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  • Bad Pharma

  • How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients
  • By: Ben Goldacre
  • Narrated by: Jot Davies
  • Length: 12 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35

Science’ hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science, becoming a 400,000 copy bestseller. Now Ben Goldacre puts the $600bn global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. What he reveals is a fascinating, terrifying mess.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • the best book on the topic

  • By Oleg V Lapshin on 08-03-17

Big Pharma exposed by a doctor.

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

Reviewed: 06-11-15

If you could sum up Bad Pharma in three words, what would they be?

Capitalism and Health.

What did you like best about this story?

Dr. Ben Goldacre follows up his introductory book "Bad Science" with a more-detailed critique of Big Pharma.

Excellent insight from a doctor well-versed in prescribing and the frustrations of Big Pharmaceuticals hiding and manipulating trial data, not to mention having a stranglehold over regulators.

However, since Dr. Goldacre is a doctor, his solutions are limited in scope. He does not have a critique of the Financial power structures, where medicine is just one sector. He does not grasp that the Medicine system is working exactly as it is designed to do, it is working quite perfectly! It is designed for profit, and thus the oligarchs will continue to accumulate wealth regardless of the good and harm that results. This is Capitalism. Without a critique of Political Economics/Power structures, there can only be cheap band-aids and no structural fixes.

For a greater understanding of Political Economics and Power structures, highly recommended to read:

-Matt Taibbi: "Griftopia" (a very fun introductory read!)
-David Graeber: "The Democracy Project", "Debt: The First 5000 Years"
-anything by Michael Hudson, research professor of Economics and author of "Super Imperialism"
-George Orwell: "Homage to Catalonia" (classic!)

  • All the Presidents' Bankers

  • The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power
  • By: Nomi Prins
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 19 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 125
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 111
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 112

Nomi Prins ushers us into the intimate world of exclusive clubs, vacation spots, and Ivy League universities that binds presidents and financiers. She unravels the multi-generational blood, intermarriage, and protégé relationships that have confined national influence to a privileged cluster of people. This unprecedented history of American power illuminates how financiers have retained their authoritative position through history, swaying presidents regardless of party affiliation.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • You better like history about the elite and rich

  • By Victor on 01-12-15

The Most Important US History book.

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

Reviewed: 06-06-15

What did you love best about All the Presidents' Bankers?

If you want to truly understand US History, from foreign policy to labor laws, the first place to start is the interactions between the power elite: Wall Street and the White House.

Instead, the vast herds of sheeple rely on mainstream media and mainstream books. Corporate media and corporate publishers will only teach you the political theater, where voters are spectators swallowed up by pre-defined "choices" that have zero impact on the fundamental Economic Politics/Power Structures.

So, one has to look outside. Nomi Prins is amazing at documenting the history of Wall Street. Also recommended:

Matt Taibbi - "Griftopia", "The Divide"... these are great introductions to Wall Street scams and inequality. Very easy and fun read for those that find nonfiction challenging!

David Graeber - "The Democracy Project", "Debt: The First 1000 Years"... Graeber elegantly combines history/anthropology with Economic Politics and philosophy.

Chris Hedges - "Death of the Liberal Class"... amazing war correspondent who starts to escape the political theater and examine Economic Politics/Power Structures.

Michael Hudson - probably the best Economist research professor, wrote the classic "Super Imperialism" in 1972.

Michael Perelman - "The Invention of Capitalism"

Ferdinand Lundberg - legendary journalist who wrote "America's Sixty Families" in 1937.

George Orwell - "Homage to Catalonia"... amazing piece of history, showing how all the status quo power structures (Capitalist Allies, Soviet Communism, and Fascism) were all against the workers revolt in the Spanish Civil War. There really isn't a Left or Right fundamentally: the divide is between Vertical Power Structures (Capitalism, Soviet Communism, Fascism) and Horizontal Power Structures (Democratic Socialism, Anarcho-Syndicalism).

Charles R. Geisst - "Wall Street: A History" - comprehensive analysis on the pinnacle of Capitalism: Wall Street.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It must be a symptom of a sick society when amazing critiques like this remain unread while the working class drowns itself in vapid entertainment, unaware or uncaring of fellow working class families in other countries being oppressed, or the destruction of the planet that we all share. We are better than this!

Any additional comments?

Please keep free thinking alive.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • The Democracy Project

  • A History, a Crisis, a Movement
  • By: David Graeber
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 141
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 120
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122

Democracy has been the American religion since before the Revolution - from New England town halls to the multicultural democracy of Atlantic pirate ships. But can our current political system, one that seems responsive only to the wealthiest among us and leaves most Americans feeling disengaged, voiceless, and disenfranchised, really be called democratic? And if the tools of our democracy are not working to solve the rising crises we face, how can we - average citizens - make change happen? David Graeber, one of the most influential scholars and activists of his generation, takes listeners on a journey through the idea of democracy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Must-read: such insight, an awakening!

  • By Kevin on 10-15-14

Must-read: such insight, an awakening!

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

Reviewed: 10-15-14

What did you love best about The Democracy Project?

This is one of the handful of gems that make you think in profoundly-different ways.

I heard excellent reviews of Mr. Graeber's book "Debt: the First 5000 Years", but I thought I'd like a more general book to start with and this was perfect.

Explores our assumptions of "democracy", and how Corporate and Government bureaucracy are top-down hierarchies which are quite simply contrary to real democracy.

I've often assumed "anarchism" was somehow extreme or unrealistic, but this book made a very compelling case for how horizontal decision-making is desirable and even practical, featuring numerous real-life examples along with common sense analogies.

This book also tackles the morality of debt and the morality of work head-on, most relevant and fascinating!

What did you like best about this story?

Only special books manage to shake one from one's stupor, or present clear explanations for those nagging ideas that were never understood. This is a lot to ask for, but this book delivers!

Also recommended is Matt Taibbi's book "Griftopia"

Which scene was your favorite?

On top of everything, this book is surprisingly uplifting. Revolutions and revolutionary ideas do indeed cascade into society and our collective consciousness, often seemingly against all odds.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

These book connected so many dots and opened up a new world of ideas and possibilities. For a non-fiction, that is the highest accolade.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Psychopath Test

  • A Journey Through the Madness Industry
  • By: Jon Ronson
  • Narrated by: Jon Ronson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,886
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,184
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,177

The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Quirky, intriguing and educational.

  • By Flavius Krakdaddius on 11-08-11

Gonzo journalism at its wildest!

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

Reviewed: 10-02-14

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Jon Ronson narrating a Jon Ronson adventure is highly recommendable. Gonzo journalism at its wildest: crazy events with vivid detail about a fascinating topic.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

As always Mr. Ronson cleverly weaves informative background information into his twisting-and-turning narrative. So, you get some exposure to psychiatry and "psychopathy" during your wild ride down in the trenches of the madness industry.

Any additional comments?

This is clearly not meant to be a textbook; concise systematic review is neglected as the author hurls you right into the action. But it is nonetheless insightful, and you will find the experience most enjoyable.

  • The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

  • By: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 4 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 281
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 243
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 248

This collection brings together 12 of the finest short stories of prominent American feminist author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. "The Yellow Wallpaper", Gilman's best-known work, was first published in 1892 and represents an important examination of 19th-century attitudes toward women's physical and mental health.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Feminist literature or Lovecratian horror?

  • By David on 07-11-14

Classic short-stories, perfect narration!

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

Reviewed: 10-02-14

What about Kirsten Potter’s performance did you like?

Perfect, she got me right into the stories.

Any additional comments?

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is truly a gem. "When I was a Witch" was also a standout. Makes me want to read her non-fiction work as well...

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature

  • Why Violence Has Declined
  • By: Steven Pinker
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 36 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,461
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,918
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,886

We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I'd kill for another book this good

  • By Eric Nicolas Morgan on 11-11-11

Epic topic sure to stir up debate!

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

Reviewed: 08-21-14

What did you love best about The Better Angels of Our Nature?

This is truly a colossal topic to tackle, even 800+ pages leaves many areas untouched. However, there are certain themes in this book that provide some insight or at least some grounds for debate regarding the historical trend of violence and human nature.

Highly recommended to first read Pinker's "The Blank Slate", a truly excellent non-fiction that focuses more on human nature and ideologies. "How the Mind Works" is also excellent; it is more technical and more within Pinker's expertise.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Better Angels of Our Nature?

This book sure did stir up some lively debates. I think it's important to first note that Pinker's book is about violence, not oppression/unfairness/"bad things", etc. So overall, I would agree that many forms of violence have been in decline, at least since the time when history was adequately-documented.

However, I would suggest that the evolution of ideas is not completely synonymous with improving the human condition. Negative ideas also evolve. Thus, while primitive forms of oppression like race and gender slavery are in decline, other forms of oppression continue to evolve and become further entrenched in our society. Example: unaccountable multinational corporations that force laws to pass without democratic scrutiny using hordes of lobbyists/less-than-transparent political systems/public's apathy, and can manipulate scientific research/marketing/media.

I've heard several dissident voices criticize the book's lack of interest in covering economic oppression. I do wish Pinker touched on this more, but I imagine he defined violence in the most strict form in order to keep the book's scope manageable. And sadly, if he did talk about economics I am sure he would open up a new can of worms, straying even further from his area of study and likely making this overall work less credible.

What does Arthur Morey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Perfect.

Any additional comments?

While I found many of Pinker's arguments to be compelling, I felt he glossed over the section on future dangers, particularly nuclear proliferation and climate change. True, no nukes have been successfully dropped on a population since the end of WWII, but it takes much more than "oh, well, it hasn't happened yet" to argue that our control over the situation is anywhere close to acceptable.

For example, John Oliver did a great commentary on USA's current nuclear weapons fiasco (search up "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Nuclear Weapons"), and the USA is supposed to be the most advanced nuclear weapons country in the world!

I can appreciate what Pinker and Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist) are trying to get across (i.e. how much human progress has achieved and given such obvious improvements we have to continue to encourage such progress), but anytime you tackle such a large & complex scope you run the risk of over-simplifying certain topics to make it better fit your overall arguments.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • By: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Clayborne Carson - editor
  • Narrated by: Levar Burton
  • Length: 17 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 759
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 558
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 557

He was a husband, a father, a preacher - and the preeminent leader of a movement that continues to transform America and the world. Now, in a special program commissioned and authorized by his family, here is the life and times of Martin Luther King, Jr. Featuring King's I Have a Dream Speech.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Fascinating Slice of History

  • By John-Mark Stensvaag on 08-05-03

Great overview of MKL's ideas and times...

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

Reviewed: 07-16-14

Would you consider the audio edition of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. to be better than the print version?

MLK translates well in any format as each offers a different perspective. The first 2 audio speeches were not very clear, so it's recommended to do a quick search for the speeches online and read along with the audio.

What did you like best about this story?

It's an important piece of history, and many of the subjects covered are still very relevant. Non-violent progress is a fundamental human struggle.

If there's every an autobiography worth reading, this would be one of them.

Have you listened to any of Levar Burton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I actually really enjoyed the narration, clear and easy pace.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

MLK describing the darkest moments of his many protests, the social and personal dilemmas...

"Even the most starless midnight may herald the dawn of some great fulfillment."

Any additional comments?

This autobiography is so large in scope that it serves as a great introductory overview of MLK and his times, with audio excerpts of his speeches.

I was more interested in digging deeper into some of his beliefs and tactics, which needs to be found elsewhere, a 9-hour autobiography is limited. Despite being an autobiography, this was pieced together after MLK's death so it does do a good job covering his ideas and speeches.

Now, how about an unabridged audio version of Malcolm X's autobiography?

  • American Psychosis

  • How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System
  • By: E. Fuller Torrey
  • Narrated by: Stephen McLaughlin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 69

E. Fuller Torrey's audiobook provides an inside perspective on the birth of the federal mental health program. On staff at the National Institute of Mental Health when the program was being developed and implemented, Torrey draws on his own first-hand account of the creation and launch of the program, extensive research, one-on-one interviews with people involved, and recently unearthed audiotapes of interviews with major figures involved in the legislation. As such, this book provides historical material previously unavailable to the public.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Devastating analysis on US mental health policy!

  • By Kevin on 07-13-14

Devastating analysis on US mental health policy!

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

Reviewed: 07-13-14

What made the experience of listening to American Psychosis the most enjoyable?

This audiobook starts pretty slow, but the historical preamble sets the stage for the more-concise facts that start pouring in during the 2nd half.

The topic of mental health, de-institutionalization, lack of accountability, and for-profit "solutions" are highly relevant. Just walk in the city and you'll encounter the consequences when you pass the homeless people muttering to themselves. And that's only the portion that are not incarcerated or in for-profit nursing homes (which should be used for the elderly).

What about Stephen McLaughlin’s performance did you like?

Honestly took me a while to get used to, but the story makes up for it.

If you could give American Psychosis a new subtitle, what would it be?

When making public policy, use science/research/evidence over ideology.

In this book, the shutting down of State mental hospitals was based on ideology around society and mental health that sounded good but parts of it were simply not backed by scientific evidence (which admittedly was sparse during that time since psychiatry was still in its infancy). The movement had no chance of evolving during the Nixon/Reagen era: they not only supported privatization, they were hostile to psychiatry!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Cypherpunks

  • Freedom and the Future of the Internet
  • By: Julian Assange
  • Narrated by: Tom Pile
  • Length: 4 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 128
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 106
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 106

Cypherpunks are activists who advocate the widespread use of strong cryptography (writing in code) as a route to progressive change. Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of and visionary behind WikiLeaks, has been a leading voice in the cypherpunk movement since its inception in the 1980s. Now, Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent

  • By Tyler on 06-13-13

Musings on the struggle for freedom & the Internet

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

Reviewed: 07-08-14

Where does Cypherpunks rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Powerful topic and unique format (the book is mostly discussions between Julian Assange & three other hacktivists, and I found the format refreshing and easy-to-follow). Definitely recommended.

Any additional comments?

A perfect precursor to this book would be "This Machine Kills Secrets", which provides a great overview of the backbone historical details of modern encryption, all in an easy-to-understand and open-minded narrative.

  • Tropic of Chaos

  • Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence
  • By: Christian Parenti
  • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 40

From Africa to Asia and Latin America, the era of climate wars has begun. Extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and state failure. In Tropic of Chaos, investigative journalist Christian Parenti travels along the front lines of this gathering catastrophe - the belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial nations and war zones girding the planet's mid-latitudes. Here he finds failed states amid climatic disasters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Absolute must-read topic!

  • By Kevin on 07-07-14

Absolute must-read topic!

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

Reviewed: 07-07-14

If you could sum up Tropic of Chaos in three words, what would they be?

Open your eyes.

Any additional comments?

This book's topic is critical for anyone who is not deluded enough to think they and their children/grandchildren can live in a protective bubble regardless of that happens to the rest of the world.

The book exposes the convergence of climate change with previous trends of economic imperialism and Cold War arms/violence. Thus, this book primarily frames the issue of climate-induced poverty, migration, and xenophobia in the political theater.

At first glance I might prefer more analysis on the economic side, but I do appreciate the author's argument that the #1 priority is to curtail greenhouse emissions and not wait for any drastic restructuring the world's socioeconomic structure. However you frame it though, both are connected.

For more environmental details, try "Eaarth" by Bill McKibben

A great read/listen on free market/austerity consequences to public health: "The Body Economic"

For more economics:
"Capital in the Twenty-First Century" (Piketty)
"All the Presidents' Bankers" (Prins)
"The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap" (Taibbi)

4 of 4 people found this review helpful