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Keefer

  • 7
  • reviews
  • 17
  • helpful votes
  • 39
  • ratings
  • Thieves of State

  • Why Corruption Threatens Global Security
  • By: Sarah Chayes
  • Narrated by: Sarah Chayes
  • Length: 8 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 223
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 200
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 199

A former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains how government's oldest problem is its greatest destabilizing force. Thieves of State argues that corruption is not just a nuisance; it is a major source of geopolitical turmoil. Since the late 1990s, corruption has grown such that some governments now resemble criminal gangs, provoking extreme reactions ranging from revolution to militant puritanical religion.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic insight

  • By Keefer on 05-25-15

Fantastic insight

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

Reviewed: 05-25-15

This book could have been merely good, if the author simply shared her first-hand experiences with corruption. Instead, she went beyond by researching historic writings on corruption and drawing parallels to current day. In addition, she also gives many reasonable options for fighting corruption moving forward.

While some reviewers have found the narration to be "shrill," I found it had extra weight when the thoughts were stressed as the author intended. Some statements are meant to have impact and the voicing should reflect that.

All around this is an outstanding book. It moves beyond merely reporting on facts, to understanding causes, and recommending solutions.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Divide

  • American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
  • By: Matt Taibbi
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 14 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,312
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,178
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,188

Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles. Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail. In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where our two most troubling trends - growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration - come together, driven by a dramatic shift in American citizenship: Our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or poverty.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Capitalism and Democracy Collide

  • By Michael on 04-20-14

Stunning contrast between social strata in USA

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

Reviewed: 08-23-14

Do you feel like there's a different set of rules for the rich and the poor, but can't quite put your finder on why? Perhaps you still hold out for attaining the American Dream, but it seems to be slipping away.

After reading this book, you'll have little doubt where things stand in the USA. You'll probably wonder why protests like Ferguson, MO don't happen more often.

The writing lived up to my expectations from reading several Matt Taibbi pieces in Rolling Stone. The narration did the writing justice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Way of the Knife

  • The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth
  • By: Mark Mazzetti
  • Narrated by: Richard Ferrone
  • Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 351
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 293
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 296

Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Mazzetti examines secret wars over the past decade, tracking key characters from the intelligence and military communities across the world. Among the characters we meet in The Way of the Knife are a young CIA officer dropped into the tribal areas to learn the hard way how the spy games in Pakistan are played; an Air Force test pilot who fired the first drone missile in the Nevada desert; and a chain-smoking Pentagon official who ran an off-the-books spying operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent critique of covert operations

  • By Keefer on 04-27-13

Excellent critique of covert operations

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

Reviewed: 04-27-13

This book does a fine job laying-bear the drawbacks of an increasingly militarized CIA and increasingly covert DoD. It also examines the misadventures of using private contractors to do the US government's dirty work, and of becoming involved with unsavory groups or states to achieve short-term goals, which will have long-term negative consequences.

The chronology of the book is sometimes a bit jarring. In a few places it jumps forward or backwards in time suddenly. I think the editing could have been better from a continuity and cohesiveness standpoint. The book also suffers from a little bit of tunnel-vision--it follows the arc of several figures, but doesn't (in my opinion) give a broad assessment or characterization of programs overall. That's understandable, due to the difficulty of getting on-the-record statements from people involved in covert action and the intelligence world, but it does restrict the completeness.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Diamond Age

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Wiltsie
  • Length: 18 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,844
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,664
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,686

Neal Stephenson, "the hottest science fiction writer in America", takes science fiction to dazzling new levels. The Diamond Age is a stunning tale; set in 21st-century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens what a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life, and the entire future of humanity, is about to be decoded and reprogrammed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The rock could use a bit more polishing

  • By Tango on 05-19-13

Stunningly good narration

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

Reviewed: 12-29-12

I read the other reviews raving about the narration and told myself "I won't need to comment on that in my review." Guess what? The narration is AWESOME. There are dozens of characters and Wiltsie does them all in highly distinct and very convincing voices, switching back and forth between them with hardly a missed beat.

The story is pretty much what I expected from Stephenson: Futuristic, but in a believable way, weaves in low-level technology concepts via allegories, slightly uncomfortable in places, and fascinating commentary on social systems. Thoroughly enjoyable escapism.

Have I mentioned that the narration is fantastic?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Zero Day

  • A Jeff Aiken Novel
  • By: Mark Russinovich
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller
  • Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,737
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,580
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,585

An airliner’s controls abruptly fail mid-flight over the Atlantic. An oil tanker runs aground in Japan when its navigational system suddenly stops dead. Hospitals everywhere have to abandon their computer databases when patients die after being administered incorrect dosages of their medicine. In the Midwest, a nuclear power plant nearly becomes the next Chernobyl when its cooling systems malfunction. At first, these random computer failures seem like unrelated events.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I was a skeptic but now I'm not! Really good book!

  • By shelley on 04-27-18

Disappointing

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

Reviewed: 12-01-12

It really pains me to write a negative review for this book. For one, Mark Russinovich is a really smart guy who has been very generous in sharing his knowledge of obscure Windows internals. As a computer security professional, I'm also very eager for thrillers with hacker themes.

Before the downers, if you're an IT person who wants to read a book where computer experts are the central figures and aren't too concerned about the plot, you'll probably enjoy this book any way.

The story was just too weak for me. The technical parts were highly dumbed down and not very accurate, which surprised me because Russinovich is very knowledgeable on these subjects. The interactions were sexualized to the point where it distracted a lot from the plot, in my opinion. There are ways to work sex into stories without beating the reader over the head with it. The attempts at describing relationships seemed very strained to me, like someone trying to fit human interaction into a crude algorithm.

I'm not sure how many of my complaints stem from bad writing to begin with, or bad editing. I hope editors will allow more technically accurate and detailed depictions in Russinovich's future works, and hopefully encourage a lot of coaching in character development and interaction.

  • Snow Crash

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 17 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14,216
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,850
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10,938

Neal Stephenson is a blazing new force on the sci-fi scene. With the groundbreaking cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, he has "vaulted onto the literary stage." It weaves virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility - in short, it is the gigathriller of the information age.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Classic Stephenson

  • By A. Tuck on 10-16-08

Great story, outstanding narration

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

Reviewed: 07-12-12

This book has the best first chapter of any book I've ever read.

The story combines computer hacking, sword fighting, corruption, religion, and dystopian future in a way that's easy to imagine. As a hacker I found the book interesting, although the descriptions are simple enough for anyone to follow. I did find some of the etymology a bit tedious, but the historical and mythological elements were enjoyable.

Stephenson did an outstanding job of writing in the voice of his characters, and Davis gave extremely convincing performances for each of them. This is the best narration I've listened to on an audible book yet.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Watchers

  • The Rise of America's Surveillance State
  • By: Shane Harris
  • Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
  • Length: 15 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 46
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29

Our surveillance state was born in the brain of Admiral John Poindexter in 1983. Poindexter, President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, realized that the United States might have prevented the terrorist massacre of 241 Marines in Beirut if only intelligence agencies had been able to analyze in real time data they had on the attackers. Poindexter poured government know-how and funds into his dream---a system that would sift reams of data for signs of terrorist activity.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Important context for privacy debate

  • By Keefer on 09-17-11

Important context for privacy debate

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

Reviewed: 09-17-11

Shane Harris does such a good job of explaining the rationale behind the creation of the modern US surveillance state and the motivations of the people who created it that in the end I felt it was lacking compelling arguments against such domestic spying. Despite that, the book does chronicle the rapid erosion of protections for US persons in the face of comprehensive government eavesdropping. I heartily recommend this book to anyone seeking a better understanding of privacy and surveillance issues.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful