand what is and has been happening with money in politics over the past few years. At the same time, the book's focus on campaign finance during a 4-year period is also the its main weakness. The author has an excellent grasp of the ways money flows into politics today, and benefits from access to donors and consultants who are active in this space, but his expertise seems to end there. The book does not provide anything more than cursory, superficial descriptions of the campaigns and political candidates who benefit from the money, or the Tea Party movement, or the issues on which recent campaigns have turned. Further, while the authors hints at ways the influx of big-donor money may translate into influence on policy, this and the other key question about the significance of the conduct documented by the book are never really tackled. Ultimately, I don't believe this is the author's failing, but merely indicative of the fact that the topic about which he is writing is so still new that its significance, if any, is simply not yet clear.

    Great read for political practitioners and junkies and anyone who really wants to understand how money is flowing into our politics and where it is combing from. For others, including more well rounded readers, I think the book could be a bit much.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Hitler's Rockets: The Story of the V-2s

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Norman Longmate
    • Narrated By Steve West
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Britain was the first country to ever suffer a ballistic missile attack from beyond its borders. This book tells the story of that attack. During 1942 and 1943, confusing rumours circulated about the German development of a 'giant rocket'. Most experts, including Winston Churchill's own scientific adviser Lord Cherwell, declared that such a weapon was impossible. It was only after the patient sifting of European intelligence that the most influential doubters were convinced such a weapon was being built. Then on 8 September 1944, the first V-2 landed in Chiswick. Between then and the final rocket impact on 27 March 1945, more than a thousand landed on British soil, killing nearly three thousand people and seriously injuring more than six thousand.

    Mike says: "Excellent history of the V-2"
    "Excellent history of the V-2"
    Overall
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    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, absolutely. The book is a serious but accessible history of the V-2 program, covering the key developments in rocketry technology the made the V-2 possible in the late 1930s; the military and political imperatives that propelled its development by the Reich (but not by the allies) in the final years of the war; it's operational success and strategic failure; and ultimately, the V-2's role as the direct precursor of all strategic nuclear missiles, especially those which defined balance-of-power during the Cold War. It succeeds in doing all of this.

    The level of technical detail is just-right for the average reader interested in learning more about this fascinating niche of warfare during WW II, and early modern ballistic rocketry more generally, and the pace is quick and entertaining. The book does not offer much if any new insight on military strategy and doctrines of Hitler and the Reich, but limits its scope to the V-2 program and it's impact (or lack thereof) on the air war in Europe.

    Very good history. Well worth the credit.


    What other book might you compare Hitler's Rockets to and why?

    Demons under the Microscope


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Too little, too late, thank God.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Eric Schlosser
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (549)
    Performance
    (501)
    Story
    (499)

    Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America's nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved - and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind.

    S. Mersereau says: "Stunning"
    "Very interesting. Somewhat hard to follow."
    Overall
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    Would you listen to Command and Control again? Why?

    Command and Control tells two stories concurrently, alternating back and forth, from one to the other. The first story is the story of the Damascus incident, in which a Titan nuclear missile came close to exploding in Arkansas due to a series of oversights which, as the author documents, are not nearly as rare as the public might suppose. The second story is the history of nuclear weapons themselves - their use, development, design, and testing, as well as their technical limitations (or lack thereof) and the strategic calculations that drove their development and deployment during the Cold War.

    The first narrative, which recounts the Damascus incident, is illuminating and entertaining, but at times it also feels overly drawn-out and confusing. This is largely due to the way its telling is broken up over the course of the book. This structure might work better in print, but I found it challenging in audio format. The second narrative - where the author traces the history of nuclear weapons broadly, from the Manhattan Project to the present, is where the book really excels. It is first-rate. I would listen this portion of the again, for sure, and recommend it to others interested in the subject without any reservation.

    On the whole, a very good book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Command and Control?

    The discussion of thermonuclear weapons, as opposed to pure fission bombs, and how the former fundamentally altered the strategic calculus about the use of nuclear weapon in war. In the modern era, we do not really distinguish between the awesome but comprehensible power of fission bombs, and the truly cataclysmic and unthinkable force of thermonuclear weapons, but the distinction was actually a major turning point in the way these weapons were viewed by political and military leaders. A second highlight was the author's excellent history of the U.S. Strategic Air Command, and its rivalry with the other military services and the (civilian) U.S. Atomic Energy Commission for primacy in the control U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Paul Davies
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (72)

    Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). But after a half century of scanning the skies, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silence---eerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life.

    Mike says: "Equal parts history, science, informed speculation"
    "Equal parts history, science, informed speculation"
    Overall
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    What made the experience of listening to The Eerie Silence the most enjoyable?

    This book is an excellent listen. At the outset, the author does an excellent job of setting the table, summarizing everything we know to date about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, from science and from theory. Specific programs (notably SETI), physical laws, experimental observations, astronomical and cosmological phenomena, are all covered. From there, the author consider various possibilities for what and where ET might be, and how it might be discovered. His discussion proceeds according to a chain of inductive reasoning, taking the listener through one fact pattern after another, and explaining the conclusions about alien life that would appear to flow from each. His analysis is well organized, beginning with conclusions we might draw from the limited evidence we understand today, then moving on to consider evidence that we do not have today, but that science may be able establish in the future. Finally, he does a great job of explaining the limitations imposed by science and physics, and where the science runs out, he applies theory, math, and imagination, to take the reader through an intelligent and well-reasoned summary of where we may end up. The book leaves with listener with much to consider. At the same time, for a book that focuses on a subject as inherently mysterious and unknowable as ET, the Eerie Silence leaves the listener remarkably satisfied. I would recommend it to anyone who wonders why - in a universe compromised of trillions of stars - we feel so alone.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (434)
    Performance
    (293)
    Story
    (297)

    Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate had become a parody of itself and an obstacle that for decades had blocked desperately needed liberal legislation. Caro shows how Johnson's brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history.

    Jeff says: "DROP JAW AMAZING!!"
    "A masterful history of LBJ and the U.S. Senate"
    Overall
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    Would you listen to Master of the Senate again? Why?

    It's a 50 odd hour book, and I've listened to it twice. It is without question one of the best political biographies ever written. Moreover, while it never loses sight of LBJ, it's a tour de force in legislative tactics, legislative power, and the personalities that dominated the Senate in the middle of the 20th century, in the years immediately preceding the civil rights movement. Men who today are largely forgotten, but were giants in their era - Richard Russell, Everett Dirksen, Hubert Humphrey, Scoop Jackson - come alive in its pages.


    What other book might you compare Master of the Senate to and why?

    Robert Caro is virtually unique in the way he approaches his subject. He takes nearly 15 years, on average, to write each of his books. His research is impeccable, and the way he approaches each of the major figures in the book -- often setting aside the narrative to devote 70, 80 pages to delve into them and probe who precisely they are and why they matter -- is really incredible. I'm not aware of any other other historian who takes such an approach. For an example, see the chapter on Richard B. Russell, the senior Senator from Georgia, the Chairman of the Senate's Southern Caucus, and, in Caro's term, the Greatest Field General of the Old South since Robert E. Lee. Wow.


    Any additional comments?

    Robert Caro is an outstanding writer, but his books are not for everyone. His style of writing is incredibly indulgent. He takes a 1000 words to make a point that other biographers will make in 85. If you enjoy his writing, as I do, you'll love it. But it's not for everyone.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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