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Buretto

Tokyo, Japan
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  • 351
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  • 239
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  • Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society

  • America's Original Gangsters and the U.S. Postal Detective Who Brought Them to Justice
  • By: William Oldfield, Victoria Bruce
  • Narrated by: Angelo Di Loreto
  • Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    2.5 out of 5 stars 2

The incredible true story of the US Post Office Inspector who took down the deadly Black Hand, a turn-of-the-century Italian-American secret society that preyed on immigrants across America’s industrial heartland - featuring fascinating and never-before-seen documents and photos from the Oldfield family’s private collection. Before the emergence of prohibition-era gangsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, there was the Black Hand: an early 20th-century Sicilian-American crime ring that preyed on immigrants from the old country.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Rose-tinted family history, but little more

  • By Buretto on 02-10-19

Rose-tinted family history, but little more

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

Reviewed: 02-10-19

On its face, the story of moderately corrupt civil servant taking aim at serious criminals (albeit through rather mundane means) ought to be an interesting story. The problem is that it seems the author's intent is to restore his great grandfather's good name rather than to tell a warts-and-all story. Years of political cronyism and "infractions" are touched upon, but only in passing (which for me, puts Oldfield's true involvement in later sketchy deals into question). At best, Oldfield was an interesting cog in the machinery that fought the Black Hand, mostly as a government functionary. The Stephen Talty book "The Black Hand" is a much better book detailing the workings of, and efforts to bring down, the secret society.

The performance was generally good, however the very deliberate pronunciation of the word "penitentiary" with 6 syllables (though I'm not sure if it's strictly incorrect) was rather distracting, as the word is used at least a dozen times.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Folsom Untold: The Strange True Story of Johnny Cash's Greatest Album

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Danny Robins
  • Narrated by: Danny Robins
  • Length: 2 hrs and 21 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8,662
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7,865
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,848

This is the story of one of the greatest records ever made - Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison - and its shocking and tragic aftermath. Join award-winning journalist Danny Robins on the 50th anniversary of the album as he takes you on a road trip back to 1968, a pivotal year in US history, to investigate the dramatic and unlikely friendship between Johnny Cash, American icon, and Glen Sherley, armed robber and Folsom inmate, and how that friendship was violently torn apart. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Very disappointing.

  • By Margaret on 02-04-19

A bit forced

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

Reviewed: 02-07-19

Thankfully, this was merely a podcast, rather than full length book. Even so, it stretches thin material to cover the total run time. The audio recreations were unnecessary, but happily infrequent. As a fan of Johnny Cash, I just expected more, in terms of substance and quality.

  • Junior Bonner

  • The Making of a Classic with Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah in the Summer of 1971
  • By: Jeb Rosebrook, Stuart Rosebrook, Marshall Terrill
  • Narrated by: Nat Segaloff
  • Length: 4 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

Screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook presents a captivating behind-the-scenes memoir of the making of Junior Bonner, a 1972 Western classic starring Steve McQueen and directed by Sam Peckinpah.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant film, dreadful book

  • By Buretto on 01-20-19

Brilliant film, dreadful book

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

Reviewed: 01-20-19

The first thing to know about this audiobook, is that it takes an hour and a half, approximately 1/3rd of the total running time, before the name Sam Peckinpah is discussed in any depth. Secondly, with the legendary names of Peckinpah, Steve McQueen, Ida Lupino, Robert Preston, as well as Lucien Ballard and Jerry Fielding, one might expect to have more interesting accounts of the filming. However, it remains fairly autobiographical, and often straying fairly far afield from the filming of Junior Bonner itself. Apart from a few cheap shots at Peckinpah (though to be honest, caused by well-documented behavior and therefore likely well-earned by Sam), it's painfully thin on insight to the luminaries in this wonderful film. Finally, the main motivation seems to be for the author to assert sole authorship of the story and to proclaim success over Sam by foiling his attempts to "tie a can to his tail" (A phrase repeated half a dozen times, if it's mentioned once.) This might be more acceptable from a more accomplished writer (nothing in his credits comes anywhere near matching Junior Bonner), contrasted with Peckinpah, who had an arguably unmatched output of 7 brilliant films in a short 6 year window of 1969-1974.

All told, the audiobook provides enough information for a reasonably interesting film podcast, which is to say maybe an hour and a half. For that, I will give it 2 Stars, which Audible defines as "It's okay", as 1 Star reviews should be left for truly useless material. But in truth, it's not okay for a what it promised, as a previous Amazon reviewer mentioned "Peckinpah and McQueen deserved better".

  • This Is Cuba

  • An American Journalist Under Castro's Shadow
  • By: David Ariosto
  • Narrated by: David Ariosto
  • Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 32

This is Cuba is a true story that begins in the summer of 2009 when a young American photo-journalist is offered the chance of a lifetime - a two-year assignment in Havana. For David Ariosto, the island is an intriguing new world, unmoored from the one he left behind. From neighboring military coups, suspected honey traps, salty spooks, and desperate migrants to dissidents, doctors, and Havana’s empty shelves, Ariosto uncovers the island’s subtle absurdities, its Cold War mystique, and the hopes of a people in the throes of transition.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • David Ariosto has done a great job with this.

  • By Andy Moriarty on 12-13-18

You're really none the wiser

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

Reviewed: 01-10-19

Things get off to a bad start when the photo-journalist starts to write in the purplest of all possible prose, while referencing the haunts of Ernest Hemingway, the most spartan of all writers. Okay, the man wants to spread his wings, but... "condensation seeped down their narrow drink glasses as perspiration poured through the speckled crevices of their thinning hair." Please stop.

But the biggest problem are yet to come, First, none of the first hand accounts are particularly interesting or earth-shattering. Turns out Cuba has shortages when it comes to groceries, batteries and chocolate. The rosy picture of Cuba's health care painted by Michael Moore is misleading (everyone, even progressives like myself, should take anything Moore says with several grains of salt). The vintage cars and nostalgic image of Cuba is a facade. And perhaps most shockingly, Havana prostitutes don't really care about you. The most interesting part of the author's reminiscences is the ordeal of a stolen sink. Imagine how scintillating a stolen sink can be, and you get an idea of the tone of the book. He does start to try to weave in a pseudo-spy story with built in Cuban femme fatales ("her voice purred through the phone"), but I think even he knows, nobody would buy it.

Secondly, there are exasperating long, long tangents, about his Italian father and his love of baseball, Haitian disaster relief and Venezuelan political turmoil, only thinly connected to the main subject of the book, which was meant to be Cuba. The author didn't seem pressed to research much regarding the legend of Fidel Castro and the NY Yankees, and misrepresents references to Karl Marx and George Orwell along the way. For what is meant to be an expose, it is handled rather clumsily.

By the time you get to the final chapters, and the period of normalization between the USA and Cuba (a time, it's important to note, several years after the author had already left Cuba), it's hardly worth the effort. He's merely reporting what millions of people could see for themselves. The book reads in parts as touting his adventure photojournalist bona fides, and in parts wanting to dispel myths that nobody really ever believed in the first place.

Technically, the editing could have been better, numerous repetitions and sloppy edits.

  • Last Call

  • The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
  • By: Daniel Okrent
  • Narrated by: Richard Poe
  • Length: 17 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 295
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 262
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265

A brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of America’s most puzzling era, the years 1920 to 1933, when the U.S. Constitution was amended to restrict one of America’s favorite pastimes: drinking alcoholic beverages. Okrent reveals how Prohibition marked a confluence of diverse forces, including the growing political power of the women’s suffrage movement and the fear of small-town, native-stock Protestants that they were losing control of their country to the immigrants of the large cities.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very Thorough Historical Review

  • By Pierre on 11-12-12

Very informative, peculiar alliances

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

Reviewed: 01-07-19

I genuinely, and surprisingly, quite liked this book, after it had been languishing in my wish list for several months. The stories of all the disparate groups for and against prohibition, the wets and the drys, and the peculiar alliances that were formed were very enlightening and informative. Several famous figures weave their way into the story, often not as one might expect, as they align themselves along philosophical or constitutional beliefs. Along the way, motivations of women's suffrage, isolationism, xenophobia, and implications for previous amendments, most notably the 4th, 13th, and 14th, get carried into the cauldron of prohibition and anti-prohibition rhetoric. The book was very entertaining for most of its run, though it goes a bit dry, so to speak, when it deals with strict governmental policy during the time of prohibition. It's on its game more when sharing the stories, the antics, and the hypocrisy, of the advocates, pro and con.

The only real wobble is near the end. At times during the text, the author starts to edge toward sounding like modern pundits who write derisively about political rivals, though to be fair, without getting thoroughly political. But in a chapter presumably meant to dispel common myths of the era, he gives a short account of Al Capone, but then bizarrely gives a vigorous defense of Joe Kennedy, stating that his alleged bootlegging was completely legal. (And by legal, he means skirting the law, like nearly everyone else did.) It really didn't fit with the tenor of the overall book, which, as mentioned earlier, was quite good.

  • Facing East from Indian Country

  • A Native History of Early America
  • By: Daniel K Richter
  • Narrated by: Bob Souer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Or so the story usually goes. Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel K. Richter keeps Native people center-stage throughout the story of the origins of the United States. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book with lots of amazing stores.

  • By Anonymous User on 01-21-19

Not quite what it purports to be

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

Reviewed: 12-29-18

Perhaps it might be expecting too much for an American of European heritage to succeed in such a task. By definition, he is explaining native history through his own prism of experience. I don't doubt that he is sincere in his effort, but unfortunately it falls short of expectation, in my opinion.

First of all, he freely acknowledges that the premise is daunting to start, as there are precious few documents or archives detailing anything like a comprehensive native view of the history of the continent. And even then, they're mostly filter through Eurocentric translators and historians, rendering them all but useless for this endeavor.

Secondly, is the apparent need the author feels to present some kind of moral equivalence to the conflict between white Europeans and various native peoples. (Don't believe the Amazon detractors claiming that it's all about blaming white people for everything, it's far from that). Europeans do get their fair share of criticism, justly, for their motivations and actions regarding the people inhabiting the land. But the author is far too speculative on the motivations of the natives in creating what he characterized as essentially mutual efforts of ethnic cleansing. Only in the epilogue is that notion, dripping in irony in the "stand your ground" era in which we live now, addressed.

There's a bit of the Monty Python "What did the Romans ever do for us?" sentiment, which might be legitimate to a point, for the technology and wealth brought by Europeans (but at what cost to native culture). But also a bit of speculation, reminiscent of Lost Cause rationalization, that native culture and populations, like slavery, would have eventually died out anyway. Which seems a bit absurd, and more than a little cynical. I'd like to think the author is just presenting the old views, which he is trying to contrast against, but it's hard to tell.

But mostly, the book fails to deliver a true voice of native people. Again, perhaps I was naive to think this author could achieve it. As it stands, it's a reasonably interesting history of the continent, but still predominantly Eurocentric. The author could have made some effort to distinguish the contrasting views better, for example with his use of the names Metacom vs. King Philip. They are used interchangeably throughout the text, sometimes within the same sentence. But never is there a demarcation of the European view of King Philip, against the view of Wampanoag history of Metacom. Seems like a natural way to frame the story. Similarly, the name Mataoka is mentioned perhaps once or twice in passing, but most of the account of Powhatan interaction with English colonists is from the European perspective, and how the stories of Pocahontas have it all wrong (hardly breaking news). I feel a native writer may have been more insightful on such matters.

All in all, I'll give it a reasonably positive review (the mouth-breathing of the narrator notwithstanding). It's clearly a well-researched, quite comprehensive history of Early American interactions of natives and Europeans, but it's not really anything different than what's already on offer. Perhaps it was in 2002.. Still, it's not really facing East as much as it would have you believe.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Zodiac Unmasked

  • The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed
  • By: Robert Graysmith
  • Narrated by: Robert Graysmith
  • Length: 17 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 25

Between December 1968 and October 1969, a hooded serial killer called Zodiac terrorized San Francisco. Claiming responsibility for 37 murders, he manipulated the media with warnings, dares, and bizarre cryptograms that baffled FBI code-breakers. Then, as suddenly as the murders began, Zodiac disappeared into the Bay Area fog. After painstaking investigation and more than 30 years of research, Robert Graysmith finally exposes Zodiac's true identity. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Comprehensive and well-structured

  • By Buretto on 12-18-18

Comprehensive and well-structured

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

Reviewed: 12-18-18

This is a very engaging account of the Zodiac, detailing killings ascribed to him, some that were claimed by Zodiac falsely, and the numerous copycats that followed. The parallel presentation of timelines was quite useful, jumping between the crimes and police investigations and the activities of the prime suspect. I watched the film created from the original book directly after finishing, and it flowed much more understandably than the first time I'd watched it. There's even an epilogue in the book giving a brief behind the scenes on the set of the film. And don't let the 17hr, 47min runtime scare you off. I found a 1.5x speed was a quite comfortable pace.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Antifa

  • The Anti-Fascist Handbook
  • By: Mark Bray
  • Narrated by: Keith Szarabajka
  • Length: 7 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78

As long as there has been fascism, there has been anti-fascism - also known as "antifa." Born out of resistance to Mussolini and Hitler in Europe during the 1920s and '30s, the antifa movement has suddenly burst into the headlines amid opposition to the Trump administration and the alt-right. In a smart and gripping investigation, historian and former Occupy Wall Street organizer Mark Bray provides a detailed survey of the full history of anti-fascism from its origins to the present day - the first transnational history of postwar anti-fascism in English.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • i hated the accents

  • By J paslawski on 02-12-19

Forthright justification for a contentious stance

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

Reviewed: 12-14-18

The book is unapologetic in its presentation of what it views as the core goals of antifa movements throughout history. That being the fight against oppressive, racist, fascist philosophy, recruitment and deeds, wherever they spring up, and as soon as possible. It does not back down from its detractors, defending it tactics, convincingly in my opinion, that the defense of the oppressed and aggrieved takes precedence over the niceties of *civil* society. I'm fairly certain that conservatives, or those who lean even more to the right have no interest in the book, or its explanations, (any more than to post 1-star negative reviews). And it is a tough listen for liberals and progressives, challenging some core beliefs about what the goals for a better society ought to be and how to get there. For me the most compelling part was the notion that antifa groups are not intrinsically extremist, expansive movements, but rather necessary reactions to truly dangerous fascist and exploitative factions seeking to solidify power. This is easily verifiable, as one can measure the activity of antifa as directly proportional to the instigating fascist activity.

You don't have to believe everything you read/hear in the book. The author himself confesses there is a lot of contradictory advice from the various proponents of antifa. But it is important to know what the movement is, what the goals are, and why they feel they need to use the tactics they do. If nothing else, the section on the tricky question of what constitutes *free speech" is very thought provoking, and should be worthy of spurring dialogue amongst progressives and liberals (not holding my breath on conservatives or moderates). All in all, very informative... convincing in parts, troubling in others. But always engaging.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound

  • Dylan, Nashville, and the Making of Blonde on Blonde
  • By: Daryl Sanders
  • Narrated by: Graham Halstead
  • Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound is the definitive treatment of Bob Dylan's magnum opus, Blonde on Blonde, not only providing the most extensive account of the sessions that produced the trailblazing album but also setting the record straight on much of the misinformation that has surrounded the story of how the masterpiece came to be made. Including many new details and eyewitness accounts, as well as keen insight into the Nashville cats who helped Dylan reach rare artistic heights, it explores the lasting impact of rock's first double album.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • It was great!

  • By S. Mullins on 02-02-19

Sometimes I forget how great Blonde on Blonde is

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

Reviewed: 12-12-18

I'll admit like most Dylan fans, that my opinion of a favorite Dylan album changes constantly. Street Legal, sentimentally, as the first album that I ever purchased, Blood on the Tracks for its heartbreaking brilliance, Time Out of Mind, for the amazing resurrection of the master storyteller. Not to mention, periods when I feel nothing other than listening to John Wesley Harding on a loop, or Desire, or Infidels. So, it's easy to forget how genius an album Blonde on Blonde is. It's almost too perfect musically, and historically, so I guess I kind of put it aside thoughtlessly.

This book chronicles the Nashville sessions creating Blonde on Blonde, and it's thoroughly enjoyable. I feared an overly technical account of the times (to be fair, it does go a bit Wikipedia in moments). But digressions into speculation on the origins of the songs are kept reasonably limited. A few references are made to Sara, Edie Sedgwick or Nico, and to whom a particular song is directed. But thankfully, not a lot of time is spent on that, more on the music and the musicians.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Death of Hitler

  • The Final Word
  • By: Shaun Whiteside - translator, Lana Parshina, Jean-Christophe Brisard
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

On April 30, 1945, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as the Red Army closed in on Berlin. Within four days the Soviets had recovered his body. But the truth about what the Russian secret services found was hidden from history, when, three months later, Stalin officially declared to Truman and Churchill that Hitler was still alive and had escaped abroad. Reckless rumors about what really happened to Hitler began to spread like wildfire and, even today, they have not been put to rest. Until now. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Much Ado About Nothing

  • By Rosemary on 02-03-19

Actually does play out like a novel

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

Reviewed: 12-12-18

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, half expecting it to be another half-baked exercise in speculation. (A subtitle like *The Final Word* tends to be a red flag, indicating perhaps the authors are trying a little too hard to convince us). To be honest, there is a fair share of enthusiastic amateurism (meant in the best possible way) about the book. That kind of eager willingness to tell a story beyond the restrictions of cold, scientific inquiry or rehashed historical reports. But it works. Weaving between the maze of present-day Russian bureaucracy, the reminiscences of erstwhile Soviet bureaucracy, and the account of the last days of Hitler and his entourage, it keeps the listener engaged throughout. Of particular interest was the unravelling of the motivation behind the secrecy and disinformation about the evidence.