Lt. William Calley

Los Angeles, CA
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The Ascent of Money audiobook cover art


5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-14-10

One of the most interesting books I have read to date. This work is an entertaining overview of the evolution of financial systems and how the history of innovations in finance really parallels and in many cases drives the political history of the world civilizations.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Team of Rivals audiobook cover art

Important, revealing

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-19-08

Ms. Goodwin explores the actual politics of the politician Mr. Lincoln, his presidency and what made him so unique in not surrounding himself with yes-men. This also caused a constitutional crisis because it was obvious that there was discord within the cabinet, which the congress tried to use to paralyze the executive. In the resolution of that crisis, an important threat to the US system was averted.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Crusades audiobook cover art

She does justice to history

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-23-07

A true classic of history, this great work by Oldenbourg seems a lasting treasure. She seems to have a familiarity with the mindset of the 11th century crusading Norman, the Byzantine, the Syrian Jacobite, the Armenian, the Turkoman, and the Moslem, from the peasant to Saladin himself. She takes us on a whirlwind tour of Syria in these fascinating decades of back-and-forth struggle, elucidating the motivations of the struggle, whether chivalrous, religious, or barbaric. This book is just as important for understanding the East as a history of the middle ages is for understanding the west.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

I Am America (And So Can You!) audiobook cover art

Just Not Funny

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-05-07

Big miss, doesn't display his comic genius, only an exaggerated parody of Bill O'reily's effort to write a book.

The End of Faith audiobook cover art

Skeptical Tour De Force

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-29-07

A tour de force extending Dawkins' ideas. The first half of the book is as powerful as could be written on the subject, and places itself within the political and cultural context of 2004, when militant Islam has western people questioning the sanity of the faithful of any stripe. Mr. Harris eloquently explains why faith is a human weakness not the apex of human nobility. He explores human ethics in a rational way. He explores many of the ironies of life matter- of- factly. He advocates a rational approach to ethics.
In fact ethics have evolved, but perhaps because of a combination of reason and sensibility. In this respect, several weak arguments dilute the book. He gives one example of reason as a tool for ethics but his example sounds more like a rationalization for judicial torture. The reader will be confused, leaving with a taste of 'rationalization' rather than 'reason.' This could be remedied by demonstrating the other reasonable arguments on the subject which will come to different conclusions and showing explicitly the weakness of our current method of arriving where we have yet arrived on such difficult matters. He should show how these reasoned arguments are superior.
Mr. Harris also tries to give an example of how spirituality is compatible with reason. He invokes the eastern religious traditions of spirituality, especially meditation. His thesis is that meditative spirituality is emperical and therefore more valid and intellectually honest than faith-based spirituality. Unfortunately he reveals his own faith in meditation in that there is no general consensus that meditation is an emperical scientific pursuit. Those of us in the habit of thinking critically and skeptically will not share his views without more data, which is not presented. Interestingly he leaves an escape hatch open for an afterlife, a puzzling addition.

Augustus audiobook cover art

A Very Helpful Narrative

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-20-07

Mr. Everett synthesizes the various accounts of Rome's first emporer's life into an understandable narrative. The complex aspects of his life including the not mutually exclusive characteristics of opportunistic egomaniac and innovative just ruler are explored. An ugly picture of the barbarism of the ancient world becomes obvious. This book helped me understand the roman empire from the perspective of a great pivotal time, from the end of the old republic, through the civil wars, and the foundation of the empire.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Truth About Muhammad audiobook cover art


5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-07-07

A Christian [my implication is that he starts out biased] writing about the founder of Islam has done a fabulous job of documenting an otherwise intelligible narrative of the founder's life. The sources are Islam's holy scriputure. The emphasis is not on what actually happened, which is unimportant from a practical standpoint, but what is perceived, as sanctioned by religious scholars, to have happened. Taking the treatment of women for example, the point is not that Muhammhed was a few decades or centuries ahead of his time in his treatment of women. For example, an apolgist on this website said [paraphrased], "But, he allowed women to own land." The point is that his treatment of women is seen by Islamists as the precedent for TODAY's treatment of women. The way the Islamist want women to be treated TODAY is important. And this is directly related to how Muhammhed treated women himself. How the religious believers perceive him is what is important.
By the way, for Christians and Jews: Muhammhed's God is eerily similar to the horrible God of the Old Testament (Written 700 BC). Muhammhed was just 1,400 years later, by which time Judaism had grown and developed quite a bit. Muhammhed just took it back old school monotheism: The old My God is Stronger than Your God argument. As an example, take the story of Muhammed and the adulterous woman. The author shows the various attitudes of the onlookers, and simply shows you, the reader, what Muhammed taught about it.
And for Muslims: You may have to take a close look at what Muhammhed actually taught when you read this book. The frightening thing is that it actually may justify terrorism in the mind of the devout Muslim. In fact, that's just the problem.
Moderates teach religion for "family values." Extremists are the ones who actually believe it.

24 of 44 people found this review helpful

Frankenstein audiobook cover art

Excellent Dramatization

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-21-07

The trouble with Frankenstein is that it just isn't a very good book. The myth of Frankenstein as portrayed at Halloween much better. As written by Shelly, however, it was disappointing, having not lived up to the hype. If you plan to listen to Frankenstein, however, then this performance is great.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

A History of the Middle Ages audiobook cover art

About half the book is good audio

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-21-07

A History of the Middle Ages (2004) - Brinton, Christopher, and Wolff ****
This work seems to be only available as an unabridged audiobook (rather than a book also). The information is useful and enlightening, and well worth the time. About half the book is perfect for the audio format. However, much doesn't lend itself well to the audio format, and charts and diagrams showing interrelationships of the discussed civilizations would help. There is insufficient explanation about what the structure of the book is, and how each section relates to the others. In some parts a bewildering barrage of specific information is provided, assuming a familiarity which many readers don't share. The parts that lend themselves well, however, to this format are valuable and interesting, and changed my understanding of the world for the better.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful