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Dr. JSH

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  • C Street

  • The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy
  • By: Jeff Sharlet
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Guskin
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43

Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have reported from inside the C Street House, the Fellowship residence known simply by its Washington, D.C., address. The house has lately been the scene of notorious political scandal, but more crucially, it is home to efforts to transform the very fabric of American democracy. And now, after laying bare its tenants' past in The Family, Sharlet reports from deep within fundamentalism in today's world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not Much Of A Sequel

  • By Paul on 11-28-11

A decent sequel to "The Family"

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-25-19

Compared to the author's previous work, "The Family," "C Street" seems like an addendum, although at nearly nine hours of listening time, "C Street" is far more substantial than a footnote and its content and focus differ from "The Family" to make "C Street" a worthwhile purchase.
(Yes, there is some overlap, but comments exasperated by this are overstated. How could there not be overlap when an author's second topical book follows the original?)
After dealing with background of the C Street residence, residents, and scandals, the book settles down to cover the hypocritical "lapses in morality" (God-forgiven, of course) of three C Street-resident politicians who were so busy with their prayer groups they barely had time to cheat on their wives. Unlike gays' existence, adultery is a sin politicians and constituents can forgive, with careful messaging and great effort to keep financial high jinks to each respective spouse under wraps.
"C Street" covers Mark Sanford most in-depth. Sanford, of course, is famous for disappearing for six days, supposedly hiking the Appalachian Trail but actually in Argentina building memories of his "heart's desire"'s "breasts" and "tan lines," as recorded in letters his wife would later discover. Whoops-a-daisy.
Mark Sanford gave author Jeff Sharlet heaps of information to include in the book; he wasn't as fortunate with the other C Street "prayer warriors" so their inclusion in the book seems off-balance and skimpy in comparison.
I recommend "C Street," after "The Family." It's a good refresher of how naively accepting (even welcoming) most Americans are of Christian supremacists, who are now American fascists with Trump, their charismatic-hero leader, at the helm.

  • The Justice of Contradictions

  • Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption
  • By: Richard L. Hasen
  • Narrated by: Jesse Einstein
  • Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8

Engaging but caustic and openly ideological, Antonin Scalia was among the most influential justices ever to serve on the United States Supreme Court. In this fascinating new book, legal scholar Richard L. Hasen assesses Scalia's complex legacy as a conservative legal thinker and disruptive public intellectual. The left saw Scalia as an unscrupulous foe who amplified his judicial role with scathing dissents and outrageous public comments.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superlative

  • By Jean on 03-06-19

Fantastic story about a fanatical

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-19-19

One might expect a book about judicial history and legal philosophy to be dry, but Hasen's "The Justice of Contradictions" is anything but.
I don't think anyone would doubt that the late Justice Scalia's reputation as the most caustic and divisive (and Schadenfreude-driven, I'll add) is well deserved.
DISCLOSURE: In my opinion, Scalia was Trumpian before Trump became president. He was a wealthy elite who acted as if he was "one of the people," despite lacking empathy for victims of injustice. He was a big mouth with narcissistic traits who had contempt for gays, minorities, and others who were denied due process and equal protection under the laws because the states' tyranny of the majority had decided these groups should be isolated, stigmatized, ostracized, and denied the inalienable rights they should have equally had.
DISCLOSURE TWO (and TOO): "Originalism" is a make-believe judicial philosophy used to cut off discussion when judges and justices like Scalia (and Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and...) have already decided cases' outcomes based on their own biases and political affiliation. By citing "originalism," they can lie to others (maybe themselves too) that they are obligated to rule in a certain way, which is absurd, really, given, as Hasen notes, the great number of times "originalists" disagree on case resolution and the reasons why they came to such a conclusion using "originalist" thinking.
Hasen treats Scalia gently, sincerely asking if Scalia personally despised gay lives or if "originalism" brought him to inequality for gays for purely objective reasons. To me, the answer is the former. Indubitably. Scalia once asked a public assembly of his fans: "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?" His auto-response shows a man -- well-known for his commitment to Roman Catholicism (his son is a priest) -- who gladly tramples the Establishment Clause, wrongly equates sin with immorality, and denies gays' innate dignity and respectability. And his fans, assembled in that room and worldwide, cheer his degradation of gay lives and amplify their own efforts to deny gay rights. Scalia gave them validity.
In his Lawrence dissent, Scalia wrote: "[T]he so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct."
Also, "Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as 'discrimination.'”
These are the words of a proud bigot who sees gays (and other "unpopular groups") as the rightful victims of religious intolerance and discrimination, not protected by the 14th Amendment, deemed illegal in their very existence by mob democracy. This is a man who defies the knowledge that discrimination based on identity is ALWAYS irrational and should find no quarter in law. Scalia's strong opinion that groups can be rightfully marginalized in democracy, which our nation is not, and their sole recourse is to wait for the blessed day -- if it ever comes -- when the majority finally decides to relieve their oppression.
More subtly than I could, Hasen brings such issues to light and proposes that "originalism" is a conservative ploy to achieve judicial activism without debate.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Idiot America

  • How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
  • By: Charles P. Pierce
  • Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
  • Length: 9 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 594
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 535
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 535

The culture wars are over and the idiots have won. This is a veteran journalist’s caustically funny, righteously angry lament about the glorification of ignorance in the United States. The three Great Premises of Idiot America: · Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units; anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough; "fact" is that which enough people believe. And "truth" is determined by how fervently they believe it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You Get What You Paid For

  • By Vargas on 09-19-11

In God We Trust..All Others Pay Cash.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-18-18

I had a good time with "Idiot America," partly because Charles P. Pierce seemed quite prescient in foretelling the absurdity of Trump's America.
The candidate who came up short in the popular vote became president (again). Trump got as many votes as he did by appealing to Idiot America, which somehow saw in him a "peer" ("He's just like us!") and "Christian" ("I'll nominate judges who will overrule Roe v. Wade right away!") despite being an amoral billionaire who cheated on all three of his wives, not to mention the US Treasury's general fund of rightfully owed tax payments.
Given the further rise of Idiot American in the 2016 primaries and election and the liberation of the Religious White, adamant it's perfectly appropriate to refuse to arrange flowers for gay customers, and white nationalism, Piece owes us a sequel.
Piece and Bronson Pinchot (Balki of "Perfect Strangers") are a perfect match, with the author's sarcasm and wry humor paired with the narrator's timing and dramatic skills.
Two thumbs up!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Fear

  • Trump in the White House
  • By: Bob Woodward
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,930
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,740
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,621

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files, and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One, and the White House residence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Actually Humanized Trump for Me

  • By BigNutz on 12-15-18

Trump is even more inept than I had thought.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-29-18

I enjoyed this audiobook. Time and again I was dumbstruck by how utterly dumb Trump is. Earlier in his administration, I read a lot of op-eds about how brilliant a strategist Trump is, how he is so calculating he can present a facade of chaos as a means of fulfilling the "Trump doctrine." Those articles didn't ring true, but of course, I had no means of knowing with certainty if they were accurate.
Now I know. Those articles were pure conjecture on their writers' part. Trump is not brilliant. He is petty, hot-headed, impulsive, selfish, self-centered, too stubborn to learn, and too narcissistic to consider listening to his competent aides.
Woodward does a good job of presenting Trump as Trump. Evidently Rob Porter was a source since quite a bit of the text includes Porter being present. I wondered if Steve Bannon was a source too, but of course, there are no attributions to who said what.
The book is a bit heavy on politics but not overbearingly so. To give excruciating details would be out of place because Trump is the central character and he doesn't read anything longer than a page (if said page has illustrations). The book covers what Trump can grasp (or not) in his fleeting attention span. I did fast-forward through one section on Iran because all of the acronyms and names of US and UN agencies got murky, but this part was self-contained.

  • Vulgar Favors

  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace
  • By: Maureen Orth
  • Narrated by: Dan Woren, Maureen Orth
  • Length: 18 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 296
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 267
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265

Two months before Gianni Versace was murdered on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion by Andrew Cunanan, award-winning journalist Maureen Orth was investigating a major story on the serial killer for Vanity Fair. Culled from interviews with more than 400 people and insights from thousands of pages of police reports, Orth tells the complete story of Cunanan, his unwitting victims, and the moneyed, hedonistic world in which they lived...and died.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ONE OF THE BEST TRUE CRIME BOOKS IN MY LIBRARY!

  • By Steve on 10-29-17

One of the greats, with a couple of caveats

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-12-18

"Vulgar Favors" is among the best true-crime books I've ever read/listened to. I recall "the mysterious gay killer" wreaking havoc across the U.S., including where I lived, although his presence in SE New England turned out to be just a false sighting.
The author Maureen Orth takes readers along with her as she crosses the United States, contemporaneously reporting the deaths of Andrew Cunanan's first four victims. No one knew if, when, or where Cunanan was to strike next, but after she heard the news that Versace had been murdered, she was sent by "Vanity Fair" magazine to report Versace's -- and later Cunanan's -- death.
Although I did very much enjoy this book, the text is outdated in its mostly condescending tone regarding gay men. Orth describes gay men as shallow, vain, sex-hungry, drug-using, superficial, body-conscious, lesser-than individuals, who are either rich or money-grubbing. Some of this comes from the places where she did her interviews: Hillcrest (San Diego), Boysland (Chicago), South Beach, and San Francisco present a very narrow view of "a gay" (Orth's term, which is really bad phrasing; gay men never say, "Hi! I'm a gay!"). I would hope that if she were to revise the text one day, she would reconsider her judgmental categorization of gay men.
Also, Orth refers to Cunanan's case as the most bungled criminal investigation in U.S. history. That is not true. Here's just one example: the investigation into the Charles Manson family's killing spree was so disjointed that in hindsight it's amazing the defendants were found guilty, nevermind (originally) sentenced to death.
But -- despite these flaws -- I still recommend "Vulgar Favors" as engrossing and time well spent.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Pill City

  • How Two Honor Roll Students Foiled the Feds and Built a Drug Empire
  • By: Kevin Deutsch
  • Narrated by: Mirron Willis
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 118
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 110
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 111

April 28, 2015, West Baltimore, Maryland: ground zero in America's Opiate Wars. In this crime-plagued section of the city, the death of Freddie Gray has triggered the worst domestic rioting since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and created a terrifying new breed of criminal entrepreneur.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Fiction

  • By James Ussery on 01-17-18

Narrator ruined this book for me.

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-24-18

I made it through the beginning of chapter 5 before giving up in frustration.
The narrator ruined this book for me. He spoke with such staccato, interrupted by unnecessary and distracting pauses, that following the narrative arc was too burdensome.
I don't mind struggling with a book's concepts or stances that differ from mine, but when the narrator is the primary obstacle to enjoying a book, it's time to throw in the towel.

  • Above Suspicion

  • By: Joe Sharkey
  • Narrated by: Marc Cashman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 600
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 564
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 559

A personal look at a crime of passion describes an FBI agent's successful career, family life, and extramarital affair that ended in murder, and the guilt that drove him to confess in spite of his impenetrable government shield. In a true story of crime, guilt, and conscience, a model agent's illicit involvement with an informant leads him to commit a crime that reveals all the workings of the human heart - and the dark side of the FBI.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent journalism

  • By 6catz on 02-01-17

Would've listened to the whole book with no breaks

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-24-18

Sharkey's "Above Suspicion" is a mesmerizing true-crime book that so engulfed me I wouldn't listed to the entire book with no breaks if I had the time to do so.
Cashman as narrator is great too, using the ranges of pitch and volume in his voice to portray several characters' words.
Be sure to listen to the epilogue to learn what happened after Sharkey completed the first edition of the book. His updates make the book even more poignant.
Very much recommend!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Holidays on Ice

  • Featuring Six New Stories
  • By: David Sedaris
  • Narrated by: David Sedaris
  • Length: 4 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,752
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,342
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,336

David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); and what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow").

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best When In SantaLand

  • By Dave on 12-06-11

Classic Sedaris

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-26-18

I've been a David Sedaris fan for years, and the updated "Holidays on Ice" delivers.
I had the original audio book already, but, with Audible's January 2018 sale offering the revamped "Holidays on Ice" for $2.95, purchasing the book was an easy decision.
At his best, Sedaris' writing is dark, unconventional, and -- yes -- funny. Take him for who he is, not what you want him to write.
By far, Sedaris was the best narrator. His sister Amy Sedaris was okay. But someone else really should have narrated "Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!" I'll be like Thaddeus Bristol, a character in another story, and say that woman just doesn't sell it.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The True Flag

  • Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire
  • By: Stephen Kinzer
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 384
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 353
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 352

How should the United States act in the world? Americans cannot decide. Sometimes we burn with righteous anger, launching foreign wars and deposing governments. Then we retreat - until the cycle begins again. No matter how often we debate this question, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Timely and important

  • By Joshua C. Packard on 02-20-17

I made it to chapter 6 ... .

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-26-18

I really wanted to like this book because the lives of President T. Roosevelt and Mark Twain fascinate me.
But -- I had to give up.
Kinzer, the author, seemed to create this book (well, the first six chapters anyway) in a copy-and-paste manner. It's just quotation after quotation. Between quotes, Kinzer added what could be considered transitions, if they worked well, which they didn't.
As a professor, I get annoyed when students use this writing style: a three-sentence quote from this article, a four-sentence quote from that article. They're not plagiarizing; everything is properly cited. But it shows little original thought.
I find reading -- and listening -- to long-quote/transition/long-quote/transition/ad-nauseam very frustrating.
The narrator was great, but, for me, he couldn't save this audio book.

  • The Professor and the Madman

  • By: Simon Winchester
  • Narrated by: Simon Winchester
  • Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,431
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,392
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,410

Part history, part true-crime, and entirely entertaining, listen to the story of how the behemoth Oxford English Dictionary was made. You'll hang on every word as you discover that the dictionary's greatest contributor was also an insane murderer working from the confines of an asylum.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Perfect example of a quality audible book.

  • By Jerry on 07-07-03

Very good book, just shy of great

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-07-18

Simon Winchester's "The Professor and the Madman" is a poignant story. The author does a superb job as narrator, although it took me a while to realize he was switching between an English and Scots accent to differentiate between narrator and character voice.

I didn't give this book five stars for all categories because the chapters about the history of dictionaries are agonizingly dull. I listened for as long as I could stand, skipped to the next chapter, heard more about dictionary history, and skipped to the next chapter where the text returned to the actual narrative arc.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful