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Angela

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  • War and Genocide

  • A Concise History of the Holocaust
  • By: Doris L. Bergen
  • Narrated by: Collene Curran
  • Length: 13 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31

In examining one of the defining events of the twentieth century, Doris L. Bergen situates the Holocaust in its historical, political, social, cultural, and military contexts. Unlike many other treatments of the Holocaust, this revised, third edition discusses not only the persecution of the Jews, but also other segments of society victimized by the Nazis: Roma, homosexuals, Poles, Soviet POWs, the disabled, and other groups deemed undesirable.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Agency - the capacity or state of exerting power

  • By Angela on 03-22-17

Agency - the capacity or state of exerting power

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

Reviewed: 03-22-17

Any additional comments?

I was looking for a comprehensive history of The Holocaust, and Goodreads pointed me toward Timothy Snyder. I read Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin and Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.... Still, I needed something more. Doris Bergen's book was exactly what I didn't know I needed.

Her history is concise, as titularly promised, but also complete. In the first chapter, she addresses not just the question of why did World War II happen but also the often forgotten question of "Why the Jews?" as the author puts it. She lay to rest many of my preconceived notions and mythology that I'd embraced as "cultural literacy."

Bergen also resists laying the entire Holocaust at the feet of one man, nor does she hold entire nations responsible. Specifically and deliberately, the author indicts those who actively and passively created and perpetuated mass murder.

Jarring and brutal, Bergen's language consistently used the voice of agency in describing the events of the Holocaust. Nobody "died" in the concentration camps described in War and Genocide; they were murdered by starvation, work, disease, gas, torture, suffocation (buried alive), gunshot, hanging, beating, or some other depravity that had a specific perpetrator and victim.

And Bergen does not allow either to be a faceless entity in the shadows of history. Through well-developed anecdotes, she brings the murderer and the murdered out of the darkness and names them. Her scorn or respect has an individuality that, for me, echoed the voice of God that each will surely hear on judgement day. The author never descends into collective nouns that tend to lull the reader into a complacency; instead you get the names and descriptions. You understand the person, the people, the Humanity—not the Six Million, the Jews, the Gypsies, the Gays, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Poles, the dead.

Likewise, the author notes that everyone who survived the Holocaust was saved by someone. I’m thankful to the author that the saved and the saviors, not just the murderers, are remembered here in War and Genocide.

A note about the narration of the audio book. Collene Curran’s prosody and expression were engaging; her delivery “professorial”, but in the best way possible. Occasionally, her tone was disconnected from the content. Specifically I remember picturing a smiling newscaster reporting “waves of refugees.” The narration did not often distract from the text itself though.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Misbegotten Son

  • By: Jack Olsen
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 18 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,064
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 965
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 962

An account of the crimes of Arthur Shawcross describes how the paroled child killer shot, stabbed, suffocated, and strangled 16 Rochester, New York, prostitutes and examines how the legal system failed his victims.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Reads like a novel, very well written.

  • By 6catz on 01-09-16

Not the Typical True Crime Book

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

Reviewed: 12-12-15

Any additional comments?

As this narrative begins, you aren't sure whose story this is. It starts with Jack, the first victim of Arthur Shawcross. Throughout the book, the author gives us the stories of the victims and their families, as well as the perspectives of the detectives, Shawcross's lovers, wives, and mother. The result is as fully a realized picture of the madman as can be had.

Even with all of the detail, it is clear that the author--and nobody else for that matter--understood what made this serial killer tick. Child rape and murder, murder and mutilation of prostitutes, cannibalism, and necrophilia--this man did it all, and at the end no one is sure why. Even the murderer himself seems baffled by his crimes.

Compared to the Green River Running Red and BTK, two books I've recently read about serial murderers, this book left me feeling more remote from the killer and his crimes. The reader was never given entrance into Shawcross's head in the same way as we were allowed to examine Gary Ridgeway and Dennis Rader. At the end of Misbegotten Son, a psychiatrist gives two theories about how a man like Arthur Shawcross could have developed, and I think that his ideas are an interesting perspective, but not a conclusion.

Narrating this book must have been incredibly demanding. The diverse formats (interview, letter, testimony, written account, etc.) combined with an overcrowded cast of perspectives to make this engaging for the reader--but a nightmare for the man tasked with giving them all voice! Kevin Pierce, as always, did a magnificent job. He was able to portray both sides of Arthur Shawcross: the altruistic, childlike outdoors-man and the sadistic, victim-blaming, rage filled murderer. Especially in the portions of the text where Shawcross is describing his crimes in written or audio-recorded accounts, Pierce uses his talents to illustrate the murderer as a petulant lunatic with a sub-normal IQ without creating a caricature.

Non-fiction of any kind does not lend itself to an overly dramatized style of narration. That's why Kevin Pierce is one of my favorites; his is always a subtle yet engaging narration that illuminates rather than dramatizes the characters.

This book has everything: the gory details, the heart-rending effects of a murderous rampage on the victims' and the murderer's families, and the history and analysis of what makes a killer. Even with all that, though, the book generates as many questions as answers.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • A Little Life

  • A Novel
  • By: Hanya Yanagihara
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 32 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,541
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,867
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,875

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I had to call in SAD to work

  • By Angela on 10-17-15

I had to call in SAD to work

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

Reviewed: 10-17-15

Any additional comments?

I was probably a quarter of the way into the novel before I texted my book buddy: "It's called A Little Life and you have to read it right this minute. I don't even understand why it's so unbearable and so beautiful." By the time I had a quarter of the novel left, I was walking around Walgreen's, to buy makeup to repair my cry-face, and sobbing.

This is not just a manipulative tearjerker. This is a genuine falling in love and mourning for and with the characters. I don't know if I am more in love with Jude or Willem--or perhaps with the love they have for each other.

This novel unfurls with a steady, patient, pace as the characters grow and change and, ostensibly, grow up. The depth of it is rather like John Irving, but without the width of the (often pointless) subplots. The author's widening and narrowing focus, however, is incomparable; I've not ever experienced the controlled examination of character, then whole world/context/relationship/effect. I'm not sure it's even nameable. Maybe something like Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, with the individual interpretations of self within the shared travesty.

A word about St. Jude. He sprang, fully formed, from Yanagihara's head--armed with his razor and armor of silence, and just as surely the child of an eater-of-innocence and Wisdom itself. The reader becomes as protective of Jude as everyone else, and when he is called "crazy" or "sick," you have to know it's true, but everything in you objects, even while you hope for his healing, or his willingness to heal.

In the living (beyond the merely reading) of this novel, I had to constantly construct and reconstruct my understanding of Jude, of Willem, my reactions, and therefore myself. In the end, I had to update my definition of love, of romantic love, of friendship, of parenthood, of selfishness/selflessness, and the meaning of one little life. This is the reason one reads, and the reason one writes.

307 of 322 people found this review helpful

  • A Killer Among Us

  • By: Charles Bosworth
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 16 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,097
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,022
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,008

On March 16, 1992, Elizabeth DeCaro, a 28 year-old mother of four, was found dead in her own home, murdered execution-style with two bullets to the head. Her husband, Rick, was immediately a suspect, having previously struck her "accidentally" with the family van after taking out a $100,000 life insurance policy on her. A Killer Among Us presents the true shocking story of Elizabeth's family and their search for justice against the man who continued to play father to the children whose mother he had killed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Narration

  • By A. Ellis on 10-23-15

Something is missing

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

Reviewed: 09-29-15

What did you like best about A Killer Among Us? What did you like least?

This is an interesting story with many twists and turns; it truly is a compelling read, but there's something missing. You never really know how the murder happened. You are left, like the jury (finally!) knowing who did it and why, but you never know how. The trigger man kept saying it wasn't supposed to be like that--something went wrong, but we never find out how it was supposed to be. The most interesting part was the intricate trial and re-trial. The author did a good job of explaining the hows and whys of the re-trial especially.

Has A Killer Among Us turned you off from other books in this genre?

I don't read true crime very often, but this one was enough of an appetizer that I bought another true crime book right away.

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

Tom Brokaw was the voice of the news and Keven Pierce is the voice of true crime. He does a good job of reading both the writer's words--and his intent. He delivers the author's sarcasm, but never his own mocking irony like I hear from true crime "reporters" on Investigation Discovery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sin, Shame & Secrets

  • A True Story of the Murder of a Nun, the Conviction of a Priest, and the Cover-up in the Catholic Church
  • By: David Yonke
  • Narrated by: Dave Clark
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 53
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 50
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 50

In this unique and compelling true-crime story, journalist and author David Yonke presents and analyzes the only case in US history in which a Roman Catholic priest was arrested for the murder of a nun. Father Gerald Robinson of Toledo, whom friends and associates described as a timid and mild-mannered man, was arrested by cold-case detectives in April, 2004, and charged in the brutal slaying of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl 24 years earlier.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very disturbing but an excellent read.

  • By Kathy J. Garrett on 07-28-15

Catholic Cover-up

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

Reviewed: 07-01-15

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

As a true crime fan and a Catholic, I'm glad I spent time listening to this book. I can't believe that I did not know about this murder or this trial. For that, it was certainly educational.

What could David Yonke have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Many reviewers commented on the author's one-sided approach--or failure to explore other suspects until the last chapter. I don't see this as a failing since the priest was ultimately convicted. I think that some background about why the priest would have/could have/may have been involved in devil worship would have been welcome. That, perhaps, would have introduced even more unfounded conjecture, though. Surely there is an expert somewhere who would have offered an opinion on the possibility of an epidemic of Satan-seeking clergy.

Which scene was your favorite?

The description of the murder at the beginning of the book certainly hooked me into reading the rest. Even with the occasional eye-rolling, I wouldn't have put the book aside. After a beginning like that, I had to read to the very end.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Absolutely! This story was made for a visual retelling. Maybe a Lifetime Movie Network kind of thing; this wouldn't work well in Hollywood. This is no "Last Temptation of Christ" but the fallout would be similar.

Any additional comments?

The inclusion of the nun's claims of ritualized abuse at the hands of Satanist certainly strained my belief. At the very basic level (assuming it was all true), why would anyone become a nun and devote herself to a Church whose leaders began raping her before she was out of diapers? So I think the author should have either provided some sort of corroboration OR included some sort of disclaimer. The author approached this by including some expert opinions on recovered memories, but I still felt there was a failure to commit. If you include it in your book, don't disown it by refusing to make a statement about its veracity.

The narration was good, unobtrusive, and lacking the over-dramatization that is sometimes present in true crime. I think that, given the nature of the book (so much that is so incredible), it would have been easy for a narrator to give in to the temptation to add a commentary with his tone--a little sarcasm or incredulity. But Dave Clark let the book speak for itself. There were some consistently mispronounced words (diocesan, for example) that almost drove me over the edge, but that's a picky personal thing. Tomato/tomahto.

In general, this was a good pick, and I would happily have purchased it or used a credit. It's a bonus that it was a gift from the narrator.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • No Stone Unturned

  • The True Story of the World's Premier Forensic Investigators
  • By: Steve Jackson
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 14 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,480
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,362
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,346

No Stone Unturned recreates the genesis of NecroSearch International: a small ,eclectic group of scientists and law enforcement personal, active and retired, who volunteer their services to help locate the clandestine graves of murder victims and recover the remains and evidence to assist with the apprehension and conviction of the killers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Forensic Superheroes

  • By Mark on 09-14-16

Science and Crime

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

Reviewed: 05-24-15

Any additional comments?

I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but I do like a good true crime story. As I started No Stone Unturned, I thought, "Uh-oh, this is a science book." I was learning about "soil horizons" and maggot growth, but since it was a gift from the narrator, Kevin Pierce, I decided to keep on trying.

I'm so glad I did. The author carefully constructs the book so that you are armed with the science before he introduces the crimes that the scientists solve. Once equipped, you can better follow the details when the crimes are introduced. The reader gets a good profile of the criminal, the victim, the NecroSearch members involved, and the science behind the finding of the body and the prosecution of the perpetrator. In this edition, the author updates with an epilogue after each search, and adds an additional epilogue at the end.

There's another book of NecroSearch's cases coming out soon, and I'm eager to listen to it.Pierce does a great job of making the science interesting, and the searches riveting. I hope he will be narrating the follow-up book.

This is a unique approach to the true crime book, and it got me out of my little box. It was entertaining, and I learned some things too--like why bloodhounds have wrinkled eyelids.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Predator

  • By: Jack Olsen
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 328
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 291
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 291

An account of the life and crimes of psychopath Mac Smith that describes how Seattle police, eager to make an arrest in the murders of the city's women, arrested the wrong man for Smith's crimes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a way to be introduced to True Crime!

  • By EasyReader on 05-28-15

Rape, Madness, and Injustice

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

Reviewed: 05-08-15

Any additional comments?

I always love a good story by Jack Olsen, but this is more than your average true crime book. Not only do you get the biography and psychology of the titular predator, but you also get the biography and psychology of the unjustly accused. In most true crime books, you hate the criminal, cheer for the detectives, and grieve with the victims. In Predator: Rape, Madness, and Injustice in Seattle, the reader is baffled by the criminal, cheers and grieves for the (unjustly) accused, and hates the cop. This is true crime at its finest--not a formulaic timeline from birth to crime to conviction. The narration was good, striking just the right balance of reporting and performing. If you like a good crime story, and not just a list of gory details, listen to this one! It's a winner.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Poisoner's Handbook

  • Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
  • By: Deborah Blum
  • Narrated by: Coleen Marlo
  • Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,066
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,520
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,509

In The Poisoner's Handbook, Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • CSI eat your heart out

  • By Aaron - Audible on 10-12-11

Judge a book by its cover...but not its title

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-23-11

I'm glad I listened to this book on my iphone because I would not have been able to tolerate the the cover in even a mass-market-sized art. I believe that life is too short to read bad books---and I finished this one so that is certainly worth three stars. The narration is awkward, but it certainly doesn't ruin the text. Do not be fooled though; this is not about the birth of forensic medicine or murder by poison. At least one half of the book is about the dangers of Prohibition-age alcohol or alcohol-substitutes (self-poisoning). It is interesting and informative but not an expository revelation. If you are a Forensic Files fan, this is not your book. If you are more of a Dirty Jobs kind of person, this will certainly give you the details you crave.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Last Town on Earth

  • By: Thomas Mullen
  • Narrated by: Henry Strozier
  • Length: 15 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 113
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 74

The Last Town on Earth centers on the inhabitants of a small logging town in Washington and what happens when they take drastic measures (quarantine) to try and protect themselves from the virulent and deadly flu epidemic of 1918. When a deserting WWI soldier demands sanctuary, events are set in motion that change the town forever.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thrill for a Reader. Model for a Writer

  • By Angela on 03-04-11

Thrill for a Reader. Model for a Writer

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-04-11

I haven't written fan mail since I was around 10, and apparently Bo Duke did not actually live in Hazard County. Now I'm working on my letter to Thomas Mullen. The author's ability to create such texture with the layering of context, setting, conflict, and characters (within a very confined setting and a small cast of unique characters) allowed me to appreciate this well-crafted novel on two different levels.

The act of the small town quarantining itself from the flu (and the war) can never be proven as hubris or selfless humility. The characters' internal and external conflicts are never proven as perception or reality. The novel, then, is an engaging read; I felt like the plot could not continue without my participation. As I writer, I was awed by the consistency of the tightness of the plot and the comprehensive creation of the characters made Commonwealth a real world, populated with people I cared about.

Mullen's story is painful at times. A lot of times. But this is still the most fun I've had with a book in a long while.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful