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  • American Dreamer

  • My Life in Fashion and Business
  • By: Peter Knobler, Tommy Hilfiger
  • Narrated by: Kevin Free
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48

American Dreamer brims with anecdotes that cover Tommy's years as a club kid and scrappy entrepreneur in 1970s New York as well as unique insights into the exclusive A-list personalities with whom he's collaborated and interacted, from Mick Jagger and David Bowie to Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. But this is more than just a fashion icon's memoir - it's a road map for building a brand, both professionally and personally.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Magnificent!

  • By roberta on 01-31-17

Reveals a great deal people didn't know

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

This book has several parts, each distinct and some better than others, as follows:

Chapters 1 - 10
This is by far the best part of the book, because it's captivating, inspiring and one learns a lot about fashion and the business of fashion. I loved, loved these chapters.

Chapters 11 - 16
This is about Hilfiger going beyond the brand and the company, making himself the special thing. He went out of his way to be with celebrities and their families, to make sure corporate profits were beyond the reach of the U.S. government, and to capture the hip-hop and street markets.

Chapters 17 - 19
Hilfiger's business suffered when Spike Lee went after him on race, and he suffered personally. But he had also apparently become quite arrogant, and his business partners left him, and marriage ended. The business went downhill pretty fast. However, TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) and other federal programs saved the day, and they saved Tommy big time.

Chapter 20
Hilfiger finds new love, and a lot of it has to do with celebrity and fame. One gets to see the concerns of the celebrity when it comes to dating and marriage, and it's a revelation to say the least.

Chapters 21 - 23
This last section of the book is about politics. Hilfiger had brought in a CEO to cut costs by cutting jobs and divisions. Then when that work was done, Hilfiger had to distance himself from the cost-cutting. Hilfiger attempts to position himself favorably in many ways for legacy purposes, and while one feels the need to throw up, it's all instructive in unintended ways.

One completes the book grateful for the education in fashion, and wiser in a few ways.

  • In the Hurricane's Eye

  • The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown
  • By: Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72

In a narrative that moves from Washington's headquarters on the Hudson River, to the wooded hillside in North Carolina where Nathanael Greene fought Lord Cornwallis to a vicious draw, to Lafayette's brilliant series of maneuvers across Tidewater Virginia, author Nathaniel Philbrick details the epic and suspenseful year through to its triumphant conclusion. A riveting and wide-ranging story, full of dramatic, unexpected turns, In the Hurricane's Eye reveals that the fate of the American Revolution depended, in the end, on Washington and the sea. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Even-handed, yet dramatic!

  • By Greeny on 10-24-18

Even-handed, yet dramatic!

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

Reviewed: 10-24-18

Nathaniel Philbrick gives a fresh view of George Washington. It feels more real than many other accounts of the great man. Weather patterns in the war's final years were often keys to outcomes, same as in the early war years, only on an immense scale, namely, the many hurricanes that destroyed excellent naval fleets.

I think Philbrick selected the best facts to liven up the story and avoid getting bogged down at any point. I liked Scott Brick's pacing, pronunciation and tone. If there's one thing I'd like to change, it's how the story speeds up after the siege of Yorktown. This part of the story interested me; I wanted to go deeper into this short and momentous period.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Art of Learning

  • An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance
  • By: Josh Waitzkin
  • Narrated by: Josh Waitzkin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,175
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,663
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,663

The Art of Learning takes listeners through Waitzkin's unique journey to excellence. He explains in clear detail how a well-thought-out, principled approach to learning is what separates success from failure. Waitzkin believes that achievement, even at the championship level, is a function of a lifestyle that fuels a creative, resilient growth process.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good overview with interesting backdrop

  • By James on 06-15-14

Engaging narration!!

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

Reviewed: 10-16-18

I enjoyed Josh Waitzhin's narration - his pacing, subtle inflections and tone. His performance is a significant part of the message. My immediate wish if for more books by him.

I can never think of chess or tai chi the same way anymore. Josh breaks them down in a way that's accessible and applicable to most disciplines on the planet. His focus on performance and personal growth made me sit up and take notes.

One question is whether Josh can continue to learn a new discipline and perform well. I'm not talking about being the best in the world, just maybe top 5%, for example. What I'm saying is it may be more difficult to do as one gets older coming off such extreme peak performance early in life.

But that kind of performance doesn't matter. Maybe he can discuss other pursuits in terms learning and growth. I want the positive message, and Josh seems happy to provide it. That's why I hope so strongly he continues to publish and narrate.

  • AI Superpowers

  • China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order
  • By: Kai-Fu Lee
  • Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 293
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 245
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 245

In his provocative new book, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee - one of the world’s most respected experts on artificial intelligence - reveals that China has suddenly caught up to the US, the leader in AI, at an astonishingly rapid pace. Building upon his longstanding US-Sino technology career (working at Apple, Microsoft, and Google) and his much-heralded New York Times Op-Ed from June 2017, Dr. Lee predicts that Chinese and American AI will have a stunning impact on not just traditional blue-collar industries but will also have a devastating effect on white-collar professions.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Compelled to listen at 2x speed

  • By Greeny on 09-26-18

Compelled to listen at 2x speed

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

The writing was stilted. The author or whoever crafted the prose is the champion of buzzwords and cliches, putting the presentation into a slow motion slogfest. For me it was work getting to gratifying moments of stimulation. If exceptional nonfiction writers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) exist, who are they?

I doubt the narrator understood what he was reading most of the time or else even he could not rescue it. Unlike the audiobook's sample 3:25 min, almost all the book's narration is slow and mechanical. Yet the performer had truly outstanding pronunciation. I don't normally listen at high speeds but found it best to listen at 2x, and easier to understand at this higher speed. Try to tune out the cliches when you listen.

High Points:
1. Kai-Fu Lee explained how his experience with lymphoma (cancer) changed his relationship with artificial intelligence (AI). He returned to his youthful viewpoint that AI will show humans who we are in addition to improving our lives. He decided to change his habits and spend more time with his family. This was sincere and inspiring; I found it very moving even though it was expressed in an unnatural way as if the author were in a straight jacket.
2. Author weaved in references to famous Chinese entrepreneurs to show how Chinese culture and schools came to embrace AI in contrast to the West. They indeed love AI - it's in their blood, apparently. Their government backs this science financially and in other ways. It's about how China is implementing AI quickly on a grand scale and everybody there is into it. This made me understand that it's different in China, that AI is championed.
3. Author gives opinions of where AI is going and why. Kai-Fu Lee knows his stuff irrespective of his writing weakness; one naturally respects him for his expertise.

Low Points:
1. Author enthuses about Chinese entrepreneurs who steal intellectual property and accuse competitors of imagined crimes as China's "gladiators." He revels in this. Well if you're from China, this might be a high point due to national pride and even addiction. Lee is painfully careful to in no way be seen as criticizing the Party, not even indirectly, and this makes him come across as stilted. He retreats into slogans and platitudes so blatantly that I entertained thoughts of getting my credit back.
2. Author's dystopia prediction of what AI is going to do in the short run, namely, concentrate wealth more and more, left me feeling poorly. He made me feel that personal expression will be restricted too much.

Here's why I think some people should slog through the book: there aren't many good books on AI, so take what you can get. Further, I did it so I think you should do it - just kidding on that point.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

  • By: David Miller
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,935
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,541
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,529

In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to hike 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller’s account of this thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. Listeners are treated to rich descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the rewards of taking a less conventional path through life. While this book abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about hiking gear and planning.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Most Informative Book on the AT

  • By Phillip on 07-22-13

Little entertainment value but big trail guidance

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

Reviewed: 09-23-18

There wasn't enough of what I liked best, but what there was made it worthwhile even without specific trail guide material. I like the life philosophy aspect, but there was precious little of it.

Mostly, this is a book that gives specific guidance about sections of the trail. That's not for entertainment, in my opinion. It's useful for those hiking the trail.

The part I liked least was the details of what he ate. That got boring with some exceptions. Overall, excellent.

  • They're Playing Our Song

  • A Memoir
  • By: Carole Bayer Sager
  • Narrated by: Carole Bayer Sager
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 296
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 278
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 279

Grammy and Academy Award-winning songwriter Carole Bayer Sager shares the remarkably frank and darkly funny story of her life in and out of the recording studio, from her fascinating (and sometimes calamitous) relationships to her collaborations with some of the greatest composers and musical artists of our time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • "Amazing Work" from a new fan

  • By Rose Hunter on 11-04-16

Complete and smart autobiography, easy to follow

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

Reviewed: 09-18-18

I admire Carole Bayer Sager (CBS) for several reasons, but most of all for her narration. I just love it when an authors tell their life stories directly and, at appropriate times in the narration, share quality reflection. For me this book at moments was a thought transference.

In a sense, CBS succeeded so much with this autobiography and in life because of her natural sense of timing. The way she does things and reflects demonstrates a natural sense of timing, I believe. It's almost spooky, depending on how one thinks about it. She even answered questions right when I formed those questions while listening. And sometimes her reflections answered questions that came to my mind within a day of listening to given chapters.

CBS gave me ten credits worth in a rough sense. She gave me perspectives, insights, facts that feel relevant to me, and guidance on some (not all) of life's most pressing problems.

  • The Hustle of Kim Foxx (The Marshall Project)

  • By: Steve Bogira
  • Narrated by: Ron Butler
  • Length: 2 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

After the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by a white police officer, Chicagoans demanded change. Can a new state’s attorney, the first black woman to hold the position, bring real reform to a broken system? With a brick on her desk from the Cabrini-Green housing project where she spent her childhood, Kim Foxx must adapt her hard-won ideals to the realities of criminal justice in Chicago. In this intimate narrative by award-winning author Steve Bogira, Foxx reveals: “My mother taught me how to be a hustler. Hustle in the sense of work hard, grind - find a way out of no way.”

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very thoughtfully written

  • By Cynthia Cummings on 11-12-18

New boss, not so different from the old boss

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

Reviewed: 09-09-18

This book provided a good learning experience, because it shows why it's so difficult to reform the criminal justice system. I felt the author tried to setup high expectations based on the new state's attorney knowing what it's like to grow up in Chicago's housing projects. But the new state's attorney seemed to lose energy as the story progressed, setting up a sense that nothing really changes.

Some positive changes were made, thankfully. The practice of keeping some individuals in jail who were unable to pay basic fines or make a low bail pending trial was modified. About time too. But such changes had been planned for a long time, and then the whole idea of reform suddenly got bogged down again, not to mention the unglamorous tasks inherent to the job. The focus shifted to press conferences, as it was before. Does the office change a person that much, I wondered. Fame and fortune changes people, I guess.

I think the author was committed to a different type of story than the one played out. Meanwhile the carnage continues, and the families of the victims often cannot afford funeral expenses.

  • Cellmates (The Marshall Project)

  • By: Tori Marlan
  • Narrated by: Janina Edwards
  • Length: 1 hr and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

One prisoner’s ninety-year murder conviction becomes another prisoner’s crusade in this ongoing true account of an unlikely friendship forged behind bars and the enduring power of hope. For seventeen years and counting, Robert Chattler has made good on his promise to help exonerate his former cellmate, Lee Harris, who he believes was baited and duped by Chicago PD and buried by the false testimony of a bribed witness. In this emotional story of courage and trust, suspicion and sacrifice, the award-winning journalist Tori Marlan reveals the uncanny friendship powering an impassioned fight for justice.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Verl enjoyed the book very much.

  • By Karen on 10-20-18

Enduring friendship

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

Reviewed: 09-04-18

Did police use Lee Harris to get a confession leading to his murder conviction? This book sets out to persuade that there wasn't strong enough evidence to convict him. Harris doesn't seem like a bad guy at all, just a gregarious man who wanted a reward of $20,000 for offering evidence that solves the case.

The hook in my view is the friendship of Lee Harris and Robert Chattler. That's an amazing friendship. These men provide something we all want and need - a friend who will stand by us through thick and thin. That's their gift, and I admire them for it.

  • The Gun King (The Marshall Project)

  • By: John H. Richardson
  • Narrated by: Ron Butler
  • Length: 1 hr and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 21

When a middle-class kid from the suburbs was caught using Facebook to distribute firearms bought legally at Indiana gun shows to notorious gangsters across the border - was he a kingpin or a scapegoat? David Lewisbey received perhaps the harshest sentence ever in a gun-trafficking trial. A college student from the suburban outskirts of Chicago, he allegedly embodied the enterprising swagger of his favorite rap lyrics, moving weapons for stacks of cash. John H. Richardson tours Chicago’s gun-soaked South Side with Lewisbey’s clientele and meets with the “Big Man” himself to unpack the truth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Captivating

  • By Greeny on 09-04-18

Captivating

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

Reviewed: 09-04-18

I couldn't stop listening until the book's ending. With journalistic rigor, the author described why so many guns make it onto Chicago streets. And he developed the timeless question of whether a particular convict, in this case, David Lewisbey, was a criminal kingpin or a scapegoat. During my listen, my convictions went back and forth in response to this issue.

The systemic problems are so extreme that if David Lewisbey didn't do it, somebody else surely would have. And plenty of others probably did but either didn't get caught or were not prosecuted as gun running kingpins. The gun situation in Chicago is scary.

The narrator was excellent, the right one for this book.

  • The Waiting Room (The Marshall Project)

  • By: Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve
  • Narrated by: Almarie Guerra
  • Length: 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13

It’s easy to get lost in Chicago’s Cook County Jail, the size of seventy-two football fields. For many released into the harsh elements beyond the walls, it can be impossible to find their way home. This haunting and powerful narrative reveals the intentionally disorienting tactics of the system and how the punishments meted out to prisoners, their families, and even innocent victims extend beyond the cages. Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, the award-winning author of Crook Country, exposes the moral, spiritual, legal, and psychological wasteland - inside and out - of the nation’s largest jail.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • When waiting is losing

  • By Greeny on 09-04-18

When waiting is losing

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

Reviewed: 09-04-18

I loved the descriptive flow of the story, how the Cook County Jail experience makes an inmate feel insignificant. It's mainly about all the little things one goes through when processing out. Everything seems to involve a period of waiting in a state of not knowing how long the wait will take. All the waiting, when combined, feels overwhelming.

The author shows that the jail has some seriously mean people working there. Some inmates are violent offenders while others aren't, but they're all treated with the same contempt. There were parts that explained how these employees actually go out of their way to increase the waiting time of inmates.

Why does the Chicago jail force inmates to wait longer than any other jail for every single thing? The author described how the jail came into existence, that the local politicians wanted this big jail because it brought jobs.