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William Dendis

Hudson Valley, New York
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  • reviews
  • 2
  • helpful votes
  • 13
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  • Days of Fire

  • Bush and Cheney in the White House
  • By: Peter Baker
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 29 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 330
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 295
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 294

Theirs was the most captivating American political partnership since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger: a bold and untested president and his seasoned, relentless vice president. Confronted by one crisis after another, they struggled to protect the country, remake the world, and define their own relationship along the way. In Days of Fire, Peter Baker chronicles the history of the most consequential presidency in modern times through the prism of its two most compelling characters, capturing the elusive and shifting alliance of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney as no historian has done before.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A balanced account of the W and Cheney White House

  • By Scott on 11-15-13

They're human!

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

Reviewed: 10-25-14

I agree with pretty much all the reviews I've seen on this book. It is a good read. It is impartial. Like others, I was hesitant to revisit recent history at length. But I'm glad I did. I was in college from 9/11 through the reelection. We didn't give Bush the benefit of the doubt on anything. In fact the consensus opinion was he was at a useful idiot for multi-national companies to do their bidding, helping his oil company buddies get rich, a holy roller who thought the end of the world was coming, anti-science, bigoted, using threat of terrorism as excuse for suspension of civil liberties and endless war for the military industrial complex. For some reason he was portrayed as Hitler on protest signs. (As we see with Obama, that seems to be the new standard for all presidents.)

I admit I haven't read any other books about Bush/Cheney. I'm sure there are other good ones. The main thing I want to say about reading Days of Fire, particularly to those who, like me, were prone to thinking the worst of these men during that time, is that it provides a credible narrative that corresponds with what they said they were doing. They really thought there would be another terrorist attack. They really thought Saddam Hussein's evasiveness meant he was hiding WMDs. Bush asked all members of the cabinet and all advisers if they had any objections to going into Iraq based on intelligence furnished by CIA. None did. He was really told by Louisiana governor that Katrina response was under control. And of course, the vindication of many policies being that Obama left them unchanged.

Bush comes off smarter than people gave him credit for. He's funny, even witty at times. He can run a meeting. He can inspire the support of academics and experienced public servants. He believes a good boss puts the best person he can find in important posts and delegates. The MBA approach. He stresses loyalty, maybe to a fault (an easy fault to forgive). But he ultimately failed because he put his faith in the wrong people. He was too quick to take verbal assurances that things were under control. His perceptions were not correct. He didn't see Putin's soul. His judgement was off. But he had good intentions, and he tried to do good things in the world. He was more idealistic than his successor. He really believed scenes like the Iraqis with ink on the thumbs presaged a new, Democratic Middle East. This is the portrait Baker lives you with.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Martian

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 157,643
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 145,472
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 145,318

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Worth it even if you've seen the movie

  • By R. MCRACKAN on 12-08-17

Dudebro Macgyver on Mars

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

Reviewed: 09-23-14

What did you love best about The Martian?

The problem-solving. Between the main character devising ways to stay alive far longer than supplies allowed and the team back on Earth's plans to rescue him there are plenty of clever fixes, if you like that sort of thing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Guns of August

  • By: Barbara W. Tuchman
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 19 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,086
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,347
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,328

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed...and how horrible it became.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Mike From Mesa on 10-28-08

Not ideal for listening

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

Reviewed: 09-23-14

The first section is good but when the fighting breaks out I found it difficult to follow. I believe the author says her purpose was to cover the causes of the war up to the establishment of the stalemate in 1914. Analysis of the European powers in the decades between 1870 and the war is interesting. The depiction of the nations tumbling into war due to alliances and mobilization schedules in the summer of 1914 is rightly considered the highlight of the book. Unfortunately when the battles begin the analysis ends, and much detail is expended on the first couple months of the war. Names of various commanders and acronyms for plans and headquarters, troop movements without maps. If this was in service of a theory for how the military actions of the first few months led to stalemate, and that it could have gone another way, all this would be worth the effort. But the battles do not seem pivotal. Stalemate seems to be fated. Recommended as a library book, but not a good use of a credit.

  • Guns, Germs and Steel

  • The Fate of Human Societies
  • By: Jared Diamond
  • Narrated by: Doug Ordunio
  • Length: 16 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,615
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4,839
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,834

Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A story all should know, not all can endure

  • By Daniel on 12-19-11

The right kind of audiobook

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

Reviewed: 09-23-14

Audiobooks are usually consumed while doing other things --- driving, jogging, cooking. For the most part these are mindless tasks so it works, but occasionally the brain is required or ambient sound intrudes, and you miss something. For me this disqualifies as audiobooks most fiction and all dense non-fiction. A good audiobook should be full of interesting but simple ideas, and not have too many names or numbers to keep straight. Some repetitiveness than would grate in print is welcome. In these respects this book is ideal. It takes the theory of geographical determinism and the factors of east-west axis, domesticable animals and plants and provides a non-racist, non-cultural reason for why Europe conquered the world. Anyone with any amount of curiosity about how the balance of world power ended up the way it did would find this idea interesting. Highly recommended.