Blackwell's travelogue has some interesting parts (oil sands gift store anyone?) and the tongue in cheek manner keeps thing from getting too heavy. A balanced environmentalist view is woven through this recognizing our inherent conflict between conservation and what maintains our lifestyles. Still some parts are more interesting than others and I can't really say I learned a lot from this book. In fact, I found it less interesting and somewhat repetitive the further I read. Still, it is a lightweight page turner that is hard not to like and you can fast forward through parts and probably not feel you have missed anything. The narration is good.
Loyd’s memoir of his time as a war journalist in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990”s is an odd mix of war story, addiction tell all, and biography of a troubled upbringing. To Loyd’s credit, he interweaves the three threads in a back and forth timeline that works better than if the whole had been told in a linear fashion. But overall I found this audiobook grim and not terribly enlightening. There is extensive, vivid recounting of battlefield scenes of viscera and horror that loses all shock effect after awhile. Is this supposed to be the true confession of an adrenaline junkie, war fetishist, drug addict or all of the above? In the end, I wasn’t sure. Though Loyd is undoubtedly brave, both in his exploits and in his willingness to bare all on the page, I found myself unable to relate to the person or the plight. For those who want a journalist’s unblemished view of the horrors of war, then this may be the audiobook for you, but it left me cold and frankly, slightly repelled.
This fourth volume in Caro’s expansive biography of LBJ covers the period of 1958 through early 1964. It traces LBJ’s ascension from dithering presidential candidate, to the powerless office of the VP, and concludes with his transition to the Presidency in the two months following JFKs assassination. This is a well researched and crafted biography of the man, his times, and the people around him. There are many fascinating details that deal with LBJ’s ambitions and insecurities, his relationship with the Kennedys, and the oft forgotten craftsmanship with which he assumed the mantel of the presidency during a difficult period. Caro is not one to skimp on details and for those who might be put off by the length of the book, there is an elegance and precision to Caro’s writing that keeps the narrative flowing. I should also say that I don’t think it is necessary to have read Caro’s other volumes in order to enjoy/follow Passage of Power as Caro briefly recaps details from the earlier works where it is necessary to add context. I found the narration brisk and competent. In short, this is a monumental work of biography about one of America’s more conflicted Presidents, one to whom history has perhaps been unfairly unkind. I am eagerly looking forward to the release of the final volume in the next few years.
This is a worthy entry in the latest line of doomed Arctic exploration slash survival tales. Sides has a knack for infusing history with drama and does a good job here of putting the listener into the protagonist's shoes. The various characters are well drawn which makes their ordeal all the more riveting. Though there aren't many twists and turns, I truly had no sense throughout the audiobook how the tale would end. The narration is understated and rightly lets the events and the men's heroicism speak for themselves. I highly recommend this book.
This bio has lots of sex, some drugs, and precious little rock and roll. While you would never expect a bio of David Bowie to be G-rated, this trashy bit of work does a hatchet job on an arguably music and entertainment pioneer. The author seems to have based much of her material on the recollections of groupies and hangers on with the result being lots of details on Bowie’s sex life but comparatively little on his music and its impact. In particular, she seems to have a lurid fixation on the size of Bowie’s genitalia and she comes back to this topic ad nauseum. The narration – delivered in dry, Queen’s English, couldn’t be more at odd’s with the subject matter and brings to mind the John Cleese sex ed teacher bit from The Meaning of Life. If you are looking to find out about Bowie the musician, his influences and impact, you won’t find it here.
I found lots to like about this audiobook – the folksy prose, the scientific research underpinning its claims, the author’s willingness to share her experiences raising two teenage sons. This is a useful primer for any parent seeking to better understand the teenage mind and also a handy how to manual for raising teenagers in the modern world. Once you come to grips with the notion that teenagers are not hormone addled children nor are they merely inexperienced adults, the rest of the book’s claims hardly seem earth shattering and indeed, the book tends to repeat a handful of core ideas over and over again. Nevertheless, the book is entertaining, easy to read, has lots of fascinating insights into the still developing mind of a teenager, and to its credit, offers no easy bromides or false promises that if you do x as a parent everything will be okay. Rather, this is the thinking person’s parenting guide, a sort of What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Teenager and as such, should probably be required reading for any parent.
There is a lot to admire about the subject matter of this audiobook: the dedication and selfless determination of Bryan Stevenson, the work he and his fellow lawyers have done to help those on death row who were wrongly convicted, his advocacy for equal justice and legal reform. All of this is chronicled mostly through the case experiences of a half dozen or so different clients with a particular focus on one, Walter, whose tragic story weaves throughout the narrative. The sum is an informative and damning indictment of the justice system in the deep south. Still, I found the narrative engaged the intellect more than the heart, which seems counterintuitive given the David vs. Goliath subject matter. Part of my problem with the book was its broad scope and lack of “in the weeds” details, both of which are essential for the reader to put themselves in Stevenson’s and his client’s shoes. Rather, the story meanders through different cases, with only a slightly better than cursory overview of the people, legal arguments and courtroom maneuvering that went on in each case. Granted, you don’t expect Just Mercy to be a John Grisham novel, but perhaps if it had focused on just one or two cases and what it took to expose their injustices and right the wrongs it would have been a more compelling and engaging book.
I found this to be an utterly fascinating audiobook, a chronicle of the often deleterious effects that humanity/civilization has had on the diversity of living organisms with whom we share the planet. This isn’t really a book about climate change per se, though it certainly appears in the narrative. Rather, this is an in depth examination of the so called anthropocene, the most recent ecological era characterized by humanity’s purposeful altering of the Earth’s biosphere. Kolbert expertly chronicles this by focusing on a dozen or so past and present species – from coral reefs, Auks, Mastadons, cave dwelling bats, and Neanderthals to name a few – and how humanity, purposefully but also at times unintentionally, has caused their extinction or brought them to the brink. Though this might sound like depressing stuff, Kolbert smartly keeps the focus on the science and scientists, avoids moralizing, and for the most part lets the listener draw their own conclusions. The end result is a sharp, thoughtful, and at times humorous book that is part forensic detective story, part elegy and full bore wake up call to what we are doing to the biodiversity of this planet. A worthwhile and entertaining read for tree huggers and skeptics alike.
Not always an easy listen, I found Being Mortal nevertheless to be an important one, especially for anyone in the "sandwich" generation or who otherwise might be thinking ahead to their senior years. The book challenges the listener to contemplate what really matters when old age, infirmity, or terminal illness occurs - is it important to add days to life or life to days. Gawande - a physician - asserts that the health care establishment has historically opted for the former when most patients in their care would probably want the latter if we only took the time and effort to ask. This raises poignant, often troublesome or difficult decisions on the part of individuals, their adult children, medical practitioners and the health care system. This is an intelligent and well argued book with only a few key messages. Gawande ably grounds his arguments in the experiences of his family and patients which keeps the narrative moving and makes the messages hit close to home. Being Mortal offers no easy answers but is good at getting the conversation started. In all this is a worthwhile listen though not always a pleasant one. The narration is top shelf.
This is a straightforward autobiography of Dennis Banks, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement (AIM). I was intrigued both by the title and the subject matter but knew little about Banks or AIM. Ojibwa Warrior does a good job of educating the listener about Banks, from his childhood through the 1970’s culminating in the militant standoff at Wounded Knee (and a bit beyond). It reads in a straightforward connect-the- dots sort of way, highlighting Banks’ personal and professional tribulations while never taking its eye off of the broader context of Indian/First Nations struggle for equal rights and autonomy. Some of the confrontations with the government, Banks’ at times semi-outlaw existence, as well as his experiences as a child (and forced removal from his family and culture) are rendered in great detail. Another plus are the many fascinating details Banks offers about Indian/First Nations culture. The competent narration is subdued and smartly lets events speak for themselves. Despite all this, I nevertheless found the narrative a bit too mechanical in a “first this happened and then this happened and then this happened” sort of way. I wouldn’t call it dry but it lacked a certain intimacy that would connect the listener emotionally with Banks and his struggles/aims. In this way, Ojibwa Warrior is educational but not inspirational which is a shame given Banks’ life/work
This had been on my wishlist for awhile and I am glad to have finally listened to it. Strayed's memoir of her solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail has a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance feel to it - part bio, confessional, travelogue and meditation on resiliency rolled into one. I liked it on all levels and Strayed effectively interweaves reflections on her troubled relationships with her family, ex-husband, and her own personal failings throughout her experiences on the PCT that both inform the listener of her motives as well as illuminate her transformation. Add in some genuinely surprising and suspenseful experiences on the trail and you end up with a narrative that never lags. Strayed's knack for self-deprecating humor keeps all this from being too heavy or melodramatic and the narration aptly captures this. Well worth the listen!
Report Inappropriate Content