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newton, MA, United States | Member Since 2007

  • 2 reviews
  • 7 ratings
  • 255 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014

  • The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Deborah Blum
    • Narrated By Coleen Marlo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In The Poisoner's Handbook, Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime.

    Reagan says: "Fascinating book marred by production errors"
    "It's the narrator, baby"

    I read other reviews that warned me about the narration, and I'm glad I did: I was able to look past a pretty poor performance and see through to a very enjoyable book about the development of modern forensics in the Jazz Age by following the careers of two New York City pathologists. Had I not been warned, the reading would have driven me nuts.

    Seems to me that if these narrators are getting paid to read these books, it might be in their best interest to read the books once through before the recording session and check the pronounciations of particular words. Some of her slips were embarrassing. And I agree with others' observations about the silly caricature voices that she uses for particular characters.

    If I were Deborah Blum, I would be none too pleased with Ms. Marlo's rendition of my work.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Civilization: The West and the Rest

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Niall Ferguson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years. All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations.

    F. Ribeiro says: "Niall Ferguson's Most Enjoyable Book"
    "What's with the racist caricatures?"

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Ascent of Money" so thought I would give it a spin. "Civilization" was no disappointment. Ferguson is a great writer & makes the subject matter both accessible and engaging. Like "Ascent", I'm not sure I agree with all his conclusions but it's one hell of a ride to listen to him think about Big Issues.

    That said, I have absolutely zero clue as to why the audio producers (Ferguson himself?) insisted on reading the epigrams with those silly accents. Confucius, I am quite certain, spoke no English (especially since English didn't come into existence for more than 1000 years after he died), so why even try to portray him as speaking English like Charlie Chan? Same for all the other nationalities. The French sound idiotic, the Spanish silly, and so on. I'll give a little leeway for allowing Scots to be read in their accent, but that's about it.

    Normally not such a big deal, but since this book touches in part on issues of why certain civilizations have fared better than others, it smacks of provincialism, and also there's a ton of quotation that goes on.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful

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