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Jacobus

Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • 240
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  • The Rise of Rome

  • By: The Great Courses, Gregory S. Aldrete
  • Narrated by: Gregory S. Aldrete
  • Length: 12 hrs and 16 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 250
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 230
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229

The Roman Republic is one of the most breathtaking civilizations in world history. Between roughly 500 BCE to the turn of the millennium, a modest city-state developed an innovative system of government and expanded into far-flung territories across Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. This powerful civilization inspired America's founding fathers, gifted us a blueprint for amazing engineering innovations, left a vital trove of myths, and has inspired the human imagination for 2,000 years.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Very good, but doesn't stand out

  • By Christopher on 02-08-18

An excellent introduction to Rome until Augustus

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

Reviewed: 03-19-18

In twelve hours you get 24 lectures about Rome giving an introductory bird's view of the Roman world. Professor Aldrete has the ability to keep it interesting throughout. He is quite knowledgeable about the subject matter.

You do not need to know Latin and Prof Aldrete keeps his pronunciation of names and places very English. (I couldn't help wondering if he can read Latin.) By doing so he keeps it accessible to Everyman.

I appreciated that he suspended the historical narrative at some point in the course for a bit to deal with the social world of the Romans. It was quite informative. He discussed daily lives, where our calender came from etc.

If you are looking for a all-in-one course on the Roman world until Caesar Augustus, this is the right course for you.

  • Sleep Smarter

  • 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success
  • By: Shawn Stevenson, Sara Gottfried MD - foreword
  • Narrated by: Sara Gottfried, Shawn Stevenson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,611
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,358
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,331

When it comes to health, there is one criminally overlooked element: sleep. Good sleep helps you shed fat for good, stave off disease, stay productive, and improve virtually every function of your mind and body. That's what Shawn Stevenson learned when a degenerative bone disease crushed his dream of becoming a professional athlete. Like many of us, he gave up on his health and his body...until he decided there must be a better way.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Some parts good, but be careful

  • By Brian A. Shenk on 12-05-16

An alternative "medicine" self-help book on sleep

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

Reviewed: 06-19-17

I looked forward to a very insightful book on sleep...

Shawn Stevenson begins his book with a story about himself beating the odds after breaking his hip as a teenager. The discovery he made was that he had to eat right, something he wasn't doing. When he figured all out for himself he got healed.

I was wondering what this story had to do with sleep, until I realised that he seems to be an alternative medicine guru. Unfortunately I didn't find his approach totally convincing. Though he quotes various academic journals or experts to support his claims, it seems that he uses it in the same way marketers use it. When you also advertise your own "bath salt" available from your website, it seems to get a bit too much.

Though there might be a lot of facts presented in this book, I am not convinced that it is not a sales gimmick. Buy a course from the Great Courses instead. There information is more fairly evaluated and presented with less bias.

Personally I also had difficulty to take the author seriously due to his very thick perceptibly know-it-all American accent. (I am not saying all American's are know-it-all's, just that there is a certain manner of speaking with a certain accent that creates that idea to a South African listener.)

If you like a consumerist sales pitch style of writing, you might try this book, otherwise give it a pass.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Apocryphal Jesus

  • By: The Great Courses, David Brakke
  • Narrated by: David Brakke
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 177
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 159
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 159

The New Testament gives us 27 canonical texts - gospels, letters, and more - but these works are only a tiny fraction of the many volumes written about the life of Jesus, his family, and the apostles. This alternative body of literature falls under the category of "apocrypha", which means "hidden" or "secret", and it offers fascinating insights into the early Christian world. But these early Christian apocryphal works are more than historical curiosities.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Writings that influenced holy canons.

  • By Greeny on 05-10-17

An exploration of the New Testament Apocrypha

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

Reviewed: 05-08-17

"The Apocryphal Jesus" by Professor David Brakke who also presents and excellent course on "Gnosticism" in the Great Courses series, is an excellent introduction to the New Testament Apocrypha.

He treats a vast array of apocryphal works from those which almost made it into the New Testament to those which were meant to be hidden works. While he begins with how Jesus is depicted in some apocryphal gospels, the course material goes much wider. It includes the apocryphal Paul, Peter, Tecla etc. The course name is therefore a misnomer.

I you don't know of the various apocryphal acts of the apostles or are in need of an succinct overview of some very interesting Christian texts that was created mostly after the New Testament this course will be of huge interest to you. If you have read most or all of the apocryphal texts that he introduces to his audience, as I have done, you might still find his contextualizing of it valuable. I think this is where the strength of the course lay. Prof. Brakke exercises an excellent balance between the context and the content of the texts he discusses.

I recommend this course for anyone that is interested in where a lot of the Christmas traditions and beliefs came from. You will also get a taste of the heretical works that depicted Jesus quite differently. Yet this course is so much more than just about Jesus, it introduces a world of stories about Jesus, his disciples and the early church.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • The Introvert Advantage

  • How to Thrive in an Extrovert World
  • By: Marti Olsen Laney PsyD
  • Narrated by: Tamara Marston
  • Length: 10 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,749
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,521
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,505

The Introvert Advantage dispels common myths about introverts - they’re not necessarily shy, aloof, or antisocial - and explains how they are hardwired from birth to focus inward, so outside stimulation such as chitchat, phone calls, parties, or office meetings can easily become "too much". Most importantly, it thoroughly refutes many introverts’ belief that something is wrong with them. Instead, it helps them recognize their inner strengths - their analytical skills, ability to think outside the box, and strong powers of concentration.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • If you're an Introvert or not sure, you must read.

  • By Raul on 12-07-13

A self-help book helping you understand yourself

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

Reviewed: 12-22-16

This topic a interesting, though not earth shattering. I am not sure that this book is right for audio.

It is written for a seemingly American audience and I felt left out from time to time as I just didn't know certain places references were made to. The language is very relaxed, which is fine if you are not writing to an international audience. The book contains certain tests and exercises that makes more sense in a printed version than to listen to. Furthermore the author suggested that you dive into the content and only read what is necessary for now and come back later to the book. I find with an audio book you usually listen from start to finish. I therefore listened to parts that were definitely not applicable to me.

It is informative and definitely helpful, though it can be fleshed out. Furthermore it is a bit to "slangish" to my taste.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Born a Crime

  • Stories from a South African Childhood
  • By: Trevor Noah
  • Narrated by: Trevor Noah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 95,363
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 88,328
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 87,911

One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book and perfect narration

  • By Marilyn Armstrong on 12-15-16

A unique perspective on South Africa

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

Reviewed: 12-22-16

"Born a crime: Stories of a South African Childhood" is a book written by a South African to an American audience. It is a well polished comic take on a country where race still defines who you are and where you fit. Furthermore, it is a personal account by Trevor Noah giving his take on his upbringing and the paradoxes he had to live through before becoming the anchor of the Daily Show. I suspect that a lot of the stories contained in this book, had their origins in his stand-up comedy routines which is sometimes prone to oversimplification and using popular believe and imagination. Take for instance Noah's explanation of "Apartheid" as being "Apart"+"hate" instead of its meaning "being apart." While technically not correct, it resonates with a popular understanding within the English speaking world of the word's meaning.

This book is quite enjoyable, well-written and each chapter is contained within itself, often hinting at a greater truth. Often, as a South African being brought up as white, I was forced to introspection and debate within myself. While there are a few good laughs, I am not sure if all depictions of white people are fair... though I should say that Noah seems to be fair when spilling ink on paper. The story that he tells of his heckling in Alexandra, and the video camera that contained a family's memories shows how he rises time and again above colour and lines that divides human beings.

For some or other reason, it is easier for me to listen to his comedy shows, than it was to listen to this book. Maybe it is the "rude awakening" that South Africa, and I myself, still have to travel such a long way to become one country. There are so many identities that needs to merge. There is also the issue of language that plays an important role in this country. While Noah interprets the different languages tongue-in-the-cheek as "divide and conquer" it is a reality that was there before any white person set foot on South African soil. In some ways it is not the product of Apartheid but the reality South Africans are faced with. Colonialism and Apartheid failed to wipe out the multi-ethnic reality of our country as it was not able to remove or assimilate the native languages of the most southern tip of Africa.

I appreciated Noah's honesty throughout the book. I though his narration was impeccable. He remains someone that sound "easy going" on the ear, though he deals with quite weighty issues. While not "Cry the Beloved Country" Noah has not only created a "love letter to his mother," he has given an updated memoir of a troubled country while reflecting on his South African childhood.

This listen is courageous, honest, though in my humble opinion a bit biased. It is a must listen for anyone looking for a good story and a deep reflection on the realities of life. I am looking forward to listen or read more from Noah's pen.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Zero Minus Ten

  • James Bond Series
  • By: Raymond Benson
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 8 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 84

In the Australian desert, a nuclear bomb explodes. There are no survivors and no clues about who has made it or detonated it. In England, two police officers are shot dead when they apprehend a cargo vessel in Portsmouth dock. Vast quantities of heroin are later found on board.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Benson's first go at 007 - quite enjoyable

  • By Jacobus on 09-27-16

Benson's first go at 007 - quite enjoyable

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

Reviewed: 09-27-16

I have read various of John Gardner's James Bond novels. Some were very good, though he ended off with the same old recipe. In Raymond Benson's first James Bond novel, he does what I thought could not be done anymore - he blew life into the recipe.

Staying true to Ian Flemming, he seems to take more freedom not to include all of John Gardner's changes to the Bond scene, though he keeps enough to ensure continuity.

Placed against Gardner's last novel "Cold" "Zero minus Ten" is more believable. By using the handing over of Hong Kong to China as a setting, Benson merged fact and fiction in a very entertaining and original way.

One thing that is a bit strange to me, is how smitten James Bond with the Bond girl Sunni Pei. It is important for the story-line, but I felt it was a bit overdone.

Be that as it may, Benson succeeds to "update" Bond. I enjoyed his eye for detail. There must have been quite a bit of research into making Bond believable.

With the solid narration of Simon Vance, it would be quite wrong not to give this novel 5 stars. Good story, good performance and quite original for James Bond.

  • Understanding Nonverbal Communication

  • By: Mark G. Frank, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Mark G. Frank
  • Length: 6 hrs and 8 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 196
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 168
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 165

In Understanding Nonverbal Communication, you'll discover that nonverbal communication is less intentional and harder to control than the words you choose to speak. Because you are less aware of it than you are of your words, it provides better clues to what you are feeling and thinking.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • More of an ad for the personal courses

  • By Dan Hatch on 12-13-16

Debunking the urban myths about body language

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

Reviewed: 08-01-16

In 12 thirty minutes lectures, Prof. Mark G. Frank a social psychologist from the State University of New York introduces the novice to nonverbal communication. The more the lectures advanced, the more I came under the impression that deciphering nonverbal ques are not as easy or exact as films and television programs wants to make us believe.

I came across some very interesting ideas during the six hours course. For quite some time I am aware of concepts such as a high context society and a low context society. I was not aware of mono-chronic time and poly-chronic time. I was impressed by the way in which Prof. Frank debunked some urban myths, such as the idea that 93% of what we communicate is non-verbal or that someone that looks you in the eyes can't lie.

In one regard the course fell a bit short of my expectations. When playing a board game like "The Sheriff of Nottingham," where identifying lying and cheating are part of the rules, I am still left in the cold. This course will not change you in a body language wizard! Some of the content is also quite well-known.

That said, I the course definitely made me look at certain aspects of non-verbal language in a new context. I would recommend it to someone who is an almost complete novice to deciphering nonverbal communication.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • How Jesus Became God

  • The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
  • By: Bart D. Ehrman
  • Narrated by: Walter Dixon
  • Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 547
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 498
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 497

In a book that took eight years to research and write, leading Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman explores how an apocalyptic prophet from the backwaters of rural Galilee crucified for crimes against the state came to be thought of as equal with the one God Almighty Creator of all things. Ehrman sketches Jesus's transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection. Only when some of Jesus's followers had visions of him after his death - alive again - did anyone come to think that he, the prophet from Galilee, had become God.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • How Jesus changed from the 1st the 4th Century A.D

  • By Jacobus on 06-05-16

How Jesus changed from the 1st the 4th Century A.D

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

Reviewed: 06-05-16

In "How Jesus Became God" Prof. Bart D. Ehrman tackles the question of how Jesus became to be thought of as God from a historical perspective. In many ways this book draws and summarizes a lot of his research on the New Testament thus far.

Ehrman's book consists out of 9 chapters and an epilogue. In the first two chapters he sets the scene, helping the listener to come to grips with how divinity was seen in the ancient world. First he discusses divine humans in Ancient Greece and Rome, where after he focuses on Ancient Judaism's views of these beings. I think this might be of much interest to someone that are not familiar with the ancient milieu in which Christianity was born. In chapter 3 he discusses the question if Jesus thought of himself as God. He answers in the negative and gives some reasons based on his (and probably most other critical scholars') understanding of the Historical Jesus. In chapters 4 and 5 he tackles Jesus' resurrection stating first what can be known about it historically and then indicating what cannot be known. He makes a case out that Jesus' body was not buried in a tomb and that the "tomb"-tradition was later apologetic Christian tradition. As the listener you will have to decide if he is convincing or not. Chapters 6 and 7 deals with how early Christians during and before the New Testament perceived Jesus to be divine. The issue of when Jesus became divine also comes into play. In chapters 8 and 9 his focus shifts to the time after the New Testament was written until the 4th century. He discusses what would be called in a Theological class the History of Dogma. Here he draws a lot on his book "Lost Christianities" in these chapters, reflecting on the various types of "Christianities" and how it defined Jesus in the eyes' of these communities.

I think it is quite an important book. Ehrman once again successfully made scholarship available to untrained individuals. I don't think that this book should shake a Christian's faith. It might though.

Walter Dixon is an old hand at reading Ehrman's book. I am currently quite accustomed to his voice. It is clear and to the point.

If you are interested in how Jesus became divine, this book might just be for you. If you want something that will affirm your faith, this might not be the book for you. Be this as it may, this book contains some interesting facts. It makes it worthwhile to listen. Ehrman has mastered the skill to communicate properly. Listen to it, and decide for yourself.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Jesus Before the Gospels

  • How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior
  • By: Bart D. Ehrman
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 250
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 247

Throughout much of human history, our most important stories were passed down orally - including the stories about Jesus before they became written down in the Gospels. In this fascinating and deeply researched work, leading Bible scholar Bart D. Erhman investigates the role oral history has played in the New Testament - how the telling of these stories not only spread Jesus' message but helped shape it.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insightful, but with limited depth

  • By Jacobus on 05-28-16

Insightful, but with limited depth

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

Reviewed: 05-28-16

Prof. Bart D. Ehrman is a well-known New Testament Scholar whose fame started to spread with his book "Misquoting Jesus" in which he introduced Everyman to the Science of Textual Criticism and its results. He also wrote an essay in the first edition of National Geographic's "The Gospel of Judas" concerning Gnosticism. I have read of listened to most of his books, academic and popular (e.g. Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium; Lost Christianities; Forgery; The Apocryphal Gospel (with Zaltko Plese) and How Jesus became a God, to name but a few) ... which might be the reason that I find this book to be much of the same old same old...

In this book he moves behind the gospel texts to the memories of Jesus that was carried by oral tradition, before the process was started to write it down more or less 40 years after Jesus' crucifixion. He first discusses memory using insights from psychology, anthropology and other academic disciplines. He maintains that the gospels contains true, false, selective, changed, communal and other memories. Starting with some late apocryphal gospel stories, he ends up discussing the canonical gospels. He actually gives quite an interesting overview of memory. Then he casts insights of critical New Testament Scholarship over the last 200 years into the memory mold. While he argues convincingly that memory are not that dependable, even in oral culture, I thought something didn't fit.

I think the book was not written for the right audience. Maybe he should have engaged more actively with the scholarly community before giving a popular account of memory. For me the book felt very much like the difference between a research proposal and a thesis, being the first.

That said, I thought his overview of the Gospel of Mark was excellent. I believe that those not familiar with the apocrypha might find the stories about Jesus as a child very interesting. Maybe, this can even be a good starting point to read books of Ehrman if you do not know his scholarship.

Be that as it may, I am of the humble opinion that Ehrman have build a following among some readers, and that readers might be expecting something new or different. Currently, it seems to be very much of the same, with little new impetus.

In terms of narration, the book deserves five stars. I think Joe Barrett is excelled in his interpretative reading. By now most listeners to Ehrman might be used to Walter Dixon's voice. I thought Barrett was a welcome change. He was able to keep my attention, even when the subject matter was not that interesting.

I recommend this book to anyone who have not listened to anything from Bart D. Ehrman or if you are interested in understanding memory and how the story of Jesus was changed by the memories of his followers to reflect what we have in the gospels today. However, do not expect too many clear answers.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Neanderthal Man

  • In Search of Lost Genomes
  • By: Svante Pääbo
  • Narrated by: Dennis Holland
  • Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 610
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 556
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 560

A preeminent geneticist hunts the Neanderthal genome to answer the biggest question of them all: what does it mean to be human? What can we learn from the genes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pbo’s mission to answer that question, beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in his sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2009.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not really about Neanderthal man

  • By Mark on 08-29-15

Plotting the Neanderthal genome - Spelbinding

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

Reviewed: 04-13-16

Mixing his own story with the scientific advances that he and his team has made in extracting the Neanderthal genome from thousand years old bones, Prof. Svante Pääbo, wrote an engaging and very interesting account of what might have been uninteresting scientific facts. He helps the nonspecialist listener like myself to understand not only the achievement of constructing the Neanderthal genome but its significance for us today. Who would have thought that while some human beings migrated from Africa to the rest of the world, some stayed behind. The differences between those who migrated and those left behind was a adventurous journey in which these early human beings encountered Neanderthal men and even bred with them. The journey to his conclusions are facinating and even spelbinding at stages.

I think this memoir is very important as demolishes some hypotheses in the field of Science that have become embedded in our make-up. It challenges the listener to think in a new way of him or herself and of our origins. It also challenges concepts like primitive and hopefully will demolish some forms of racial prejudice.

For me relating to Prof. Pääbo on a personal level was very difficult however. I realised that him not being a Christian, bisexual and the way he got his wife, were not in line with my own values. This made it sometimes hard to listen to his book. Yet, I was greatful for his honesty in the book. I think it helped me to be convinced of his integrity. This made his story so much more believable.

Dennis Holland did a superb job in narrating the book. I suspect that his narration has contributed to enhancing the content of the book and making it more accessible to the general listening public.

This book is strongly recommended for anyone who wants to know a bit about Neanderthal men and how our distant cousins impacted on the human race. It comes highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful