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Mike Kircher

Boulder, CO
  • 8
  • reviews
  • 449
  • helpful votes
  • 22
  • ratings
  • Atlas of a Lost World

  • By: Craig Childs
  • Narrated by: Craig Childs
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 407
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 371
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 372

From the author of Apocalyptic Planet, an unsparing, vivid, revelatory travelogue through prehistory that traces the arrival of the First People in North America 20,000 years ago and the artifacts that enable us to imagine their lives and fates. This book upends our notions of where these people came from and who they were.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lyrical musings on a lost world

  • By Tracy Rowan on 09-13-18

Fantasy of a Lost World

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

Reviewed: 10-29-18

The first part of this book is engaging as the author recounts his explorations of the Bering Land Bridge and how humans may have crossed it 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. But as the book continues and the author continues his explorations down the west coast of the Americas and then through the mainland US, you begin to realize that he doesn't base his narratives on the strength of the archeological evidence but that of his fantasies of swashbuckling ancient explorers with shreds of evidence to buttress his description of the life of the early inhabitants of this continent. And while enjoyable at first, this fantasy narration becomes tedious.
I am in the 12th of the 13 chapters of the book where the author and several companions are hiking across a desert expanse to visit the annual Burning Man gathering and I am not sure I will finish the book. While I always enjoy reading and about and viewing pictures of the Burning Man celebrations, the author's feeble attempts to tie Burning Man to the lives of the first peoples of this continent seem like an insult to Archeology and to those people. There are better accounts of this history, such as those by Charles Mann, and they are far more interesting and informative.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • M Train

  • By: Patti Smith
  • Narrated by: Patti Smith
  • Length: 6 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 877
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 796
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 784

M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel to Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorer's society in Berlin; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • "Nothing"

  • By M. Olson on 11-03-15

A downer

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

Reviewed: 02-01-16

Would you try another book from Patti Smith and/or Patti Smith?

Yes, because she is Patti Smith, a great latter-day Beat artist.

What was most disappointing about Patti Smith’s story?

It is a depressing, sad meditation on growing older and the death of friends and family.

How could the performance have been better?

How could it be better than the author's own narration?

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I had to stop listening and move on after a few hours into the book because I had other reading priorities and the book was too hard on my perhaps precarious mental balance. The Beat writers can do that to me.

Any additional comments?

This book does not have the vibrancy and youthful perspective of Smith's Just Kids that made it a great listen for me. Perhaps when my head is in a different place, I will try listening to M Train again. But, for now, M Train and Smith's narration is just too much of a downer. The problem may be with the listener and not the writer at this point in space-time.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Empires and Barbarians 

  • The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe
  • By: Peter Heather
  • Narrated by: Sean Schemmel
  • Length: 25 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 86

Empires and Barbarians presents a fresh, provocative look at how a recognizable Europe came into being in the first millennium AD. With sharp analytic insight, Peter Heather explores the dynamics of migration and social and economic interaction that changed two vastly different worlds--the undeveloped barbarian world and the sophisticated Roman Empire--into remarkably similar societies and states.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoying the book, but the performance....

  • By Kirsty on 06-02-13

Poor Choice for Audio

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

Reviewed: 03-28-14

What disappointed you about Empires and Barbarians ?

This book covers roughly the first millennium of European History. The author is a scholar of European History and it is obvious that his primary audience is fellow scholars to discuss and promote various theories concerning the migration of various peoples and cultures through that time period. If you are not a part of this audience, it can be a very difficult book to follow in an audio format.

What was most disappointing about Peter Heather’s story?

In doing an audio book that depends so much on the changing political geography of Europe over the first millennium, the very least the author could have done is made available a PDF detailing the changing map of Europe over that time and the movements of the various ethnic groups that are central the narrative of this book. Further, an appendix detailing the various ethnic groups who are the central characters of this book would be extremely helpful. Rick Atkinson has a website for his three book series on WWII that is extremely helpful in understanding the troop movements and battles of that period. The author of this book would do well to try to develop a similar site for this book.

How could the performance have been better?

Anyone trying to read this book to those who do not already have a good background in this subject area would have a difficult time keeping their attention. If you don't have a good background in European geography, it is very difficult to follow and keep track of the various ethnic groups that the author describes as they make their way across Europe.

Any additional comments?

If you do purchase this book, I strongly advise that do a search on You Tube for Barbarians. There are numerous free videos that do a wonderful job of putting some flesh and warmth into this topic.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Assassination of the Archduke

  • Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World
  • By: Greg King, Sue Woolmans
  • Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54

Set against a backdrop of glittering privilege, The Assassination ofthe Archduke combines royal history, touching romance, and political murder in a moving portrait of the end of an era. One hundred years after the event, it offers the startling truth behind the Sarajevo assassinations, including Serbian complicity, and examines rumors of conspiracy and official negligence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarajevo trip in riveting slow motion

  • By Meyer on 06-29-14

A Disappointment

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

Reviewed: 10-22-13

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The great disappointment of this book was the focus on the minute details of the marriage of the Duke and his wife and the consternation their marriage caused in the Austrian Royal Family. While some of this was interesting, it became extremely tedious after numerous descriptions of what the Duke's wife wore to various social engagements or verbatim quotes of letters from members of the Austrian aristocracy to each other.Another disappointing aspect of the book is the lightly hidden collaboration between the authors and the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Duke and his wife to restore their reputations. The authors make a very strong argument that the behavior of Austrian Royal Family to the Duke and his wife was despicable. But I couldn't help but be put off by the decedents of the Duke and his wife seeming to cling to titles of Prince and Princess when such titles were part of the social order that permitted the mistreatment of their grandparents.The last part of the book partially makes up for these deficits when it launches into detail about the immediate events surrounding the assassination of the Duke and his wife. What I felt was left out, though, was more information about the politics in the Balkans that caused such hatred of the Duke. Why did the Eastern Orthodox Slavs hate the Catholics and Muslims? The book is very shallow in providing the reader with an understanding of why the Balkans were, and remain, an area of viscous ethnic conflict. This would have been far more interesting than digressions on the type of feathers the Duke was wearing on his hat on a certain day.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow

  • By: Daniel Kahneman
  • Narrated by: Patrick Egan
  • Length: 20 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,238
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,518
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,428

The guru to the gurus at last shares his knowledge with the rest of us. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman's seminal studies in behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, and happiness studies have influenced numerous other authors, including Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman at last offers his own, first book for the general public. It is a lucid and enlightening summary of his life's work. It will change the way you think about thinking. Two systems drive the way we think and make choices, Kahneman explains....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Already Purchased Two Copies for Friends

  • By Anthony A. on 07-13-13

Difficult Listen, but Probably a Great Read

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

Reviewed: 01-12-12

What did you like best about Thinking, Fast and Slow? What did you like least?

A very large portion of the time when I am listening to audio books, I am working out or walking the dog. Unfortunately, this audio book is ill suited to those types of activities. The material is interesting and well presented, but frequently too abstract when you have to compensate for frequent minor distractions. It would be best listened to with the accompanying PDF in front of you and the rewind button easily at hand to review what the author has written when he presents examples. Despite the, the book is a good listen if you are interested in probability, statistics, economics, and psychology. I will very likely borrow a written copy of the book at some time in the future to review the sections that were just too difficult for me to fully understand in the audio format.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

The key problem I found was that the author frequently presents several types of statistical comparisons at once and then asks the listener to compare them. This may be simple in a written format, but in a audible format it can be very difficult, especially without a rewind or stop button easily available. As in most technical books with a little bit of depth, one often needs a little time and review to fully understand the concepts an author is presenting. Saying that does not discredit the author, but means that the listener is going to have to spend a little more time, effort, and preparation to understand what the author is sharing with the listener. Again, listening to the book with the accompanying PDF in front of me and my finger on the index button would have likely made a huge difference in my experience.

408 of 436 people found this review helpful

  • Being Wrong

  • Adventures in the Margin of Error
  • By: Kathryn Schulz
  • Narrated by: Mia Barron
  • Length: 14 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 354
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 262
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 263

To err is human. Yet most of us go through life assuming (and sometimes insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the origins of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. If being wrong is so natural, why are we all so bad at imagining that our beliefs could be mistaken, and why do we react to our errors with surprise, denial, defensiveness, and shame?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A good read

  • By Mike Kircher on 10-06-10

A good read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-06-10

I must start out by saying that I was prompted to write this review because the two reviews on the Audible website were quite negative. I am nearly halfway through this book and I am thoroughly enjoying it. For an audio book, though, it is a bit of a difficult “read” because of the depth that the author goes to in her discussion of the subject matter.

As mentioned by one of the other reviewers, the author cites numerous experts, authors, and studies in the book. When listening to a study that the author is describing to present a point, one must focus carefully on the details to fully understand and appreciate the implications of the study and how that fits into the larger argument that the author is presenting. I must admit that with this book I find myself rewinding and reviewing the material far more often than I have with other audio books to fully understand the ideas presented. In some respects, this book might be better read than listened to in order to easily comprehend the material. But, I find it difficult to read a book while I am doing aerobic exercises, walking the dog, or cleaning the house.

Despite the difficulties cited above, this is a book that I would certainly recommend to others. I find the organization of it to be logical and the author’s presentation to be coherent and interesting. If you are curious about how we think and come to what we believe is the truth and how we deal with errors, it is certainly worth a few minutes of your time. I should also note that the author is currently writing articles on matters related to the materials in the book in Slate (on the web) which I also enjoy.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Hannibal

  • One Man Against Rome
  • By: Harold Lamb
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,312
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 695
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 697

This is the breathtaking adventure of the great Carthaginian general who shook the foundations of Rome. In the world's first "global" conflict, Hannibal Barca marched up and down the Italian peninsula for 18 years, appearing well nigh invincible to a Rome which began to doubt itself for the first time in its history.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not Just Elephants in the Alps

  • By Eric Chevlen on 05-09-03

I had no idea ....

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-05

I had no idea of what was going on in 200 A.D. in the area of north Africa and southern Europe until I listened to this superb book. Hannibals exploits are absolutely amazing. I now have a much greater appreciation of how intelligent, creative, and brave people were over 2200 years ago.

Both the author and the narrator are suberb, to the point that I immediately listened to Alexander of Macedon, which they also did, after I completed this audio book. I strongly suggest that if you do listen to either of these titles that you do a web search to find some more information, especially maps, to provide a better understanding of the travels and adventures of Hannibal and Alexander.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Progress Paradox

  • How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse
  • By: Gregg Easterbrook
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Marosz
  • Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 168
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 38
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 39

In The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook draws upon three decades of wide-ranging research and thinking to make the persuasive assertion that almost all aspects of Western life have vastly improved in the past century; and yet today, most men and women feel less happy than in previous generations. Why this is so and what we should do about it is the subject of this book.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't let the extremists stop you.

  • By Eric on 10-11-04

Strong arguments for optimism

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-14-04

Easterbrook has many compelling arguments that although the culture of complaint and pessimism are seductive, an optimistic and kind demeanor towards life and others is far wiser. He cites voluminous statistics concerning how things are improving and studies that demonstrate the benefits to those who follow a philosophy of optimism and compassion.

I have familiarity with some of the literature Easterbrook cites and as a whole his arguments and logic are stronger than those of the individual authors he discusses. After listening to the book, it is more difficult for me to think and act in a pessimistic fashion. This alone makes the book worthwhile

7 of 7 people found this review helpful