LISTENER

John

Chamblee, GA, United States
  • 153
  • reviews
  • 592
  • helpful votes
  • 176
  • ratings
  • Rocket Men

  • The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon
  • By: Robert Kurson
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter, Robert Kurson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 728
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 682
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 681

By August 1968, the American space program was in danger of failing in its two most important objectives: to land a man on the moon by President Kennedy's end-of-decade deadline and to triumph over the Soviets in space. With its back against the wall, NASA made an almost unimaginable leap: It would scrap its usual methodical approach and risk everything on a sudden launch, sending the first men in history to the moon - in just four months. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Men Who Saved 1968

  • By Gillian on 04-04-18

Great Recounting of the Apollo 8 Mission

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

This is a great book for Apollo fans, although there are other good treatments of the mission (Jeffrey Kluger). What this book adds, perhaps more than the others, is including the viewpoints of the astronauts' wives. This aspect of the book is compelling, as the family stories are often overlooked, or put in the background.

The book also does a good job of putting the story the perspective of the tumultuous year of 1968, although that is not new.

The book provides a very thorough history of the mission, from its audacious beginning (thoroughly inconsistent with NASA's generally incremental approach, although understandable in the perceived need to beat the Russians) through splashdown and its aftermath. The book was undoubtably made better by the fact that the astronauts--now all very old men--are still alive and cooperated with the author. The wives (except for Susan Borman, who was ill) also were interviewed for the book. This, when combined with the extensive contemporaneous source material available, provides for a very credible text.

The book moves along well and the narration is good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Ship of Fools

  • By: Tucker Carlson
  • Narrated by: Tucker Carlson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3,349
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,014
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2,985

The host of Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight offers a blistering critique of the new American ruling class, the elites of both parties, who have taken over the ship of state, leaving the rest of us, the citizen-passengers, to wonder: How do we put the country back on course?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beyond Expectations

  • By Joseph D. Chavez on 11-14-18

This Puts It All in Perspective

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

I think a lot of us know our country is headed in the wrong direction. We no longer laud achievement or being self-sufficient. We take offense--largely on social media--at every real or perceived offense, no matter how minor. As one of my friends (a woman professional) recently remarked at a lunch: "I can't believe some of the things we talk about today."

The coastal elites have never been to a factory or a farm. They don't know how things are made and have a vague only idea where food comes from (other than the kitchen at a restaurant). Most are entirely uninterested in small towns, particularly if they are in "fly over country." Most have never been to "fly over country." Religion is not a part of their lives, and therefore they do not have a great understanding of the Judeo-Christian principles on which the country was built. No wonder they seem clueless to the rest of us.

Tucker Carlson puts this all in perspective, and notes that the elites have abandoned middle America. He especially notes the ironies of the astonishing changes in liberal (or what used to be liberal) positions: Liberals used to support the factory worker. Now they don't care and wouldn't know where to find one anyway. Liberals used to be passionate advocates of free speech. Now they shout down contrary points of view at Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and other liberal stomping grounds. Liberals used to be against military power. Now they are just as likely as conservatives to want to attack. Carlson puts all of this, and more, on display. The research is pretty impeccable, and mirrors what I remember having lived through most of it. For anyone wondering, this book is not a conservative diatribe, but an analysis of how political views, particularly what is considered "liberal," have shifted drastically in the past 50 years.

We are going the wrong way. Hopefully, this book will help turn things around. We need to treat people as individuals, be tolerant of reasoned opposing points of view, and stop ignoring or marginalizing the people who, in large part, built this country.

  • The German Aces Speak

  • World War II Through the Eyes of Four of the Luftwaffe's Most Important Commanders
  • By: Anne-Marie Lewis, Jon Guttman, Brigadier General Robin Olds USAF (Ret.), and others
  • Narrated by: P.J. Ochlan
  • Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 289
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 266

Few perspectives epitomize the sheer drama and sacrifice of combat more perfectly than those of the fighter pilots of World War II. As romanticized as any soldier in history, the World War II fighter pilot was viewed as larger than life: a dashing soul waging war amongst the clouds. In the 65-plus years since the Allied victory, stories of these pilots' heroics have never been in short supply. But what about their adversaries - the highly skilled German aviators who pushed the Allies to the very brink of defeat?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best German side account on record!!

  • By Philip Gehman on 12-19-17

Really Interesting

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

This book is based on detailed interviews by the authors of top German fighter aces in World War II. It was really fascinating hearing the story from a German point of view. There are two things that come through loud and clear: First, the Eastern front was more active than the Western. This a bit of a revelation to me, because most Americans view the war solely from the Western perspective. Many of the German aces shot down scores of planes, primarily Russian. Two of them had over 300 victories! Second, these men hated the Nazi leadership, particularly Goering. From our perspective, it is very lucky that Germany did not have better leadership.

As for the individual stories, I don't want to offer any spoilers. But there are many fascinating ones.

If I have a nit about the book, it is that the introduction is far too long, and a bit too fawning. Yes, most of us can agree that these were simply military men fighting for their country. But Nazi Germany was simply a bad cause, and, to me anyway, you have to keep that in perspective.

  • First Man

  • The Life of Neil A. Armstrong
  • By: James R. Hansen
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Bobb
  • Length: 16 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 210
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 197
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 196

When Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the Moon became a legend. In First Man, author James R. Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over 50 hours of interviews with the intensely private Armstrong, who also gave Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this "magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) is an unparalleled biography of an American icon.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not really 'unabridged'

  • By A Reader on 06-06-18

Updated and Quite Good

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

This is a very thorough and authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. I really enjoyed it and felt that it provided a thorough portrait of an extremely talented, but very reserved man. Neil didn't seek the spotlight, but was put in the middle of it due to a combination of his great talent (which NASA clearly realized) and circumstances.

For Apollo fans, the events in the book are largely well-known. For the uninitiated, the book provides an excellent summary. In many respects, however, the book is a character study of Mr. Armstrong.

It is helpful that the book has now been updated at least twice from the original version. The updates cover Neil's later years, his unfortunate death in 2012, and the aftermath.

If I have one reservation about the book, it is that the story is a little disjointed, especially at the beginning. Later, however, the book moves forward at a nice pace.

  • The Mighty Eighth

  • The Air War in Europe as Told by the Men Who Fought It
  • By: Gerald Astor
  • Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith
  • Length: 23 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 130
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 121
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 121

Europe has fallen. Pearl Harbor is in flames. Enter: the Eighth. In 1941 the RAF fought a desperate battle of survival against the Luftwaffe over Britain. Then, from across the Atlantic, came a new generation of American pilots, gunners, and bombardiers, a new generation of flying machines called the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, the P-47 Thunderbolt, and the P-51 Mustang fighter.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mighty Eighth

  • By Nana on 02-18-18

Very Interesting; Could Use Editing

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

This is an interesting book for those with an interest in World War II history. It essentially collects stories as told by veterans of the "Mighty Eighth" air corps. Most of the persons profiled are not well-known, so the book truly provides an insider's perspective on the air war. They gave a lot, lost a lot of friends, and ultimately prevailed.

I have a few problems, however, with the book. First, it is somewhat loosely organized, although generally chronological. There seems to be a lot of bouncing around and some repetition. Putting the stories in a broader context might have been helpful. Second, the book is really long. Although the stories are interesting, the book drags in places. As is often the case with a wealth of source material, it was clearly difficult for the author to pick and choose. A good editor would have helped.

This is well worth the investment of time for those with a keen interest in the subject matter. For others, maybe not.

  • The Shipwreck Hunter

  • A Lifetime of Extraordinary Discoveries on the Ocean Floor
  • By: David L. Mearns
  • Narrated by: Dan Woren
  • Length: 16 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39

David L. Mearns has discovered some of the world's most fascinating and elusive shipwrecks. The Shipwreck Hunter chronicles his most intriguing finds. It describes the extraordinary techniques used, the detailed research, and mid-ocean stamina and courage required to find a wreck thousands of feet beneath the sea, plus the moving human stories that lie behind each of these oceanic tragedies. Combining the adventuring derring-do of Indiana Jones with the precision of a scientist, The Shipwreck Hunter opens an illuminating porthole into the shadowy depths of the ocean.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delivered More Than I Expected!

  • By Jason V. Kilmer on 08-07-18

What a Fascinating Career

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

This auto-biography provides the fascinating story of David Mearns' career in locating important ship wrecks--many considered "unfindable"--through deep research and high tech sonar. The accompanying stories of the ships and how they were lost are compelling. The book is well-written and it moves along--there is no filler here. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but it really delivered.

Mearns appears to be a highly intelligent man who has loved his career. His compassion for those who perished and for their survivors also comes through.

The narration is good. If there is one nit, it is the British English--which just seems wrong for a boy from New Jersey--perhaps a zealous ghost writer or editor. But, then again, Mearns has spent a good part of his adult life in London--so maybe it really rubbed off on him.

Highly recommended.

  • Operation Paperclip

  • The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America
  • By: Annie Jacobsen
  • Narrated by: Annie Jacobsen
  • Length: 19 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 579
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 529
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 528

Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including papers made available to her by direct descendants of the Third Reich's ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and lost dossiers discovered at the National Archives and Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into one of the most complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secrets of the 20th century.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Osenberg list

  • By Jean on 08-07-14

Important, But Flawed

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

Ms. Jacobsen appears to have done a great amount of research and has brought to light important information about German scientists' work in the U.S. after the war. Many of these people had dark backgrounds, which she highlights in considerable detail.

That said, this book is written with a clear agenda. Ms. Jacobsen clearly does not think that Operation Paperclip was a good idea and is a stain on our country. I really do not have a problem with a book written to present a case for a position--so long as it is clearly labeled as such (and this book is not).

What seems to be lacking here is a perspective about what the country was facing after World War II. Roosevelt had thought that the relationship with Russia could be managed. After he died and the war in Europe ended, that view quickly became wishful thinking. The Russians raped, pillaged and took anything they could out of Germany (routinely dismantling factories, for example). There was a real rush to secure the best scientists and the best weapons, not only to strengthen the U.S. (which was still at war with Japan), but perhaps even more so to keep them from Russia. Fortunately, the Paperclip scientists did not end up in Russia, although many other German scientists did. Russia subsequently installed puppet governments in the eastern European countries, blockaded Berlin, and constituted a threat to western Europe (and the U.S.) until the end of the Cold War. It was a much darker and confusing time than seems to be acknowledged here, and decisions such as Paperclip involved many shades of gray and were not black and white.

Did the Cold War not become a hot war because of the German scientists? We will never know for. We do know, however, that if we had not brought over von Braun and his group that we would have lost the space race. I think that lends some credibility to a more balanced viewpoint. As other reviewers have pointed out, Ms. Jacbosen does a great job of cataloguing what the scientists profiled did in Nazi Germany. She does not do a good job of covering what they did for the U.S. thereafter, although some of those profiled (including von Braun) seem to have done a lot.

The author's tendency to categorize all profiled as "ardent Nazis," mainly based in membership in the party or organizations, seems questionable. A little more detail here is in order, at least in most cases, to draw that conclusion regarding a totalitarian country where there were not a lot of options. I do not think that most people who found themselves in the vortex of the Third Reich were in much of a position to push back. For example, von Braun was arrested in 1944 by the Nazis (then released), an episode not covered in this book.

There are other issues with this book. It could have used a good editing. It is very repetitive. It also spells out in great detail the names of organizations (in German with an English translation) and military ranks without simply using the translation or an explanation. This gets tedious and takes away from the flow of the story. There also are some errors. Nazi generals in a "private jet" circa 1950? I don't think so.

It is also extremely unfortunate that Ms. Jacobsen chose to narrate this book. She has a very monotone voice with just a touch of condescension--kind of like a slightly egotistical high school teacher. She repeatedly mispronounces names and places. If you are thinking about buying this book, listen carefully to the sample and be sure you are prepared for over 19 hours of this.

In short, it should have either been presented as an opinion piece or should have been more balanced. It could have been shorter and more effective. Another narrator would have helped. But there is a lot of important information and disturbing information here.

  • The Battle of Britain

  • Five Months That Changed History; May-October 1940
  • By: James Holland
  • Narrated by: Shaun Grindell
  • Length: 26 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 337
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 312
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 311

The Battle of Britain paints a stirring picture of an extraordinary summer when the fate of the world hung by a thread. Historian James Holland has now written the definitive account of those months based on extensive new research from around the world, including thousands of new interviews with people on both sides of the battle.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The battle up to The Battle of Britain

  • By Chiefkent on 11-07-17

Misleading Title

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

Reviewed: 07-28-18

The title of this book is misleading. It is really about the first phase of World War II through the Battle of Britain. It does not get to the Battle of Britain per se until about half way through the book (and it is nearly a 27 hour book). The start of the war and the invasion of France are told in great detail. This is actually pretty interesting as it is not often recounted, but it is not about the Battle of Britain itself. Still, it sets the story up nicely.

The story is told from both the British and German side, with vignettes from pilots on both sides (typically told in the first person). At the time the book was published (2010) or while it was being written, a surprising number of them were still alive. The book seems very well researched. To me, however, the very large number of participants and many personal stories does detract a little from the flow of the story. Others may disagree.

What is really strange about this book is that it just kind of peters out at the end. We get to the Battle of Britain and there are rousing stories of the air war, and then it is just kind of over--with not much of an effort to wrap it up. It's almost as if, after all the detailed build up the author just ran out of gas (much like many 109s did heading back to France). Perhaps it was a publishing deadline. There is an Epilogue that helps, but it still seems the story ended rather abruptly. In my opinion, the book is way too slow on the start and then too quick on the finish. But there is a lot of interesting material in between.

There are two other things that bothered me about this book. First, the author chose to use German titles for the German participants and units. I guess this is more accurate, but it tended to detract from the story, especially since many were not pronounced very well by the narrator. Second, the narrator was just not that great. Oh, he's very British, which I guess is natural, but in addition to the German pronunciation issues, he has a rather odd cadence, where he is slow at some points and very quick at the others. Not my cup of tea, so to speak.

It's a good book, but know what you are getting into.

  • Mission

  • Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe
  • By: Robert Matzen, Leonard Maltin - foreward
  • Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
  • Length: 11 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97

In March 1941 Jimmy Stewart, America's boy next door and recent Academy Award winner, left fame and fortune behind and joined the United States Army Air Corps to fulfill his family mission and serve his country. He rose from private to colonel and participated in 20 often-brutal World War II combat missions over Germany and France. In mere months the war took away his boyish looks as he faced near-death experiences and the loss of men under his command. The war finally won, he returned home with millions of other veterans to face an uncertain future.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Penetrating Telling of Jimmy Stewart's War Years

  • By David on 05-09-17

Who Knew?

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

Reviewed: 07-28-18

I think most of us who remember Jimmy Stewart think of him as the quintessential American from "It's a Wonderful Life" or countless other films, or perhaps as the courtly gentleman on the Tonight Show. Who knew Jimmy was a war hero and ultimately a General? He certainly didn't talk about it, at least that I can recall.

The book takes us through Stewart's early life through this success in Hollywood in the 1930s. We learn (again, this was new to me) that he was quite a ladies man, having affairs with most of the well known actresses of the day. His duty to country having been instilled by his father and grandfather, we wanted to serve in World War II. As a pilot, he wanted to serve in the Air Corps.

The story then turns to Jimmy's struggle to get into the service, and then to take a front line (as opposed to ceremonial) role, all at a relatively advanced age for combat pilots. Stewart flew the missions and saw many young men under his command not survive. He had to write the family members, and it is clear that it was painful and stressful to him.

The story is well told, from a first person point of view that the author (surprisingly) makes work quite well. The story moves along and it is a very good listen.

  • Three Days in Moscow

  • Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire
  • By: Bret Baier, Catherine Whitney
  • Narrated by: Bret Baier
  • Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 474
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 435
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 432

In Three Days in Moscow, Baier explores the dramatic endgame of America’s long struggle with the Soviet Union and President Ronald Reagan’s central role in shaping the world we live in today. On May 31, 1988, Reagan stood on Russian soil and addressed a packed audience at Moscow State University, delivering a remarkable - yet now largely forgotten - speech that capped his first visit to the Soviet capital. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing!

  • By Brian W. Barton on 05-20-18

Great Recap of Reagan and Gorbachev's Relationship

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

Reviewed: 07-28-18

Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney do a great job in recounting the history of Reagan and Gorbachev's relationship. In just a few years, they were able to take the relationship from being arch enemies to at least one of peaceful coexistence. The book is framed around a somewhat remarkable (and, as the authors note, largely forgotten) speech that Reagan gave at Moscow University near the end of this presidency. The idea that he would be speaking freely to Russian college students would have been unthinkable when Reagan entered office in 1981.

The authors do a good job of recounting relationship between Reagan and Gorbachev from both sides. It had its ups and downs, but eventually the two men built a relationship of trust and respect. It is sad that we have not been able to build on this relationship in recent years, which, I think, is largely due to Putin. It certainly would be a good idea if the U.S. and Russia were at least able to get along, and perhaps this book is a good reminder of that.

The narration by Baier is first rate.