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Orrin

RENO, NV, United States | Member Since 2013

8
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 ratings
  • 66 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2014
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  • The Origin of Civilization

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Scott MacEachern
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    What defines a civilization? How did the first states emerge? How were the world's ancient states similar and different? Answer these and other dramatic questions with this grand 48-lecture course that reveals how human beings around the world transitioned from small farming communities to the impressive cultural and political systems that would alter the course of history.

    january says: "Bueller....Bueller....Bueller....."
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I've listened to the first third of this set, and the thought of finishing the other two downloads just seems like a chore. It's really disappointing, because I LOVE this subject matter, and was looking forward to learning more about it, and in greater depth.The first several lectures revolved around archeological theory, which is fine, except that it was repetitive, dull, and didn't really add much to explain or contextualize the data that came later. When there was explanation or context, though, that actually made things worse. For example, there was far too much respect given to the influence of Karl Marx and his ideas - one would think the body count resulting from his philosophy would be enough to convince educated people that there may be some problem with his view of the human condition (a critical part of any anthropological study), but apparently not. Not only was this offensive, but it made every other conclusion or analysis proffered by the lecturer suspect.There has been some fascinating information buried in a lot of detritus, and I'm sorry those parts weren't distilled better. It might be the format - a student in a lecture hall needing to understand key points for an exam (and for building a foundation for future study in that field) probably benefit from a lot of that repetition, but it wasn't was I was looking for. I've learned FAR more (and was entertained much more, too) about these and related subjects from books such as Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" and Charles Mann's "1491" and "1493".

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Brian Switek
    • Narrated By Brian Switek
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones.

    J. D. Botet says: "Good story, bad reading!"
    "Self-inflicted wounds mar otherwise very fun read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Like the author, Jurassic Park really inspired me to pay attention to dinosaurs as fascinating animals instead of stop motion monsters, and this book was generally a fun ride through a lot of dinosauria's newest discoveries. A lot of it I already was aware of based on general interest news stories, but the book covered those things in further depth, which was great.

    There were two problems with the book, though. First, the author felt the need to completely unnecessarily toss in some political jabs, making him look small and closed-minded (hardly attributes you want in any scientist). I don't have any patience for Creationists, but why go out of your way to attack them, particularly in a way that comes off as an attack on all religion? That carries over to contempt for past generations of scientists who got things wrong, but were working within the paradigms and the technological limitations of their times. A failure to understand why a different scientist may have - in good faith - come to a different conclusion is again the mark of a limited imagination, which limits his own scientific credibility. Sometimes I agreed with him and sometimes I didn't, but in all instances it was distracting, and those little windows of bitterness (that's how they came off) sadly reduced what is otherwise great joy in learning new things.

    Second, the author should not have read the book himself. I have no doubt he's passionate about the subject, but his affect was flat, almost bored. There is an irrepressible, child-like joy in learning about dinosaurs, and that didn't come through. There's no shame in hiring professionals to more accurately convey the emotion of one's story, and that would have been an improvement here.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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