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A structural engineer

Pasadena, CA United States
  • 6
  • reviews
  • 71
  • helpful votes
  • 54
  • ratings
  • Achieving Our Country

  • Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America
  • By: Richard Rorty
  • Narrated by: James Patrick Cronin
  • Length: 3 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67

Must the sins of America's past poison its hope for the future? Lately the American Left, withdrawing into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation's shame, has answered "yes" in both word and deed. In Achieving Our Country, one of America's foremost philosophers challenges this lost generation of the Left to understand the role it might play in the great tradition of democratic intellectual labor that started with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Eloquent yet misunderstood pragmatist

  • By Bill Storage on 04-26-18

Everyone should take this book

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

Reviewed: 05-03-17

My title quotes (or maybe paraphrases) the guys from A Partially Examined Life podcast. I followed their advice and agree.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Song of Solomon

  • By: Toni Morrison
  • Narrated by: Toni Morrison
  • Length: 2 hrs and 57 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 337
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 274
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 272

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Poorly Edited

  • By JACK on 09-03-10

Audiobook fatally marred by author's performance

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

Reviewed: 04-13-17

Morrison speaks quietly and inhales loudly and frequently, and one hears other distracting nonverbal mouth noises. Her performance prevented me from hearing the story. Sadly, I could not finish it.

  • Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs

  • The Unknown Story of World War II's OSS
  • By: Patrick K. O'Donnell
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 134
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 65

"A revealing look into the intrigue and extraordinary courage of our intelligence gatherers of World War II. A rare combination of suspense thriller and true heroism by a great American writer." (Clive Cussler, New York Times best-selling author)

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book...

  • By Nicholas Grimaldi on 05-11-05

Informative and clearly written true-spy stories

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

Reviewed: 04-13-12

What made the experience of listening to Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the structure: a series of well told 1st-person narratives of OSS personnel, well joined by the author's explanation of how OSS was formed, organized, staffed, equipped, and tasked.

What does Christopher Lane bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A good narrator, like a good actor, makes the characters real without the audience realizing how hard that is. Lane does that.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Legacy of Ashes

  • The History of the CIA
  • By: Tim Weiner
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 21 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,208
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,675
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,663

This is the book the CIA does not want you to read. For the last 60 years, the CIA has maintained a formidable reputation in spite of its terrible record, never disclosing its blunders to the American public. It spun its own truth to the nation while reality lay buried in classified archives. Now, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Tim Weiner offers a stunning indictment of the CIA, a deeply flawed organization that has never deserved America's confidence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Must Read/Listen

  • By Jim on 08-23-07

Would the US have been better off without the CIA?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-07-08

An outstanding, thorough, apparently well-supported and fairly balanced overview of the history of the CIA, this book also sheds light on antidemocratic policies and illegal strategies of several US presidents who used and abused the agency. Using recently declassified internal CIA documents and Congressional testimony, the author argues that CIA officials have long exaggerated the agency's accomplishments. In the aftermath of its catastrophes they have asserted that only its few failures are made public, but that supposedly numerous successes can never be known. The author offers convincing evidence that this is a myth--that the agency has had few successes worthy of pride, and that the overwhelming body of its work has been so counterproductive that the reader ends up feeling the US would have been better off had the CIA never been formed. The reasons are partly structural--the nature of the agency, how it is funded and overseen--and partly driven by the personalities and capabilities of its leadership. The book is well complemented by John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which tells a related story about disturbing contributions of the private sector to American foreign policy.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Confessions of an Economic Hitman

  • By: John Perkins
  • Narrated by: Brian Emerson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,048
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,506
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,505

"Economic hit men," John Perkins writes, "are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Story for people have traveled

  • By Robert P. on 06-24-09

Enlightening insider view of economic empire

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-07-08

A disturbing and enlightening first-person account of the principles and strategies of American corporatocracy from 1971-2004. The book is a tonic to cut misleading election-year rhetoric about American principles of democracy and contributions to peace and international prosperity. The book sheds new light on conflicts in Panama, Ecuador, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere, and on the nature of the traffic through the revolving door between the US administration and corporate board rooms. An excellent complement to Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • The Black Swan

  • The Impact of the Highly Improbable
  • By: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Narrated by: David Chandler
  • Length: 14 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,597
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,996
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,989

Maverick thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb had an illustrious career on Wall Street before turning his focus to his black swan theory. Not all swans are white, and not all events, no matter what the experts think, are predictable. Taleb shows that black swans, like 9/11, cannot be foreseen and have an immeasurable impact on the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Worth it in the end...I think.

  • By Judd Bagley on 05-27-09

Poor style, limited novelty, two great phrases

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-09-07

In some ways Taleb's style is that of an angry overconfident doctoral student: arrogant, full of cutesy headings and overly broad contemputuous attacks on perceived fools, but often thin on defense of his thesis. It can be hard to see beyond the stylistic limitations to his argument's merits.

Scholars familiar with the concept of epistemic uncertainty (the possible discrepancy between nature and our concept of it) may perceive that the black swan broadly overlaps the idea. Taleb's contribution, and what I like about the phrase "black swan" as opposed to epistemic uncertainty, may be his argument that in many domains of life the black swan swamps the mathematically familiar uncertainties which we sometimes call aleatoric.

One chapter may make the frequently painful slog worthwhile: in the middle of the book Taleb introduces the ludic fallacy, by which he means the false idea that uncertainties in life are like uncertainties in casino games. In a casino, the rules are well established and the uncertainties readily quantified. Taleb convincingly argues that in many aspects of real life (even as he engagingly shows in the real financial life of a casino) the uncertainties that drive history are not the ones of which we are aware and plan for.

It is for the phrase "black swan" and the idea of the ludic fallacy that I am glad to have read the book. Had Taleb had a better editor, or perhaps that he had listened to the editor he did have, I would have given the book another star.

52 of 63 people found this review helpful