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The Masked Reviewer

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  • reviews
  • 20
  • helpful votes
  • 33
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  • The City of God

  • By: Saint Augustine
  • Narrated by: Bernard Mayes
  • Length: 47 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 273
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 208
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 208

Written between A.D. 413 and 426, The City of God is one of the great cornerstones in the history of Christian thought, a book which is vital to the understanding of modern Western society. Augustine originally intended it to be an apology for Christianity against the accusation that the Church was responsible for the decline of the Roman Empire, which had occurred just three years earlier. Indeed, Augustine produced a great amount of evidence to prove that paganism was responsible for this event. However, by the time the work was finished, the book had taken on a larger theme.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great book! If you can get through it.

  • By John on 10-23-09

Augustine's Classic Treatise Defines Christianity

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

Reviewed: 10-11-18

There is arguably no other more important Christian literary work (outside of the gospels, both canonical and apocryphal) than Augustine's classic engagement of the history of Christianity in relation to that of the city of Rome. Imperial Rome represented to Augustine, as it's first imperial host, a model of what the future of Christendom was to become on Earth as humankind was tested and shaped by Christianity over the long centuries and millennia ahead. Augustine's visionary perspective on Rome is more than noteworthy when you consider that Rome is the most influential empire leading up to and culminating in the modernity given birth to by the Rennaisance and thereafter, and that Christianity is likewise perhaps the more influential major world religion today by virtue of its association with not only all European countries but with most English-speaking peoples, also.

Augustine defends Christianity from its historical critics in this work. That said, he is not fighting classical authors in general, but rather embraces the forerunners of Christianity in Socrates, Plato and the thinking tradition of the West. The reader shouldn't forget that Augustine is arguing for more than the justification of Christianity and the ills it also has inevitably been host to through what he would call the mortal imperfection of its historical representatives, but rather for an evolutionary trajectory for humankind, which Christianity and any and all other edifying faiths and philosophies along the way all inevitably point toward: the birth of a New Man (that is, a new kind of human being, with a new kind of spiritualized thinking), of which Jesus of Nazareth prophesied.

Some caveats are warranted, however. While this is an ample document to the testament of early Christianity's literary depth, Augustine, I'm afraid, is a consummately moralizing commentator on a good bit more than the mere critics of Christianity. In the first sections, he criticizes Lucretia pretty unfairly for killing herself under the duress of being raped and publically shamed by the news. In her time and place, the woman was typically both victim and co-conspirator whenever sexual deviant acts are concerned. The woman is typically considered somehow co-responsible for the rape, if not entirely to blame! Hearers today won't likely be able to receive such an even-tempered sexist critique positively, and for very good reason. Not all that glitters here is gold. Augustine, like other monastics of his milieu, and like the majority of males of his time in Rome, is quite unfeeling toward the plight of women in general, often seeing them as little more than the jealously guarded property of their husbands rather than human beings with their own individual dignity and subjectivity to contend with. He deals in likewise harshness with the suicides, those who kill themselves rather than face their own too-dark night of the soul. For many, this will appear very trite and unexcusably unfeeling toward women, and rightly so.

  • The Enchiridion & Discourses

  • By: Epictetus
  • Narrated by: Haward B. Morse
  • Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 182
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 168
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 165

The Enchiridion is the famous manual of ethical advice given in the second century by the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. Born to a Greek slave, Epictetus grew up in the environment of the Roman Empire and, having been released from bonds of slavery, became a stoic in the tradition of its originators, Zeno (third Century BCE) and Seneca (first century CE).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Inspiration from thousands of years ago

  • By Jose on 07-30-17

The BEST Enchiridion on Audible

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

Reviewed: 04-29-18

Very modern and elegant reading of the eternal classic Stoic Manual on living. There is no equal. English accent is very pleasing and not gratingg at all, as one might expect.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Secret History of the World

  • As Laid Down by the Secret Societies
  • By: Mark Booth
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 15 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 839
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 711
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 712

In this groundbreaking new work, Mark Booth embarks on an enthralling intellectual tour of our world's secret histories. Starting from a dangerous premise - that everything we've been taught about our world's past is corrupted, and that the stories put forward by the various cults and mystery schools throughout history are true - Booth produces nothing short of an alternate history of the past 3,000 years.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A unique perspective

  • By Robin on 04-09-12

Worth Hearing!

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

Reviewed: 10-23-17

How does one comment on this sort of thing, being essentially a folk history of all creation carried forth by the best minds of all time? The narration and structure and style of the telling of this story are really superb and energized, helping to organize a topic too unwieldy to easily do adequate justice.

The thinking person will see this as lore that can be researched. The unthinking pseudo-scientific materialist addict who can't think independently will simply scoff and say "let me sit back while someone else proves it to me". Do yourself a HUGE favor and don't be that sort of reader of such a profound book. Aside from the speculative conclusion of the author, the bulk of this book is heavy historical matter that can be verified as having occupied the minds of highly influential personages in the development of our current scientific worldview. The fact that worldview is lost to the depth of such minds stands as a sad testament to the power of the comfort of the mundane to small minds content to stand in the achievements of other people's experience of life.

If you can appreciate this book, you are probably meant to lead your own experiments in consciousness.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Living Everyday Zen

  • By: Charlotte Joko Beck
  • Narrated by: Charlotte Joko Beck
  • Length: 3 hrs and 29 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 65
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62

Beyond the meditation cushion, where do you ultimately find the profound clarity, presence, and simple joy of Zen? "Where it has always been - in everyday life," teaches Charlotte Joko Beck, "whether it's raising our kids, working in the office, or even cleaning the house." On Living Everyday Zen, this seminal voice in American Zen shares some of her hallmark teachings and insights from nearly 50 years of practice.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • good until I know better

  • By Me-I on 11-19-18

Everyday Zen

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

Reviewed: 09-17-17

Beck was one of the best Zen teachers in American Zen and is known for not playing into the whole Zen Master scam. Easy to listen to. Human. Actually enlightened. And probably the antidote for most of the Buji Zen fluff and poseur teachers who preen their self images endlessly.

Really, their are no frills here, despite the bits of shakuhachi intermezzos...just a boring old Zen practice talk about living mindfully and failing constantly.

  • Plato's Republic

  • By: Plato
  • Narrated by: Ray Childs
  • Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 575
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 529
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 523

The Republic poses questions that endure: What is justice? What form of community fosters the best possible life for human beings? What is the nature and destiny of the soul? What form of education provides the best leaders for a good republic? What are the various forms of poetry and the other arts, and which ones should be fostered and which ones should be discouraged? How does knowing differ from believing?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Spectacular

  • By Benjamin Myers on 08-08-16

Benjamin Jowett Translation, Ray Childs Narration

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

Reviewed: 06-24-17

If you could sum up Plato's Republic in three words, what would they be?

Know They Self

What other book might you compare Plato's Republic to and why?

The Republic is probably an amalgam of all the Socratic dialogues rolled into one. The goal here, as in other Socratic dialogues, is not to establish a dogmatic system, but to take the reader/listener on a philosophical journey to consider classic questions in a fully human sort of way. Humanist and other terms like this become more clear when you consider what it is to be fully human.

Socrates was certainly trying to explore what it is to be more fully human, and the natural role of virtue and philosophy in the quest to become more fully achieved as a human being. In this particular dialogue, that takes the form of considering the ideal human being and comparing that to the ideal state ("the Republic"), and seeing the ways in which these are not really different things, as each is evident in the other. The state is evident in each individual citizen and each individual citizen is evident in some way within the manifestations of the state.

In the Republic, however, the ideal may be less a static ideal than a journey toward questioning and public discourse. I think that can be the only really "goal" of this text if read carefully enough. Many arguments which Socrates seems to be making are quickly and casually cast aside. This should be taken as a clue that Socrates is not setting on a set destination but rather a discourse that is rather open-ended. I do believe that the end goal is simply to allow us the readers/listeners to become more thoughtful and considerate beings, to acknowledge the importance of balance and harmony as the ancients reportedly did.

It is noteworthy here, as elsewhere that Plato's Socrates often refers to Homer as a corrupting force, interested in telling exciting, juicy tales rather than improving the soul of Man, which Socrates claims is of the utmost importance for a great storyteller. It is only in this vein that he sometimes explores the possibility of creating "noble lies" that could help to create better human beings who steer clear of vices and toward virtue.

Have you listened to any of Ray Childs’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

There are more difficult patches early on where it proved to me the value of sitting in a quiet comfortable place to concentrate fully on this seminal text concerning Public Discourse which becomes important throughout all later Continental (and especially German Idealist) philosophy.

In general, Childs is a rather loving narrator. He doesn't rush except when he is trying to fully bring to the surface the passion of his understanding of the dialogue in play.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I know I always tend to become more reflective when I engage a Socratic dialogue. No laughing or crying so much as an appreciation that ancient Greeks thought so sanely and deeply about the true nature and impulses at work in the manifestations of virtue and of vice.

Any additional comments?

TRANSLATION INFO:

A Plato scholar has informed me that this is the
Benjamin Jowett’s translation, revised by Albert A. Anderson

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • At the Mountains of Madness [Blackstone Edition]

  • By: H. P. Lovecraft
  • Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
  • Length: 4 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,732
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,482
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,477

This Lovecraft classic is a must-have for every fan of classic terror. When a geologist leads an expedition to the Antarctic plateau, his aim is to find rock and plant specimens from deep within the continent. The barren landscape offers no evidence of any life form - until they stumble upon the ruins of a lost civilization. Strange fossils of creatures unknown to man lead the team deeper, where they find carved stones dating back millions of years. But it is their discovery of the terrifying city of the Old Ones that leads them to an encounter with an untold menace.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • First Lovecraft

  • By Brian on 02-03-14

Bit Tedious

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

Reviewed: 04-04-17

Not the best Lovecraft, and much if not all the power of this story relies heavily on previously-imagined visions, as well as the vision of the Old Ones which is somewhat elaborated here.

The story itself is written in a tedious ramble with way too much technical jargonese built in. Lovecraft would have done well to have a more liberal editor/critic at his disposal before publishing. The build-up is overwrought and takes about 5 times longer than it probably should have.

The plot itself, and the vision attending it, however, being tied in with so much of the rest of Lovecraft's predating oeuvre, is simply awe-inspiring and magnificent. The reader, also, is beyond reproach.

With these latter aspects in mind, I grudgingly give this installment of the Lovecraft legacy 3 out of 5 stars.

  • Monkey

  • By: Wu Ch’êng-ên, Arthur Waley - translator
  • Narrated by: Kenneth Williams
  • Length: 13 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103

Considered one of China's great classical novels, Wu Ch'êng-ên's Journey to the West was translated by Arthur Waley in abridged form as Monkey in 1942 and has delighted English readers ever since. It is a riveting adventure story about a priest's quest to obtain holy Buddhist scriptures for the Tang emperor; joining him on this rollicking journey: Sandy, Pigsy, and the mischievous monkey king, Sun Wukong, whose flying cloud and magic cudgel are never far from his infamous deeds.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Chinese Classic, excellent narration

  • By Weng on 10-13-15

Classic Abridged Translation of Journey to the West

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

Reviewed: 02-03-17

Monkey, in most ways the main character of the four pilgrims to the West, can be likened to that of Faust, comparatively speaking. Tripitaka, the Xuanzang of Chinese Buddhist Lore, pales to Monkey (Sun Wukong), as of course any respectable holy man naturally will tend to do. That said, this is a highly original classic of Chinese literature worthy of inclusion into the emerging world cannon, and commonly considered one of China's Four Great Novels.

Humorous much as Don Quixote is, there is no dryness or lack of adventure in Wu Cheng'en's Ming-era tale of Monkey's journey with the great Dharma-retrieving monk. The use of counterpoint is rich and provides a vivid aura of participation in the pilgrimage for the reader, with much the bold romp of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

This is a story that belongs to the world. Truly worth the investment of time and amply rewarding to any student or admirer of Chinese traditional literature and culture.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Plato's Gorgias

  • By: Plato
  • Narrated by: Ray Childs
  • Length: 3 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73

Gorgias of Leontini, a famous teacher of rhetoric, has come to Athens to recruit students, promising to teach them how to become leaders in politics and business. A group has gathered at Callicles' house to hear Gorgias demonstrate the power of his art. This dialogue blends comic and serious discussion of the best life, providing a penetrating examination of ethics.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great dialogue + good performance

  • By The Masked Reviewer on 01-07-17

Great dialogue + good performance

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

Reviewed: 01-07-17

Gorgias is a great Platonic dialogue. That is settled. What isn't is how to present a Socratic dialogue that sometimes meanders through dark wooded arguments and sometimes leaps in starts and fits. Overall, there is much of Jesus of Nazareth in Plato's Socratic dialogues. So if any could be called Plato's Sermon on the Mpunt, this is probably it. Though dealing with political topics, it hovers around personal morality and the importance of being earnest, even when jesting and pulling your interlocutor's leg.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues

  • By: Michael Sugrue, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Michael Sugrue
  • Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 340
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 304
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 299

These 16 lectures bring the Socratic quest for truth alive and explore ideas that are as vital today as they were 25 centuries ago. Ideas about truth, justice, love, beauty, courage, and wisdom that can change lives and reveal the world in new ways. Here, you'll delve into the inner structure, action, and meaning of 17 of Plato's greatest dialogues, making these lectures an indispensable companion for anyone interested in philosophy in general or Platonic thought in particular.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Easily the best audiobook in my collection

  • By ADRIAN on 02-03-14

Good Overall Guide to Plato's Dialogues

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

Reviewed: 11-28-16

Where does Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Better than average.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Socrates is the star of the Dialogues, so naturally (Plato's) Socrates is the point here.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Michael Sugrue?

Sugrue is pretty good, but not ideal as a lecturer in terms of delivery.

Any additional comments?

Great for its purpose. Lays out the key dynamics of the Dialogues so that the listener can understand authorial intent and textual connotations. When the lecturer slows down, the delivery is much better.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Greek Way

  • By: Edith Hamilton
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 70

Based on a thorough study of Greek life and civilization, of Greek literature, philosophy, and art, The Greek Way interprets their meaning and brings a realization of the refuge and strength the past can be to us in the troubled present. Miss Hamilton's book must take its place with the few interpretative volumes which are permanently rooted and profoundly alive in our literature.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • ...Not as Good as The Echo of Greece

  • By The Masked Reviewer on 11-04-16

...Not as Good as The Echo of Greece

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

Reviewed: 11-04-16

I will thwart the trend of obsequious unreflective praise of The Greek Way, probably because I have read it's original thesis in The Echo of Greece.

Essentially, TGW includes more tragedy and Comedy than did EOG and much more of the inessential in the bargain.

EOG focuses on that which is essential about ancient Athens: her philosophy and her sense of what a democracy is supposed to be. Nothing else really matters in conparison, no matter how many ruminations Hamilton makes on the supposed Greek core sensibility and the like. Hamilton, it pains me to say as a fellow admirer of ancient Athenian culture, is unduly biased toward all things Greek. Her work was worthwhile, but Echo is the better and miore lasting testament to the Ancient Athenians we are all thinking of. Pound for pound, there is certainly no comparison. Echo hands down more efficiently and elegantly defines the ancient Athenian ethos that Americans and Europeans (and all students of democracy of philosophy) look back to for inspiration and guidance.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful