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James C

Las Vegas, NV
  • 22
  • reviews
  • 567
  • helpful votes
  • 81
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  • On Wave and Wing

  • The 100 Year Quest to Perfect the Aircraft Carrier
  • By: Barrett Tillman
  • Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 26

What defended the US after the attack on Pearl Harbor, defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and is an essential tool in the fight against terror? Aircraft carriers. For 70 years, these ships remained a little-understood cornerstone of American power. In his latest book, On Wave and Wing, Barrett Tillman sheds light on the history of these floating leviathans and offers a nuanced analysis of the largest man-made vessel in the history of the world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 100th Anniversary of the Aircraft Carrier

  • By Jean on 08-05-17

Narrator is awful

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

Reviewed: 01-10-18

Listen to the sample of the narration before you buy!

I regret not returning this book when I had the opportunity; the content is interesting but I found it impossible to get beyond the narration; Peter Berkrot is just an absolutely awful narrator, he tries to make every sentence sound impressive and dramatic, which (very quickly) gets obnoxious.

  • The Ghost Warriors

  • Inside Israel's Undercover War Against Suicide Terrorism
  • By: Samuel M. Katz
  • Narrated by: Ganim Peter
  • Length: 16 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 111
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103

It was the deadliest terror campaign ever mounted against a nation in modern times: the al-Aqsa, or Second, Intifada. This is the untold story of how Israel fought back with an elite force of undercover operatives drawn from the nation's diverse backgrounds and ethnicities - and united in their ability to walk among the enemy as no one else dared.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • a strong realistic book! my top ranked war book

  • By raz on 04-11-16

Sensationalistic

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

Reviewed: 01-07-18

Disclaimer: I put this (audio)book down about a quarter of the way in. The topic itself is interesting, how the Israeli security and special forces units work under cover in Palestinian areas and even within terrorist organizations. Some of these Israeli security organizations have units that train and speak in Arabic, and go to great lengths to blend in to specific local communities.

What I found off-putting was that the author wasted a lot of time painting hagiographic portraits of the members of these special units, especially particular individuals who (readers would soon find) were killed in the line of duty. Yes, these guys are badass and what they do is impressive, but (IMHO) the focus was too much on the men themselves rather than on the tactics and situations that they deal with.

  • Understanding Trump

  • By: Newt Gingrich, Eric Trump - foreword
  • Narrated by: Newt Gingrich, Eric Trump
  • Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 814
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 730
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 729

Donald Trump is unlike any president we've ever had. He is the only person ever elected to be commander in chief who has not first held public office or served as a general in the military. His principles grow out of five decades of business and celebrity success - not politics - so he behaves differently from traditional politicians.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • disappointed

  • By Brenda Hughes on 07-11-17

Provides what the title promises

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

Reviewed: 12-09-17

While this isn't an amazingly well-written book, it does provide what the title promises, a perspective on the positions and methods that Trump has used in the private sector and is now applying at the government level.

Gingrich provides a couple of examples that are helpful in cutting through the cloud of hysterics or rhetoric. First, Trump is, in some ways, more like a governor than a president, in the sense that much of his effort is focused on bringing jobs and opportunities rather than on diplomacy for its own sake. Second, Trump is a situational learner; he learns things when he needs to know them and not before. While in New York, he agitated against the long-failing and over-budget government effort to repair a city ice-skating facility. Trump didn't know anything about ice-skating, but when he finally had the opportunity to take over the project, he went out and found Canadian experts who could fix the problem, and thereby managed to fix the facility on-time and under-budget.

It is a little annoying that, like many political talking heads, both Democrat and Republican, Gingrich throws out a lot of numbers, figures and thinly-illustrated vignettes to support his point, e.g. "medical fraud costs the US $xxx billion dollars per year". I suspect that many, if not most of these claims could be argued on the basis of factual accuracy alone.

As other reviewers have noted, only about the first third of the book is really focused on "understanding Trump"; the second third is a series of potential platform topics that Gingrich sees as being in-line with Trump's thinking and approach to the presidency. The final portion are appendices that are the text (or recordings, in the audiobook) of speeches that are particularly important to recognizing Trump’s values and methods.

But again, at the end of the day, the book provides what it promises and is helpful in building a more complete understanding of Trump and his policies.

  • The Art of Invisibility

  • The World's Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data
  • By: Kevin Mitnick
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,792
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,521
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,522

Like it or not, your every move is being watched and analyzed. Consumers' identities are being stolen, and a person's every step is being tracked and stored. What once might have been dismissed as paranoia is now a hard truth, and privacy is a luxury few can afford or understand. In this explosive yet practical book, Kevin Mitnick illustrates what is happening without your knowledge - and he teaches you "the art of invisibility".

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Limited value for the average person

  • By James C on 10-14-17

Limited value for the average person

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

Reviewed: 10-14-17

Mitnik's book has a handful of decent ideas for how the average person can better protect their privacy, but this content isn't worth the 9 hour listen, much of which is just rambling about the countless ways in which our lives and activities can be monitored in the digital age. Mitnik comes across as a bit full of himself, which would be fine if the content was more worthwhile.

It's unclear at what demographic the book is targeted, as some of the stuff is applicable to everyone, but he also spends a lot of time on topics that would seem to only be of interest to criminals or the truly paranoid (hiring a homeless person to buy you a throw-away phone, which you then use to establish an anonymous identity, and so on).

Save yourself the read...below are the main ideas that seem relevant to most people, you can probably find better info on these elsewhere than this book:
- Your personal data (hometown, mother's maiden name, etc.) is probably compromised, so don't use it as your "Secure Questions" for accounts. Instead, develop a list of specific, fake answers to these questions.
- Use 12-20 digit passwords on your accounts, don't use the same password for different stuff
- Establish Two Factor Authentication on all your accounts/devices, using Google Authenticator if available
- Use a dedicated device for accessing your most sensitive (financial) acccounts
- Ensure your router has updated firmware and isn't configured to use outdated WPA encryption

509 of 516 people found this review helpful

  • Star Wars: Maul

  • Lockdown
  • By: Joe Schreiber
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,369
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,188
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,199

It's kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object that will enable the Sith to conquer the galaxy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Maul + Prison = Too Much Fun

  • By Troy on 01-28-14

Absolutely Awful

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

Reviewed: 03-23-14

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I've been a Star Wars fan for many years: I grew up on Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, I slogged through some of the more mediocre books that followed (Truce at Bakura, the Courtship of Princess Leia, etc), and I generally enjoyed the Rogue Squadron series. The prequel books from the last few years have definitely been a mixed bag, with the Clone Commando series ranging from Okay to Good, while Traviss’ other books rate a solid “Meh”. However, the last couple of years have produced an overall upward trend, with the excellent Path of Destruction series as well as a couple of good stand alone books like Scoundrels and the Obi Wan book that is (I hope) the harbinger of another interesting series. Following the particularly good Darth Plagueis, I was riding a high and couldn’t wait to read Maul: Lockdown and learn more about the machinations of the Sith during the period leading up to the Clone Wars.

While the premise of Sidious sending Maul to train in gladiatorial prison matches is indeed plausible and had been hinted at in Darth Plagueis, Schreiber's execution of this concept was simply atrocious: the storyline itself is incredibly contrived and core elements require a tremendous suspension of disbelief, while the dialogue, scenery and many of the characters seem to be pulled directly from a crummy, made-for-TV movie starring Nicholas Cage escaping from a 1970s prison in the southeast United States. What’s more, the author’s portrayal of Maul is not consistent with other (better) books or even within this particular disaster of a novel.

This unabridged audiobook became almost literally painful and I started listening to it while I was about to fall asleep, confident in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be missing anything worthwhile. Please, skip this book and go read Plagueis or the Path of Destruction series if you’re looking for a Sith fix.

P.S. Regarding the narration, Jonathan Davis is a decent narrator with a couple of Star Wars audiobooks to his credit, but he doesn’t do any favors for the already weak dialogue and his Maul voice is inconsistent because he can’t decide whether or not to use the same accent that he used for Darth Bane in the Path of Destruction series. Lockdown would have been ever-so-slightly less painful if he’d just gone with the Bane voice rather than experimenting with a different accent every time Schreiber gives Maul yet another awkward mouthful of dialogue.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Five Billion Years of Solitude

  • The Search for Life Among the Stars
  • By: Lee Billings
  • Narrated by: Lee Billings
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 45

Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. Now, Earth's isolation is coming to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of "exoplanets" orbiting other stars, including some that could be similar to our own world. Studying those distant planets for signs of life will be crucial to understanding life's intricate mysteries right here on Earth. In a firsthand account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with top researchers.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bloated

  • By Dr A on 01-09-14

Meandering but interesting

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

Reviewed: 12-21-13

Any additional comments?

3.5 stars. This is essentially a summary of the current state of affairs as regards the search for extraterrestrial life, though (as other reviewers have noted) the author meanders across sciences. I usually find geology history rather interesting, but it stretched my patience in this book. In addition, I felt that the author put far too much effort into building artistic prose and 'personalizing' the story through the lives of the researchers that he interviewed…no offense to the author, but I'd rather focus on the science and skip the human interest pieces. Ultimately the outlook is, at the moment, rather dour as far as space exploration and SETI goes: NASA lacks the budget for major missions, and SETI is similarly struggling for funding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Tripwire

  • Jack Reacher, Book 3
  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Johnathan McClain
  • Length: 14 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,738
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,111
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,125

Reacher's anonymity in Florida is shattered by an investigator who's come looking for him. But hours after his arrival, the stranger is murdered. Retracing the PI's trail back to New York, Reacher's compelled to find out who was looking for him and why. He never expects the reasons to be so personal - and twisted.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Slower pace than first 2 books

  • By Dogs & Horses on 04-12-13

Mediocre story, horrible narration

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

Reviewed: 12-21-13

Any additional comments?

Typical of Lee Child, there are many critical plot elements that stretch credulity. The bad guy is over-stereotypied to the point of annoyance, but my biggest criticism is that the narrator is simply Awful…didn't they ask for a sample of this guy's work before they paid him to do the whole book?? I almost stopped listening on several occasions but was bored and plodded on as a result of a lazy curiosity to find out what happened. But don't follow my example, please.

  • Echo Burning

  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 14 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,175
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,127
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,131

Reacher is hitching through the heat of West Texas and getting desperate for a ride. The last thing he's worried about is exactly who picks him up.

She's called Carmen. She's a good-looking young woman, she has a beautiful little girl...and she has married into the wrong family. They're called the Greers. They're a bitter and miserly clan, and they've made her life a living hell. Worse, her monster of a husband is soon due out of prison. So she needs protection, and she needs it now.

Lawyers can't help. Cops can't be trusted. So Reacher goes home with her to the lonely ranch where nothing is as it seems, and where evil swirls around them like dust in a storm. Within days, Carmen's husband is dead - and simmering secrets send Echo, Texas, up in flames.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not Lee Child At His Best...

  • By David on 05-12-09

If you're hooked on Jack Reacher...

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

Reviewed: 12-21-13

Any additional comments?

…this is the perfect way to end your addiction; if you've read two or three Reacher books by the time you get to this one, you'll realize that the plot is virtually the same, only with a damsel in distress who is incredibly difficult to sympathize with. Reacher comes across as an ignorant moron who decides to be a knight in shining armor for a woman he barely knows and is even suspicious of. Don't waste your time.

  • Near-Earth Objects

  • Finding Them Before They Find Us
  • By: Donald K. Yeomans
  • Narrated by: Brian Troxell
  • Length: 4 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 27

Of all the natural disasters that could befall us, only an Earth impact by a large comet or asteroid has the potential to end civilization in a single blow. Yet these near-Earth objects also offer tantalizing clues to our solar system's origins, and someday could even serve as stepping-stones for space exploration. In this book, Donald Yeomans introduces listeners to the science of near-Earth objects - its history, applications, and ongoing quest to find near-Earth objects before they find us.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Suffers from a lack of graphics

  • By James C on 04-24-13

Suffers from a lack of graphics

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

Reviewed: 04-24-13

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This is an interesting book that gives a good summary of the current state of affairs in terms of asteroid tracking & mitigation technology. If you're interested in astronomy you'll probably enjoy this. The reason that I only gave the audiobook 3 stars is because the author refers, on numerous occasions, to graphs & charts that are supposed to be included in a PDF with the audiobook. The lack of these visual references is frustrating, and though I e-mailed Audible customer support about this issue several weeks ago, the PDF is still not available through their website.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record

  • By: Leslie Kean
  • Narrated by: Heather Henderson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 483
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 393
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 397

With the support of former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, investigative reporter Leslie Kean draws on her research to separate fact from fiction and to lift the veil on decades of U.S. government misinformation. Throughout, she presents irrefutable evidence that unknown flying objects - metallic, luminous, and seemingly able to maneuver in ways that defy the laws of physics - actually exist.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the Best Books on UFOs That Is Out There

  • By Niels J. Rasmussen on 08-19-14

Refreshing Perspective on a Fascinating Subject

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

Reviewed: 02-05-12

Like many people, I have an interest in UFOs, SETI etc. but have steered clear of books on the subject for many years because because most exhibit the less-than-objective hallmarks of authors who have clearly 'swallowed the red pill' (to quote the Matrix) and surrendered their credibility to the world of conspiracy theorists.

Kean's refreshing work documents several incidents that aren't widely known and, most interesting to me, discusses the surprisingly extensive investigations that nations other than the U.S. have conducted into various sightings. Her sources are, for the most part, identified by name and possess good credentials; much of the book is actually their verbatim testimonials rather than Kean's editorial. Most reports and discussion were precise and specific, with counter arguments considered and rebutted.

I don't think that every argument was rock solid but, generally speaking, the quality was far better than any other book or documentary that I'm aware of. As a military pilot, I can say that she does a pretty good job of representing the technical aspects of many reports, though she does seem to be rather easily impressed by the "Top Secret" security clearance credentials that at least one of her interviewees possessed (these clearances are so common as to be almost taken for granted among Air Force pilots and in certain other military career fields as well).

I'm not going to completely revise my worldview based on this book, but I would say that it re-opened my eyes to the subject of UFOs to the point that I'll at least critically evaluate such reports rather than casually dismissing them as conspiracy babble.

Regarding the narration: rather than the simple expedient of using two narrators, a female and a male, to read the author's discussion and the eyewitness reports respectively, the producers employed a single, relatively monotone female voice. As a result, it's often quite difficult to distinguish between the author's discussion and the eyewitness narratives, to the point that it actually does detract from one's comprehension of the book.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful