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  • 36
  • reviews
  • 7
  • helpful votes
  • 40
  • ratings
  • Spying on Whales

  • The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures
  • By: Nick Pyenson
  • Narrated by: Nick Pyenson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48

Called “the best of science writing” (Edward O. Wilson) and named a best book by Popular Science, a dive into the secret lives of whales, from their four-legged past to their perilous present. Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-size creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live 200 years, and travel entire ocean basins. Whales fill us with terror, awe, and affection - yet there is still so much we don't know about them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • wow. love this book! informative, engaging,

  • By Amazon Customer on 07-06-18

A Whale of a Story About Whales

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

Reviewed: 10-12-18

Whales are huge and they are cool!

But what else to we really know about them. Dr. Pyenson's book tells us that whales have been studied extensively and a lot is known about them. But, for every fact uncovered there seems to be 10 or more questions that arise that require further research.

Dr. Pyenson obviously is fascinated with whales and has the skill to explain them to just about anyone. This book has been written to be understood by laymen. If you like whales, you should read/listen to this book as you will probably find it just as fascinating as I did.

A couple of parts that I found particularly interesting are:

The research that took place to determine whether a baleen whale controls the flow of water into its throat when feeding or is the throat expanded due to shear volume without any control of the water by the whale. Doesn't sound to significant until you realize that the amount of water taken in during each jaw opening is the equivalent volume of a nominal living room in a house and that from opening to closing of the jaw takes place in less than 15 seconds. Amazing! Btw, the research calculated that the whale must control the flow as the forces are so significant that if they didn't control it the back of their throat would blow out.

The second item was about a whale graveyard found in South America. Just before reading "Spying on Whales", I had finished "This Is Your Brain on Parasites", which identifies just how much impact micro-organisms can have in our world in the past, presently and in the future. Regarding the whale graveyard, this impact was in the past.

The whale graveyard is unique in that there are several layers of whale fossils/bones in this graveyard. Each event that caused the whales to die (referred to as a whale fall) are thousands of years apart. The quality and quantity of the whale remains indicates that the cause of death was quite rapid. The theory is that the weather pattern had changed and caused substantial rain in the mountains which caused a micro-organism that inhabited the mountains to be washed out to the ocean shore. Much like a red tide is today, the micro-organism quantity proved to be substantial enough to cause the water that the whales were swimming in to become toxic. It is amazing that one of the smallest living organisms can kill one of the largest living creatures on the planet.

There are plenty of other things to learn about whales in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in whales. I listened to the audio version and recommend it to those that like listening to a very good story.

  • This Is Your Brain on Parasites

  • How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society
  • By: Kathleen McAuliffe
  • Narrated by: Nicol Zanzarella
  • Length: 8 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 722
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 663
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 664

A riveting investigation of the myriad ways that parasites control how other creatures - including humans - think, feel, and act. These tiny organisms can live only inside another animal, and, as McAuliffe reveals, they have many evolutionary motives for manipulating their host's behavior. Far more often than appreciated, these puppeteers orchestrate the interplay between predator and prey.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A parasitologist view of the world

  • By Colin Mc on 10-25-16

There's A Whole Other World Out There!

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

Reviewed: 10-12-18

Where some of the reviews chastised this book for being borderline science, I think they missed the point of book. I'm pretty sure the intent of the author was to open up a whole other world to laymen. I certainly fall into this category and found the book's topic to be both fascinating and a little disconcerting as there may be things happening to humans that have not until recent years even been considered. This is a world that none of us can see without special equipment and knowledge. Even those armed with both are challenged to come up the hypotheses and then, harder yet, figure out a way to prove their theories.

A second book, Spying on Whales, by Nick Pyenson discussed a whale graveyard in South America that really registered with me as I had been exposed to micro-organism in "This is Your Brain On Parasites". The whale graveyard is unique in that there are several layers of whale fossils/bones in this graveyard. Each event that caused the whales to die are thousands of years apart. The quality and quantity of the whale remains indicates that the cause of death was quite rapid. The theory is that the weather pattern had changed and caused substantial rain in the mountains which was a micro-organism that inhabited the mountains to be washed out to the ocean shore. Much like a red tide is today, the micro-organism quantity proved to be substantial enough to cause the water that the whales were swimming in to become toxic.

My point is that the study of micro-organisms is still relatively new, but appears to contain answers to past and current problems with much more to be learned. However, the whale graveyard theory, if correct, indicates that micro-organisms being the smallest living things on the planet have the ability to kill even the largest living organisms on the planet. I found this to be fascinating.

This book probably isn't for everybody, but if you like science and like to know what science is working on and what is currently being researched without having to be a scientist then you probably will like this book. I recommend it as well as the book about whales (read my review on it).

  • The Final Mission of Extortion 17

  • Special Ops, Helicopter Support, SEAL Team Six, and the Deadliest Day of the US War in Afghanistan
  • By: Ed Darack
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 309
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 285
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 284

The downing of Extortion 17 spurred a number of conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the shootdown was revenge for bin Laden's death. In The Final Mission of Extortion 17, Ed Darack debunks this theory and others and uncovers the truth behind this mysterious tragedy. His account of the brave pilots, crew, and passengers of Extortion 17 and the events of that fateful day is interwoven into a rich, complex narrative that also discusses modern joint combat operations and the history of the Afghan war to that date.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great piece of literary work

  • By DPI on 02-07-18

Great Book Which Met Its Objectives

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

Reviewed: 10-12-18

This book had two key objectives: 1) to honor those who perished in the downing of Extortion 17 and 2) dispel the conspiracy theories that indicated the downing of Extortion 17 was intentional. With all the detail and energy of a Tom Clancy novel, this book met its objectives. I highly recommend this book to any who want to know what really happened.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Jeremy Poldark

  • A Novel of Cornwall, 1790-1791
  • By: Winston Graham
  • Narrated by: Oliver Hembrough
  • Length: 11 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 856
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 777
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 777

Reeling from the tragic death of a loved one, Captain Poldark vents his grief by inciting impoverished locals to salvage the contents of a ship run aground in a storm - an act for which British law proscribes death by hanging. Ross is brought to trial for his involvement, and, despite their stormy marriage, Demelza tries to rally support for her husband, to save him and their family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Absolutely Loving This Series!

  • By Julie B on 07-22-15

The Poldark Saga Continues!

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

Reviewed: 04-28-18

Great story. Highly recommend the audio version as the actor's performance adds a lot to the voice, sense and feel of the characters that would be lost in just reading. I'm looking forward to listening to the next book in the series.

  • End Game

  • By: David Baldacci
  • Narrated by: Kyf Brewer, Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,304
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,824
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,812

Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They're the ones the government calls in when the utmost secrecy is required to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man. But now, Blue Man is missing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Keep 'em Coming!

  • By shelley on 11-15-17

Another Great Baldacci story!

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

Reviewed: 11-26-17

This story significantly shortened our trip to Florida (700 miles one way) and back as we were so focused on the non-stop adventure.
We highly recommend this book!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Why They Do It

  • Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal
  • By: Eugene Soltes
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller, Eugene Soltes
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 284
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 261
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 260

Rarely does a week go by without a well-known executive being indicted for engaging in a white-collar crime. Perplexed as to what drives successful, wealthy people to risk it all, Harvard Business School professor Eugene Soltes spent seven years in the company of the men behind the largest corporate crimes in history - from the financial fraudsters of Enron, to the embezzlers at Tyco, to the Ponzi schemers Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • insight into the slippery slope of fraud

  • By Kevin on 10-22-16

Fuzzy World of Fraud

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

Reviewed: 11-05-17

First off this book isn't for everyone. While there are anecdotes explaining rather well known perpetrators (e.g. Andrew Fastow, Bernie Madoff, etc.), the book is really so much more.

The book starts off looking at why they did it. It is surprising that the general consensus from the perps was that they did no wrong. "I'm innocent!", they claim. Yeah. Yeah.

But then book takes a turn and goes back to the early days of business; about the time of the robber barons in the late 1800's. Back then there were very few laws regulating business. Business became the last wild frontier.

It is this last wild frontier that created the situation that still exists today. Survival of the fittest became the norm. Creativity and power could determine who would win and lose in the business world. Decisions were made in the interest of advancing their businesses. Sometimes there was collateral damage; that is when regulation began.

There is one other aspect to consider as well. That is the one of impressions. Dress for success was another side of the business. Successful business people needed to not only "walk-the-talk" but also portray themselves as being successful. This is an important point in understanding why so many incidents took so long to become public knowledge. The "perps" cannot bring themselves to accept failure as they have developed a mindset focused only on success. "If only we can make one more deal, then..."

There is an irony built in to career of business professionals. To get to the top they have to be creative and forceful. Creativity is great until it crosses the line of legality. But, here is the problem: some would have you believe what is legal and illegal is mere fixed, thin line and that it should be obvious which is which. Then when the situation is reviewed by regulators this line could move left or right of where the business man think he is (i.e. the regulations can be interpreted in more than one way). Oops!

Finally, when you have waded through the history of business through the 20th century and gain perspective of how things have played out over the last 100 years, the anecdotes about real crimes are explained. I think the author set this up so the reader will reflect that understanding of the crimes is not as clear cut as one thought before reading this book.

I learned a lot from this book; more than I expected to. I highly recommend this book to those interested in business; particularly if they happen to be business leaders. It will provide a nice sanity check.

  • My Favorite Universe

  • By: Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,258
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,046
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,039

What forces molded the universe? Are those forces still at work, removing, changing, or adding heavenly bodies even as we gaze upward? Will humanity, and Earth itself, one day be gone? Are we alone? In an era when science journalism is perhaps more thorough and ambitious than ever before, fascinating explorations of questions like these seem available to us almost every day - provided we have a working understanding of the scientific theories on which they're based.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wish there was more

  • By dan on 08-21-16

Great Entry Level Explanation of the Universe

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

Reviewed: 11-05-17

For those who may have read Stephen Hawking's "The Illustrated A Brief History of Time", you will find the Tyson covers much of the same ground. But, it is worth listening to this series of lectures because Tyson's descriptions and style will expand your understanding of the material.

Both authors are exceptional in their ability to explain the complex to the lay person, but they both have their distinct and separate methods. Experiencing both really enhances one's understanding of the material.

Plus, some of Tyson's information covers theories that have been adjusted since Hawking wrote his book.

I highly recommend this audio presentation. Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson is really easy to listen too. He is quite engaging.

  • The Fortunate Pilgrim

  • By: Mario Puzo
  • Narrated by: John Kenneth
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 717
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 636
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 643

Lucia Santa has traveled 3,000 miles of dark ocean, from the mountain farms of Italy to the streets of New York, hoping for a better life. Instead, she finds herself in Hell's Kitchen, in a bad marriage, raising six children on her own. As Lucia struggles to hold her family together, her daughter confronts the adult world of work and romance while her eldest son is drawn into the Mafia. Meanwhile, her youngest son aspires to American pursuits she cannot understand.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Puzo's Best

  • By Amazon Customer on 02-19-13

Gripping Pre-WW2 Italian-American Saga

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

Reviewed: 11-05-17

Mario Puzo dedicates this story to his mother. He realized that all the detail of the story came from living with her. All the interactions both in the family and in the neighborhood were revealed day-by-day from conversations and interactions with his mother. We think this rings true as the story centers around an Italian mother living in a pre-WW2 U.S. East Coast tenement trying to find a better life for herself and her family.

The detail of this story puts you right there. You can feel all the emotions felt by Lucia Santa as she tries to make sense of life. You will laugh. You will cry. You will learn what life was like in Hell's Kitchen.

For reference, I found the book reminding me of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"; except Puzo's book is an Italian-version of the human condition a few decades later.

We highly recommend the audio version of this book. My wife and I agreed that it would have been tough read and one would have lost many of the nuances intended in the story. Even with the audio, it takes a bit of time to develop an ear for the Italian names and determine who the players are. But, it is well worth the effort.

We highly recommend this book.

  • Desert Solitaire

  • A Season in the Wilderness
  • By: Edward Abbey
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,350
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,218
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,215

When Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, it became the focus of a nationwide cult. Rude and sensitive. Thought-provoking and mystical. Angry and loving. Both Abbey and this book are all of these and more. Here, the legendary author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey's Road and many other critically acclaimed books vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Can Not Believe I Have Never Read This Book....

  • By Kindle Customer on 06-20-15

Thought Provoking Good Read

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

Reviewed: 10-07-17

Years ago (B.A. - Before Amazon) read Abbey's "The Monkey Wrench Gang" and loved it. I had basically forgotten about both Edward Abbey and his book until "Desert Solitaire" became available on a Daily Deal. I read the summary which indicated that it was the best non-fiction that Abbey produced. I decided to give it a try as I was curious about what kind of person Edward Abbey was and possibly what motivated him to write "The Monkey Wrench Gang." I wasn't disappointed.

In "Desert Solitaire" the author uses the approximately six month tourist season where he is a park ranger at the Arches National Monument park as the setting for the book. The book itself is composed of chapters that are really more like essays about Abbey's experiences during this period. The park and the southwest region provide the background setting for the essays, that range from people, animals, geology, philosophy and maybe a bit of theology.

It is obvious that Abbey loves the Southwest. I first was exposed to the Southwest about 50 years ago and know how he feels. Another reviewer suggested that if you have not had this experience it would be highly recommended to go out to the Southwest with Abbey's book and read it a couple chapters at a time and soak in the message while taking a look around. I strongly agree with this recommendation.

Abbey's biggest concern was that people would venture out into the wilds of the Southwest and would only see its harsh side; missing its wild beauty and either want nothing more to do with it or want to change it. Abbey's biggest concern was the latter.

People would view it as "god forsaken" piece of real estate and if some power company wanted to build a dam so people could have electricity that was progress. Who cared whether some beautiful canyons or cliff dwellings were covered with water? Abbey did.

I think his reflection about the Glen Canyon dam was start of the plot for "The Monkey Wrench Gang".

Abbey loved nature just the way it was. He would be happy to not have any paved roads in any of our parks. He felt that riding in a car to a destination ruins the experience of the journey to a special spot.

His writings essentially pre-date the environmentalist movement. So he does not come across as the hippy tree hugger, but rather the cowboy who loved the land as it was.

The audible version of this book is highly recommended. The reader sounds a bit like the older cowboy and places emphasis in just the right places. He made me laugh more than a couple of times though out the book.

I highly recommend this book who has any the natural wild version of the Southwest.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Anatomy of an Epidemic

  • Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
  • By: Robert Whitaker
  • Narrated by: Ken Kliban
  • Length: 13 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 385
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 247
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 249

In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nations children. What is going on?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good Science, Great Journalism

  • By Eric Strachan on 07-07-10

Scary for All of the Wrong Reasons!

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

Reviewed: 08-27-17

I picked up this book after reading "Cracked: The Unhappy Truth About Psychiatry" by James Davies as reviewers of Davies book also highly recommended this book.

I felt the big take-away on Davies book was that the DSM, Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is not science-based. It was created by a small select group psychiatrists who used consensus to determine what defined a mental disorder. The head of the team's who created DSM3 and DSM4 both admitted that no science was used to create these bibles of psychiatry.. Fearful of exposure, the American Psychiatry Association, APA, required the team who wrote DSM5, the latest version of their bible. to be sworn to secrecy. Now why would they require that?

Whitaker explains more about the history of psychiatry which leads to discussion of the DSM evolution and the growth of the industry. Basically, in the 1960s and 70's, psychiatry was falling apart due to high suicide rates from use of pschotopic drug prescriptions. Congress started investigations.

The APA realised they were in a crisis. They also wanted to be considered real doctors, which they interpreted to mean that they could write prescriptions just like medical doctors. They came up with a plan and then experienced some unplanned help along the way.
Whitaker called this "4 Part Harmony" The first step was to update the DSM, which expanded the scope of what is defined as a mental disorder. Then they needed to inform the public about the latest findings in psychiatry, so the APA developed a marketing plan. However, marketing is expensive. So the APA reached out to Big Pharma for funding their marketing plan. They both had a common goal to make money selling drugs.

The third part came as a surprise. Two women from Oregon formed NAMI, which advocated the use of psychotropic drugs. This was the public endorsing what the APA and Big Pharma wanted adding legitimacy to the new partnership.

Likewise, the fourth part was not planned either. In this same time frame L. Ron Hubbard, who created Scientology came out against against drugs for psychiatric treatment. The public's view of Scientology being what it is allowed the APA and Big Pharma to label anyone who questioned the use of psychotropic drugs as one of the Scientologist wackos.

That is the setting as it currently stands. The industry is growing as the APA redefines more and more normal conditions as a posdible mental disorder. Example: Being sad or unhappy for more than 2 weeks could mean depression. But if you just lost a loved one?

Whitaker spends a lot of time talking about the drugs and an out people who have taken them. This is not an easy read, nut it is very eye opening.

Both Whitaker and Davies said about the same thing about the efficacy of psychotropic drugs based on numerous medical studies which is: "Psychotopic drugs only help about 2% , or 2 out of 100, of the population with mental disorders. The problem is the psychiatists are not able to identify the two people."

I highly recommend both books for anyone who has an interest in psychiatry and definitely if you know someone who has fallen or may fall into this nightmare. The audio versions are easier to work through due to the terminology can be pretty technical at times.