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Philo

San Diego, CA, United States
  • 465
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  • 1,840
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  • 470
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  • The Spirit of '76

  • From Politics to Technology, the Year America Went Rock & Roll
  • By: David Browne
  • Narrated by: Eric Martin
  • Length: 1 hr and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

Based on extensive research and interviews with some of the participants, Browne - a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and author of Fire and Rain and Dream Brother - vividly chronicles the year America went rock & roll in everything from politics to technology. The Spirit of '76 will make you think anew about an under-appreciated moment in the country - and will make you wonder if its optimistic, can-do spirit of reinvention and renewal will ever come again.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • The pretense is that pop culture is reality

  • By Philo on 12-11-18

The pretense is that pop culture is reality

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

Reviewed: 12-11-18

The sad and nauseating reality behind THAT is that the two HAVE merged and entwined together in contemporary USA. Hence many of the delusional and self-destructive policies our leaders and masses pursue, walking in a frenzied popular dream. I thought it would be fun to revisit the time I was coming of age. But in fact, I wasn't enough of a TV junkie to care about what is here. There is a little bit of contemporary cultural history here beyond TV, but this piece of work lingers way too much on people who were, and whose art was, as I now see it, often vapid, shallow and just drugged up. The one thing I did realize from this quick little book is that much of the thought content of our 300 millions is just as delusional and empty as what is depicted here as if it mattered. And that is maybe USA's central and very mortal problem: we are living in a cartoon that has all the substance of a Rolling Stone article. I want to wash my ears out. Oh, and the narrator is in my opinion one of the best.

  • Ruthless

  • By: Marie Brenner
  • Narrated by: Marie Brenner
  • Length: 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

One of the most prolific and influential investigative journalists of her generation, Marie Brenner has brought countless fascinating people to life through her writing. Now, for the first time, her profile of the nefarious relationship between Donald Trump and Roy Cohn is available as an audiobook read by the author. Spanning over 50 years of US history, peopled both with characters long dead and current newsmakers still in today’s headlines, Ruthless is an eye-opening must-listen for anyone who wants to understand how the nation got to where we are today.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • If you don't read Citizen Cohn, this is 2nd best

  • By Philo on 12-11-18

If you don't read Citizen Cohn, this is 2nd best

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

Reviewed: 12-11-18

There is a pretty sharply-etched portrait of Cohn here, and his times. I like the author's brassy NYC voice as narrator. She did meet and interview Cohn, in his strange lair. A much more full picture of his later life appears in Nicholas Von Hoffman's book Citizen Cohn, but the spotlight here shifts somewhat, to Trump and Roger Stone. The subject behind all three of these fellows as told here is the style of attack, attack, attack; never defend, never apologize. These are pretty interesting characters all, by my lights. Missing but worth a check in this political lineage is Murray Chotiner, Nixon's dark-side fixer-mentor, and a sort of patron saint for this style. A good portrait of him (alongside a brash style of trumpeting some truly bizarre alternate political truths, so to speak) can be found in Stone's book Nixon's Secrets, which is here on audible.

  • Unfinished Business

  • The Unexplored Causes of the Financial Crisis and the Lessons yet to Be Learned Than One
  • By: Tamim Bayoumi
  • Narrated by: Tom Beyer
  • Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

There have been numerous books examining the 2008 financial crisis from either a US or European perspective. Tamim Bayoumi is the first to explain how the Euro crisis and US housing crash were, in fact, parasitically intertwined. Starting in the 1980s, Bayoumi outlines the cumulative policy errors that undermined the stability of both the European and US financial sectors, highlighting the catalytic role played by European mega banks that exploited lax regulation to expand into the US market and financed unsustainable bubbles on both continents. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sophisticated, really digs into the dynamics

  • By Philo on 12-02-18

Sophisticated, really digs into the dynamics

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

Reviewed: 12-02-18

This work lifted me out of the simpler good-guys-bad-guys model I had, showing how, alongside the mistakes of regulators, the incentives of all players fed into a machine hurtling toward its own collapse. There is a fine picking-over of the distinct, but connected evolution of banking systems in USA and Europe, that progressed inch by inch into this unstable system. This can be seen as yet another place where the once-upon-a-time certitudes of globalization alongside lingering individualism and jealousies of nation-states had unseen conflicts and undercurrents bound to resurface jarringly in our lives. Creative actors will always reshape advantageously into the spaces between rules and rulers. This includes the small investor and depositor as much as the big sophisticated firm. At present most actors are looking elsewhere, with an unfixed system that bodes to crash again. I can think of no better primer than this one (assuming a reasonable sophistication going in.)

  • The Ten Commandments

  • How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life
  • By: David Hazony
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

According to polls, less than half of all Americans can even name more than four of them. For most of us, agnostics and faithful alike, they have been relegated to the level of a symbol, their teachings all but forgotten. In Western life today, the Ten Commandments are everywhere - except where we need them most. In The Ten Commandments, David Hazony offers a powerful new look at our most venerable moral text.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Plain-spoken, wise, elevating

  • By Philo on 11-27-18

Plain-spoken, wise, elevating

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

Reviewed: 11-27-18

This author consistently finds the sweet spot between the everyday and the ideal. He holds up a mirror in which I constantly recognize myself and others. I am not a card-carrying member of a religion, yet I find a tremendous fit here. My choices and my steps are more clear and firm as a result. If not a wholesale change in me, this book has brought about a big refinement.
There are nuggets of brilliance throughout. What, for example, would it mean for a divine and powerful G_d to rest? For one thing, to allow some pacing of events, and not merely to constantly churn reality. What does this mean for a similar human repose and reflection, thus, a sabbath? I was surprised, even following some avenue like this, that the suggested, related behaviors were quite fully human, and not some contorted unnatural ritual. It is never about some grotesque display of piety. It is about courageously one's humanness in all its dimensions, bodily, mental, ethical, and so on.
There is a very complete view of such things as personal intimacy. On and on it goes, so gently and yet deeply considered, and for me, linking the divine to the human.

  • Money Mischief

  • Episodes in Monetary History
  • By: Milton Friedman
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 253
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 99
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 100

What kind of mischief can result from misunderstanding the monetary system? The work of 2 obscure Scottish chemists destroyed the presidential prospects of William Jennings Bryan, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to appease a few senators from the American West who helped communism triumph in China, are just 2 such mishaps cited in this important work by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. This accessible work also provides an in-depth discussion on the creation of value.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • This book is not unabridged.

  • By James on 01-18-09

Good for the intermediate monetary history fan

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

Reviewed: 11-09-18

This work by the famed Milton Friedman is story-driven but gets pretty technical and number-driven along the way. There are a lot of judgments and what-ifs around various monetary standards and policies from the 1870s into later times in the 20th century. I think it was published in the early-mid 1990s. Friedman is most popularly famous as a proponent of free markets and capitalism generally, having issued a bestseller and a major TV miniseries around that, but he displayed very independent and pragmatic facets that don't fit neatly in the over-simplified views of a lot of the dimmer sort of free-market ideologues. He cuts across the grain in various areas which is refreshing, and that is on display here. For example, he contends the looser-money silver-plus-gold-based combo of bimetallism (as urged by farmer-debtors, one of the precursors of the modern Democrats) would have been superior to a straight gold-standard (as we used, with some patches requiring silver purchases to placate silver-mining states, with few inhabitants but plenty of US Senators per capita) in the deflation of the early 1890s. If this does not resonate in any way with you, best perhaps look elsewhere.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Passage of Power

  • The Years of Lyndon Johnson
  • By: Robert A. Caro
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 32 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,049
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,774
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,765

The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career - 1958 to 1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • From Powerful to Powerless

  • By Abdur Abdul-Malik on 05-08-12

It takes a book this vast to really see the story

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

Reviewed: 11-02-18

I cannot imagine how much effort it takes to assemble and write a book with this high quality and breadth. Now at last I can say I have a true sense of how a stretch of US history and Washington DC (with its myriad forces and personalities) intersect. The author takes the classic high school chart of government branches and peoples each with clear-cut personalities with all their regional attachments and so on. The story also reaches back into the 20th century as needed (often summarizing bits of the earlier Caro-Johnson books) to give context to the times addressed. An example is the mini-book (one of several) that is the tale of the Southern senators and their strategies stretching far back into US history (and casting a shadow over us still). Here you will find elaborate portraits of others alongside Johnson, such as Bobby Kennedy. I have never seen a book so fully address the evolution of such persons as these. I am deeply impressed at every aspect of this book, which is several books in itself, seamlessly blended. Hanging on through a lengthy passage of the story (when the details may seem heavy and the going slow: events after Kennedy's death seemed interminable like a dirge of their own) is always rewarded. The narration is ideal.

  • How to Avoid Corporate Bankruptcy

  • And Still Get the Benefits Without the Expense, Lawyers, and Oversight
  • By: Neil Goldstein, Dan Goldstein
  • Narrated by: Pete Ferrand
  • Length: 3 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

Filing for bankruptcy can save a company, but it’s an onerous and unpredictable process. Bankruptcy costs a lot of money and time. Lawyers are required at every step and management needs to find new financing when the financing is frozen. There’s a chance that the court may not approve the recovery plan or that a third-party management company can take over. Elementary Business has created an alternative to bankruptcy - the “Informal Plan”. We’ve used it over 20 times to save companies in trouble. There’s no court, no trustee, no creditor committees, and far lower legal expenses.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Might advance the thinking for the right audience

  • By Philo on 11-02-18

Might advance the thinking for the right audience

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

Reviewed: 11-02-18

So, a firm is having money problems or maybe foresees having these problems. The answers do not seem to be comilng into view from sources inside the firm. If it is a large firm, it can hire a consulting firm like McKinsey to come in, look things over, and make recommendations. In that case, as is described here in a bankruptcy, there are neat fenced-off tasks for lawyers, accountants, a bankruptcy trustee (if it comes to that), all down the line. If it is a small-to-mid-size firm, without great sophistication in management or finance, this would seem to be the object of this book. Some of the sample firms described here seem like they could voluntarily make internal changes of a sort I would simply classify as basic "management." I.e., perhaps their management is out-of-touch or otherwise deficient. In any event, this perhaps smaller or somewhat less sophisticated firm needs ideas and answers, and has enough stress to be considering a bankruptcy filing. Creditors are pressing hard for payment and perhaps refusing further credit or shipments. Here come the authors to this book, to some extent marketing their sort of skills, (they claim) to give an alternative: why, say, pay $40,000 to various people in the bankruptcy process, that instead could go straight to vendors and others, and perhaps keep the business going, pending a workout achieved through voluntary agreements among all affected parties? So, this is not unlike the counseling (including,on bankruptcy alternatives) that an individual may (or must) seek on the path to an individual bankruptcy, nowadays. I can't vouch for (or meaningfully criticize) this book's and its authors' particular recommended setups. I remain with my natural skepticisms not all resolved. But yes, voluntary debt restructuring has always been an alternative for individuals or firms. There are,of course, complexities to this, and plenty can fail to go as hoped. Creditors not rigorously shown what is going on (as they are in a bankruptcy) may balk, for starters. And this, perhaps after a consulting fee has been paid. I do see the authors taking some time to explain SOME potential costs and benefits here.
There is some information about the workings of bankruptcy proceedings here, though (given these authors are promoting a certain approach they also, it would appear, sell) audible or some of its content providers could and should certainly provide books aimed specifically at this topic, and possibly more neutrally. The absence (as of this writing) of such a book on the nuts and bolts of business bankruptcy and restructuring is unfortunate, in my view. (So too, off topic, is the paucity of books on reverse mortgages.) In the face of such a gap, this book is just about all that is available on this site. It has some use, in that circumstance.

  • The Lords of Creation

  • By: Fredrick Lewis Allen
  • Narrated by: William Hope
  • Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49

An acclaimed classic detailing the economic history of America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and exposing the capitalist giants who changed the world. Frederick Lewis Allen’s insightful financial history of the United States - from the late 1800s through the stock market collapse of 1929 - remains a seminal work on what brought on America’s worst economic disaster: the Great Depression.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brisk, listenable tale of big $, Gilded Age to 30s

  • By Philo on 10-30-18

Brisk, listenable tale of big $, Gilded Age to 30s

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

I mean to say, of about a dozen books in and around this subject I have read or heard, this is far and away the most brisk and listenable one. As story-telling, it is head and shoulders above all others. It manages to portray the deals and situations any number of supposedly sophisticated and complex books fail to do. The author takes a balanced view, sometimes chiding the captains of industry and finance, sometime acknowledging their contributions. The narratives are both true, I think, and it is brilliantly dealt with. The occasional commentary never spoils the great energy and clarity of these tales. The details and the characters are fantastic, and fleshed out so well. One can watch the USA being framed up and built here, yes, the USA, whether we despise it or not, we use constantly for our own advantage. Here is the ancestry of all the streets, infrastructure, and conveniences I see daily here, on the West Coast. It didn't just spring into being, it was done by people as are described here, sometimes with guile and ruthlessness. The pacing is masterful, each business move well-described. The book never bogs down, as more academic style tomes (like its cousin in subject-matter, Railroaded, in the catalog here, sometimes does, getting lost in its own academic complexities and themes). This one does not attempt to superimpose some pretentious super-abstract conceptual framework on things. It just keeps diving back in, to colorful tales and adventures, with just enough business, finance and economics neatly spiced in, to make it a smart story, yet understandable to most anyone, and an entertaining one. Now, on a more technical level, when the author does critique these capitalists' doings as bad, he comes fundamentally from what we now call a stakeholder approach. However, the author can see the alternate view now called the shareholder value school, and its virtues. This 1930s (I think?) author was living and writing in tghe times of the worst failure of capitalism in the USA, all of which is detailed in my favorite telling ever heard, so lucid and understandable and well-paced. This title goes to the top of my business history stack, and it is a very large stack, to date.

  • The Power Brokers

  • The Struggle to Shape and Control the Electric Power Industry
  • By: Jeremiah D. Lambert
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

For more than a century, the interplay between private, investor-owned electric utilities and government regulators has shaped the electric power industry in the United States. Provision of an essential service to largely dependent consumers invited government oversight and ever more sophisticated market intervention. The industry has sought to manage, coopt, and profit from government regulation. In The Power Brokers, Jeremiah Lambert maps this complex interaction from the late 19th century to the present day.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Big chunks of the story -like several short novels

  • By Philo on 10-29-18

Big chunks of the story -like several short novels

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

Reviewed: 10-29-18

This is nothing like a comprehensive history. But the pieces are interesting in themselves. It is another USA tale of entrepreneurs (often with flamboyant or otherwise very distinctive personalities) laying in segments of infrastructure and government mixes into it with major legislation or interventions at points. So, as in other lines of business, we wind up with an odd and quirky patchwork that grew up idiosyncratically, of private and public controls.

  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra

  • By: Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Narrated by: Michael Scott
  • Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

"Thus Spoke Zarathustra" is a 19th century literary masterpiece and key philosophical work by Nietzsche. Zarathustra descends from...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Stirs up some mental muck, flashes new angles

  • By Philo on 10-23-18

Stirs up some mental muck, flashes new angles

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

Reviewed: 10-23-18

As I take the long march through more academic works (such as history by Robert Caro, awesome but hundreds of pages deep), and as I bog down sometimes in my own redundant ditches of thinking and moods, even as the fall seasons deepens, it is wonderfully refreshing to switch to something quite different. This book serves wonderfully for that, sometimes posing odd angles of thought like a blast of air in the face, or poking into one's certitudes with a sharp broomstick jab. Plenty in the PC crowd will be affronted, as with the sweeping statements on what women supposedly are. But this buffeting of norms can be bracing, if approached in the right sort of spirit. If I wanted confirmation of my anodyne biases, I would look elsewhere. Currently selling for 66 cents, this is incredible. Yes, as a story, it is threadbare, because the story is a mere prop for the ideas, which are pretty wild.
I can't say this will resonate with you, but for me, at the typical (perhaps mentally fatigued, small-minded) instant I turn this on, it is like a skyhook has grabbed me and dragged me aloft, for a different view. Others might find it sing-song and pretentious. It takes me to a very poetic and visionary sort of place.