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smarmer

Los Angeles, CA USA
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  • 106
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  • 107
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  • Five Came Back

  • A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War
  • By: Mark Harris
  • Narrated by: Andrew Garman
  • Length: 20 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 228
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 202
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 201

It was the best of times and the worst of times for Hollywood before the war. The box office was booming, and the studios’ control of talent and distribution was as airtight as could be hoped. But the industry’s relationship with Washington was decidedly uneasy - hearings and investigations into allegations of corruption and racketeering were multiplying, and hanging in the air was the insinuation that the business was too foreign, too Jewish, too "un-American" in its values and causes. Could an industry this powerful in shaping America’s mind-set really be left in the hands of this crew?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Had a lot of fun with this book!

  • By Detail-oriented on 08-11-14

When Hollywood loved America

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

What a difference a generation makes. The five directors written about here -- Frank Capra, John Houston, George Stevens, William Wyler, and John Ford -- all interrupted their careers to serve during World War II. Mostly they documented the fighting, at great personal danger to themselves. William Wyler lost his hearing flying in bombers. George Stevens, who specialized in directing comedies prior to the war, could no longer do comedies afterward.

Besides simply documenting battles they also investigated the psychological trauma of war (Houston) and filmed the liberation of the concentration death camps (Stevens).

Those were clearly different times. When these directors, along with such other heroes as Ted Williams (pilot during WW II and Korea -- giving up the prime years of his baseball career) or Yogi Berra (part of the Normandy invasion), or Clark Gable saw that the country was in trouble, they stepped forward.

What different times we live in today, sad to say.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

  • By: Jack Weatherford
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis, Jack Weatherford
  • Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,009
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,864
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,879

The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant, insightful, intriguing.

  • By Peter on 03-05-10

Interesting study of Genghis Khan

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

A very good recounting of the conquests of Genghis Khan and the impact that had on Asia and Europe. Very good but not necessarily memorable.

  • The Master and Margarita

  • By: Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Narrated by: Julian Rhind-Tutt
  • Length: 16 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,179
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 998
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,000

The Devil comes to Moscow, but he isn't all bad; Pontius Pilate sentences a charismatic leader to his death, but yearns for redemption; and a writer tries to destroy his greatest tale, but discovers that manuscripts don't burn. Multi-layered and entrancing, blending sharp satire with glorious fantasy, The Master and Margarita is ceaselessly inventive and profoundly moving. In its imaginative freedom and raising of eternal human concerns, it is one of the world's great novels.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Satisfying Satanic Satire

  • By Jacob on 12-06-11

Amazing contemporary Russian magic realism

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

This is a book written in a non-linear style, moving back and forth between realism and fantasy. It is simultaneously a critique of Communism and atheism in general and Stalinism and the cultural decline in the USSR on the other.

It moves back and forth between contemporary Russia and Judea at the time of Jesus. It could be viewed as the story of the conscience of Pontius Pilate, the degradation of writers and poets under Stalin, the insanity (literally) of life under Communism, the temptations of Satan, the redeeming quality of true love, and/or the compromises all of us make reconciling our desires with our best selves.

Instead of offering spoilers, or writing a lengthy plot summary and guide to the disjointed parts of the story, I will simply urge readers and listeners to stick with the story even when it seems to be drifting incoherently. It will all come together in a profound and meaningful way.

  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

  • By: Robert A. Heinlein
  • Narrated by: Lloyd James
  • Length: 14 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,722
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,240
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,263

In what is considered one of Heinlein's most hair-raising, thought-provoking, and outrageous adventures, the master of modern science fiction tells the strange story of an even stranger world. It is 21st-century Luna, a harsh penal colony where a revolt is plotted between a bashful computer and a ragtag collection of maverick humans, a revolt that goes beautifully until the inevitable happens. But that's the problem with the inevitable: it always happens.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very Good Interpretation

  • By Gerald on 10-25-08

One of the best Sci-Fi books ever.

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is really a meditation about love, what it is to be a true human, what kind of society permits and fosters freedom and creativity, and how it is sometimes possible to overcome great odds to triumph over tyranny.

It is hard to summarize the plot. I will just say that the relationship between the human and the computer becomes more intimate and real and emotionally authentic than anything found on the earth of the novel.

The reader was absolutely outstanding.

Take my word for it, if you can, and listen to this masterpiece.

  • The Brothers Karamazov

  • By: Fyodor Dostoevsky, David Magarshack (translator)
  • Narrated by: Gabriel Woolf
  • Length: 37 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 181
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 96
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94

The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky and is generally considered the culmination of his life's work. Published in November 1880, Dostoevsky spent nearly two years writing the novel set in 19th-century Russia. Fydor Karamazov, a mean and disreputable landowner, has three sons, Dmitry, a profligate army officer; Ivan, a writer with revolutionary ideas; and Alexey, a religious novice.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Brothers Karamozov

  • By Julia on 05-30-09

Greatest novel ever!!!

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

I read The Brothers Karamazov during the summer between my junior and senior year of college, and it had a profound influence on me. Incidentally, it was the Magarshak translation that came in a two volume paperback edition published by Penguin Books that I took with me on a trip to Europe.

I returned to the same translation on Audible and found the book even better than when I had read it decades earlier. The subtle interchanges between and among characters, the philosophical issues of human evil, the legal system, the contradictory emotional states that lurch people from one pole to another, the role of true and false religion, the brilliance and simultaneous impoverishment of Ivan's dry secularism that verges on nihilism, Dimitry's hedonistic excesses that also verges on nihilism. Smerdyakov is the one who goes all the way to nihilism.

Only Alyosha averts nihilism, but in doing so he leaves behind an all-encompassing religion for one that exists outside the monastery in the presence of children whom he attempts to comfort in the face of the death of their classmate.

The book is far more than my brief summary could convey. Read it or listen to it. One of the great artistic products ever produced.

As to the narrator, yes, in his effort to be more conversational he does have an occasional uneven cadence, but I enjoyed his reading. Don't hesitate to try this version because of the comments of those who didn't like him.

Take your pick: Magarshack translation or Garnett; British or American; male or female. In any choice you will be listening to one of the greatest novels ever written.

  • The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague

  • By: Dorsey Armstrong, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Dorsey Armstrong
  • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 948
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 879
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 882

Many of us know the Black Death as a catastrophic event of the medieval world. But the Black Death was arguably the most significant event in Western history, profoundly affecting every aspect of human life, from the economic and social to the political, religious, and cultural. In its wake the plague left a world that was utterly changed, forever altering the traditional structure of European societies and forcing a rethinking of every single system of Western civilization: food production and trade, the church, political institutions, law, art, and more.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • informative, interesting, well organized

  • By Tricia Munter on 06-12-16

Excellent course on Europe's worst plague

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

Bubonic plague wiped out between 30-40% of the population of Europe. The events of the middle and late 1400's thus changed the entire direction of culture, of property, of economy, and even of religion.

This course is an outstanding overview of that scourge.

Professor Dorsey Armstrong is a superlative teacher. I have listened to several of her other courses as well. "Take the professor, not the course," applies here. On any topic she addresses, she is worth listening to.

  • Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left

  • By: David Horowitz
  • Narrated by: Adam Hanin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 92
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84

The best-selling Unholy Alliance is now in audio! Former leftist radical David Horowitz blows the lid off the dangerous liaison between U.S. liberals and Islamic radicals. With America's battle against the disastrous force of terrorism at hand, Horowitz takes us behind the curtain of the unholy alliance between liberals and the enemy - a force with malevolent intentions, and one that Americans can no longer ignore.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Liberal Union with Islam

  • By Sarge on 08-09-17

What you don't hear in the news

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

David Horowitz knows the American Left from the inside out. In this book he exposes the subterranean linkage between the American Left and Radical Islam.

The American Left (not American Liberals) seek to make radical changes in the West and are using Radical Islam as their temporary ally in that destruction. They have the fantasy that after the West is weakened or destroyed, they will triumph over Radical Islam.

Meanwhile, Radical Islam has a similar agenda with a similar fantasy.

How the Left, which claims to be liberal, can support Radical Islam, with its homophobia and its treatment of women and children is a mystery only understandable by grasping the essence of Horowitz' book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • English Grammar Boot Camp

  • By: Anne Curzan, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Anne Curzan
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 860
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 767
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 756

Grammar! For many of us, the word triggers memories of finger-wagging schoolteachers, and of wrestling with the ambiguous and complicated rules of using formal language. But what is grammar? In fact, it's the integral basis of how we speak and write. As such, a refined awareness of grammar opens a world of possibilities for both your pleasure in the English language and your skill in using it, in both speech and the written word.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Spectacular

  • By Quaker on 09-24-16

Lots of fun stuff about English

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

This is one of two courses by Professor Anne Curzan in The Great Courses series dedicated to better understanding of the English language.

Many interesting facts and theories on the evolution of what we now call modern English. Professor Curzan is an exceptional teacher.

Of the two courses, I suggest starting with this one.

  • The Big Lie

  • Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left
  • By: Dinesh D'Souza
  • Narrated by: David Cochran Heath
  • Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,773
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,605
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,590

What is "the big lie" of the Democratic Party? That conservatives - and President Donald Trump in particular - are fascists. Nazis, even. In a typical comment, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow says the Trump era is reminiscent of "what it was like when Hitler first became chancellor." But in fact, this audacious lie is a complete inversion of the truth. Yes, there is a fascist threat in America - but that threat is from the Left and the Democratic Party.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I wish Dinesh was the reader.

  • By Ken Wells on 06-09-18

Good but not his best.

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18

Exposing the Nazi roots of the American Left is a worthy task. Jonah Goldberg already covered much of this ground in his book, "Liberal Fascism."

While I like D'Souza very much and admire his courage, this book did not quire reach its goal. Worth reading but I recommend it be read in conjunction with Goldberg's and with many of the writings of David Horowitz, especially "Unholy Alliance."

  • The Secret History of the World

  • As Laid Down by the Secret Societies
  • By: Mark Booth
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 15 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 791
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 670
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 671

In this groundbreaking new work, Mark Booth embarks on an enthralling intellectual tour of our world's secret histories. Starting from a dangerous premise - that everything we've been taught about our world's past is corrupted, and that the stories put forward by the various cults and mystery schools throughout history are true - Booth produces nothing short of an alternate history of the past 3,000 years.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A unique perspective

  • By Robin on 04-09-12

Get your tin foil hat

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

Reviewed: 02-22-18

I am a credulous skeptic. That is, I am skeptical about most conspiracy theories but I am prepared to believe them if the evidence is presented in a reasonably convincing way.

This book was highly recommended by a friend who is typically reasonable. Sadly, though there were a few good points, the book failed to persuade.