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J. Kahn

  • 19
  • reviews
  • 99
  • helpful votes
  • 41
  • ratings
  • How Democracies Die

  • By: Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 760
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 683
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 682

Donald Trump's presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we'd be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang--in a revolution or military coup--but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Connecting the Dots

  • By S.F. on 02-06-18

A Must-Read for All Americans

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

Reviewed: 02-01-18

This book recounts the history of democracies, their strengths and particularly their weaknesses. It describes in detail the insidiousness of the many different political and social circumstances that have threatened our own fragile democracy and how we can attempt to counteract polarization.

Perhaps the most important point of the authors’ thesis is that we are held together by a collection of unwritten standards of political discourse and behavior which, have broken down and cannot be rescued by recourse to our Constitution.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • American Radical

  • Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent
  • By: Tamer Elnoury, Kevin Maurer
  • Narrated by: Peter Ganim
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,005
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 930
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 926

It's no secret that federal agencies are waging a broad global war against terror. But, for the first time, in this memoir, an active Muslim American federal agent reveals his experience infiltrating and bringing down a terror cell in North America. Due to his ongoing work for the FBI, Elnoury writes under a pseudonym. An Arabic-speaking Muslim American, a patriot, a hero: To many Americans, it will be a revelation that he and his team even exist, let alone the vital and dangerous work they do keeping all Americans safe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating

  • By Amazon Customer on 10-31-17

At Last, a Narrator Takes Foreign Pronunciation Seriously

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

Reviewed: 12-20-17

Special kudos to the narrator, who either knows Arabic or took the time to learn how to pronounce it.

  • Manhattan Beach

  • A Novel
  • By: Jennifer Egan
  • Narrated by: Norbert Leo Butz, Heather Lind, Vincent Piazza
  • Length: 15 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,180
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,920
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,909

Anna Kerrigan, nearly 12 years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles. Years later her father has disappeared, and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Narrative of a Girl Diver

  • By WillowGirl313 on 10-30-17

Soppy and sentimental

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

Reviewed: 10-13-17

I read this book because I was interested in the unusual historical take on the War. The descriptions of diving and sea battle were well researched and interesting. But the plot was convoluted and sentimental with too many coincidences. Instead of writing in the language the characters would have used, Egan embellished the third person narrative voice with the kind of literary and metaphoric language one might find in a ladies' Victorian romance. All in all, full of literary dissonance.

The readers were only fair. Anna's character was rendered even more soppy by the febrile excitement of the reader, whose lisp seemed oddly artificial and annoying. The male reader was simply bland, unable to breathe life into the diverse cast of characters he had to portray.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • 4 3 2 1

  • A Novel
  • By: Paul Auster
  • Narrated by: Paul Auster
  • Length: 37 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 448
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 411
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 414

Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Too much detail.

  • By Jax on 03-03-17

Boring and unoriginal

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

Reviewed: 02-16-17

Thank god Audible let's you return books. The premise was interesting but it turned out to be another Bildungsroman of an uninteresting adolescent and all that implies. Read Philip Roth instead. I couldn't get halfway through the 37 hours.

7 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • It Can't Happen Here

  • By: Sinclair Lewis
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 14 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 966
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 897
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 897

Doremus Jessup, a newspaper editor, is dismayed to find that many of the people he knows support presidential candidate Berzelius Windrip. The suspiciously fascist Windrip is offering to save the nation from sex, crime, welfare cheats, and a liberal press. But after Windrip wins the election, dissent soon becomes dangerous for Jessup. Windrip forcibly gains control of Congress and the Supreme Court and, with the aid of his personal paramilitary storm troopers, turns the United States into a totalitarian state.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Rise of American Authoritarianism

  • By David S. Mathew on 11-21-16

It just has!

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

Reviewed: 01-20-17

As prescient as it was in 1935, this book should go to the top of everyone's reading list in 2017.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • All the Pretty Horses

  • The Border Trilogy, Book One
  • By: Cormac McCarthy
  • Narrated by: Frank Muller
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,659
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,532
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,520

Sixteen-year-old John Grady Cole's grandfather has just died, his parents have permanently separated, and the family ranch, upon which he had placed so many boyish hopes, has been sold. Rootless and increasingly restive, Cole leaves Texas, accompanied by his friend Lacey Rawlins, and begins a journey across the vaquero frontier into the badlands of northern Mexico.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful writing

  • By LMS on 05-21-15

I tried to like this "classic"

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

Reviewed: 01-15-17

I've always avoided Cormac McCarthy because I'm not really interested in coming of age stories in the west. I read it because it was mentioned so many times as a paragon in a French literary novel about a bookstore in Paris that sells only "good novels." I figured I ought at least to try it. I'm sorry I did. The performance was pretty good, apparently better than the unpunctuated print version. But it was just another trite plot, Hemingway short sentences and endless description of every move the main character makes. I lost count of the Number of times McCormick writes "he spat".

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

  • By: Frans de Waal
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 939
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 830
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 823

De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal's landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal - and human - intelligence.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Finally the science catches up

  • By Philomath on 05-07-16

How do animals know

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

Reviewed: 01-14-17

Fascinating study of animal cognition and evolutionary cognition. The many convincing descriptions of scientific experiments of animals along almost the entire evolutionary scale outweighs a tendency to preach and be defensive about the field.

  • Arcadia

  • A Novel
  • By: Iain Pears
  • Narrated by: John Lee, Jayne Entwistle
  • Length: 20 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 430
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 389
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 388

In 1960s Oxford, Professor Henry Lytten is attempting to write a fantasy novel that forgoes the magic of his predecessors, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. He finds an unlikely confidante in his quick-witted, inquisitive young neighbor, Rosie. One day, while chasing Lytten's cat, Rosie encounters a doorway in his cellar. She steps through and finds herself in an idyllic, pastoral land where storytellers are revered above all others.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great fun!

  • By Bonny on 03-01-16

Tiresome

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

Reviewed: 01-02-17

Like others, I thought this might be ingeniously crafted, but it was just too convoluted. Pears' attempt to cram in science fiction (with absolutely no concept of real science), dystopia and some Shakespearean allusions thrown out in was rambling and bloated.

I used to like John Lee until I realized that he reads everything in the same way, with the utmost pomposity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dictator

  • A Novel
  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 13 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 716
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 648
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 644

At the age of 48, Cicero - the greatest orator of his time - is in exile, separated from his wife and children, tormented by his sense of failure, his great power sacrificed on the altar of his principles. And yet, in the words of one of his most famous aphorisms, "While there is life, there is hope." By promising to support Caesar - his political enemy - he is granted return to Rome. There, he fights his way back to prominence....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • "Where there is life, there is hope."

  • By Margaret on 01-17-16

Absolutely Compelling

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

Reviewed: 10-26-16

If you think you're not interested in Roman history or just want to forget those four years of Latin (especially year 3), read the trilogy on Cicero for many hours.

Narration also extraordinary.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Golden Notebook

  • By: Doris Lessing
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 27 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 292
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 243
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 242

Author Anna Wulf attempts to overcome writer’s block by writing a comprehensive "golden notebook" that draws together the preoccupations of her life, each of which is examined in a different notebook. Anna’s struggle to unify the various strands of her life – emotional, political, and professional – amasses into a fascinating encyclopaedia of female experience in the ‘50s.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Transcendent narration of a masterpiece.

  • By Victoria on 07-03-12

Failed Experiment

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

Reviewed: 10-06-16


One has to admire a writer with the courage to break with convention in both form and content. Lessing takes on the subject of women's sexuality, creativity and Communism in the 1050s. But sometimes one can bite off more originality than one can chew.

Anna Wulf is a disaffected Communist novelist who has written one well received book but suffers writer's block, unable to manage a second one. She experiments with various scenarios, each one drafted in a different colored notebook. They are all variations on the same set of themes and,characters in alternate plot lines. Lessing quotes from each notebook in "random" order so that it is difficult to know who is who, and even who is the real Anna or one of her fictional avatars.

The concept, while original for the 1960s, is far too long and padded with chapter after chapter of not very productive, repetitive introspective rambling. And this by a protagonist whose 600 pages of self absorption teaches her nothing. She indulges in attempt after attempt to liberate herself from sexual and political convention, only to revert to the woman who can't live without a man.

Hailed as a feminist, Lessing focuses on just about the most unliberated woman imaginable.

Particularly annoying is the constant refusal to allow the dialogue to speak for itself. Literally hundreds of times she modifies "he/she said" with an adverb or adverbial phrase, her favorites being "ironically," "laughing," and "smiling." It's enough to drive one mad, especially since one has to listen to each one.

Finally, I chose this book because I love Juliet Stevenson's narration and I felt I should read this celebrated work. But even Stevenson couldn't bring it to life, often sounding as bored with the thing as I was.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful