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Paul

Highland Park, IL, USA
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  • The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

  • Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000
  • By: Paul Kennedy
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cowley
  • Length: 30 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33

In this wide-ranging and carefully argued survey, Paul Kennedy considers the subject of national and international power. Focusing on the "modern" or post-Renaissance period, his straightforward approach examines how various powers rose and fell over the five centuries since the formation of the "new monarchies" of Western Europe. Kennedy's surprising observations and penetrating conclusions have earned this classic work a deserved, lasting place in the historical canon.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Worth 5 Stars, but Dated

  • By Paul on 08-26-18

Worth 5 Stars, but Dated

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

Reviewed: 08-26-18

I would have easily given this title five out of five stars, but I gave it four because the material is so dated. The book was published in the late 1980s, and therefore the developments of the last three decades are either missing or made the subject of best-guess projections. That, too, is interesting because some of the author's projections are very close to what really happened.

The first half of the book is without question excellent. The author reviews the large-scale causes of the rise, decline and fall of empires. Most histories really focus on military affairs, and there's nothing wrong with that; but Kennedy adds an economic element that goes far beyond the developments on the battlefield. For example, one of the distressing thoughts that the book presents is the uncanny parallel between the Spanish/Austrian Hapsburg Empire and the U.S. during the Cold War. The Hapsburgs were responsible for keeping Europe safe from Islamic invaders on two fronts. This effort consumed most of the wealth in silver and gold that Spain collected from its new conquests in the Americas. During the Cold War, the U.S. was in a similar position, with military commitments around the world, guarding against Communism's feared spread. During the Cold War, Japan and Germany, the Unted States' erstwhile enemies during WWII, grew into major industrial and commercial powers while benefiting from the protection of the American defense umbrella. After the fall of Constantinople, France, England, the German principalities and the Netherlands grew economically while defense spending consumed Spain's prosperity.

30 hours is quite a book, but the narrator is very good, unless you don't like British accents. I found him to be very clear, and once you get used to some British pronunciations (e.g., CON-troversy as con-TRAH-versy), it's a very easy narration to listen to.

This book could use an update through the 2010s, and if someone had written an epilogue of this kind I would have given it 5 stars. But despite its publishing date, it's certainly worth a listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A World Undone

  • The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
  • By: G. J. Meyer
  • Narrated by: Robin Sachs
  • Length: 27 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,828
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,618
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,603

The First World War is one of history’s greatest tragedies. In this remarkable and intimate account, author G. J. Meyer draws on exhaustive research to bring to life the story of how the Great War reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed 20 million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today. World War I is unique in the number of questions about it that remain unsettled. After more than 90 years, scholars remain divided on these questions, and it seems likely that they always will.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Overview of the "Overshadowed" War

  • By Andrew on 12-14-12

Excellent review of the First World War

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

Reviewed: 02-19-18

A very detailed take on the First WW, very well-researched and well written. What come across most clearly is the absolute sense of frutstration on both sides. No matter where an advance or "breakthrough" was made, it had the appearance of a victory but it soon became apparent that it meant nothing. The Western Front was so long that a breakthrough at one place meant only that you were now in a "salient" that gave you three sides to defend instead of the one you had previously.

One interesting tidbit that I learned from this book: Both of my grandfathers served in WW1 and one was wounded at the battle of the St Quentin tunnel. He died of cancer when I was very young, brought on, so I was later told, by a 3-pack-a-day cigarette habit. I was also told that he started smoking when he was shipped overseas, because the Army provided cigarettes like they provided water - as much as you wanted. In this book, I learned that the British and French also provided all you can smoke cigarettes to their soldiers (when available). The reason was that the smell of the battlefield, littered with rotting corpses, shellholes filled with putrid, festering water, etc. etc., was so atrocious that the doughboys needed the cigarette smoke to mask it. So now I blame the U.S. Army a lttle bit less for the fact that my grandfather died when I was so young.

  • The Son

  • By: Philipp Meyer
  • Narrated by: Will Patton, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Shepherd, and others
  • Length: 17 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,220
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,830
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,835

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power, The Son is a gripping and utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American west with rare emotional acuity, even as it presents an intimate portrait of one family across two centuries. Eli McCullough is just twelve-years-old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his Texas homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him as a captive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Five Stars for the Lone Star, The Son, & Meyer

  • By Mel on 06-04-13

Great western <br />

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

Reviewed: 12-23-17

Not the usual western, this tale spans different generations and perspectives. Some of it is rather gruesome but very real.

  • To Rule the Waves

  • How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World
  • By: Arthur Herman
  • Narrated by: John Curless
  • Length: 29 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 673
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 621
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 618

To Rule the Waves tells the extraordinary story of how the British Royal Navy allowed one nation to rise to a level of power unprecedented in history. From the navy's beginnings under Henry VIII to the age of computer warfare and special ops, historian Arthur Herman tells the spellbinding tale of great battles at sea, heroic sailors, violent conflict, and personal tragedy - of the way one mighty institution forged a nation, an empire, and a new world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very entertaining though slightly biased

  • By Ernst ten Bosch on 09-21-17

Brings naval history to life

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

Reviewed: 11-21-17

If you enjoy the Hornblower novels/movies or Master & Commander, this book is an excellent way to really dig into it and learn what life (and battle) were really like. The story starts out with the earliest efforts of British naval forces, before there was any formal organization of a navy, and ends with the Falklands War in 1982.

There are lots of historical tidbits along the way, such as how the expressions "let the cat out of the bag," "three square meals a day," and "strike." started.

One of the more interesting aspects of the history is that many of legendary heroes of the Royal Navy, like Nelson or Beatty, were guys who didn't follow orders to the letter, but instead took the initiative when the battle was developing in a way not contemplated by their commander's original orders. By comparison, the Duke of Mednia Sidonia, who commanded the Spanish Armada, followed the extremely detailed orders of Philip II to the letter. If he'd shown more independence and initiative, things might have been different.

The book has a great deal of detail to it, so if that's not quite your cup of tea and you're looking for more swashbuckling, you may want to try one of the fictional treatments of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars, of which there are many excellent works.

But this is the real deal.

  • Theft

  • A Love Story
  • By: Peter Carey
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 95
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 11

Michael a.k.a. "Butcher" Boone is an ex-"really famous" painter: opinionated, furious, brilliant, and now reduced to living in the remote country house of his biggest collector and acting as caretaker for his younger brother, Hugh, a damaged man of imposing physicality and childlike emotional volatility.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Art Appreciation

  • By John on 01-07-08

Guess who's talking?

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-28-08

I've been an Audible listener for several years, and this is definitely one of the worst books I've heard.

The author has not a clue regarding the importance of point of view for a reader. The story begins in the first person POV of the artist-protagonist (or apparent protagonist). Then, without warning, the author shifts gears into the first person POV of the protagonist's disabled brother. Then we're taken back to the artist's POV (also without notice). Whose story is this, Mr. Carey? Adding insult to injury, the narrator gives the two characters exactly the same Australian accent and tone of voice. It's impossible to keep track of who's speaking at any point. I couldn't take it any more and stopped listening.

Definitely NOT recommended.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Comrade J

  • Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America after the End of the Cold War
  • By: Pete Earley
  • Narrated by: Michael Prichard
  • Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 246
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122

Spymaster, defector, double agent....Here is the remarkable true story of the man who ran Russia's post-cold-war spy program in America. The revelations are stunning. Many spies have told their stories. None has the astonishing immediacy, relevance, and cautionary warnings of Comrade J.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Some Inaccuracies, but still good

  • By Rayne Police Detective on 09-21-08

The Russians are still coming

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-20-08

Here's a work that shows how naive Americans are about the intentions of the Russian state, especially under Vladimir Putin. After Gorbachev and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Russians were suddenly our friends. Think again. There's a reason why Putin, a former high-ranking KGB officer, still runs the show. This is an excellent story, well told and well-narrated. Strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in current affairs.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • North River

  • By: Pete Hamill
  • Narrated by: Henry Strozier
  • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 56
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

Haunted by the horrors of World War I, Dr. James Delaney's personal life is a nightmare. But everything changes when he returns home one day to find his three-year-old grandson on his doorstep.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I absolutely loved this book

  • By Robert K. on 04-28-16

Well written, but low stakes

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-13-08

Hamill definitely writes well, and the story of a doctor in a downtrodden section of Manhattan during the Depression years has a few heartwarming moments, as well some interesting tidbits of old New York City history. But there is no great suspense here, no feeling that the protagonist is ever in real danger or real trouble. That's why I'd call this "low stakes" as far as suspense is concerned. I finished this one because the characters, even some of the secondary ones, are very well developed, but nothing much happens to them. I could have stopped anywhere along the way and not lost anything.

One of the characters is toddler boy, and I found the baby voice characterization very annoying. However, that's not the narrator's fault; he's doing the best he can with the material.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Paris Stories

  • By: Mavis Gallant
  • Narrated by: Lorna Raver, Yuri Rasovsky
  • Length: 16 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 56
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 34

Mysterious, funny, insightful, and heartbreaking, these are tales of expatriates and exiles, wise children and straying saints. They compose a secret history, both intimate and panoramic, of modern times, and offer a kaleidoscopic impression of the world within a world that is Paris.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • beautifully narrated

  • By Dennis on 05-23-07

Sorry, no Chekhov here

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-08

Or William Trevor, for that matter. I struggled to get through these stories because they were devoid of action. Even in a short story, something - anything - has to happen to somebody. I was expecting a lot more. The narrator is good, but I tired of her voice because I tired of the story, and not the other way 'round.

2 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • The Teapot Dome Scandal

  • How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House
  • By: Laton McCartney
  • Narrated by: William Hughes
  • Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 88
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44

The Teapot Dome scandal of the early 1920s was all about oil - hundreds of millions of dollars� worth of petroleum. When the scandal finally broke, the consequences were tremendous. President Harding's legacy was forever tarnished, while �Oil Cabinet� member Albert Fall was forced to resign and was imprisoned for a year. Others implicated in the affair suffered prison terms, commitment to mental hospitals, suicide, and even murder.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Harding's return to normalcy: corruption

  • By Paul on 03-05-08

Harding's return to normalcy: corruption

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-08

We can complain a lot about present day government corruption, but until you read this book you have no idea how bad it can get. The story almost sounds like a novel - except it's true. And if you thought OJ's trial had a strange result (not guilty in the criminal trial, liable in the civil), Teapot Dome easily tops that. The Interior Secretary, Albert Fall, was convicted of taking a bribe from an oil man who, in a separate trial, was acquitted of bribing Fall. Fall really was a fall guy. (I'm not giving anything away here -- the characters make the story here, not the legal verdicts).
The narration is very good. The only quibble I have is that the narrator sometimes sounded as if he were going a bit too fast. A great listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

  • By: Edwin Lefevre
  • Narrated by: Rick Rohan
  • Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,797
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,324
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,332

First published in 1923, this lightly fictionalized biography of Jesse Livermore, one of the greatest market speculators ever, is widely regarded as one of best investment books of all time. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is the resource that generations of investors have turned to when they needed deeper insight into their own investing habits and those of others. Listen to this work, featuring narrator Rick Rohan, and you'll soon discover your portfolio growing in new and unexpected ways!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • OUTSTANDING

  • By XEVEN on 11-21-09

Buy this stock!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-08

Although most of the stock manipulations described in Reminiscences are now illegal, the stories in this book are really fascinating. The author was a trader in the days when the Big Board was just that: a big chalk board with clerks running around writing in share prices. Still, this is a fascinating read, and you don't have to be a subscriber to Investors Business Daily to enjoy this. He begins in bucket shops before the turn of the last century, takes you through the Panic of 1907 and goes up to the 1929 crash. The observations of the author, who made and lost fortunes, are relevant to anybody who confronts risk on a daily basis. The narration is very clear, very well done.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful