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john

Battery Point, Australia | Member Since 2011

20
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 6 reviews
  • 27 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 43 purchased in 2014
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  • Pax Britannica: The Climax of an Empire - Pax Britannica, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Jan Morris
    • Narrated By Roy McMillan
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (60)

    The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris’s magnificent history of the British Empire from 1837 to 1965. Huge in scope and ambition, it is always personal and immediate, bringing the story vividly to life. Pax Britannica, the second volume, is a snapshot of the Empire at the Diamond Jubilee of 1897. It looks at what made up the Empire —from adventurers and politicians to communications and infrastructure, as well as anomalies and eccentricities.

    Bryan says: "The British Empire at it's Peak"
    "Nothing is ever as simple as it seems"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An interesting review of how Britain obtained and then shed an empire and just how it all happened without a concerted plan or a real overall strategy. Not quite an "Accidental Empire" but neither a thought through plan to dominate the people of the countries they added to the collection. Worth every minute and dollar to learn interesting facts and to remember that it often takes a long time for the sense (or lack thereof) of a decision to become clear.

    Production values in the audio is of the normal Audbile high standard.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress - Pax Britannica, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Jan Morris
    • Narrated By Roy McMillan
    Overall
    (164)
    Performance
    (129)
    Story
    (128)

    The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris’s epic story of the British Empire from the accession of Queen Victoria to the death of Winston Churchill. It is a towering achievement: informative, accessible, entertaining and written with all her usual bravura. Heaven’s Command, the first volume, takes us from the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The story moves effortlessly across the world, from the English shores to Fiji, Zululand, the Canadian prairies and beyond. Totally gripping history!

    Wolfpacker says: "Great Vignettes, Good Overall Story"
    "Nothing is ever as simple as it seems"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An interesting review of how Britain obtained and then shed an empire and just how it all happened without a concerted plan or a real overall strategy. Not quite an "Accidental Empire" but neither a thought through plan to dominate the people of the countries they added to the collection. Worth every minute and dollar to learn interesting facts and to remember that it often takes a long time for the sense (or lack thereof) of a decision to become clear.

    Production values in the audio is of the normal Audbile high standard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat: Pax Britannica, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Jan Morris
    • Narrated By Roy McMillan
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (40)

    The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris’ magnificent history of the British Empire from 1837 to 1965. This final volume charts the decline and dissolution of what was once the largest empire the world had known. From the first signs of decay in the imperial ambition in the Boer Wars, through the global shifts in power evident in the two World Wars, it offers a perspective that is honest, evocative, and occasionally elegiac.

    Bryan says: "The British Empire Declines and Fades Away"
    "Nothing is ever as simple as it seems"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An interesting review of how Britain obtained and then shed an empire and just how it all happened without a concerted plan or a real overall strategy. Not quite an "Accidental Empire" but neither a thought through plan to dominate the people of the countries they added to the collection. Worth every minute and dollar to learn interesting facts and to remember that it often takes a long time for the sense (or lack thereof) of a decision to become clear.

    Production values in the audio is of the normal Audbile high standard.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By George Dyson
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (120)
    Performance
    (103)
    Story
    (103)

    In the 1940s and '50s, a group of eccentric geniuses - led by John von Neumann - gathered at the newly created Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Their joint project was the realization of the theoretical universal machine, an idea that had been put forth by mathematician Alan Turing. This group of brilliant engineers worked in isolation, almost entirely independent from industry and the traditional academic community. But because they relied exclusively on government funding, the government wanted its share of the results....

    Monte Johnston says: "Needed an editor"
    "Turing's vision; Von Neumann's construction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While good coverage and credit is given to Turing for the ideas that he had and the work he did to spark the computer revolution this book is more focused on Von Neumann as the driving force behind creating the machine at the Institute for Advanced Studies, sometimes referred to as MANIAC.

    I assume that the book title may have been driven a little by marketing department awareness that Alan Turing has become a commonly known name amongst those with more than passing interest in the history of computing while Von Neumann is yet to gain the 'household name' level of recognition that he deserves.

    While the 'Turing Machine' was a stunning intellectual achievement in abstract thinking about the science and mathematics of computing the actual machines that we are using are often, and rightly, described as 'Von Neumann Machines'

    If you know the subject well this is a great summary and includes interesting facts that you may well not know about just how things got done. If the way Turing's ideas ended up in the machine you are reading this one is not familiar to you then this is the best way of filling in that gap that I know of.

    The pace is good and the tone conversational (this is a history of people and ideas, not a text book) and the delivery is in the upper end of Audible's range.

    If you care about how the computer revolution that we are living through got through it's teething stages and got to its feet and started walking then I can highly recommend this as an entertaining and informative way to learn a lot more than I thought I would in a weekend's listening.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Selfish Gene

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    Overall
    (1466)
    Performance
    (1077)
    Story
    (1060)

    Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.

    J. D. May says: "Better than print!"
    "Required"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The Selfish Gene rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 10


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "Who's driving this bus"


    Any additional comments?

    Having the footnotes and extra comments read by Ward was a highly effective way of keeping track of which idea stream we are in. A good idea very effectively implemented.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Walter Isaacson
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker, Walter Isaacson
    Overall
    (1272)
    Performance
    (1097)
    Story
    (1101)

    In Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, Walter Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs' professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs' family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, this is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.

    john says: "More man, less tech, might have made a better book"
    "More man, less tech, might have made a better book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At the end of this book Isaacson gives us some new information, especially relating to Job's family. This was great and makes the book worth the price.

    But be clear that stuff up until 1985 is far better covered in the books Isaacson has taken the stories from (sometimes distorting them in the process).

    Check out:
    Revolution in the Valley
    Infinite Loop
    Return to the Little Kingdom
    for the source material of these stories.

    Isaacson seems to lack the knowledge of the technical aspects and the curiosity to ask people who do know to tell the wheat from the chaff in these early stories. He will present stuff that doesn't matter and trim away stuff that does. If the only source you have for these stories is Isaacson's book you will have a distorted, and sometimes false, impression of what happened.

    Now I suspect Isaacson would say he was interested in the man and the life lived and not so much these technical details. That's, in fact what I expected this book to be about with most of this tech stuff skimmed over. But Isaacson chooses to put in a substantial amount of details where he clearly doesn't know what they mean in themselves and fails to examine usefully what they tell us about the life being examined.

    I don't want to give the impression this is a bad book. It is not. It is fine. But it is flawed in several ways because Isaacson seems to be disinterested in the tech and disinterested in examining what the tech means.

    This could have been a better book if it was more about the man and floated past some of the tech bits that are inexact retellings of stories that Andy Hertzfeld and others have told better and, in my opinion, used better to paint what the man was like in his 20s.

    I think Isaacson did not make the best use if the fact the he was given the power of 'exclusive'. As others have said, just as Steve chose the wrong guy for Apple when he chose Scully he chose the wrong guy for this book when he chose Isaacson. So many other people who had the writing skills aligned with a passionate interest in the subject could have done more with this unique opportunity. Isaacson's approach is solid, professional but pedestrian and uninspired given the amazing power he was given.

    Anyway, get the book, it's well done an easily worth the money, However, do be careful about quoting too much of the details to those who are better informed on the subject because the list of corrections of technical fact and/or context you may get will be tedious for all concerned.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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