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Saman

Houston, TX, United States
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  • Devil in the Grove

  • Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
  • By: Gilbert King
  • Narrated by: Peter Francis James
  • Length: 17 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,299
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,184
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,182

Devil in the Grove is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Arguably the most important American lawyer of the 20th century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life. Despite death threats, the clan, and the urging of his associates, Marshall knew he had to defend "the Groveland Boys".

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Stunning history of the Jim Crow south. Essential

  • By Bill on 06-08-13

True heroes existed in the Civil Rights era!

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

Reviewed: 03-19-19

What an amazing non- fiction book by Gilbert King. This is a Pulitzer prize winning effort detailing the incredible and yet heartbreaking story of racial injustice in the “South of the South”, Florida. Even though the four young black men, “the Groveland Boys”, charged with the alleged rape of a young white woman is the central focus of the story, many other mitigating circumstances are discussed. In addition, many of the major civil rights cases of the 1940s, and 1950s are also meticulously researched and explained in the annals of the book.

The book does linger a little too long on Thurgood Marshall’s life, friendships, marriage and other historical law cases prior to his involvement in the Groveland case. However, the description of the two court cases themselves are dramatic and infuriating. In an era of extreme violence to blacks, the NAACP LDF lawyers do a remarkable job against a racist legal system run by all white members. The villainous Sheriff of Lake County, Willis McCall, is correctly portrayed as the self-righteous lawman, hell bent on racial segregation and extreme violence including murder. Even though the outcome of the trials were not satisfactory by any means, the surviving accused were spared the inevitable execution.

The reader should be aware, that even though Thurgood Marshall plays a pivotal role in the Groveland case, many other incredible LDF lawyers put their lives in jeopardy during the two trials. Notably, Franklin Williams. Other participants were murdered including two of the accused as well as a prominent civil rights advocate, Harry T, Moore.

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls

  • By: Ernest Hemingway
  • Narrated by: Campbell Scott
  • Length: 16 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,278
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,231
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,245

In 1937, Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight", For Whom the Bell Tolls.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Mountains of Spain

  • By Anonymous User on 01-12-09

Terrific introduction to Hemingway!

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

Reviewed: 01-25-19

I have been keenly interested with the Spanish Civil War since I read Adam Hochschild’s book, Spain in our Hearts. In it, Hemingway as well as other idealists and adventurers within Republican Spain are well explained. Hemingway’s experiences in Spain are clearly visible in For Whom the Bell Tolls. It is also interesting to know that the book was written in 1939/1940, sometime after the Nationalist victory.

Most believe the protagonist, Robert Jordan, the idealist anti-fascist guerilla, is a mirror of the real-life Lincoln Battalion Commander, Robert Hale Merriman. The story itself covers barely a few days in the mountains of Nationalist held Spain. It is a beautiful story of innocence lost due to the brutality of war. The chapter relating to the killing of nationalists in Pablo’s village is quite harrowing in its description. The love between Robert and Maria provides the human appeal to the story.

Great book!

  • The Satanic Verses

  • By: Salman Rushdie
  • Narrated by: Sam Dastor
  • Length: 21 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,113
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 985
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 973

Inextricably linked with the fatwa called against its author in the wake of the novel’s publication, The Satanic Verses is, beyond that, a rich showcase for Salman Rushdie’s comic sensibilities, cultural observations, and unparalleled mastery of language. The book begins with two Indians plummeting from the sky after the explosion of their airliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Use an audiobook to really enjoy Satanic Verses

  • By David Edelberg on 11-24-12

Mystical, Magical and Surprising!

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

Reviewed: 12-18-18

Lets get this out there. I much preferred the earlier novel by Rushdie – Midnight’s Children. I enjoyed that novel so much, that I wanted a second helping of Rushdie. After all, this book was also listed for the Booker Price in 1988. There was also the controversy and the fatwa.

The Muslim subtext within the novel and the frantic hatred of the book by the mullahs were quite lost on me as I am not a scholar of the religion. I just enjoyed the absurdity of the story when our two protagonists literally fall out of the sky. They emerge fantastically as a goat and the Archangel Gabriel. The dream sequences which are much more tied with the Muslim faith and its origins were the weakest elements of the book. The remaining story captures you in the author’s remarkable imagination and his ability to weave a literary masterpiece.

Many say that this is not an easy read/listen. I must admit, at times, the story is so complex that your attentiveness will start to wonder. But if you stick with the book, you will truly be rewarded with a fabulous novel.

  • Skeletons on the Zahara

  • A True Story of Survival
  • By: Dean King
  • Narrated by: Michael Prichard
  • Length: 12 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 632
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 579
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 580

Everywhere hailed as a masterpiece of historical adventure, this enthralling narrative recounts the experiences of 12 American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to a hellish two-month journey through the bone-dry heart of the Sahara. The ordeal of these men - who found themselves tested by barbarism, murder, starvation, death, dehydration, and hostile tribes that roamed the desert on camelback - is made indelibly vivid in this gripping account of courage, brotherhood, and survival.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Haunting

  • By thawstone on 06-05-16

Brutal ...

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

Reviewed: 11-08-18

This book was a revelation. I had no knowledge about the sufferings of shipwrecked mariners in NW Afrika during the early 19th century. The author does an amazing job in collating two first hand historical publications into an engrossing and insightful journey of 12 individuals in the Saharan (Zahara) desert. It is a remarkable tale of suffering beyond imagination.

The story begins in August 1815 as Capt. James Riley and his crew are shipwrecked off the western coast of North Afrika. They are eventually enslaved by the wondering nomads of the desert. During their captivity, they are maltreated and bartered or traded to other cruel masters. Starved and beaten, forever thirsty, they miraculously survive their ordeal in the sun baked inhospitable land. Eventually, with the help of a fair minded Arab owner, the Christians are bought and freed in Morocco.

Even though the book is extremely harrowing, it occasionally drops into a monotonic narrative. The daily chores of the sailors can be quite repetitive for the reader. It reads like a well detailed diary. The strength lies in the historical research of the people of the desert and their rituals for survival. Drinking camel urine is quite normal. The author provides us with an amazing and unbiased reflection of these nomadic lives as well as other historical facts to keep the reader enthralled in the pages.

This is a good read/listen.

  • Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club)

  • A Novel
  • By: Imbolo Mbue
  • Narrated by: Prentice Onayemi
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,114
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,865
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,853

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself; his wife, Neni; and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty - and Jende is eager to please. Clark's wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses' summer home in the Hamptons.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Overhyped

  • By Rochelle on 08-27-16

Story of economic migrants …

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

Reviewed: 10-24-18

Everyone has a dream. You my achieve it by honest or deceptive means. This book is about an African who dreams of a better life in the US. Arriving at the worst of times, in New York during the financial crisis, Jende Jonga from Cameroon dreams of a new life with his wife, Nene, and son, Liomi. Applying for asylum, to get the elusive green card, he finds a job with the wealthy Edwards family.

Of course, there is much more to this story. It stereotypes the age-old immigrant persona of hard work, honesty, and subjugation with the realities of modern day American consumerism and Wall Street greed. The author tackles both subjects head-on as the Jonga family intermingles with the dysfunctional, Hampton living Edwards. The Edwards share their life stories but also some hidden secrets. As the reader gets comfortable with an eventual happy ending, terrible and traumatic events are introduced into the narrative. A decision made by Nene will have long-lasting repercussions. The sympathy you may have felt for her is ultimately lost in its aftermath.

I chose this book because it was recommended by Oprah’s book club. It was a pleasant listen. The narration was excellent.

  • Midnight in Peking

  • How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
  • By: Paul French
  • Narrated by: Erik Singer
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 325
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 286
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 287

Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner's body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two detectives - one British and one Chinese - race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Old Murder Still Mysterious

  • By Helen on 06-05-12

Remarkable crime story …

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

Reviewed: 10-09-18

Her story needed to be told. A young, beautiful woman, brutally murdered in a foreign backwater, which time had almost forgotten. But as the author reminds us, the murder was a sensational news story, even eclipsing the dire political situation of Peking in the early days of 1937. In subsequent interviews, he has mentioned the allure of the story and his fascination with the murder victim, 19 year old Pamela Werner. The research completed for the book is quite remarkable.

Every character within the book who is connected to the underlying mystery has a colorful and sordid past. These include nudists, asexual madams, opium addicts, criminals of all sorts, and failed diplomats. They all congregate in the ‘badlands’, the dirty and dark underbelly of Peking. The detectives involved in the case, one Chinese and one British, work under continuous pressure to deliver results and yet are stymied by colonial mandarins. In this state, the answers remain elusive. The murder remains unsolved.

The author ultimately provides his own speculative theory based on the meticulous detective work carried out by the victim’s farther, ETC Werner. On unearthing this volume of work, a reconstruction of the events leading to the murder is proposed. It is totally believable. Yet, it is still a theory. Sadly, only time knows the truth.

Great book.

  • Brave New World

  • By: Aldous Huxley
  • Narrated by: Michael York
  • Length: 8 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14,705
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12,863
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12,911

When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming, and media: has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller's genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 A.F. (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • “Oh, Ford, Ford Ford, I Wish I Had My Soma!”

  • By Jefferson on 10-03-11

Has not aged well ...

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

It takes some time to get into this story. Depending on your view, the novel is either based within a dystopian or utopian world. Some of the philosophy and Shakespeare discussed within the pages can be rather laborious and uninteresting. Nevertheless, there are some rather hilarious subject matter towards the middle and latter part of the book. Ultimately, it is a tragedy!

If we compare our present world to the imagined world provided by Aldous Huxley in 1932, we start to see a terrifying resemblance. His world is populated by brainwashed, fully content, drug filled beings who are happy to indulge in daily work assigned by a master authority. There are no free thinkers or subversives as they are all genetically controlled by their test tube births. In this world, technology has triumphed over the human spirit.

The old ways still exist within a fenced concentration camp known as the “Savage Reservation”. The facility is akin to a North America Indian reservation. Two camp residents, John (also known as the “savage”) and his mother Linda are plucked and dropped into the brave new world as an experiment. The experiment brings the interest to the novel.

Due to the book’s age, the science fiction seems a little aged. But its premise remains very clear and real. Let us all hope, the future world imagined in this book is just that, fiction.

  • The Pale Criminal

  • Berlin Noir
  • By: Philip Kerr
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 700
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 539
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545

The Pale Criminal brings back Bernie Gunther, an ex-policeman who thought he'd seen everything on the streets of 1930s Berlin - until he turned freelance, and each case he tackled sucked him further into the grisly excesses of Nazi subculture. Hard-hitting, fast-paced, and richly detailed, The Pale Criminal is noir writing at its blackest and best.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Esxcellent Historical Fiction; Gripping ...

  • By Old Hippy on 07-02-09

Bernie and Heydrich again ...

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

Reviewed: 09-14-18

The second book of the Berlin Noir trilogy from Phillip Kerr is not as good as the first, March Violets. But we still get the Nazi historical backdrop, culminating in Kristallnacht. Also, there is an interesting closure to a mystery from the first book.

Overall, the book has a captivating storyline built around the grotesque murders of young Aryan girls, homosexuality in the Third Reich, psychotherapy, and murderous Kripo detectives. Even though there is still good writing here, the original allure of Bernard Gunther is sadly missing. The character seems more complex in this novel and more difficult to like as an anti-hero. The smart wise-cracks are also muted and some of the queer jokes are harder to stomach in this present age.

Nevertheless, I will still complete this trilogy by listening to A German Requiem.

  • White Fang

  • By: Jack London
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,691
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,347
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,354

In the desolate, frozen northwest of Canada, a lone wolf fights a heroic daily fight for life in the wild. But after he is captured and cruelly abused by men, he becomes a force of pure rage. Only one man sees inside the killer to his intelligence and nobility. But can his kindness touch White Fang?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Who's the animal: Man or Wolf?

  • By Erik on 08-14-15

Not for the dog lover …

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

Reviewed: 08-31-18

This was a freebie from Audible. As most freebie books go, they are mostly just average. But White Fang is a well admired novel from the famed author, Jack London published in 1906. As such, the subject matter is truly mysterious and fascinating. A story centered around the life of a wolf that is part dog, must have been celebratory at the time. Apparently, it even stoked controversy.

But once you pass the tense first few chapters where two sled dog drivers fight to survive a hungry wolf pack, the story slows tediously. The remainder of the book meanders through the life of White Fang and his life experiences. There are a lot of blood curdling activities described within where strength overcomes weakness as nature intended. This book is not for the squeamish. Maltreatment of animals are center stage towards the end of the book.

Overall, I am glad that I read it. Not so sure that it is a recommended children's book.

  • Spain in Our Hearts

  • Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
  • By: Adam Hochschild
  • Narrated by: Henry Strozier
  • Length: 15 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 390
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 358
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 358

For three crucial years in the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War dominated headlines in America and around the world as volunteers flooded to Spain to help its democratic government fight off a fascist uprising led by Francisco Franco and aided by Hitler and Mussolini. Today we're accustomed to remembering the war through Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls and Robert Capa's photographs. But Adam Hochschild has discovered some less familiar yet far more compelling characters who reveal the full tragedy and importance of the war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book very well written and narrated

  • By James750 on 05-12-16

“one can be right and yet be beaten”–Albert Camus

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

Reviewed: 08-23-18

This is history at its best. The author excels in telling of the horrific blood bath that spanned 3 years in democratically governed Spain. It was the prelude to the most horrific war that followed. The consequent defeat of the Spanish Republicans by the fascist Nationalists was in part accelerated by the appeasement policies of the grand powers, Britain, France and US. Their doggedness to abstain from providing arms to the Republican cause handed Francisco Franco and his allies, fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the power to extinguish democracy. Italy provided 80,000 troops for the war effort.

Even though this book centers on the bravery of the 2800 or so American volunteers who fought for the Republicans in the International Brigades, there is much more within its meticulous narrative. Many important left leaning novelists, journalists, poets, and artists provide backdrops to the tragedy. This of course include Hemmingway, Gelhorn, Orwell, Louis Fisher and Herbert Matthews. So many others are also mentioned. Conspicuously absent are Robert Capa and Gerda Taro.

Thoughtfully, a significant piece of the book is dedicated to Robert Hale Merriman and his wife Marion. A true to life hero, Merriman led the Lincoln Battalion and died at the Battle of the Ebro. It must be remembered that almost 800 US volunteers fought and died for their beliefs in the Spanish civil war. So many more foreign volunteers and Spaniards shared their fate. Their blood and bones are now mingled with the soil of Spain. Sadly, only one US grave is visible today. Most were destroyed by Franco.

A tremendous book that is moving and historic. Please read it.