Kimberlee Joos

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Hillbilly Elegy audiobook cover art

Best book I've read in 5 years

5 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-20-16

Any additional comments?

JD Vance does a masterful job describing the life and mindset of an Appalachian Hillbilly, but does it with both empathy and sensitivity as he recounts tales of his childhood, but also with the clinical balance of a sociologist, or cultural anthropologist. It is this marriage of vignettes from his family--some funny, some incredibly dark, with the context of the larger culture and how these traits affect their worldview, decisionmaking, and place in our greater American society that make the book so effective and a pleasure to read.
Vance narrates the book, and at first, I wished he hadn't, but once into it, I realized he is the only one who could have told the stories contained within.
Read this book!!

The Places in Between audiobook cover art

A Brilliant Work of Nonfiction

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-26-07

This is among the top 10 audiobooks I've ever listened to, and probably one of the top 3 nonfiction audiobooks I've heard (Night and Ireland are the other 2).
Stewart's writing style and oratory are clear, easy to listen to and very effective at creating a crisp, clear mental image of the events as he relates them. I almost felt as if I were walking with him.
He also manages to relate all this information without editorializing, or sounding preachy.
I have come away from this with a much clearer knowledge of the ethnic people and terrain of Central Afghanistan. I have also developed a great respect for Mr. Stewart's calm storytelling and knack for observing subtleties in people of different ethnicities. I now want to read his latest book, The Prince of the Marshes, just to hear more of his wonderful stories.
Great book--I strongly recommend it.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

Six Days of War audiobook cover art


5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-26-06

This is the way a definitive work on a major military battle should read. Oren's thorough research comes through with amazing levels of detail in both the Israeli and Arab decision-makers and planning staffs, as well as U.S. and UN actions and behind-the-scenes considerations. Amazingly, Oren found a way to cram this book with tons of details, but I never found myself getting bored or lost in the data--probably due to great writing and narration.

Oren's account of the 6-Day War drives home the point that Clausewitz made long ago: "War is politics by other means." Until you understand the political drives, the personalities calling the shots, the miscommunications, the hidden agendas and the historical perspective, you will not truly understand why any given war occurs or how it ends, and if the resulting peace is truly lasting or if it is going to lead to more conflict.

As I read this book, the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon conflict was just heating up. I found the historical insights in this book invaluable in understanding some of the context of the current conflict.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

Krakatoa audiobook cover art


4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-26-06

If you want a book that discusses everything from plate tectonics, animal migration, 19th Century Dutch trading posts, global wind and climate patterns, and every single eyewitness account of events associated with Krakatoa--no matter how mundane, this is the book!
Overall, while I found some of the scientific linkages interesting, I felt the author was mired too far down in the details and could have gotten to his key points in a much more succinct manner. His narration was fine, for me the only thing that made this book tedious after a while was the excruciating detail.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Under the Tuscan Sun audiobook cover art

Good book, abysmal narration

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-05

The book is everything that people have described it to be--a beautiful tapestry of life in the Tuscan countryside and all the trials & tribulations of taking on renovation of a piece of European history.
If this sounds like it interests you, buy the book, don't get the audiobook because unfortunately the narration will distract you from the enjoyment you seek.

American Soldier audiobook cover art

Honest and forthcoming

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-05

This book gave one of the most forthright accountings of the events after 9/11 and leading up to and through Phase IV operations in Iraq.
While I could see the military acronyms being a distraction to some not familiar with the military in any capacity, I found the account to be refreshing and honest...and another nail in the coffin of our so-called "unbiased" press corps with all of their media parlor tricks to gain readership and support of their viewpoints.

Cry, the Beloved Country audiobook cover art

History With a Human Face

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-08-04

Alan Paton does a tremendous job of describing 1950's Apartheid S. Africa from a simple Zulu man's perspective. I found the story line to be intriguing and the narration to be outstanding.
I will admit, Mr Paton's voice was at first difficult to listen to, but his ability to accent the English, Afrikaans and Zulu characters provided great depth to the narration and made the book truly engaging.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

Naked in Baghdad audiobook cover art
  • Naked in Baghdad
  • The Iraq War as Seen by National Public Radio's Correspondent
  • By: Anne Garrels
  • Narrated by: Anne Garrels

Best non-fiction book I've read this year

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-08-04

What a pleasant surprise! I expected a left-leaning, "war-is-evil" perspective and instead found an unbiased, multi-faceted description of life in Baghdad by one of only a handful of American journalists to remain in the city before and during the kickoff of Iraqi Freedom. As a member of the US Air Force who spent the same time frame watching the war play out from Saudi Arabia, I found Ms Garrels' observations are one of the few US media reports that confirm what I knew to be true at the time: Coalition airpower was as precise as current technology allowed and as humane as possible while still achieving the dramatic effect of regime change in less than three weeks.
The biggest surprise of the book was the human face that she put on life in Baghdad, as well as the insight into a relationship of incredible depth between her and her husband, Vint.
Outstanding!!! A must-listen!!!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Across the Nightingale Floor audiobook cover art

Hooked from minute one!

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-11-04

Once I began this book, I could not stop listening. Well-written, well read, the mental imagery Hearn painted put me right in the middle of feudal Japan. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

A Painted House: A Novel audiobook cover art

Vivid Mental Picture

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-19-03

Grisham does a tremendous job capturing the world of a 7-year old boy in rural Arkansas for the reader as vividly as if you were there. Excellent plot/setting, well narrated too.
Not your typical Grisham book in terms of subject matter, but the quality of his writing is constant throughout.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful