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Jonathan Hoyle

Pittsburgh, PA USA
  • 10
  • reviews
  • 12
  • helpful votes
  • 138
  • ratings
  • The Cosmic Serpent

  • DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
  • By: Jeremy Narby
  • Narrated by: James Patrick Cronin
  • Length: 4 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 938
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 852
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 847

This adventure in science and imagination, which the Medical Tribune said might herald "a Copernican revolution for the life sciences", leads the listener through unexplored jungles and uncharted aspects of mind to the heart of knowledge. In a first-person narrative of scientific discovery that opens new perspectives on biology, anthropology, and the limits of rationalism, The Cosmic Serpent reveals how startlingly different the world around us appears when we open our minds to it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very interesting thoughts on the origins of DNA

  • By Amazon Customer on 08-31-16

Mysticism in the Guise of Science

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

Reviewed: 11-20-17

If like me, you picked up this book with the idea that it would be a scientific explanation on the origin and evolution of intelligence, then you will be seriously disappointed.

Essentially, this book is the story of a young anthropologist in the Amazon, having partaken of the local people’s hallucinatory drugs, attempts to ground the experience as plants trying to communicate with humans. For example, the hallucinatory snakes represent DNA. Furthermore, the hallucinations have taught local shamans about plant biochemistry, and the origins of consciousness.

As the author descends from Science into Mysticism, he acknowledges that he is embracing irrationality. But eventually, the drug experiences become so compelling to him, he is willing to accept irrationality, and rejects Western Science’s requirement of objectivity.

Surely this book will be of great interest to others, who prefer mystical drug experiences over the results of science. But I for one who never have purchased this, had I known what it was really about. (And this is my fault for having read the deceptive title, and failed to actually read the reviews and deeper description.)

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Inauguration Speech 1957

  • By: Dwight Eisenhower
  • Narrated by: Dwight Eisenhower
  • Length: 25 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 133
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 59

In his 1957 inauguration speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the threats and problems posed to the world by "International Communism". Eisenhower asked that the United States "help others rise from misery, however far the scene of suffering may be from our shores".

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Comes up short

  • By Ferrell Foster on 02-01-05

NOT the Inaugural speech.

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

Reviewed: 03-13-17

What disappointed you about Dwight D. Eisenhower Inauguration Speech 1957?

The vast majority of this was news reports about Inauguration Day, the parade, the floats, etc. Only a few minutes of pieces of Eisenhowers' speech is included. The title is clearly a misrepresentation of what this is.

What was most disappointing about Dwight Eisenhower’s story?

It misrepresented what this audio was about.

  • Harry S. Truman Inauguration Speech 1949

  • By: Harry Truman
  • Narrated by: Harry Truman
  • Length: 17 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 128
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 62

In his 1949 inauguration speech, Harry S. Truman addressed the concerns facing a post-WWII United States, focusing specifically on the "false philosophy" of Communism, the challenge of re-building Europe, and the strengthening of the United Nations.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Go elsewhere for the Truman speech

  • By Jonathan Hoyle on 03-09-17

Go elsewhere for the Truman speech

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

Reviewed: 03-09-17

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Yes, it should contain the complete Truman inaugural speech from 1949, not an abridgment. Nor waste several minutes of the news reporter talking about the parade route, who is marching down the parade, etc. If this were titled “Truman’s Inauguration Day”, then I suppose it might have been acceptable. But I got this because it was titled "Harry S. Truman Inauguration Speech 1949”. Only about half of this contains his speech.

If you want the Truman speech, I recommend downloading it from the Miller Center or YouTube or some place like that.

  • The Ayn Rand Cult

  • By: Jeff Walker
  • Narrated by: Fred Filbrich
  • Length: 13 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

Ayn Rand and her philosophical school, Objectivism, have had a considerable influence upon American popular culture, yet the true story of her life and work has yet to be told. In this book, Jeff Walker debunks the cult-like following that developed around the author of the classics Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead - a cult that persists even today.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very Informative, But Far Too Much Editorial

  • By Jonathan Hoyle on 06-09-15

Very Informative, But Far Too Much Editorial

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

Reviewed: 06-09-15

If you could sum up The Ayn Rand Cult in three words, what would they be?

Informative but Biased

Would you be willing to try another book from Jeff Walker? Why or why not?

Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, the man does his homework, and there is some excellent reporting on this fascinating book. But the man can’t leave well enough alone, and feels the need to add his editorial everywhere to make certain individuals look bad (which is unnecessary, since the bad people already look bad enough from their own misdeeds).

Any additional comments?

The irony is not lost of a cult around someone who preaches individuality and making personal rational choices. Rand, who expects only the highest level of morally integrity of others, is involved in a secret affair with a young protege, passive aggressively pressuring their respective spouses to agree and remain silent. The story is compelling and fascinating. Yet Walker spares no opportunity to unnecessarily mudsling, particularly in the chapters on the three Rand lieutenants (Branden, Piekoff & Greenspan). Only the worst interpretations of everyone’s actions is presumed. Barbara Branden’s “The Passion of Ayn Rand” (also despised by Rand followers) is a much balanced view of what happened. Having said that though, this book is filled with an enormous amount of quality information, and a true portrayal of the cult can be gleaned. Someone could go in, remove about a quarter of the editorial, and be left with a great book. In the end, I do recommend the book, understanding that the author is no friend of the individuals involved, and the reader will have to stomach through repeated personal invectives to get to the story.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Three Stooges Scrapbook

  • By: Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer, Greg Lenburg
  • Narrated by: Bob Dunsworth
  • Length: 19 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 15

For over seven decades, fans have roared with laughter at the wild, two-fisted, knockabout antics of The Three Stooges performing their classic comedy mayhem in 200 comedy shorts, 25 features, and thousands of television and stage appearances. Chronicling the success of these beloved cinematic clowns, The Three Stooges Scrapbook by Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer - daughter of Three Stooges founder Moe Howard - and Greg Lenburg is a highly entertaining tribute to the trio's enduring popularity and lasting legacy.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Mencken

  • By Mencken on 01-27-16

Finally, a Three Stooges Audiobook!

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

Reviewed: 03-10-15

What made the experience of listening to The Three Stooges Scrapbook the most enjoyable?

It is a thoroughly researched history of the Stooges, correcting a number of mistakes found in other books (and even the mistakes in the previous version of this book). I recommend picking up the physical book (which I did at our local library), just to be able to page through to see the pictures in the book.

What did you like best about this story?

A lot of the background and “story behind the story” for a number of the shorts.

Any additional comments?

Although the Audiobook is listed at 19 hours, really it is only 10 hours, as the last half is essentially the reading of the Filmography (which in the book is in much smaller type). I mention this as the Filmography may be a bit monotonous for the casual reader, although I personally enjoyed listening to each of the synopses.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
  • Length: 5 hrs and 47 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,939
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 983
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 982

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson takes his ultimate journey - into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer. It's a dazzling quest, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Listen to this book with your kids!

  • By Robert on 08-30-03

My favorite Audiobook of all time.

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

Reviewed: 11-02-14

Where does A Short History of Nearly Everything rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The best. Gripping and continually interesting. I have re-listened to this more than any other audiobook. Although I have enjoyed the unabridged version, I find listening to the author's own sense of pacing and emphasis to be very compelling.

What other book might you compare A Short History of Nearly Everything to and why?

It is almost like a mini-Cosmos, although covering many areas of Science, not just Astronomy.

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

Another very good one is perhaps his most famous: "A Walk in the Woods". As of this writing, I have also enjoyed "The Mother Tongue", "Thunderbolt Kid", "Notes from a Small Island", and the only disappointing one: "Lost Continent". Typically, Bryson reads the Abridged version, whilst professional readers perform the Unabridged.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended.

  • The Supergirls

  • Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines
  • By: Mike Madrid
  • Narrated by: Colby Elliott
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 132
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 118
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 118

Comic book superheroines bend steel, travel across time and space, and wield awesome forces. These mighty females do everything that male superheroes do. But they have to work their wonders in skirts and high heels. The Supergirls asks whether their world of fantasy is that different from our own. Are the stories of Wonder Woman’s search for an identity, Batwoman and Power Girl’s battle for equality, and Manhunter’s juggling of a crime fighting career and motherhood also an alternative saga of modern American women?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Some Supergirls to Save the World

  • By Trish on 09-25-12

Great Overview of Female Super-Heroes

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

Reviewed: 04-29-14

Any additional comments?

Although a bit heavy handed at times, this is a marvelous overview of the history of female super-heroes. Particularly notable is how historically that writers tend to present them to their largely heterosexual male audiences as virginal “nice girls” or overly sexualized fantasy girls (and at times both simultaneously). I enjoyed the approach of the evolution of the various super-heroines over the decades. Well done!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Born Free

  • The Complete Story
  • By: Joy Adamson
  • Narrated by: Joanna David
  • Length: 5 hrs and 41 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42

Born Free, first published in 1960 (and immortalised in film by Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers), tells the story of Joy Adamson's relationship with Elsa the lioness, raising her from a young cub and later releasing her into the wild. Here is Adamson's inspiring saga for a new generation of listeners to discover.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it!!

  • By sandy besso on 08-21-17

Wonderful Story, Excellent Performance

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

Reviewed: 04-25-14

Any additional comments?

I have listened to the earlier abridgment of the original "Born Free", read by Virginia McKenna (who portrayed the author in the movie). Joanna David does an excellent job with this version of the book (which is essentially the whole trilogy in one book). Excellent and well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Diary of a Dirty Little War

  • The Spanish-American War of 1898
  • By: Harvey Rosenfeld
  • Narrated by: Ian Esmo
  • Length: 13 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 11

From its beginnings, America has acted out much of its history on the battlefront. Yet for the average American, little is known of the Spanish-American War. The reasons for our entry never seemed compelling - at times, yellow fever seemed more the enemy than did Spanish troops - and the United States was ill prepared for the venture. Nevertheless, this conflict served to unify a country that only 30 years before had been hopelessly divided by civil strife.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good listen

  • By Anonymous User on 08-09-18

Wonderful Story, Terrible Reader

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

Reviewed: 04-21-14

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes. The Spanish-American War in many ways a forgotten war, but it had a very large affect upon America at the time. In this first major war after the Civil War, Northerners and Southerners alike banded together to fight what they saw as Spanish tyranny upon the poor citizens of Cuba, and viewed themselves as liberators, bringing freedom to a people closely. This book’s narrative is in diary form, as you see the progression of the war as each day progresses. Rosenfeld does a magnificent job telling this story, and it is one of the best treatments I have ever read of the Spanish American War. Some called it a “splendid” little war, others called it a “dirty” one, but the story is fascinating either way.

How could the performance have been better?

I am sorry to say, Ian Esmo was a terrible reader, at least to my ears. I have listened to over a hundred audio books, and Esmo is one of the worst I have ever endured (which surprises me, as presumably Audible would want to choose quality readers.) When I first started listening to it, I almost believed I was listening to a computer synthesized voice, due to his very unnatural inflections, and awkward pauses in reading (I actually had to look up to see that this was an actual person). If not for Rosenfeld's compelling narrative (wonderful book), I probably would not have completed it, that’s how unpleasant I found the listening experience. As the hours progressed, I got accustomed to the awkward reading style, and admittedly, he did do a reasonably good job simulating the voices of individuals portrayed. Esmo may have a talent for reading, but why he would choose to narrate in the fashion he did escapes me. Perhaps he is paid by the length of time, and chose to be deliberately (and awkwardly) slow? Or maybe he was bored by the material, and just let the words go by as he read? I don’t know, but I will definitely avoid this reader in the future. His reading was too painful for me ever want to endure again.

  • The Vietnam War

  • A Concise International History
  • By: Mark Atwood Lawrence
  • Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
  • Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66

Hailed as a "pithy and compelling account of an intensely relevant topic" ( Kirkus Reviews), this wide-ranging volume offers a superb account of a key moment in modern U.S. and world history. Drawing upon the latest research in archives in China, Russia, and Vietnam, Mark Lawrence creates an extraordinary, panoramic view of all sides of the war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Highly recommended

  • By Nancy on 06-05-11

Politically Slanting But Enjoyable Narrative

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

Reviewed: 04-11-14

What did you like best about The Vietnam War? What did you like least?

For an otherwise brief overview, it was detailed enough to really make the narrative flow. Sadly though, the author clearly has a political axe to grind, and Nixon remains his villain, just as Kennedy his hero. His heroes do bad things reluctantly, whereas his villains do it malevolently. The same is true in reverse for good things. I still have yet to hear one in which this war can be discussed objectively. Sigh. Perhaps we are still too early write anything objective about this war? In any case, if you can get past his personal political commentary (or if your political orientation aligns with his), you will find this a very informative and fascinating story. One of the more enjoyable reads of the Vietnam War. Peter Berkot also gets high marks for his performance in reading the material.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful