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  • The Bhagavad Gita

  • By: Eknath Easwaran
  • Narrated by: Paul Bazely
  • Length: 8 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,605
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,437
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,435

The Bhagavad Gita, "The Song of the Lord", is the best known of all the Indian scriptures, and Easwaran's reliable and accessible version has consistently been the best-selling translation. Easwaran's introduction places the Gita in its historical setting and brings out the universality and timelessness of its teachings. Chapter introductions give clear explanations of key concepts in that chapter.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Content and narration reduced me to tears

  • By laurie on 01-11-16

Content and narration reduced me to tears

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

Reviewed: 01-11-16

I attempted to listen to classics of Indian spirituality but returned two audiobooks because I couldn't tolerate the narrators. One had a vaguely Texas accent and a mouthful of mush--which couldn't have been a more ridiculous match up of reader and material--and the other narrator read so slowly, I could hear him breathe and swallow . . . when he or I wasn't nodding off. Okay, I probably should have transcended my irritation, but I'm still only human.

This particular audiobook, however, could not be more wonderful. The translation itself is magnificent, and the introduction is educational, well-organized, and intimate--a perfect preparation for reading the Gita. It is more than an hour long, and I listened to it several times, entranced.

The narrator, an accomplished British actor, could not have been better. The publishers of the books I returned should take a lesson from him. He is articulate and easy to listen to. He nails the Indian accent when he occasionally switches to that as appropriate for the content.

I resonate with the teaching of Hinduism, and after visiting the country twice, I couldn't get a handle on it. That there are many gods and the form they take struck me as whimsical and imaginative. Now, understanding so much more about the philosophy, I have an entirely different and more serious perspective.

This can be a life-transforming book. You must read it if "only" as great world literature.

45 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Great World Religions: Hinduism

  • By: Mark W. Muesse, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Mark W. Muesse
  • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 317
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 282
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 276

In this 12-lecture series, you'll encounter a religion that is perhaps the most diverse of all; one that worships more gods and goddesses than any other, and one that rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine. These lectures provide a window into the roots of, perhaps, all religions. You'll explore the course of Hinduism's 5,000-year journey.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An important introduction into Hinduism

  • By Jacobus on 05-09-14

Made sense of a complex religion

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

Reviewed: 12-24-15

I love India and Bollywood movies and have been fascinated by the temples and rituals I witnessed in my trips there. But I knew almost nothing about Hinduism. What I could see confused me. The religion seemed whimsical and imaginative, but I was sure I was misinterpreting what it was about. This series of lectures set me straight.

Dr. Muesse's lectures are informative, and he makes Hinduism's concepts and beliefs comprehensible to my Western, linear mind. Starting with the origin of Hinduism, he traces its evolution through the millennia until modern times. This might sound funny, but now I understand much better the plots and characters' motivations in Bollywood musicals.

The professor's delivery is pleasant to listen to. He has a slight Southern (US) accent and an earnestness that I enjoyed. Without reservation I recommend this college course.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Fall and Rise of China

  • By: Richard Baum, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Richard Baum
  • Length: 24 hrs and 10 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,582
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,426
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,417

For most of its 5,000-year existence, China has been the largest, most populous, wealthiest, and mightiest nation on Earth. And for us as Westerners, it is essential to understand where China has been in order to anticipate its future. These 36 eye-opening lectures deliver a comprehensive political and historical overview of one of the most fascinating and complex countries in world history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Offers excellent objective perspective!

  • By Yu-Chin on 12-15-13

Wow! Did I learn a lot!

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

Reviewed: 12-02-15

Professor Baum is a bit stiff at the beginning, but a few lectures in, he relaxes into the delivery and comes to life. He is certainly an eminently qualified presenter.

This series is comprehensive and offers a thorough history of China. The English behave like thugs as usual, and I have to wonder how, in relatively few decades, they learned to "play nice" in the international arena. Foisting tons of opium onto the Chinese to balance the ledger on import/export financials was about as despicable as anything they did to any country . . . and that's saying something.

We have warlords, court intrigue, crushing poverty, revolution ("It's not a dinner party," Mao said when someone objected to the violence), etc. Amazing to me is that this vast territory held together pretty much as a unit through the millennia.

Dr. Baum's lecture allowed me to put the current political situation in China into historical perspective. The book is long--twenty-four hours--but with a good return on your investment of time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sarah's Key

  • By: Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Narrated by: Polly Stone
  • Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,916
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,935
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,953

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10 year-old girl, is arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Important subject and plot, pedestrian execution

  • By Benson on 04-15-10

Important topic, mediocre writing, worse narrator

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

Reviewed: 09-11-15

I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this book. I read a lot of WWII nonfiction, and I am amazed that I never heard of this1942 roundup in Paris of all the Jews--not by Nazis but by the French police. The Jews were locked in an arena for days without food and water or sanitary facilities, then transported to a camp. Fathers went to Auschwitz, and later, mothers were torn from their children and babies and sent to Auschwitz for execution. The frightened, hungry, filthy little ones had to fend for themselves, then they, too, went to death camps. As a Jewish woman, I think everyone should learn what happened. Research this atrocity and read about it.

As a book editor, I have to say the writing is pedestrian. The author found a great subject and a good hook--a Jewish girl locking her four-year-old brother in a cupboard so he would be safe. The girl assumes her family will be allowed back to their home, but of course they are not, and the little boy dies of thirst and starvation. The author raises profound questions pertaining to our responsibility to history's victims. Should we keep their memory and suffering alive, or is it better to relegate them to the past? If a victim wants to forget her past, make a new life, and keep her grief secret from her loved ones, does an outsider have the right to remind her and expose her true identity? I applaud the author for exploring those ideas.

But I have to wonder about de Rosney's s editor. The pacing of this book is terrible. The plot is out of balance, back heavy. Instead of stopping where it should, it goes on and on. Rather than ending in a satisfying, powerful way, all energy drains from it. A well-plotted novel ends shortly after the climax. The author includes a brief denouement to wind things up, and then types "The End." That does not happen here. Instead of feeling satisfied, I was thinking, "Will this never end?" De Rosney's editor had a responsibility to help the author rearrange her material so that would happen.

Then there was the word choice. Sixty years after this heinous roundup, two thousand people gather for a COMMEMORATION of the event. What did the editor let slip by? A CELEBRATION. You have got to be kidding me.

Now, the narrator. She was awful. She had a perky, Minnie Mouse delivery for almost all of the female characters. The men sounded identical except for a potential lover at the end of the book, and he sounded like Goofy--dull, dragged-out delivery, a mouth and nose stuffed with cotton balls, and an artificial, low timbre that was almost funny. She spoke in snippets so lacking in appropriate emotions, I wondered how this woman got the job and kept it. Her voices from one character spilled into another character's dialogue time and again. In all, it was not a well-thought-out reading with distinct voices and emotions we have mostly come to expect from Audible.

To be fair--or, more accurately, to search for something nice to say--she had a credible French accent. But so do many other narrators.

I wish I could encourage everyone to read Sarah's Key. Instead, look up The Vel' d'Hiv Roundup and spend time on the Internet learning about it.


  • Battle Cry of Freedom: Volume 1

  • By: James M. McPherson
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 20 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,325
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,017
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,009

James M. McPherson, professor emeritus of U.S. history at Princeton, is one of the foremost scholars of the Civil War. In this informative and meticulously researched masterpiece, he clarifies the differing ways of life and philosophy that led to this shattering conflict. Abraham Lincoln wondered whether "in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government". And Jefferson Davis felt "forced to take up arms" to guarantee states' rights.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • volume1

  • By chris on 08-26-10

Interesting Insights into Lincoln's Mind

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

Reviewed: 09-04-15

I have been reading one Oxford History of the United States volume after another and finding each one fascinating, insightful, and well-written. I was particularly interested in how President Lincoln responded to the ever-mounting tension between North and South. He kept a cool head, trying to avoid war. The Southerners come across as a bunch of unrealistic hotheads. Had the politicians been thinking analytically, they would have known before the first shot was fired that they couldn't win.

This book was about so much more than the war: western expansion, religion, the birth of the women's movement, industrialization, education, finance, culture, transportation . . . McPherson doesn't miss anything. He organizes the material in a way that is simultaneously macro and micro, and all the pieces fit together. He enables readers to grasp what the United States was about during this era.

Now. Let's. Talk. About. The. Narrator. He read so slowly, I kept picturing him nodding off, chin on chest. I set my iPhone to 1.25 speed, and even at that he did not sound rushed.

  • Doc: The Rape of the Town of Lovell

  • By: Jack Olsen
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 16 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,253
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,139
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,137

For twenty-five years, the trusted family doctor in a small Wyoming town had been raping and molesting the women and children who most relied on him. Mostly Mormons, the naive victims sometimes realized on their wedding nights the truth about what had happened in Dr. Story's office.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Terrible events, fascinating story.

  • By Mindy on 07-25-15

Small town, Sexual misconduct, Mass hysteria

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

Reviewed: 08-27-15

Oh, boy, this was a tough one to read. A highly respected family physician in a small town rapes female patients for twenty years. He selects the most vulnerable, from adolescents to senior citizens. He performs painful pelvic examinations when the woman comes in for a sore throat and then violates her. The majority are Mormons, whose culture promotes silence, fear, and guilt about sex. Lovell's residents are not only Christians, they are zealous bordering on manic, frenzied in their self-righteous outrage. After all, Doc is a church founder and elder beyond reproach.

This handful of brave, frightened, humiliated women have nowhere to turn. Their Church punishes them for being impure, and the small-town police don't believe them. When the state medical board finally investigates and strips the doctor of his license, influential politicians come to the aid of this psychopathic predator.

He gets what he deserves by the end of the book, but by the time he does, the Christians of Lovell have all but destroyed these women, their families, their businesses, and the town itself. This book was grotesquely fascinating. Someone should bulldoze Lovell and bury it in ashes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Moral Landscape

  • How Science Can Determine Human Values
  • By: Sam Harris
  • Narrated by: Sam Harris
  • Length: 6 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,860
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,275
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,233

In this explosive new book, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge. Harris urges us to think about morality in terms of human and animal well-being, viewing the experiences of conscious creatures as peaks and valleys on a "moral landscape".

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Read it

  • By Paul on 11-23-10

Deep, Challenging Perspectives

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

Reviewed: 07-26-15

Sam Harris voices strong opinions about science, scientists, religion, politicians, anthropologists, and humanity's morality, values, and capacity for good and evil. The content is so fascinating and densely packed, I occasionally had to back up the file to listen again to what Harris said. The book requires close, constant attention.

Harris, who does a good job as narrator--similar to Malcolm Gladwell's delivery--believes we have a measure available for right and wrong, and we don't have to turn to religion for guidance. (I don't think anyone would argue that atrocities have been and are committed in the name of religion.) He proposes that we can measure what is good and what is bad by whether actions promote the well-being of the people directly and indirectly involved. Scientific advances have allowed us to quantify neurochemicals released, thereby determining our well-being or its opposite.

One thing in particular that struck me was his discussion of the mutilation of young girls' genitalia. If we conceptualize one eight-year-old girl held down by two men while a third cuts into her, then sews her up, allowing only enough of an opening for urination and menstruation, we are appalled. Multiply that horror by thousands and thousands of girls, and anthropologists say we should chalk it up to religious beliefs and cultural traditions unlike ours, and within that context, respect our differences, excuse, and accept. Whatever the context, Harris says, mutilation is wrong.

And that was only one point Harris makes. I recommend this amazing book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Lonesome Dove

  • By: Larry McMurtry
  • Narrated by: Lee Horsley
  • Length: 36 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,972
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,123
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,146

Larry McMurtry's American epic, set in the late 19th century, tells the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, a drive that represents not only a daring foolhardy adventure, but a part of the American Dream for everyone involved.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best audio book I have ever listened to!

  • By James on 12-20-04

I Loved the Characters Too Much to Suffer

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

Reviewed: 07-09-15

I have adored this book. I can't heap enough praise on the narrator, who brings everyone to life. The characters are embedded in my heart and in my dreams. So here is my confession: I couldn't finish the book because dread overwhelmed me. I am a wee-wee.

I got to a point well into the plot where McMurtry was intensifying a novel that already had me overwrought. He was building to the volcanic climax. I saw what he was setting up. I recognized the foreshadowing. Terrible things were going to happen to people I loved. I couldn't endure it.

This is so embarrassing: unable to sleep, I googled the plot synopsis on my iPhone. It was 3:12 AM, but I had to know. I decided to read the summary of the final two chapters and then determine if I could handle finishing the book. I decided I couldn't. It would be too upsetting to live it, witness it, through the characters.

So I stopped. I chose to stay at Clara's ranch with Lorie and July. I can be happy there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Primates of Park Avenue

  • Adventures Inside the Secret Sisterhood of Manhattan Moms
  • By: Wednesday Martin Ph.D.
  • Narrated by: Madeleine Maby
  • Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 852
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 758
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 754

Like an urban Dian Fossey, Wednesday Martin decodes the primate social behaviors of Upper East Side mothers in a brilliantly original and witty memoir about her adventures assimilating into that most secretive and elite tribe. After marrying a man from the Upper East Side and moving to the neighborhood, Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. Drawing on her background in anthropology and primatology, she tried looking at her new world through that lens, and suddenly things fell into place.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Lord, Someone Help These People

  • By Elizabeth on 06-04-15

Don't Expect The Devil Wears Prada

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

Reviewed: 07-09-15

I hadn't read detailed reviews of this book and was pleasantly surprised by the anthropological slant Martin takes in her content. She moves from downtown Manhattan to Park Avenue, which is akin to taking up residence in a foreign country. An outsider wanting and needing to make friends for herself and her children, she has to learn to fit in.

These very, very wealthy Upper East Side young mothers are part of a social hierarchy that's tough to crack. Using her education and experiences as an anthropologist, Martin analyzes the women's behavior, likening it to scholarly studies of female apes. She does what is necessary (like buying an outrageously expensive purse) to blend in and go native.

These young women who have everything money can buy are, you'll learn, under enormous pressures I am happy not to have in my own life. I clench my teeth enough in my relatively ordinary existence. You will also learn how much you have in common with them, and all women, no matter where you live or what's in your wallet.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Love Over Scotland

  • A 44 Scotland Street Novel
  • By: Alexander McCall Smith
  • Narrated by: Robert Ian MacKenzie
  • Length: 14 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 345
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 345

Internationally best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith, creator of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels, offers the third installment from his popular Scotland Street series. The endearing denizens of 44 Scotland Street soldier on, both domestically and across the globe, in this entertaining mosaic that is filled with the author's trademark wit and charm.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best AMS Book

  • By Clark on 09-25-08

Mad about This Series . . . until Volume Seven

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

Reviewed: 06-23-15

The 44 Scotland Street series is delightful. The characters for the most part are enchanting and unique, and Alexander McCall Smith has a terrific sense of humor and wild imagination. He has much to say about human nature, politics, and values. I don't always agree with his (Angus's) philosophy, but it's always worth consideration. I found the books so entertaining and touching, I read volumes one through six one after another.

When I got to volume seven, however, I had had enough. For the benefit of new readers who jump into the series without taking the books in sequence, Smith backtracked to bring them up to speed. I tired of that; it happened too often.

I also tired of the characters, who, because they were so consistent in their behavior, lost their verve. For example, there's Irene, the domineering, haughty woman who makes her young son miserable. Her husband stands up for the child, but he is unaware of most of the ways she torments the boy. The situations might change, but the interactions do not.

I finally had to stop reading and return volume seven in favor of a different book, different author.

The narrator is wonderful. He sounded fluent in several languages, and he managed to give most of the characters their own voice.

You might make it through the entire series and love every single one. I do recommend 44 Scotland Street and this author because what you do read, you will really enjoy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful