I've listened to over 500 Audible titles and this is certainly in the top 10. The author clearly has great knowledge and passion for his work.
I thought the part on Sparta was especially good, such as how kids were put in positions where they had to steal to survive,. But there were many, many memorable parts.
He didn't actually have "characters" as it was a lecture, not a reading.
The peasants aren't revolting after all.
The basic message of this book, that leadership is about taking care of people, is inspirational. The author goes to great lengths to talk about, and give excellent examples of, how companies with a people first approach can be very successful. The world could do well to listen.
Unfortunately, while the first half of the book pushes leadership and individual responsibility to make the world a better place the last half strongly pushes government regulation as a big part of the solution. He goes so far as to lament the government no longer forcing TV stations to devote a portion of their broadcasts to "public service". Worse, he pines for renewal of the Fairness Doctrine from the 1950's wherein public officials would decide if your programing was "balanced" enough.
Several of the issues the author hit on, particularly around regulation, were subjects I have followed for years and the author cherry picks the evidence that fit's his argument while ignoring both the opposing arguments and supporting evidence.
Were the Fairness Doctrine in place for books I believe the author would be forced to rewrite substantial portions of this book. I dare say that would give him a new and useful perspective on the very large downside of these regulations he supports.
Differences aside, overall the book was very inspirational and has caused me to look afresh at my management style. Companies can benefit from an employee friendly culture. Convincing companies that this is in their best interest is the surest course to propagating this idea. Having government try to enforce it is unlikely to have lasting success.
The parts of this book which detail the admissions process and decisions are truly excellent and invaluable to anyone seeking to understand how elite schools make their decisions. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic.
This book was adapted from a series of articles. It shows. Substantial time is taken on detailing people and their backgrounds to get a better sense of where the different characters are coming from. This was somewhat interesting when the subject was an admissions officer, still bearable when it was one of the various applicants but the author didn't stop there. Are in-depth details the admissions officers parent's stories really of any value? Not so much, but still worse was the many minutes on his grandfather. I skipped over quite a bit at this point but, given the trend, I expect that in the hour+ I skipped we learned quite a bit of the back story of the UPS delivery man and the barista at the local coffee shop.
However, once it got to the actual decision making process the book was informative and riveting.
Overall this book is an excellent guide to SAT prep while being amusing.
The narrator is an obsessed overly involved mother of the kind I generally dislike. I found this off-putting at first but since she knows this about herself and isn't above poking fun at herself about it I really grew to enjoy it over time.
The walk-through of various aspects of the SAT and test prep is among the most comprehensive I have read (or listened to) and being in the testing industry I've seen hundreds of such books.
Two thumbs up to this informative and funny book.
This is one of the best books I've listened to in years. Being born in Chicago in the late 1960's I grew up hearing a lot about the Chicago Democratic convention as well as the Prague Spring and, of course, the various civil rights marches and actions. This book did a tremendous and entertaining job of providing the historical background to those events to a depth I had never before heard.
Right at the start of the book the author notes that while he is trying to be as objective as he can it is impossible to write a book without some bias. This shows through quickly as he clearly is a bit starry eyed over the student movements of the time. That said, his bias doesn't get in the way of the facts. For instance, he tells how the various factions in the student movements had different agendas (and sometimes no real agenda).
While normally I would strongly dislike such bias in a book about historical events, in this case it added to the book as it helped show the feelings of the participants in a way a dispassionate voice couldn't hope to.
Overall this is an excellent book for anyone looking to get a better understanding of the events of that era and what led to them.
Parts of this book were great, especially the parts where the aliens are trying to understand what makes humans tick. Other parts were very boring.
My main complaint is that so much of what the aliens do is absolutely not feasible. Not just a stretch, but laughably unbelievable. It read more like a fantasy novel in space ships.
I've read many of their books. Loved most, liked all of them. If this was the only book of theirs I had read I doubt I would have read a second!
You could really tell the characters apart with his voices. It helped that there were so few characters, but he did a great job.
I probably would not listen to it again. There are so many new concepts, groups and ideas in it that where I to read it again it would be to try to understand what they all are and how they fit together.
Probably surprisingly, I'd compare it to Elric of Melibone. This is NOT a "hard "Sci-Fi book. It is fantasy in a future setting. Like Elric, it is deus ex machina in the extreme. Just when it looks grim our protagonist is saved from nowhere. In this book it's by q-dots, quantum foam or whatever instead of in Elric where it's his black blade or some new spell.
Like Elric, it has a lot of good points but you feel as though the author put the characters in situations without a lot of thought of how to get them out again and then has to resort to outside items that go beyond the ability of belief suspension.
Many of his characters were wonderful. I like the ship the best.
The future beyond your imagination.
Really well written overall and the kind of book that lingers with you. Some have portrayed it as a "detective" story, but it really isn't. In a detective story you have some hope of figuring out the solution based on the clues. Here lack of context about the society and the technology mean the solution will be something you've never even heard of before so you couldn't possible figure it out.
That said, part of the joy of the book is that the author does seem to have a coherent idea of his universe and by following the characters you unravel it piece by piece.
If you think humans are a virus destroying the planet then this book is for you. If you think trade between willing and informed partners is exploitation then this book is for you. If you think genetically modified plants and animals are automatically bad for the environment then this book will thrill you.If you don't think these things you'll have trouble getting through the first few chapters.
He could have explained WHY he thinks various things are bad. Why is an Eskimo trading a fish for chicken and beef bad? If the Eskimo thought the fish was worth more than what he got in return he could simply have kept the fish. The fact that he could have sold it for 10 or 100 times as much 1,000 miles away is immaterial.Why are genetically modified fish bad? To be fair, the author seems to think they'd be ok as long as they can be completely separated from regular fish. But why would it be so terrible if they did get out or even interbreed? The author said they might displace regular salmon but he also stated how hard it was to stock salmon in rivers because different subspecies adapted to one river had trouble adapting to another. I doubt people could easily design a fish that can live where fish designed by nature can not.These are only a few of many questions. Why is a system in which salmon droppings fed seaweed and urchins etc implied to be inherently good where as the same thing done by machines is inherently bad? What's the reasoning behind the idea that farmed salmon are causing more wild salmon to be hunted?The author may have good, detailed and in-depth reasons for believing these things but in the book they are just asserted with little or no backing.
The writing was very good and much of it was interesting. If not for the relentless drumming on the underlying premise that humans and capitalism are evil it would have been a very good book.
An interesting and entertaining look at how we make decisions. I would have given this book four or five stars, but it's riddled with such exaggerations in its examples that I have to question whether the conclusions are also exaggerated.
For instance, in an example about the shooting down of a Silkworm missile inbound on the battleship Missouri during the Gulf War the author stresses that the Missouri "would have sunk" had the missile not been shot down. Now, the shooting down of an inbound missile is a BIG deal and worth writing about in a book but the reality is that there are multiple lines of defense against such missiles and even if the missiles were to hit battleships are built to take a LOT of punishment and it's extraordinarily unlikely that it would have sunk the ship. In fact, TWO missiles were inbound on the Missouri. One was shot down as noted, the other one missed, probably due to other countermeasures. The author ignores the existence of the other missile.
The truth of the missile shoot down, especially in the areas of decision making the author was illustrating, are quite interesting and worthy examples in their own right. The author had no need to make the situation more dramatic than it really was but he did anyway.
Other examples have similar exaggerations. In the end I couldn't help feeling that if the author used so much "creative license" with the examples he probably used as much with the conclusions. As such I feel I can't take any of the conclusions at face value.
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