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Zak

Hartford, CT, United States

5
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 1 reviews
  • 3 ratings
  • 91 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014
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  • Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Steve Coll
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (156)
    Performance
    (129)
    Story
    (120)

    Steve Coll investigates the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States, revealing the true extent of its power. ExxonMobil’s annual revenues are larger than the economic activity in the great majority of countries. In many of the countries where it conducts business, ExxonMobil’s sway over politics and security is greater than that of the United States embassy. In Washington, ExxonMobil spends more money lobbying Congress and the White House than almost any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is a black box.

    Zak says: "Please no more accents!"
    "Please no more accents!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Private Empire is an excellent investigation of Exxon's (and more recently Exxon-Mobil's) corporate conduct and policies over the last two decades or so. Coll begins with the Valdez spill and offers more of a series of case studies than any continuous history. At times a more detailed backstory of Exxon's pre-1989 development would help, but on the whole Coll's more journalistic approach is effective and interesting.

    My only complaint here is the narration - and really it's the trend represented here more than the specific performance I object to. Malcolm Hillgartner's voice is fine, and he generally reads in a clear, expressive manner. But I appeal to him, and to all audiobook producers, to enact a moratorium on foreign accents, at least in nonfiction works. Unless done extremely well, the use of accents to distinguish quotes from speakers of different nationalities is totally distracting - at best comical, at worst borderline offensive. Listening to Vladimir Putin's words (which were spoken in Russian to begin with!) recited in a Bela Lugosi-like "Russian" accent in no way enhances my listening pleasure. Maybe this kind of dramatization is necessary or desirable in narrating works of fiction (though I'd prefer not), but when it's actual historical figures in a work of journalistic reporting, it's just ridiculous. (Ditto w/male narrator's reading women's words in a semi-falsetto. Yuck!)

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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