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Jim

Holland, TX, United States
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  • Hillbilly Elegy

  • A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  • By: J. D. Vance
  • Narrated by: J. D. Vance
  • Length: 6 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,319
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32,684
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32,612

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis - that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over 40 years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enlightening!

  • By Gotta Tellya on 09-11-16

The Lower Depths of Old Cane-tuck

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

Reviewed: 08-29-18

This book was written by a self-described Kentucky hillbilly with a Yale law degree who now writes conservative magazine articles. He talks comfortably with other ivy-leaguers during on-line interviews, although he says he’s not turned into an elite. He has a high paying job and lives in San Francisco. His book is chock full of self-examination and reflection and gets tedious—a giveaway to the author’s changed circumstances. This despite coming from a hardscrabble family, who he writes carried pistols and cursed like farmers shoveling out a barn. Vance’s writing is removed and distant from the grittiness of those recollections. He uses sociology studies and statistics to explain circumstances. He writes about off-the-wall events, like his mother screaming profanity in her front yard wearing only a bath towel, attracting neighbors and cops with handcuffs, or later threatening to kill him by crashing her car, in a matter-of-fact dispassionate way. My guess—Vance isn’t good at re-experiencing hurt and transferring it onto paper in a vivid manner. He’s a thinker, not still the volatile hillbilly he says he still is. I didn’t enjoy this book. I thought I would. I wanted to. I was born and raised less than a hundred miles from Mr. Vance’s boyhood home in Middletown, Ohio. All the Ohio cities he mentions are quite familiar to me. My lower-middleclass neighborhood in Lima, Ohio, had Kentucky hillbillies living in it of the sort the author describes, in houses more rundown than even the one I lived in. And my public school had hillbilly students; if you got in a fight with one you had cousins to fight the next day—no fooling. My mother called them “K-Y-kians.” Others called them “Billies.” They were pains in the ass for everyone. And yes, they really did think Kentucky was God’s country and were delighted to go back there periodically, just as Vance remembers. All but a few were dumb as a bag full of rocks. Mr. Vance is quite frank about this people’s penchant for self-defeat. With such a subject, Vance’s writing ought to glow with sardonic energy—but it doesn’t. I was turned off by his over-intellectualizing and complicated explanations. He credits, for example, some of his family and friends’ impulse for havoc to their being geographically displaced, no longer within a familiar social milieu with extended families living close by. He cites academic studies as proof. Well, maybe so, but then again horseshit. Most hillbillies I knew came from a harsh culture that somehow got twisted into a way of behaving that had to be changed or left behind, but which was taken north where the jobs were. This isn’t a bad book. It just doesn’t live up to what I could have been.

  • American Fascism, in 1944 and Today

  • By: Henry Scott Wallace
  • Narrated by: Mike DelGaudio
  • Length: 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars 1

Seventy-three years ago, The New York Times asked the sitting vice president to write an article about whether there are fascists in America, and what they’re up to.

"American Fascism, in 1944 and Today" is from the May 11, 2017 Opinion section of The New York Times. It was written by Henry Scott Wallace and narrated by Mike DelGaudio.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Screwiness Skips a Generation

  • By Jim on 08-07-18

Screwiness Skips a Generation

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

Reviewed: 08-07-18

Are you kidding? Looks like Henry Wallace’s grandson is more eccentric than his grandfather. It’s even money he’s an academic. Introducing his grandfather’s article by arguing that Donald Trump’s actions parallel WWII Nazis and Italian Blackshirts insults the intelligence of everyone above the level of dolt. Those at that level or below will no doubt absorb this crap like a bathroom sponge. Whose cousin or brother did this fellow know to get this included—even for free—on Audible.com?

  • A History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev

  • By: Mark Steinberg, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Mark Steinberg
  • Length: 18 hrs and 48 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 868
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 790
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 778

It's difficult to imagine a nation with a history more compelling for Americans than Russia. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, this was the nation against which we measured our own nation's values and power and with whom war, if it ever came, could spell unimaginable catastrophe for our planet.Yet many Americans have never had the opportunity to study Russia in depth, and to see how the forces of history came together to shape a future so different from the dreams of most ordinary Russian people, eager to see their nation embrace Western values of progress, human rights, and justice.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not story-telling but history-telling at its best

  • By Shah Alam on 10-22-13

Worth the Dough

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

Reviewed: 07-27-18

General Russian history is familiar to me at this point, but these lectures added elements I was not aware of. In particular: books, paintings, and overall culture current within historical periods. I caught the author in a couple of debatable statements on WWI but these were minor. This is worth the money. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and a Great War

  • How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918
  • By: Joseph Loconte
  • Narrated by: Dave Hoffman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 410
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 370
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 372

The First World War laid waste to a continent and altered the political and religious landscape of the West. For a generation of men and women, it brought the end of innocence - and the end of faith. Yet for J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, the Great War deepened their spiritual quest. Both men served as soldiers, survived the trenches, and used the experience of that conflict to ignite their Christian imagination. Had there been no Great War, there would have been no Hobbits, no Lord of the Rings, no Narnia, and perhaps no conversion to Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delivers what the title says.

  • By Zebedee on 03-10-17

Pack Up Your Troubles and Inject Them Into a Book

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

Reviewed: 07-14-18

For those who don’t know it, authors of The Ring and Chronicles of Narnia were both British soldiers in World War 1, and later college dons with penchants for ancient myth. Furthermore, they were friends who critiqued each other’s writing. Aficionados of the two call them The Inklings. Locante’s book argues that both imbued their most famous myth-based works with the horrors and dynamics of their war experiences. It’s easier to point this out in Tolken, who readily admitted this was so, than in Lewis, who buried his combat memories and seldom spoke of them. They gave him nightmares. Infantry lieutenant C.S. Lewis had perhaps a grislier time at the front than observation officer Tolken. Locante asserts that nevertheless the fabric of Lewis’ writing, like Tolken’s, is woven from threads of 1914-18. Tolken’s faces that look up from the dark water of the swamp are the slain of no man’s land, the author said later in life. Hobbits are Tommies: small figures who want to stay home, but with monumental courage that is summoned when needed. Elements shaped by the Great War are hidden deeper in Lewis’ Nardia, their presence more abstracted. Locante has a harder time pointing them out. Both writers used themes of ordinary persons dropped into violent circumstances caused by a dark presence bent on acquiring power. Both invent characters who must make personal choices about resisting evil, not joining it, even if it brings misery upon themselves, or obliteration. Both describe the clash of great armies with dead lying upon the battlefield. In any event, Locante is an excellent writer whose prose moves along briskly and is a pleasure to read. His points are germane, his observations interesting. He gives extra insight into both men and their works. I’d consider buying another book by him if the subject was right. Readers/listeners of this book ought to be those who appreciate Tolken and Lewis, or at the very least have watched the movies made from their work. My only objection is the narrator pronouncing the Battle of the Somme as the So-ma. I did some research and don’t believe this is correct even in French. Otherwise, Mr. Hoffman does a fine job. It was the director’s responsibility to make certain about pronunciations by his “actor.” Someone was asleep at the switch.

  • Gunfighter in Gotham

  • Bat Masterson's New York City Years
  • By: Robert K. DeArment
  • Narrated by: Fred Filbrich
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

William Barclay "Bat" Masterson spent the first half of his adult life in the West, planting the seeds for his later legend as he moved from Texas to Kansas and then Colorado. In Denver, his gambling habit and combative nature drew him to the still-developing sport of prizefighting. Masterson attended almost every important match in the United States from the 1880s to 1921, first as a professional gambler betting on the bouts, and later as a promoter and referee. Ultimately, Bat stumbled into writing about the sport.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Tell Them I'm a Broadway Guy Now

  • By Jim on 07-13-18

Tell Them I'm a Broadway Guy Now

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

Reviewed: 07-13-18

DeArment wrote one of the best biographies of Bat Masterson in the 1970s and it's still in print. With this book the author closes the arc on his subject's life. DeArment isn't sentimental about Bat Masterson--a positive attribute for a biographer. The picture painted is of a genuinely tough, highly social self-promoter who, in the words of Jack Dempsey, "Didn't know shit about boxing;" amend that to he didn't know as much as he thought he knew, nor as much as others gave him credit for knowing. His fight predictions were wrong more than they were right. Too often emotion clouded his judgment. He was sustained, however, by his reputation as an Old West Sherriff, his circle of friends, and his years of experience hanging around boxing rings. He knew practically everyone in the fight game. He was rigidly honest. He was financially well-off. He was quick to trade punches if he felt put upon. When he moved to New York City from Denver he embraced the Big Apple totally and called himself a "Broadway Guy." And that's who this biography is about: "Broadway Bat" until the time of his death at a reporter's desk.

  • At Gettysburg

  • Or, What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle
  • By: Matilda "Tillie" Pierce Alleman
  • Narrated by: Brian V. Hunt, Claire Dayton
  • Length: 1 hr and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

Long considered one of the most vibrant and compelling accounts of the battle of Gettysburg by a young resident of the town. Fifteen-year-old Matilda "Tillie" Pierce saw Union general Buford enter town with his cavalry, saw the rout of the first day of fighting, and the Confederates streaming through the town. She gave water to many Union soldiers, including General George Gordon Meade, the new commander of the Army of the Potomac.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Running out of Superlatives...

  • By Twang on 09-06-18

Recollections of a Muddy Little Girl

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

Reviewed: 07-13-18

This is a charming book worth the price. It was written by Alleman after she was grown and had children. The reader/listener still hears the little girl's "voice" in the re-telling. It is full of Victorian sentiment but not enough to get in the way of the story. She was present when two great armies converged on her town from out of nowhere, and she was sent by her family to a neighbor's house to be out of harm's way. That placed her just behind the Union lines. There she interacted with various soldiers and civilians, including Generals Mead and Weed. Many of the combatants were very kind to her. Seeing wounded in a barn made her cry. Without a change of clothes, waiting four days for things to be over, sloshed with mud from the churned up terrain, she became filthy dirty--so much so her mother didn't at first recognize her when she returned home. Get the book.

  • Stalin, Volume I

  • Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
  • By: Stephen Kotkin
  • Narrated by: Paul Hecht
  • Length: 38 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 332
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 292
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 292

Volume One of Stalin begins and ends in January 1928 as Stalin boards a train bound for Siberia, about to embark upon the greatest gamble of his political life. He is now the ruler of the largest country in the world, but a poor and backward one, far behind the great capitalist countries in industrial and military power, encircled on all sides. In Siberia, Stalin conceives of the largest program of social reengineering ever attempted.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book But First Time Listener Beware

  • By IRP on 03-23-15

The Prof Unburdens Himself of All He Knows

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

Reviewed: 06-22-18

So there you are, sitting down to hear a biography of Stalin . . . for 39 hours. Listen to an hour every day and it will take you a month and a week to finish it. A half hour every day takes 2 ½ months. What is gained by this marathon? You learn short-term political ploys that didn’t work, month-by-month strategies of Bolsheviks working for influence, variations of communist philosophy among key figures, goings-on during committee meetings in Russia, goings-on in committee meetings in Central Asia, ups and downs of Soviet manufacturing, ups and downs of military strategies by Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and also by White Russian armies . . . an expanse of details that buries everything. There are long periods when Stalin drops out of the narrative completely. The word “abridgement” hovers over this book like an angel with a hatchet, as the poor misshapen thing cries, “Chop me! Chop me!” To be fair to the prof, the book isn’t pretentious—it’s overblown. Volume 1 only goes to the year 1928. Professor Kotkin of Princeton has already penned Volume 2 running another 50 hours. Oh boy, what fun that would be. Is this volume worth listening to? In my opinion, no. It isn’t that the prof hasn’t worthwhile things to say—they are buried in the clutter and when they appear the books gets back on track. There are too many good Stalin bios out there that take a couple weeks to get through. Not unless you are a genuine Russophile focusing on the Revolution, and by that I mean another professor like the author, would I go for this one. I’m an amateur reader of Soviet history and I thought the whole thing quite overdone, for what my opinion is worth. Large sections could have been synopsized with no harm. In fact they should have been. You’ve been warned. Buy the book and get ready to start skipping chapters.

  • Red Famine

  • Stalin's War on Ukraine
  • By: Anne Applebaum
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
  • Length: 17 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 224
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216

In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization - in effect a second Russian Revolution - which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief, the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Still ever so relevant

  • By Mrs. on 12-14-17

Why Eastern Europeans Hate Russians

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

Reviewed: 05-18-18

For those who don’t know, Stalin ordered all food taken away from Ukrainian peasant farmers who were not members of his new collective farms—every bit, including out of kitchen gardens, taken by his confiscation squads during 1932-3. He wanted all resistance to his five-year farming plan squashed. He starved four million land holders until they died, then sold what little they possessed to benefit the government. Those who survived his imposed famine joined collective farms the next year out of pure fear, “donating” their land to the state collective, keeping mute about what they’d seen. What lead up to this? The treaty of Brest-Litovsk and a peasant revolt gave Ukraine semi-independence from Czarist Russia during WW1; most Ukrainians didn’t wish to join the newly formed USSR; Lenin and Stalin nevertheless schemed to bring Ukraine within Russian dominance again through promises, economic pressure, and Machiavellian maneuvers; there was a famine in Ukraine from 1921-3 made worse by Soviets shipping excess grain away from it into Russia to feed Russians; Ukrainian intellectuals, politicians and artists championed Ukrainian language and culture over that of Russia urging resistance to a Soviet takeover; opposition of peasants to Soviet farm collectivization and a resurgence of Ukrainian nationalism made Stalin angry; Stalin decided to murder all Ukrainians who resisted him by the simple act of not feeding them and not letting them keep their own home-grown food. Beginning in 1932 entire families and villages wasted away and disappeared into mass graves. Stalin moved ethnic Russians into the population voids to further subjugate Ukraine. These ethnic Russians are still there today. It all worked for as long as Stalin lived and kept the pressure on. As he was supposed to have said: No people means no problem.

The account of the great famine of 1932 begins the second half of Chapter six, when farmers are forced to give their land to the state and join communist collectives or die. The reader/listener could almost begin at this point and skip the first five chapters of Applebaum’s book. Almost. They are full of bits and pieces and secondary narratives: historic Ukrainian heroes and politicians, accounts of in-fighting through the years, organizations founded to promote Ukrainian heritage and culture, famous Ukrainian playwrights and academics whose names are nearly unpronounceable in the West, and whose lives—frankly—are not terribly important, and who you’ll never hear about again. The first five chapters should have been two. You won’t miss much by speeding through with a fast forward button when you encounter boring passages. Chapter Six begins a parade of horrors of every description. It is no wonder Poles and Ukrainians—among others—still hate Russians. If there is such a thing as hell Joseph Stalin must be permanently squatting on the coals.

  • The Butchering Art

  • Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
  • By: Lindsey Fitzharris
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 994
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 914
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 914

In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of 19th-century surgery on the eve of profound transformation. She conjures up early operating theaters - no place for the squeamish - and surgeons, working before anesthesia, who were lauded for their speed and brute strength. They were baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. A young, melancholy Quaker surgeon named Joseph Lister would solve the deadly riddle and change the course of history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not one boring moment!

  • By WRWF on 12-22-17

Mister Lister

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

Reviewed: 04-14-18

The history of science is normally pretty dry. The Butchering Art does not sparkle with vigor and wit but it is an interesting story just the same, and the writing isn’t bad. The subject is acceptance of microbes as the cause of infection, and the invention of practical antiseptic procedures to kill them. The two responsible for this forward step were Pasteur and Lister, living at the same time in different countries, with Lister being the focus of the book. Their work complimented one another and they wrote letters back and forth. Pasteur was a French chemist turned microbiologist who designed experiments to prove the connection between germs and purification. Lister was an English surgeon working in Scotland who believed the germ theory, and so invented procedures to sterilize wounds to prevent gangrene and sepsis. Fitzharris describes British hospitals of Lister’s day as death traps in which half of surgical patients died of infection. Hospitals were where you went when there was no place else, for operations you could not avoid having . She notes that, statistically, it was less lethal to be operated on at home on the kitchen table. Hallways of city hospitals reeked of decay—the common doctors’ phrase of the era was good old hospital stink. Doctors’ cuffs were smeared daily with blood, puss, and even bits of human tissue as they made their rounds from patient to patient. After invention of chloroform allowed doctors to cut even deeper into human bodies infection was given new pathways inside human beings. There was a movement to tear down hospital buildings after they stood for so long to start over again with clean rooms and corridors. Medical dissection rooms were so infested with microbes that an accidental puncture of a student’s finger brought a good chance of dying or amputation. It’s interesting how long it took to overcome the belief that it was bad air that caused these things. Lister outlived Pasteur a good number of years—long enough to become a medical icon.

  • Fighting the Flying Circus

  • By: Eddie V. Rickenbacker
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 119

Captain Eddie V. Rickenbacker, originally from Ohio, was best known as one of the commanders of the 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron, a crack unit of World War I pilots that included many former members of the famed Lafayette Escadrille. The 94th ended the war in France with the highest number of air victories of any American squadron.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • World War 1 ace

  • By Jean on 09-25-12

Calculating the Odds and Concocting a Plan

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

Reviewed: 04-13-18

Following an introduction that gives context, the book moves rapidly to episodes of flying on the Western Front in 1918 as related by Eddie Rickenbacker. It’s clear that, like von Richthofen, Rickenbacker was a logical, analytical, calculating sort who reflected upon his mistakes and worked out how to correct them. He went into each combat with a plan in mind. He regrets killing enemy pilots--although it doesn’t seem to keep him awake nights. He’s always enthusiastic to bring one down. Unlike Richthofen, Rickenbacker has a sense of humor—at least in 1919 he does, the original date of the book’s publication. That changed over the years as Captain Eddie grew dour, seldom smiling. His squadron flew cast-off Nieuport 28s when it first went operational in the middle of April, 1918; it was given up-to-date Spad 13s the latter part of May. He writes that his 94th Aero Squadron first fought the famed Flying Circus during the battle for Chateau Thierry. Richthofen was in his grave by then but there were still legionary fighters among the Germans. The 94th Aero Squadron no doubt bumped into circus pilots as well as regular Deutsche Fliegers flying their Fokker D7s, Albatross D5s, and various two-seaters. It was dangerous work. Pilot grit was astonishing. Rickenbacker wisely kept a diary and so has the sequence of his days at the front in hand. The book more-or-less progresses from April, 1918, until the Armistice in November of that year by way of anecdotes. It’s a pleasant, interesting read and a must for war buffs and war gamers. It falls into the category of rip-roaring war stories with little dwelling on tragedy. Rickenbacker, America’s ace of aces, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1930, twelve years after the war ended.