The narrator does the best he can with the material, but it is dry stuff and slow-going.
Having enjoyed "I'm Feeling Lucky", and assuming it was a single persons perspective on the amazing start-up story, I thought I would try another book about Google. However, this book had no narrative arc. It was just a series of reported events with dry quotes from Google employees. I did my best to stay engaged, but about half way through the second part I found other books to listen to.
Elizabeth Warren was an outsider and a voice of the people during the financial crisis, who seemed to be able to resist the poltical forces that tried to sideline and extinguish her.
She fought for and was heavily involved in the creation of the Consumer Protection Agency, which in my opinion only a fool or a banker would think there was not a role for.
She then ran successfully for the office of US Senator for Massachusetts.
The book chronicles her life journey including these events. It drips with folksy wholesom-isms, pet dog references and anecdotes of supposed self-doubt. But I sense burning political aspirations. Nothing wrong with that, but some of this book is too sugary sweet to feel real, but hey I'm a cynic.
Her story is an impressive one in that she came from a low-to-middle income background in Nowhere-Specialsville and defied gender bias to become a Harvard professor and is now a US Senator.
Elizabeth Warren is a strong and thoroughly likeable woman (unless you can't see through your own political disagreements with her), and her early clumsy lack of political finess made me like her even more, since this suggested she had yet to be brought in to the fold of the Washington "movers".
But there is a fine line between being "of Washigton" and therefore sufficiently knowledgeable and politically skillful to affect change, and being "not of Washington" and so sufficiently free of the accumulated power and its comforts to want to affect change.
This book is clearly a political tool. An attempt to write her own narrative before political foes do. I hope she is still walking that fine line. I hope she hasn't fully gone over to the dark side!
Good political auto-biography if you take it with a pinch of salt. Nicely narrated by the author.
I'm relatively new to Taibbi, but I like what I hear.
I started with his book "The Great Divide" which I found valuable, convincing and much more than a typical politically-partisan attack book.
This book "The Great Derangement" helps me see why. Taibbi has equal contempt and disdain for BS of any political stripe. And in this I have found a new brother. Whilst he may have political leanings, as do I, as do we all, he does not allow them to blind him from the bad behaviors of any political group or politician. Thank goodness there is a journalistic voice out there that is not in the tank for one "side" or the other.
There were some moments in the book where I cringed. Such as when I felt he was being mean to the religious right ladies who had been nothing but kind to him.
I also felt that there was a false equivalence by comparing the systemically constructed and demographically large religious right / end times group, with a self-grown, disorganized and demographically small "Truth" movement. Although I do take his larger point that the two ends of the political spectrum are culturally trained to hate each other, to the benefit of the political class overall.
But there are some moments of pure genius. Such as the section where he encapsulates why it is so hard for citizens in America to get a handle on objective truth due to the level of misinformation and outright lying that goes on in politics, journalism and even the commercial messages we are bombarded with.
I feel that struggle, and he captured it perfectly.
Thank you Matt Taibbi for looking in all directions and calling them like you see 'em.
Excellent narration by David Slavin.
I had noticed and been pondering this social media trend of massively disproportionate shaming attacks on social media, when I saw Jon Ronson's latest book, so I had to get it.
I'm not a huge Ronson fan, but I see value in his "this is funny, but there are real issues here" approach. The way he recounts conversations with "I said", "he said" can get a little annoying at times, but I could overlook it.
As for the content, I would have liked for him to really focus on the social media side of shaming. Only one third to a half of the book covers this type of shaming, the remainder covers "old media" stories such as a prostitution ring in New Hampshire (newspapers), Formula One Chief Max Mosley kinky sex (newspapers) and so on.
To me the cultural event is how Social Media amplifies shaming to a ludicrously disproportionate degree, as compared to what would otherwise would be mild rebuke. It also removes the capacity for nuanced discussion. The South African racist joke for example was to me, a clumsy attempt at someone mocking the racist, elitist thoughts of others, not the feelings of the joker herself.
Just as email developed emoticons to clarify intent in written communication, it seems we need to develop some "emoticons" around "being sarcastic here" or "not a fully formed thought yet, but".
An aspect of this social media dynamic that causes problems, is that tweeting, or commenting on facebook is a little like getting on television. It feels a tiny bit like being famous. So any opportunity folks see of responding to something, they have the impulse to do it. With twitter its worse, because your comments can be anonymously famous - everyone sees your tweet (famous), but no-one knows necessarily who you really are (no consequences).
Ronson does cover historical aspects of shaming as a punishment and does dig in to why some targets of shame have been able to not be so affected whilst others have been utterly devastated. There are interesting thoughts here, but as I have said, the cultural phenomenon is how this is playig out on Social Media and I wish he had dug deeper here.
As for his performance - at first I found his voice annoying, but now I actually enjoy listening to him.
I have listened to this book twice now (with six months in between).
If I could characterise the tone of the book, I would say it is of a sarcastic wallflower mocking the kids at the high school prom. Sarcastic, sometimes unfair and often close to the bone, but also incredibly fun.
I'm not sure which came first, the HBO series Veep, or this book, but they are in a similar vein and illuminate the desperate jostling for position that seems to be modern politics.
Many serious points are made regarding politicians' deceptive personal branding, shameless "monetizing" of government service via the revolving door to lobbying, and mind-blowing lack of convictions by campaiging against an industry in government and then almost immediately joining that industry as a lobbyist.
Many of these people are self obsessed, self promoting, and shamelessly low in moral fiber and Mark Leibovich gives you plenty of examples whilst being gut-bustingly funny.
The overall narrative arc could probably have been better, but who gives!
One additional note - Joe Barret's performance made the book even funnier. His subtly sarcastic tone matched the authors work perfectly and made me tear up with laughter regularly. I'm sure I will give this book another listen in another six months, just to hear him read it all over again. Thank you Mr. Barret!
This book is little more than a protracted advertisement for the author's obstacle race business.
I was hoping for more of an inspiring story of his journey and accomplishments, with his Spartan Race business being the subtle culmination of the tale.
However it is shamelessly self aggrandizing and thinly veiled self promotion. Constantly mythologizing the people of ancient Sparta and then favorably comparing himself to them. No nuance here.
The narrator's voice is well suited for the material I suppose - stereotypically hyper masculine and gung-ho with military overtones.
I think the concept of mixing in obstacles with races and forcing participants to go far beyond their normal daily challenges is great and inspiring. But let us not get too carried away....
Joe de Sena, you are not a Greek God!
Impressive observations on human nature, and political dynamics. Most of which are still relevant today if you substitute the word Politician for Prince and take conquest to be a metaphor for political or economic conquest.
I listened to the book for its historical significance rather than the content itself. I was expecting a more diabolical book given Machiavelli's reputation, but after making allowances for the period in which it was written it seemed like good advice for aspiring leaders of the time.
The narration is good, reflects a certain classicism, but at times was a little storybookish and wooden for me.
Overall a valuable read/listen.
Well written and at times gripping account of a team of good-guy techies trying to defend the internet from a fast spreading virus whose dangers are unknown.
I am listening to a series of books on computer viruses/malware and I read in a review that this book was a good primer on the subject. I agree. Informative and enjoyable listen.
Solid, classy narration by Christopher Lane.
Next up for me, Countdown to Zero Day, then Kingpin. Yay for techie books!
Extremely well written, thoroughly informative and often utterly hilarious.
I understand that sounds weird to say, given that it is a book of nuclear disasters (and I do feel uneasy saying it), but the way in which these stories are told, and the fact that that most of these disasters seems to be down to a human being having a Laurel and Hardy moment with one of humanity's most dangerous scientific discovery turns out to be quite effective at tickling my funny bone.
I came away thinking that if we could just learn to harness this genie in a bottle it would solve all our energy needs. But I know I wouldn't want to live near something that is a human blunder away from "prompt critical".
The Jerk is one of my favorite films and I've enjoyed many of his other films, but Steve Martin strikes me as a man who is somewhat embarrassed by his best work and wants to be taken much more seriously.
In the book we learn that his father seemed uncomfortable with his son's less than cerebral visual comedy and perhaps thats why Mr. Martin seems to overcompensate in interviews and in this short autobiography. Whilst there is much of interest for those looking for an inside view of the world of stand-up comedy, there is also much dry and serious analysis of how philosophy, art and cultural forces informed the many average jokes he proceeds to recite (out of character).
To me Steve Martin was funny mostly for the characters he created and his physical performance. Not for his word-play, stories, or zingers.
Not once did I guffaw, nor even chortle. This is not a funny book. Extracting jokes from their context and discussing them, sap all of the magic and joy from them.
I did smile once in a while reflecting on the comedy-acting masterpieces captured in The Jerk and on SNL. But it seems Mr. Martin is determined to demonstrate his intellectual chops rather than entertain his readers.
I still love him for giving me some of the funniest moments of movie/television magic I have known.
This audiobook is now in my top 5!
I'm pretty well versed with World War 2 from the European perspective and somewhat familiar with the US parts of the war in the Pacific, but this was my first exposure to the Australian perspective.
One of the great things about this book is how well written it is. The author zooms in to heart-wrenching accounts of individual experiences and the costs of war, zooms out to the international politics of the allied forces, and then back in again to the tactical decision making of the officers. All done effortlessly and captivatingly.
Narrator has a clear, solid voice and deliver the material effortlessly. I am very pleased the narrator is Australian. This is such a quintessentially Australian story with quintessentially Australian characters. Nothing else would do.
There were a great many. A few examples....
The pastor who decided to bury a killed soldier in mid combat as the bullets flew, and that both sides stopped and waited until he had completed his task.
The brothers singing together in camp, with one trying to shake off the sick feeling that his brother would soon be dead.
The soldier who after being shot badly in the belly, asks himself "Is this real, am I really going to die? Is there no way out?".
You'd be a fool to pass this one up!
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