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Norman B. Bernstein

  • 19
  • reviews
  • 190
  • helpful votes
  • 19
  • ratings
  • Everything Trump Touches Dies

  • By: Rick Wilson
  • Narrated by: Rick Wilson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,620
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,465
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,453

In Everything Trump Touches Dies, political campaign strategist and commentator Rick Wilson brings his darkly funny humor and biting analysis to the absurdity of American politics in the age of Trump. Wilson mercilessly exposes the damage Trump has done to the country, to the Republican Party he served for decades, and to the conservative movement that has abandoned its principles for the worst president in American history. No left-winger, Wilson is a lifelong conservative who delivers his withering critique of Trump from the right.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Great Listen (No Matter What Your Party Is)!

  • By Shyam on 09-02-18

Trump, from the perspective of a real conservative

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

Reviewed: 08-18-18

You need to download and read this book immediately... because nonfiction books about contemporary political issues have a very short shelf life.

Nonetheless, it will be well worth your while... unless you've drunken the Trump Kool-Aid and can't divorce your mind from the mindless adherence to the Dear Leader.

Rick Wilson is a conservative political operative... I'm talking about a traditional, dyed-in-the-wool, hard core fiscal debt and deficit hawk, libertarian-leaning, small government kind of conservative... the kind Republicans USED to be, before the Age of Trump.

In this book, he shreds Trump with the ferocity of the most faithful democratic socialist... illustrating in myriad ways how Trump is further from true conservatism, than Bernie Sanders. From the perspective of someone who was a highly aggressive pitchman for numerous right wing candidates and causes, he explains, in a clear and cohesive manner, what a disaster Trump has been for the conservative cause... and what damage, long term, Trump is doing to conservative interests.

The book is written with heaping doses of high snark and dark humor, but it doesn't diminish from the message, at all... it just makes the narrative even more real, as well as depressing.

I'm by no means a conservative... but even from my mostly liberal/progressive perspective, Wilson has done an outstanding job of enumerating the concerns about Trump that both liberals and conservatives (in a rare alignment) can fully agree on.

In short, a fascinating and compelling book.. highly recommended.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • The Plot to Destroy Democracy

  • How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West
  • By: Malcolm Nance, Rob Reiner - foreword
  • Narrated by: Peter Ganim
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 858
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 777
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 774

In the greatest intelligence operation in the history of the world, Donald Trump was made president of the United States with the assistance of a foreign power. For the first time, The Plot to Destroy Democracy reveals the dramatic story of how blackmail, espionage, assassination, and psychological warfare were used by Vladimir Putin and his spy agencies to steal the 2016 US election. It will show how Russia and its fifth column allies tried to flip the cornerstones of democracy in order to reengineer the world political order that kept most of the world free since since 1945....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • OH NOOOO

  • By Becky on 07-18-18

What should have been fascinating, became tedious

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

Reviewed: 08-03-18

I have been something of a fan of Malcolm Nance, who I see often on various MSNBC shows, where he's a frequent contributor. His insights have always impressed me. I should further note that an acquaintance of mine claims that Nance has hyper-inflated his credentials in the field of intelligence... but neither his appearances on TV, nor his book, seems to support that notion; if anything, the book makes his experience and knowledge seem all the more impressive.

That, unfortunately, is what makes the book drag seriously, during the listening. While Nance offers up interesting insights in the methods and practices of Russian disinformation and counterespionage, the book gets very seriously bogged down in seemingly endless and excessive detail. By the time I listened to what seemed like 100 Russian names and back-stories, none of which I can now recall, I rapidly lost interest. While the premise of the book is supposedly contemporary, Nance spends far too much time in excruciating historical background, which seems to me, to add little to the contemporary nature of the topic at hand.

I, no doubt, will still enjoy seeing Malcolm Nance of the various political talk shows... but the book was simply a very hard slog.


10 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Confessions of a Surgeon

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated...Life Behind the O.R. Doors
  • By: Paul A. Ruggieri MD
  • Narrated by: Eric Martin
  • Length: 8 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 99

As an active surgeon and former department chairman, Dr. Paul A. Ruggieri has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of his profession. In Confessions of a Surgeon, he pushes open the doors of the OR and reveals the inscrutable place where lives are improved, saved, and sometimes lost. He shares the successes, failures, remarkable advances, and camaraderie that make it exciting.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyed the anecdotes!

  • By suzanne on 07-31-17

Less than inspiring

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

Reviewed: 03-27-18

I read a great number of books written by doctors and surgeons. My interest is mainly technical, in a sense... I find the explanations of medical conditions, their diagnosis, and their treatment, to be interesting, even though I am not in the medical field (I'm an electrical engineer).

Unfortunately, Dr. Paul Ruggieri's book was big disappointment... and ultimately, a bit annoying. Dr. Ruggieri starts out, as most of these books do, to write a memoir of his training as a surgeon, and his practice as a surgeon after training. Early on, in the book, I detected a tinge of narcissism, as Ruggieri began to rail on about the changes in the training of surgeons, from when HE went through a much tougher, more exhausting regimen before medical education reforms. While one might expect some criticisms of what a doctor would be expected to find faulty in today's health care systems and practices, we shouldn't expect such negative perceptions to be all-consuming.

The attitude he expressed during the course of the book only continued to decline... what began as 'navel gazing' morphed into cynicism, and then to a maudlin, depressing expression of his own attitude towards his career.

By the time I finished the book, I had to wonder why this man became a surgeon at all... and if I was in need of general surgery, he'd be the very last person I'd pick to entrust my life to. Most memoirs written by doctors are uplifting; they represent professionals who are optimistic and enthusiastic about their chosen profession.. this one was dour and depressing. What Dr. Ruggieri forgets is that attitude is every bit as essential a quality in a surgeon, as technical skill and ability.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Get Well Soon

  • History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
  • By: Jennifer Wright
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,995
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,602
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,582

In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn't stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon 34 more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had been stricken by the mysterious dancing plague. In late-19th-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome - a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Highly informative with a humorous twist

  • By alan on 05-29-17

Fascinating history of plagues and epidemics

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

Reviewed: 02-26-18

This book is a quite scholarly history of plagues and epidemics throughout history, and if you're a fan of medically-themed non-fiction, this is an excellent and worthwhile read.

Jennifer Wright obviously did a great deal of historical research dating back many centuries, something that is obviously not easy to do. She provides both the historical context, as well as the medical significance, giving the reader a broad appreciation of the impact that these diseases have had on the history of our civilization.

One seemingly discordant chapter covers the history of frontal lobotomy, which doesn't really fall into the topic category... but it was an interesting inclusion, and I'd easily forgive the excursion from the titled theme of the book.

A note about the humor: other reviews have criticized Ms. Wright for her use of humor in the narrative, but I would take strong exception to this criticism. I found the humor delightful, a welcome break to the seriousness of the topic. Ms. Wright's humor is very strongly reminiscent of that of Mary Roach, who wrote a number of off-beat books such as 'Spook' and 'Stiff'... the humor is 'snarky', but only mildly so, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I'll be looking for future books from this author.

  • Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine

  • By: Roy Benaroch, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Roy Benaroch
  • Length: 11 hrs and 49 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 713
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 653
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 649

In Dr. Benaroch's 24 lectures, experience for yourself the high-stakes drama and medical insights of life in an everyday emergency department: the most intense department in any hospital and home to the kind of split-second decision making, troubleshooting, and detective work that can make the difference between a patient's life and death.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • If you're into this sort of thing....

  • By Norman B. Bernstein on 11-27-15

If you're into this sort of thing....

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

Reviewed: 11-27-15

I have always been interested in medicine, and perhaps regret that I chose engineering instead, as a professional discipline. I especially enjoy medical 'reality' shows, such as recent ones on the Discovery channel which videotape doctors in emergency rooms. I often feel that I've learned enough from shows like that to actually be useful in an emergency situation.

If you're like me, than this edition of the book series 'The Great Courses', is simply superb. Roy Benaroch is excellent in conveying the fundamentals of emergency medicine, in a way which teaches and explains, to the layman, what emergency medicine is all about.

The chapters are taught in something of the manner of 'grand rounds' in a hospital; the story starts with a description of the patient, the 'present history of the illness' (i.e., the 'tale' of the patient in describing the symptoms and circumstances), and then proceeds to use tests and examinations to eventually reveal a diagnosis. Along the way, Benaroch reinforces the fundamentals of the proper approach to examination, diagnosis, and treatment.

Perhaps this is a book with very limited appeal... but if you have ever been interested in how emergency medicine works, you'll find this an absorbing and informative listen.

41 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Lights Out

  • A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
  • By: Ted Koppel
  • Narrated by: Ted Koppel
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,419
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,317
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,314

Imagine a blackout lasting not days but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to generators, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good read that isn't fear mongering

  • By Elliott McNair on 01-01-16

Too much poetry, not enough prose

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

Reviewed: 11-27-15

Virtually everyone is familiar with Ted Koppel's sonorous voice; as a presenter of many television documentaries, and as the host of the long-running current affairs program 'Nightline', he is an icon of the television journalism genre.

Unfortunately, his style translates poorly into book form. The mix of prose and poetry which makes a one hour television program flow smoothly, becomes rather oppressive, when the attempt is made to translate into book format.

The subject matter is certainly interesting: it's the proposition that the United States is poorly prepared to withstand a cyber-attack against the nation's power grid. The first 20 minutes, or so, of the audiobook presentation is occupied with the potential consequences of a prolonged and widespread power outage. Unfortunately, this occupies only a small fraction of the book, and is only lightly explored, even though it becomes apparent that a severe, prolonged loss of power over a widespread area would indeed become catastrophic.

Koppel them explores, via interviews with various experts, the methodologies by which a cyber-attacker could possibly trigger such an event. The story is something of a counterpart to the tale of 'Stuxnet', the American/Israeli cyber-attack against Iran's uranium enrichment program, in which the PLC's (programmable logic controllers) of Iranian centrifuges were infected with a highly devious worm that caused damage long before the Iranians were aware of the vulnerability.

In the case of a potential cyber-attack against the power grid, the targets would be SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Aquisition) systems, which are a more sophisticated version of the PLC's used in the Iranian enrichment program. An attack of SCADA systems could, theoretically, result in widespread power outages and would include damage to equipment (most notably, 'super-transformers') which form the backbone of our power distribution grid.

As an electrical engineer, I am familiar with both PLC and SCADA systems, although Koppel does a credible job in explaining these devices and systems in language clear enough for the average reader.

However, his cautionary tale strikes me as a bit less than convincing. While the Stuxnet worm was a demonstration of the ability of clever firmware writers to inject damaging code into these systems without detection, the same paradigm might not apply to a system as widely diverse as the American electrical power grid. The Iranian situation was much different... a far more isolated environment in which the types of equipment used, and the manner in which they were interconnected, were constrained to just a small handful of sites. In fact, the Stuxnet attack was directed at just two types of PLC's, both manufactured by a single manufacturer (Siemens). The US power grid, on the other hand, is a broad, widespread, and highly diverse system, and of necessity, contains many safeguards against the kinds of events (such as overloads) that would jeopardize the system as a whole. The US system is also based on a very wide variety of devices, from many different manufacturers.

This is not to suggest that the US system is in any way invulnerable to cyber-attack; however, the Stuxnet experience probably resulted in a little-known but undoubtedly thorough review of cyber security among all US power companies.

The validity of the premise may be controversial, and I'm not discounting the premise entirely. However, the presentation of the material, Koppel's sonorous voice notwithstanding, left me less than either satisfied, or convinced.

19 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Cursed Victory

  • Israel and the Occupied Territories; A History
  • By: Ahron Bregman
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

In a move that would forever alter the map of the Middle East, Israel captured the West Bank, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, and Sinai Peninsula in 1967's brief but pivotal Six Day War. Cursed Victory is the first complete history of the war's troubled aftermath - a military occupation of the Palestinian territories that is now well into its fifth decade.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Largely just the diplomatic history

  • By Norman B. Bernstein on 09-28-15

Largely just the diplomatic history

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

Reviewed: 09-28-15

'Cursed Victory' is primarily centered around the diplomacy and negotiations between Israel, various Palestinian political entities, and Syria, from the time of the 19767 war, until the present day. Written by a former Israeli artillery officer, the book relates the long and convoluted history of attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through both official diplomatic efforts, as well as secret and unofficial attempts.

The book does a good job of describing the key players on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, as well as providing much insight into efforts by American Presidents, including Ford, Carter, Clinton, and George W. Bush, to try to come up with a viable peace plan. In the narrative, we get only a glancing and incomplete view into the lives of the populace over whom the power brokers were negotiating, which is why I can only give this book three stars. Based on a great deal of reading of other sources, my feeling is that the conflict can only be poorly explained, without an understanding of the personal toll taken on the pawns in the conflict: the ordinary people.

Derek Perkins' narration is crisp, with a sophisticated British accent, but the net effect is to provide a rather dry delivery, devoid of the emotional impact that the events described in the book should convey.

Since most books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict end up getting either 5 star or 1 star reviews, reflecting the polarization of thought on this topic, allow me to add that the book is NOT heavy-handed with one particular bias, as some reviewers suggest.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Isaac's Storm

  • A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
  • By: Erik Larson
  • Narrated by: Richard Davidson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,574
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,439
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,433

In 1900, Isaac Monroe Cline was in charge of the Galveston station of the US Weather Bureau. He was a knowledgeable, seasoned weatherman who considered himself a scientist. When he heard the deep thudding of waves on Galveston's beach in the early morning of September 8, however, Cline refused to be alarmed. The city had been hit by bad weather before.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A highly detailed account of a catastrophic storm

  • By Norman B. Bernstein on 09-28-15

A highly detailed account of a catastrophic storm

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

Reviewed: 09-28-15

As I wrote in my review of Erik Larsen's newer book, 'Dead Wake', Author Larsen recounts an historic event by embellishing the recounting with a plethora of detail, which, at times, can seem overwhelming.

In this particular exercise, the story of this historic turn-of-the-century storm at Galveston, Texas, uses a literary ruse of sorts. By wrapping the central narrative around a meteorologist, the author attempts to gather the diverse facts and events into a personal context.

In my opinion, the ruse fails, to a degree, since the meteorologist in question was certainly not a major figure in the events; the star of the book would more rightfully belong to the storm itself, or perhaps more properly, to the naivete of the municipality of Galveston in failing to prepare for what should have been seen as an inevitable event.

In Larsen's usual style, the tale is told with excruciating detail. Ordinarily, good historical nonfiction uses detail to flesh out a narrative, but my own feeling was that it had become excessive, in this book.

Still, for those interested in what the enormous power of a hurricane can do to a coastal community, the tale is a sobering reminder and warning of the consequences of indifference to the extremes of nature.

56 of 61 people found this review helpful

  • Dead Wake

  • The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
  • By: Erik Larson
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,143
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,110
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,094

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Naivety VS Barbarians Of War

  • By Sara on 03-05-16

An extremely detailed account

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

Reviewed: 09-02-15

People tend to be of two groups, when reviewing an historical account: one group revels in detail and context, and the other group reviles it.

If you're among the former, you'll enjoy 'Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania'. It is nominally the story of the sinking of the British Cunard ocean liner 'Lusitania' in 1915 during the First World War... but accompanying the tale is an extraordinary level of detailed research, some provided mainly for the context of the times (such as the accounts of Woodrow Wilson's love life), and some provided to give some flavor and color to the event itself.

At question is just who conducted the research, since there have been many books on the subject of the Lusitania disaster, and undoubtedly, a large proportion of what is related in this book has been stated and restated in others. Much of the material is obviously based on the accounts of survivors of the sinking; other material comes from archives of war records, contemporary newspaper accounts, and so on.

Regardless of where the information came from, it cannot be denied that there is a great deal of it, there may be some validity to the criticism that the detail overwhelms the book itself. At times, I felt that there was simply too much... at other times, I enjoyed the detail for its contextual value. In particular, I appreciated the information about the state of the art in submarine design and operation; I'm sure many people don't realize that submarines were remarkably sophisticated as far back as 1915. Information about Britain's 'Room 40', where the German naval code was broken, was both new to me, as well as highly interesting.

In short, this is an enjoyable, if possibly over-detailed, account of the famous disaster. The narration by Scott Brick was serviceable.

If you've never read any other book on the topic, 'Dead Wake' is a good encapsulation of the event. If you've already read other books on the subject, you might not need this one.

  • The Lufthansa Heist

  • Behind the Six-million Dollar Cash Haul That Shook the World
  • By: Henry Hill, Daniel Simone
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 365
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 336
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 336

On December 11th, 1978, a daring armed robbery rocked Kennedy Airport, resulting in the largest unrecovered cash haul in world history, totaling six million dollars. The perpetrators were never apprehended and thirteen people connected to the crime were murdered in homicides that, like the crime itself, remain unsolved to this day. The burglary has fascinated the public for years, dominating headlines around the globe due to the story's unending ravel of mysteries that baffled the authorities.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • If you enjoyed the film "Goodfellas".....

  • By Norman B. Bernstein on 08-13-15

If you enjoyed the film "Goodfellas".....

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

Reviewed: 08-13-15

...then you might enjoy "The Lufthansa Heist."

This book, which appears to have been a collaboration between Henry Hill (deftly portrayed by actor Ray Liotta, in the film), and author Daniel Simone, purports to tell the real story behind the remarkable robbery of $6M in unmarked bills and jewelry from the Lufthansa Cargo terminal at NY's Kennedy Airport, in 1978.

Those familiar with the film, which was an admittedly fictionalized account told from Hill's persepective, will find the recounting to be reasonably close to the story told in the film. The book features long quoted passages from Hill himself (presumably, the product of extensive interviews with the man), interspersed with narrative to flesh out the story.

Narrator Joe Barrett, whose work I have greatly admired in other books, does the best he can, with a book which contains so many quotations and/or reconstructions of dialogue by a large number of characters. Sadly, he isn't fully successful, but I can't fault him; this is the sort of book which is certainly difficult to adapt to audible narrative form, and Barrett's attempt to provide distinctive voices to the characters possibly transcends his skill level. The book might have been better if it was narrated by an acting troupe, instead of depending on a single narrator to affect multiple voices and accents.

The real problem with the book (which I fully acknowledge, I enjoyed listening to), is that it is likely inaccurate. After reading the book, I consulted the Wikipedia articles on Hill, Jimmy Burke, the Lufthansa heist itself, and noted a number of striking contradictions to the facts, as noted in Wiki and other sources. The most egregious contradiction was Simone's portrayal of Hill, after becoming a federal witness. Simone fails to mention that Hill, instead of having reformed and walked a 'straight and narrow path' afterwards, did still continue his criminal enterprises. In fact, Simone finishes the book by leaving the impression that Hill had become some sort of motivational speaker for good citizenship, something we know not to be true.

Perhaps other books on the subject are more objective, and more accurate, but I haven't read them. This book is still a good 'listen', but I can only give it three stars, due to the flaws I've noted.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful