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sloebrake

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  • 5
  • helpful votes
  • 92
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  • The Return

  • Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between
  • By: Hisham Matar
  • Narrated by: Hisham Matar
  • Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 589
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 543
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 544

When Hisham Matar was a 19-year-old university student in England, his father was kidnapped. One of the Qaddafi regime's most prominent opponents in exile, he was held in a secret prison in Libya. Hisham would never see him again. But he never gave up hope that his father might still be alive. "Hope," as he writes, "is cunning and persistent." Twenty-two years later, after the fall of Qaddafi, the prison cells were empty, and there was no sign of Jaballa Matar. Hisham returned with his mother and wife to the homeland he never thought he'd go back to again.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Touching memoir. Consider hard copy

  • By Joschka Philipps on 02-22-18

Amazing

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Narration is incredible. Measured and reserved at first glance but as the story develops it changes from a literary reading to an enraptured conversation with one who has experienced something terrible and can relate it those who have not. His trace accent further pulls you into his story.

The story is also very well written. His prose is poetic without being distracting. Combined with narration it becomes as close to a page-turner as an audiobook can. There is a rhythm of of tension throughout the story that never feels artificial, masterfully relieved just before becoming overbearing.

Philosophically there was so much peppered throughout the book in small almost throw away phrases. From the relationships between family members, to thoughts on personhood, principle, purpose, and more fully on the double edge of hope. Never does it come across as the only way or definite answer, just offering a taste what it could be like for some, and is like for others.

I've listened to over 30 audiobooks through 2018. This is the best by far. Worth full price.

  • The Drug Hunters

  • The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines
  • By: Donald R. Kirsch PhD, Ogi Ogas PhD
  • Narrated by: James Foster
  • Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,022
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 935
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 935

The search to find medicines is as old as disease, which is to say as old as the human race. Through serendipity - by chewing, brewing, and snorting - some Neolithic souls discovered opium, alcohol, snakeroot, juniper, frankincense, and other helpful substances. Ötzi the Iceman, the 5,000-year-old hunter frozen in the Italian Alps, was found to have whipworms in his intestines and Bronze Age medicine, a worm-killing birch fungus, knotted to his leggings.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Aargh!

  • By Curmud the prof on 05-20-17

Incomplete story.

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Promises to explain why drugs are so expensive and than just focuses on the discovery of a couple classes. I found the story of the birth control pill acceptable to that statement, going over the luck, the innovation, the illegality, unusual funding, moral and ethical questions framed in the context of the times.

Others stories were plain. Little was noted that couldn't be found with a cursory internet search.

It would have been better if they added why the FDA was created (sulfanilamide/Massengil.) Included the story of when Domagk tested one of the first antibiotics on his own daughter at Christmas because he had nothing left to lose. (PS these stories are covered in Thomas Hager's "Demon under the microscope") Instead we get how the author took aztreonam orally and got diarrhea. It could have included in examples of side effects for mediocre drugs that got new uses and blockbuster profits - viagra and latisse. I could have included the story of ezetimibe, a drug that made it market right as the science behind it fell apart. But it doesn't.

Narration is above average. Bought on sale, and although I was disappointed it is an acceptable sale purchase, would not use a credit for it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Soul of An Octopus

  • A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
  • By: Sy Montgomery
  • Narrated by: Sy Montgomery
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,533
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,411
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,412

Sy Montgomery's popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, "Deep Intellect", about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Eight legs and so much more!

  • By Kirstin on 07-02-15

Lots of anthropomorphism and less science

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Narration starts off poor, with every description loaded with breathless wonder, pauses for effect, and other gimmicks. That continues for too long but settles into a normal acceptable narration.

The story lacks the science I was hoping for and does make some pretty out there claims without explantion. For example that an octopus would avoid someone because it can taste SSRI medication on their skin by touch was presented as unquestionable fact at a few places. There are some life-cycle, reproduction and growth factoids I didn't know - but low yield and frontloaded in the 9 hr reading.

Mainly it's a memoir of a volunteer at an aquarium and her projecting feelings onto the lifespans of the 2-3 octopus she cared for over a decade or so. She starts out with some science, than treats the animals as humans, finally comes to recognize that they aren't, they are special animals completely different from people.

Bought on sale and don't regret it, would not buy for full price or use a credit. Would also listen at 1.15-1.2 speed.

  • The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

  • By: Francis Fukuyama
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 22 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,119
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,832
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,815

Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best Summary of Political History I've Read

  • By blah on 05-12-13

ODTAA, repeats a lot of ideas

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

Reviewed: 09-21-17

He starts the book saying he wants to avoid a common history book pitfall - ODTAA "one damn thing after another." He fails in many sections, just giving fact after fact.

In the other parts it is excellent. He gets into the details of how certain governments worked/evolved and offers a reason why.

Would recommend for someone with a moderate idea of world history and politics. Probably not helpful for beginners as many of the government's are gone and broad geographic/temporal understanding is required. On the other side it is not country specific or gives enough details to international influences for listeners who are into world politics or government.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Where the Light Gets In

  • Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again
  • By: Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Michael J. Fox - foreword
  • Narrated by: Kimberly Williams-Paisley
  • Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 862
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 798
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 797

Many know Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride in the popular Steve Martin remakes of the Father of the Bride movies, the calculating Peggy Kenter on Nashville, or the wife of country megastar Brad Paisley. But in 2014, Williams-Paisley revealed a tragic secret: Her mother had been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia called primary progressive aphasia at the age of 61.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wish I had this book sooner

  • By Amazon Customer on 06-21-16

What not to do as family of a person with Dementia

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

Reviewed: 06-22-17

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

A cautionary tale of what to except as a long distance family member of someone with primary progressive aphasia.
Does not offer solutions/help/viewpoint of a local family member or primary caregiver.

What could Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Michael J. Fox - foreword have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Offered some proactive solutions rather than reactive.

Have you listened to any of Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Book benefits greatly from the voice of the author.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Where the Light Gets In?

This book wouldn't have been published if it wasn't a famous movie star (daughter of 2 journalists), married to a famous country star whose mother worked for the charity of another famous person.

Any additional comments?

Really wanted to like this book and be able to recommend it to people in similar situations but it's not worth it. You'll get the same from AARP articles, internet forums, and talking to your social circles.

Some examples: A doctor that makes a diagnosis is not a bad doctor, alienating/ignoring does not make the problems go away. Do not wait until after car wrecks to talk about driving. Do not wait until the only caregiver has a medical event to get serious about nursing/assisted living. Do not do long distance travel without absorbent liners/briefs. Do not tell vague advance directives to a long distance family member over a short brunch.

Most importantly - Do not wait to enjoy your time with your loved ones. Do not spend it in anger. Dementia is often slow. The author appears to have missed this, spending most of the book in denial or just plain being petulant. Only well after the mother of her childhood was gone did she attempt peace for herself.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Bunker Hill

  • A City, a Siege, a Revolution
  • By: Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Narrated by: Chris Sorensen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,252
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,124
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,123

Boston in 1775 is an island city occupied by British troops after a series of incendiary incidents by patriots who range from sober citizens to thuggish vigilantes. After the Boston Tea Party, British and American soldiers and Massachusetts residents have warily maneuvered around each other until April 19, when violence finally erupts at Lexington and Concord.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another Fantastic Story by Philbrick

  • By Rick on 09-30-13

Just go to Wikipedia

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

Reviewed: 10-20-16

The first two thirds of the book sounds like a high school report. It is a list of facts on a timeline with little context, meaning, or foreshadowing. Wherever possible the participants are named despite minute contributions or roles, causing a confusing cacophony of similar English names. Dates are similar.
Descriptions and importance of locations seem intended for people who've actually been there and have seen the actual topography.
For more understanding you also need to be up to date and terms from 18th century governance to know the difference between edicts, proclamations, etc. Also you'll need a fair vocabulary is defensive wafare; ramparts, bulwark, etc. Only a few are explained and either the differences are important or the author ran out of terms.
Knowing all the difference between boats, ships, schooners, man of war are also important.
The reading itself is somewhat tiresome as well. He will go from normal to reading a quote in 18th century English with almost no change in voice or tone, which is quiet jarring due to the authors writing style. Volume is steady and his cadence is ok, not good or terrible.
Overall I expected to learn more reasons and motivations to allow for understanding which a great story provides. Instead I feel like I just listened to a few long pages from Wikipedia.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow

  • By: Daniel Kahneman
  • Narrated by: Patrick Egan
  • Length: 20 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,271
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,547
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,457

The guru to the gurus at last shares his knowledge with the rest of us. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman's seminal studies in behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, and happiness studies have influenced numerous other authors, including Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman at last offers his own, first book for the general public. It is a lucid and enlightening summary of his life's work. It will change the way you think about thinking. Two systems drive the way we think and make choices, Kahneman explains....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Already Purchased Two Copies for Friends

  • By Anthony A. on 07-13-13

Slow and turns from interesting into a textbook

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

Reviewed: 07-01-16

I had to listen at 1.15 speed to maintain attention. The book started out interesting with surprising information but after about chapter 20 or so each chapter turns into a long description of singular experiment and it all blends together .

  • The Etymologicon

  • A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
  • By: Mark Forsyth
  • Narrated by: Don Hagen
  • Length: 7 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,885
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,726
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,705

The Etymologicon is a completely unauthorized guide to the strange underpinnings of the English language. It explains: How you get from “gruntled” to “disgruntled”; why you are absolutely right to believe that your meager salary barely covers “money for salt”; how the biggest chain of coffee shops in the world (hint: Seattle) connects to whaling in Nantucket; and what precisely the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Why settle for the whole nine yards...

  • By Dubi on 12-21-15

Entertainment

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

Reviewed: 06-14-16

Initially I thought the book as miserable as listening to a collection of quotations. Once I took it as it is for entertainment I found it enjoyable and easy to listen to. The narrators voice is perfect for the dry humor that saturates performance. The humor reminds me of cross Groucho Marx and Mitch Hedberg. Very much enjoyed the audiobook.

  • Origins

  • Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
  • By: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Donald Goldsmith
  • Narrated by: Kevin Kenerly
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,903
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,717
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,710

Origins explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit rover's exploration of Mars, to the discovery of water on one of Jupiter's moons, coauthors Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith conduct a galvanizing tour of the cosmos with clarity and exuberance.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliance!

  • By Max on 06-21-15

Doesn't translate into audiobook well.

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

Reviewed: 06-08-16

Wanted to love it. The authors' witing doesn't translate into longform audio very well. Lots of areas sound like run on sentences. The jokes land mostly flat due to performance, which isn't bad - justs lacks the cadence and pauses that helps with dramatic or comedic effect.
I will continue to listen to his Startalk radio show, which is similarly educational, and more entertaining.