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Rodney

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  • 405
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  • 353
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  • The History of the Future

  • Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality
  • By: Blake J. Harris
  • Narrated by: Stephen Graybill
  • Length: 17 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 224
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 205
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 203

From iconic books like Neuromancer to blockbuster films like The Matrix, virtual reality has long been hailed as the ultimate technology. But outside of a few research labs and military training facilities, this tantalizing vision of the future was nothing but science fiction. Until 2012, when Oculus founder Palmer Luckey - then just a rebellious teenage dreamer living alone in a camper trailer - invents a device that has the potential to change everything.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic book

  • By Rodney on 04-01-19

Fantastic book

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

Reviewed: 04-01-19

This is a fantastic and epic book, it talks about the origins of VR and how Palmer Luckey got into it and literally did create something special. It also covers how, in Silicon Valley, if you don't have the "right" politics, they will literally run you out of town and blackball you. It's an amazing story and told in an extremely interesting manner. If you've read Blake Harris' other book, Console Wars, this book is written sort of in that fashion but is a lot more realistic in terms of dialogue. While I enjoyed Console Wars a lot, the witty TV sitcom style of dialogue came off as not being believable at all - which is a must of a historical book. I get in Console Wars that it was dialogue from 30 years ago when it was written - so it's understandable people didn't remember exact phrases, etc. In this book, since it's much more recent, the dialogue is less witty - but much more believable - which in any book about real events and people is a positive.

Also I will note it's a shame how this book as been treated by places like Audible. Just search for Console Wars, which was certainly a hit, when you search for it and go to the page - they literally don't even include a link to this book - written by the same author in the same field of technology. Why is that Audible, why? I can't help but wonder.

The reader does a good job. Also to the dope who said the eastern European accent is 'racist', first off learn what the word racist means (hint: eastern Europe isn't a race), and second, the reason readers do accents is so you can keep track of who is speaking. It's remarkable how people don't get basic concepts like that.

Overall the book is excellent, if you have any interest in VR this is a must. If you have any interest in Facebook and want to hear about how they do business behind the scenes, this is a must. If you have any interest in how those on the right are treated in the tech sector, this is a must. Or mainly if you just want to hear a really interesting story from a fantastic author, this is a must.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • A Spy at the Heart of the Third Reich

  • By: Lucas Delattre
  • Narrated by: Michael Prichard
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 103
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 34

A work of remarkable scholarship that moves with the swift pace of a John le Carre thriller, A Spy at the Heart of the Third Reich is a chilling addition to the literature of espionage. In 1943, a young official named Fritz Kolbe from the German foreign ministry arranged to meet with Allen Dulles, then an OSS officer in Switzerland and later the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 100% very good

  • By Richard on 06-11-07

Dull

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

Reviewed: 03-14-19

I bought this years ago, forgot about it, then finally gave it a listen... and boy, what a mediocre book. The big issue with this book is that there's no story - it just sort of tells some facts, speculates a bit, and then tells more facts. That is fine when there is a story in those facts, but this looks like an author getting ahold of some notes and then trying to build a book around it. It's just dull as there isn't much going on most of the time. While I do appreciate the author not making stuff up, the only thing worse than a boring history book is one that is also fake, I don't think the author did much with the material he got. Anyways if you're going to write a spy book it really needs to be a narrative history - otherwise they end up very dull, like this one.

The reader is a good professional read, no issue there.

Overall this book is just bland - and because so little happens I'm not sure what could have been added to the story to make it more interesting. I love history and love WW2 so this should have been a no-brainer. But it turned out to just be, well, boring.

  • Kiev 1941

  • Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East
  • By: David Stahel
  • Narrated by: Matthew Waterson
  • Length: 14 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27

In just four weeks in the summer of 1941 the German Wehrmacht wrought unprecedented destruction on four Soviet armies, conquering central Ukraine and killing or capturing three quarters of a million men. This was the Battle of Kiev - one of the largest and most decisive battles of World War II and, for Hitler and Stalin, a battle of crucial importance. For the first time, David Stahel charts the battle's dramatic course and aftermath.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good recap

  • By Anonymous User on 04-17-19

Very dull

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

Reviewed: 03-09-19

I love WW2 books, and history books in general - but this one is a ZZZZzzzzz'er. It's just dull. There's no story, this is not a narrative history, it's just here's what people said happened and here's what happened according to the Soviets. There's no flow to the book and it reads like a history book you'd have read in high school - which is an insult in case you don't know. The information seems fine, but having read so many WW2 books there really isn't anything new here, and it doesn't really cover the event the from the beginning to the end, the way I figured it would.

I love WW2 and have literally read hundreds of WW2 books - this one is just dull. Maybe if I knew nothing about the subject it might be a bit better, but again it's not a narrative history and it doesn't try to tell a story, it's just information. It's not by any means the worst thing I've heard and seems accurate, I just wish the author was a dramatically better story teller.

Narration was fine - it's just a straight professional reading, no voice acting or anything - not that any would be appropriate or called for here.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Moscow, December 25,1991

  • The Last Day of the Soviet Union
  • By: Conor O'Clery
  • Narrated by: Don Hagen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47

The implosion of the Soviet Union was the culmination of a gripping game played out between two men who intensely disliked each other and had different concepts for the future. Mikhail Gorbachev, a sophisticated and urbane reformer, sought to modernize and preserve the USSR; Boris Yeltsin, a coarse and a hard drinking “bulldozer,” wished to destroy the union and create a capitalist Russia. The defeat of the August 1991 coup attempt, carried out by hardline communists, shook Gorbachev’s authority and was a triumph for Yeltsin.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent

  • By Chris on 04-26-15

Gorbachev is GOD!

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

Reviewed: 03-07-19

Basically this author thinks Gorbachev is God, or at least that's what I assume from reading the books since the only good person in the book, according to him, is Gorbachev. Yeltsin is such a cartoon character in this book that it makes me question what I read, how much of it, if anything, is true. I'm an American, I have no "guy" in the fight between the two, but when a book is so incredibly one sided and biased it's hard to take what you're reading seriously.

As for the book itself it's not bad - but it's really not what the subject matter says it is. While it does go over the final day of the USSR, most of the book are stories setting up the events, and the last couple of hours are what happened afterwards. This isn't really a negative, but it doesn't match the title and description. The book moves along at a fair pace, I never found it boring, but it's really only the story from one side - and with a book like this, meant to focus on a single day, I thought you'd get some sweeping narrative of what each camp was doing, etc - and that is not the case here at all. Still, again, the issue I really have is just how unbalanced the book is, it's clearly only half the story written by someone who worships Gorbachev.

The reader did a fine job, nothing special, but nothing bad.

Overall 3 stars for the book - which means it's OK. It's not bad, it's not good, it's just OK. Had the author attempted to balance the content and been more than a Gorbachev fanboy I think the book could have some real value, but that's beyond the scope of this book.

  • Bad Blood

  • Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
  • By: John Carreyrou
  • Narrated by: Will Damron
  • Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 21,967
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 19,973
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 19,932

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose start-up “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fund-raising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’ worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Shocking story of a meteoric rise and fall

  • By Jeff Koeppen on 08-14-18

Meh

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

Reviewed: 02-24-19

The reviews of this book are way over the top, obviously people who think this is an amazing story have never read a well written and interesting non-fiction book. The biggest issue here is the author, in order to move along the narrative, takes nearly every event that would happen at a normal work place and makes it sound sinister. Why do that when the real story is sinister enough? Well, that's because he clearly didn't have enough content to fill out a book. Reading the book it's filled with gossip, give "facts" like a doctor saying he got two bad test results. OK, what is the standard number of bad test results, what was the total number of tests ran, why no context to the statement. Based on the reviews you'd think this was some riveting page turner, and it's not. Based on the reviews you're waiting for the lady to start having people killed because she's so evil, yet nothing like that happens. That's the issue with this book, it's built up to be this evil sinister thing, and it's really just about a scam artist.

The reader did a professional job.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Exploding the Phone

  • The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell
  • By: Phil Lapsley
  • Narrated by: Johann North
  • Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 205
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206

Before smartphones, back even before the Internet and personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world’s largest machine: the telephone system. Starting with Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary "harmonic telegraph", by the middle of the 20th century the phone system had grown into something extraordinary, a web of cutting-edge switching machines and human operators that linked together millions of people like never before. But the network had a billion-dollar flaw, and once people discovered it, things would never be the same.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Story along with Great Technical Research

  • By Elsa Braun on 04-25-16

Great book

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

Reviewed: 02-20-19

Excellent book, takes you from the very very beginning of the phone system to the very last switch in the US. It's broken into sections and tells a different story depending on the timeframe, and this format works extremely well. The book moves at a very good pace and was never dull. I really enjoyed this book.

On the narration it was very good, so giving it a 4 and not a 5 doesn't mean anything negative, I just save 5 stars for truly special performances.

  • Troublemakers

  • Silicon Valley's Coming of Age
  • By: Leslie Berlin
  • Narrated by: Amanda Carlin
  • Length: 16 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79

At a time when the five most valuable companies on the planet are high-tech firms and nearly half of Americans say they cannot live without their cell phones, Troublemakers reveals the untold story of how we got here. This is the gripping tale of seven exceptional men and women, pioneers of Silicon Valley in the 1970s and early 1980s. Together they worked across generations, industries, and companies to bring technology from Pentagon offices and university laboratories to the rest of us. In doing so they changed the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Robot Uprising Has Begun

  • By Bob on 11-30-17

Awful book, terrible reader

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

Reviewed: 02-15-19

First, this book is not read by a robot - it’s just read by a terrible reader who sounds like a robot. In either case it sounds like a robot - and isn’t very good. You can improve it somewhat by increasing the play speed to 1.25x - it makes it sound a bit better.

But why would you want to do anything but hit stop on this book? If you’re a social justice warrior or a left wing nut job or someone that thinks history needs to meet sexual and racial quotas - this is the book for you. If you’re someone that came here to hear a story about the beginning of Silicon Valley and isn’t interested in the authors boring left wing political view - then you’ll probably want to skip this one.

It really is a shame people can’t just write history books without injecting their own politics into everything. I don’t care if I agree or don’t agree, the book isn’t about the author, it’s about the subject - and clearly the author doesn’t get this entry level concept.

Anywho I’d skip this as there are much better and more interesting books available on the subject - and you can get a much better readers as a bonus. But if you love robots and think ANTIFA is great - then this is for you.

  • Valley of Genius

  • By: Adam Fisher
  • Narrated by: Pete Larkin
  • Length: 18 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 249
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 218
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216

A candid, colorful, and comprehensive oral history that reveals the secrets of Silicon Valley - from the origins of Apple and Atari to the present day clashes of Google and Facebook, and all the start-ups and disruptions that happened along the way. Drawing on over 200 in-depth interviews, Valley of Genius takes listeners from the dawn of the personal computer and the Internet, through the heyday of the web, up to the very moment when our current technological reality was invented.  

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Annoying to listen to

  • By Jd on 07-21-18

Terrible format for an audiobook

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

Reviewed: 02-14-19

I must agree with others about this book, it just doesn't work as an audiobook because there is no flow with the way it's written and it's constantly switching who is talking. I thought I'd give it a try anyways since the subject matter seemed interesting and I thought it was more like just a long block of someone speaking, like an interview, but instead it's a quote, then a quote from someone else, then back to the original person for a few lines, then another quote - the idea is to give it context, and in print that works fine, but as an audiobook it's awful since it just introduces too many people speaking. But the great thing about Audible, and the reason I bought this, was because I knew I could try it out and if the other reviews were correct, I could always return it. I gave the book over an hour of my time, skipped ahead to see if the format changed, and it didn't. So returning it is what I did.

  • Vietnam

  • An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975
  • By: Max Hastings
  • Narrated by: Max Hastings
  • Length: 32 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 356
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 329
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 329

Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the US in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed two million people. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A more nuanced view than Ken Burns' companion book

  • By Vu on 10-21-18

Typical rehash of the same material

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

Reviewed: 02-04-19

I had high hopes for this book as Max Hastings has done an excellent job with some of his other books that I have, but this is just another rehash of the same material you've already heard. Yeah, it has different individual stories, but it takes the same angle everyone else does.

Overall disappointed as I was hoping for something different, something larger in scope I guess, something that didn't just repeat the same talking points, but I guess we're still not far enough away from Vietnam to get those dispassionate history books. Maybe in another decade or two we'll get people who haven't been raised with the group think of people that lived through Vietnam to take a look at the war and the larger picture.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Casino

  • Love and Honor in Las Vegas
  • By: Nicholas Pileggi
  • Narrated by: Ron Leibman, Fred Neumann, Ken Weitzman
  • Length: 2 hrs and 51 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 161
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 136
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 134

A real-life story of love and betrayal set in America's favorite playground, Casino is a Mafia tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions, as well as the inside account of just how the mob lost control of the neon money-making machine it created.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Waste of free credit

  • By Britney on 03-10-16

Abridged

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

Reviewed: 02-04-19

Slightly different from the movie, but still entertaining. This would be a 5/5 if we had an unabridged version. It's a shame that Audible will release 55,000 unabridged romance novels for transgendered furies, but won't get us an unabridged version of one of the best mafia books ever written.

The performance of the book is good.