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  • 11
  • reviews
  • 33
  • helpful votes
  • 25
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  • Sapiens

  • A Brief History of Humankind
  • By: Yuval Noah Harari
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27,365
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 24,179
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,017

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • First half is fantastic; second half slows down

  • By N. on 02-26-19

First half is fantastic; second half slows down

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

Reviewed: 02-26-19

tl;dr - worth the Audible credit just for the first half, don't feel bad if you stop before finishing the second.

OVERALL - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Like others have said, I really enjoyed the first half of the book. It was incredibly interesting learning about the history of the "other sapiens" and what happened to them. I found myself taking a few extra turns on the car before going home just to hear the next bits.

The said, the second half does slow down quite a bit. I didn't take it to be an attack on technology or capitalism as others have suggested but the same points seem to be made over and over. The last few chapters ended up feeling a bit redundant and it took me a lot longer to get through them than normal. They weren't bad, just... not as compelling.

PERFORMANCE - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Derek Perkins does a good job with the material, and he's very easy to listen to.

STORY - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
The first half of the book seems to focus on WHAT happened and the second half seems to focus on WHY it happened. So your mileage may vary depending on what you're more into. I like the historical parts more than the sociological parts so I favored the first half. However, the two are so tightly intertwined I completely understand why he structured the book the way he did. I think the second half could have probably been trimmed down a bit though.

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Days of August

  • By: Jon Ronson
  • Narrated by: Jon Ronson
  • Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13,133
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 11,929
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11,922

In December 2017 the famous porn star August Ames committed suicide in a park in the Conejo Valley. It happened a day after she’d been the victim of a pile-on, via Twitter, by fellow porn professionals - punishment for her tweeting something deemed homophobic. A month later, August’s husband, Kevin, connected with Jon Ronson to tell the story of how Twitter bullying killed his wife. What neither Kevin nor Ronson realized was that Ronson would soon hear rumors and secrets hinting at a very different story - something mysterious and unexpected and terrible.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • a healing masterpiece

  • By A. M. on 01-04-19

Decent enough for a free pickup

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

Reviewed: 01-25-19

tl;dr - it was free and I am happy with that price

OVERALL - 2/5 ("It's Okay")
I almost stopped listening after about 15 minutes because it started to look like it was going to be a giant melodrama, and while it thankfully didn't go quite that direction completely it walked a fine line. I got this as one of my free monthly audible originals, and given that context I think it was worth the listen. But this is not something I would have paid money for (and this from someone who enjoyed The Men Who Stare At Goats).

PERFORMANCE - 1/5 ("Not For Me")
The audio quality on some of the interviews, but that isn't the reason for the lower score here. Something about the way Jon Ronson narrated the piece reminded me of Robin Williams' voice in his Mrs Doubtfire disguise. It was off putting, as was often the tone of the narration. Totally a personal preference, but this wasn't for me.

STORY - 2/5 ("It's Okay")
While I can see the appeal of trying to unravel the mystery behind a star's death, nobody involved in this really came off as particularly likable. In a story that begins with someone literally dying, it became hard to find much in the way of sympathy for anyone else involved or affected by it. I don't hold any moral high ground against the porn industry, but this doesn't help to dissuade the notion that it is full of broken people (even if I know that isn't altogether true).

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A Higher Loyalty

  • Truth, Lies, and Leadership
  • By: James Comey
  • Narrated by: James Comey
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 24,718
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 22,567
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 22,471

In his audiobook, A Higher Loyalty, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of powe, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More Than Trump: All Comey's Life/Working Years--

  • By Gillian on 04-17-18

Surprisingly great -- so much more than just Trump

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

Reviewed: 01-24-19

tl;dr - Way more than just the Trump stuff; Comey has lived a life worth hearing about

OVERALL - 5/5 ("I Love It")
Perhaps my most pleasant literary surprise of the year, and definitely one of my favorite books from the past few. I had idea about his own personal history and knew of him mainly from the end of his tenure as FBI Director. But this book is full of much more than just that, from his experiences with the "Ramsey Rapist" as a child, to his time as an NYC Prosecutor (under Giuliani) to the Martha Stewart FBI investigation -- there's so much here. The book comes across as well meaning and authentic and Comey clearly tries hard to be non-partisan. Though Comey denies he plans to, this is a book I could easily see him launching a political career after.

If there is a criticism of the book (outside of opinions he expresses you may or may not agree with) it is that after listening to it, and then listening to his interviews in person -- he almost seems too polished, too well-spoken and too prepared. But given his former occupation, I suppose that may be to be expected.

Great book, worth the audible credit to anyone.

PERFORMANCE - 4/5 ("It's Great")
I generally am wary of non-performer authors narrating their own books but Comey does a fantastic job. He comes across as earnest and forthright, and speaks to his reasoning (agree or disagree) in a clear and concise manner.

STORY - 5/5 ("I Love It")
Like previously stated, there's a lot more here than just the Trump stuff. That's a relatively minor portion of the book. This is Comey's story, not Trump's. It goes from his childhood to present day and stops to mark the noteworthy events in a great deal of detail. I learned a lot about both the mob prosecutions and the Martha Stewart insider trading case that I never thought I'd find as interesting as I did.

  • The World as It Is

  • A Memoir of the Obama White House
  • By: Ben Rhodes
  • Narrated by: Ben Rhodes, Mark Deakins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,888
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,705
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,702

For nearly 10 years, Ben Rhodes saw almost everything that happened at the center of the Obama administration - first as a speechwriter, then as deputy national security advisor, and finally as a multipurpose aide and close collaborator. He started every morning in the Oval Office with the President’s Daily Brief, traveled the world with Obama, and was at the center of some of the most consequential and controversial moments of the presidency. Now, he tells the full story of his partnership with a man who also happened to be a historic president of the United States.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Worth every minute

  • By Alexander on 06-16-18

Even-keeled look behind the curtain

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

Reviewed: 01-24-19

tl;dr - The best of the Pod Save America / Crooked Media team books so far

OVERALL - 4/5 ("It's Great")
I read a lot of political memoirs and tend to break them down into two categories. First, the memoirs of ex-Presidents, Senators, Cabinet Members, etc -- basically, the "people in charge." Second, there's the category of memoir written by observers. Notable figures in their own right, but secondary to the larger picture. As an Obama speech writer, Ben Rhodes falls into the latter category and for my money, might be my favorite of the bunch.

If you're a fan of Pod Save America or any of the Crooked Media productions, you'll enjoy this. If you're not a fan of it, you may enjoy it too. It is partisan, of course, given Rhodes' position but it is refreshingly devoid of constant snark or put downs to the current (Trump) administration or to the Republican party as a whole. They certainly don't come away unscathed, but the book isn't about trashing them. It is about Rhodes' experience in the Obama administration and the book is far better off for it.

PERFORMANCE - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Mark Deakins did a fine job with the narration. Nothing jumped out particularly amazing or distracting.

STORY - 4/5 ("It's Great")
As someone who lives far from DC and completely outside of the political system (as most do) this is a very interesting look into the world of White House staffers in a way we haven't really gotten to since The West Wing -- and this one is actually real life. Getting to see what an impact individual staff members could have on policy and government operations was pretty eye-opening too. Even if you weren't a fan of the administration, this is an insightful look into the inner workings of it from a voice that seems fair and credible.

  • The Operator

  • Firing the Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior
  • By: Robert O'Neill
  • Narrated by: Robert O'Neill
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 10,647
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9,687
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 9,642

Stirringly evocative, thought provoking, and often jaw dropping, The Operator ranges across SEAL Team Operator Robert O'Neill's awe-inspiring 400-mission career that included his involvement in attempts to rescue "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell and abducted-by-Somali-pirates Captain Richard Phillips and culminated in those famous three shots that dispatched the world's most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the best

  • By Tim on 04-28-17

One of the best SEAL memoirs

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

Reviewed: 01-24-19

tl;dr - if you want a real life action movie, get this book

OVERALL - 4/5 ("It's Great")
I've read a lot of SEAL memoirs, and this one might be my favorite. You get the typical chapters devoted to the author's younger days and time at BUDs -- not much new to be had there unless this is your first SEAL book. After that though the book goes at a pretty non-stop pace from one mission to the next and all the neat behind-the-scenes info that goes along with it. Highly recommend.

PERFORMANCE - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
I generally have pretty low expectations when non-performer authors narrate their own books, but Robert O'Neill did an admirable job. He sounded just as good as any "professional" narrator and added authenticity to the reading.

STORY - 4/5 ("It's Great")
Obviously the Bin Laden raid is the climax of the book, but hearing about O'Neill's other missions and then the build up to the raid was extremely interesting as well -- perhaps even more so than the raid itself. Robert O'Neill has had an amazing military career, and getting to hear his stories is a treat.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Richard Matthews
  • Length: 18 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,724
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,323
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,274

Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Six stars

  • By mark harris on 12-24-16

Great but not so short!

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

Reviewed: 01-23-19

tl;dr - Great book, abridged version might actually be better

OVERALL - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
If you're already a Bill Bryson fan, you can just stop here. You'll like this book. If you haven't read Bryson before his style is congenial, but slightly sarcastic. Exhaustively informative, but with a light tinge irreverence. He's a good writer, and outside of "A Walk in the Woods" this might be his best book.

PERFORMANCE - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Richard Matthews performance neither strongly added to or took away from the author's words.

STORY - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
So here's the thing. The story is amazing. I mean, it is "everything". That said, while this book is jam-packed with interesting tidbits and historical knowledge I daresay it might be a little too jam packed. I usually prefer longer books and am decidedly NOT ADHD but at times my attention did begin to wander. I generally abhor abridged versions of anything but after mistakenly buying one and then listening to them both, I actually preferred the abridged version to the full length. Really though, you can't go wrong with either.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Fear

  • Trump in the White House
  • By: Bob Woodward
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,156
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,944
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,826

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files, and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One, and the White House residence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Actually Humanized Trump for Me

  • By BigNutz on 12-15-18

Crazy, interesting and exactly what you expect

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

Reviewed: 01-23-19

tl;dr - get this, not "Fire and Fury"

OVERALL - 4/5 ("It's Great")
Listen, nobody is going to change their minds about Trump at this point. This book won't change yours. That said, it was a compelling (and terrifying) look into the Trump presidency from a well respected, and credible source. It is easy to question things (or out right now believe them) when they're coming from the likes of Michael Wolff or Omarosa Manigault, but when it comes from Bob Woodward it actually means something.

PERFORMANCE - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Robert Petkoff's performance was just fine. It neither distracted me from the book or jumped out as particularly noteworthy.

STORY - 4/5 ("It's Great")
You can't really say much here that hasn't already been said. We live in interesting times. That said, what Woodward has done is taken a complex maze of he-said/she-saids, conflicting reports and a never-ending cycle of breaking news and presenting them in a way that makes sense, with timelines that are easy to understand. In other words, he approached this like a real journalist and it shows. The "story" is well constructed and well researched -- much more so than a lot of other books of the same sort.

  • Troublemaker

  • Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
  • By: Leah Remini
  • Narrated by: Leah Remini
  • Length: 7 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 15,704
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14,448
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 14,390

The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching 30-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ✫✫ 5 Stars ✫✫

  • By ❤️ Cyndi Marie ❤️ on 07-10-18

Interesting look into growing up in Scientology

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

Reviewed: 01-23-19

tl;dr - plenty of juicy dirt on Scientology

OVERALL - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Leah's style might grate on some, but if you're looking for a no holds barred take on Scientology from someone who has existed within it at all levels -- this is the book for you.

PERFORMANCE - 2/5 ("It's Okay")
Leah Remini narrates the book herself (of course). She obviously provides an authentic voice to her written words, but the tough girl Brooklyn accent bit can get kind of grating after a while. It wouldn't have made sense for someone else to have narrated, but it may have been easier to listen to. If you're already a fan, this probably won't bother you.

STORY - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
The story isn't wholly focused on Scientology, but rather the life of Leah Remini -- which just happens to have largely revolved around it for a long time. I'd not really seen much of Remini's acting work, so she wasn't the draw here for me so much as the behind-the-scenes Scientology stuff, but she's no doubt led an interesting life. She spends a fair bit of time talking about her own misdeeds and seemingly bounces between acknowledging (and moving on from) them and an odd kind of "sort-of-but-not-really" trying to justify them.

I didn't sympathize with many of her decisions and predicaments, because they were largely self made. That said, I also didn't live them. Her story is flawed, but interesting.

  • Outlaw Platoon

  • Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan
  • By: Sean Parnell, John Bruning
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 10 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3,716
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,386
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3,382

At 24 years of age, U.S. Army Ranger Sean Parnell was named commander of a forty-man elite infantry platoon - a unit that came to be known as the Outlaws - and was tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a mountain valley along Afghanistan's eastern frontier. Parnell and his men assumed they would be facing a ragtag bunch of civilians, but in May 2006 what started out as a routine patrol through the lower mountains of the Hindu Kush became a brutal ambush.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Do Americans Deserve Such Heroes?

  • By Richard on 10-22-12

A different kind of military memoir

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

Reviewed: 01-23-19

tl;dr - One of the better non-special forces military memoirs - a good read!

OVERALL - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
I read a lot of military memoirs, but they are generally from ex-special forces (SEAL, Green Beret, Delta Force, etc) and focus around big, momentous events. That isn't what this book is about, and if that is what you're looking for you may not find it here. However, what this book does offer is a great look into life of a regular platoon. How they interact with each other, other platoons and the stresses of the job are highlighted excellently in this story.

By the time (early on) where you hit the story dealing with the first translator, you'll be hooked and it is easy to put yourself in the author's shoes.

Some of the flashbacks to pre-war relationships can be a little jarring, and can at times feel a little out of place but it is a minor criticism against an otherwise compelling book.

PERFORMANCE - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Ray Porter's performance was even and consistent. He did well by the source material.

STORY - 4/5 ("It's Great")
This isn't the story about a singular newsworthy event (like the battle of Mogadishu, the Bin Laden raid, the Maersk Alabama rescue, etc) but rather the story of Parnell's experiences during his deployment in Afghanistan. You get to see a different side of the military, one that shows more what the "every day soldier" experiences. The conflicts and sacrifices here are no less grand than that of the higher profile books or events, and the story no less compelling.

  • The Desert and the Sea

  • 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast
  • By: Michael Scott Moore
  • Narrated by: Corey Snow
  • Length: 12 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 525
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 472
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 468

In January 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online International, Michael Scott Moore traveled to the Horn of Africa to write about piracy and ways to end it. In a terrible twist of fate, Moore himself was kidnapped and subsequently held captive by Somali pirates for 977 days. Yet Moore’s own struggle is only part of the story: The Desert and the Sea falls at the intersection of reportage, memoir, and history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow!

  • By Jonathan on 08-04-18

Interesting look into a different world

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

Reviewed: 01-23-19

tl;dr : If you want an engaging look behind the veil of Somali pirates or just want a non-traditional real life adventure story; this is worth a read.


OVERALL - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
An almost unbelievable story (if it weren't so believably written) that provides an engaging and informative look into a world not many have seen. Calling the book "entertaining" would trivialize the trauma suffered by the author, but it is informative, compelling and kept me hooked throughout.

PERFORMANCE - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
Corey Snow's performance neither distracted from the source material, nor added a ton to it. As a narrator, he didn't insert himself into the author's words too much, nor was he speaking in a straight monotone the entire time. He was pleasantly unobtrusive and handled the task of repeating difficult to pronounce names/locations consistently and (I assume) correctly. He did well.

STORY - 4/5 ("It's Great")
I found myself rolling my eyes in the books' opening chapters as the author explained his reasoning for leaving the US for Germany. That said, I'm glad I kept with it as once the "action" starts the book had me and never lost me. Moore makes his captors human when it would be easy to not have. Every character in this book felt real, which makes sense, since they were. The book itself is well written and structured in a compelling way.