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Gary

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  • 18
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  • Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy

  • By: The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Professor David K. Johnson PhD University of Oklahoma
  • Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 167
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 149

The science fiction genre has become increasingly influential in mainstream popular culture, evolving into one of the most engaging storytelling tools we use to think about technology and consider the shape of the future. Along the way, it has also become one of the major lenses we use to explore important philosophical questions. The origins of science fiction are most often thought to trace to Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, a story born from a night of spooky tale-telling by the fireside that explores scientific, moral, and ethical questions that were of great concern in the 19th century - and that continue to resonate today.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • It only scratches the surface

  • By Marcos Trujillo Cue on 06-14-18

Simply superb

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

Reviewed: 09-07-18

Professor Johnson is one of my favorite lecturers in The Great Courses. It's a combination of his innate enthusiasm for the subjects he teaches and, I suppose, his slight nerdiness. He delivery style keeps you interested and I like the times he inserts his own life experiences as examples. He explains it all very well, and I speak as a lay person. He's a truly gifted educator. Of course, none of this means anything if the content is no good, but in this case the content is amazing. I am familiar with about 1/3 of the SciFi references he uses in the course and the others are now on a list. As a kid I read Hitchhikers well over 100 times, and I took the whale thing as just a funny sidebar in the book. You'll have to listen to the end to learn how the professor uses it. If you know any of this SciFi you'll definitely see it in another light.

  • Aristotle for Everybody

  • Difficult Thought Made Easy
  • By: Mortimer J. Adler
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 5 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 76
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 69

“Almost all of the philosophical truths that I have come to know and understand I have learned from Aristotle,” says Mortimer J. Adler. This easy-to-listen-to exposition of Aristotle’s thoughts about nature, human actions, and the conduct of life confirms convictions that most of us hold, though we may not be fully aware of them. This is because Aristotle’s philosophical insights are grounded in the common experience we all possess and because they illuminate the common sense we all rely on.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Incredibly well read

  • By Gary on 09-13-13

Incredibly well read

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

Reviewed: 09-13-13

This is actually the first audio book I have listened to over and over (at least a few chapters 5 times). Chapters 12-15 (Audible's numbering) should be required reading for every member of human race. They deal with why we should live well, virtues and vices, making good choices. It amazes me, though it probably shouldn't, that Aristotle was thinking of things like the nature of love and friendship, family, government in 400 BC.

I also cannot say too much about Frederick Davidson, who has become my favorite narrator. He seems to completely understand the subject matter, which means we listeners are given a great advantage. He paces the text perfectly and puts the right emphasis on the complex parts which helps them sink in.

Don't be afraid of it. This really is an outstanding piece of work.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Down and Out in Paris and London

  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 262
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 235
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 233

Orwell's own experiences inspire this semi-autobiographical novel about a man living in Paris in the early 1930s without a penny. The narrator's poverty brings him into contact with strange incidents and characters, which he manages to chronicle with great sensitivity and graphic power. The latter half of the book takes the English narrator to his home city, London, where the world of poverty is different in externals only.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The King of Boldness, Clearness, and Audacity

  • By Darwin8u on 05-21-12

Hilariously enlightening

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

Reviewed: 08-15-13

Very interesting story on living on the poverty line in the 1920s. Davidson's accents are brilliant.

Claudius the God audiobook cover art
  • Claudius the God

  • By: Robert Graves
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 19 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 105
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55

In the continuation of his fictional autobiography begun in I, Claudius, Robert Graves tells the dramatic story of Claudius' thirteen-year reign as Emperor of Rome. A must listen before running out to see the new film Gladiator!

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Historical Novel

  • By Zachary Brannock on 01-29-04

Graves brings ancient Rome within easy reach

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

Reviewed: 08-15-13

I moved onto this immediately after I, Claudius. The book picks up from the end of the aforementioned and initially detours to describe the life of Herod Agrippa. Claudius spends the rest of the book chronicling his reign. There were times in the book that the plot became so complex and what with all the Latin names I completely lost track of it, but these places were few and far between. Otherwise I say it was on par with the previous book. The "3 endings" and "Claudius at Heaven" epilogues were a good bonus. These evoked sympathy for Claudius that many say is not deserved and some cite these books are creating a misleading favorable impression of Claudius. I don't agree with that. So many summary executions, unfair executions, even of his lifelong friends don't leave me in doubt as to his moral character. Perhaps it could be said that he was a clever man that got the ship righted after Caligula's reign. At the end of the book, if you are interested Google the excavations of Ostia to get a sense of Claudia's work.

I, Claudius audiobook cover art
  • I, Claudius

  • By: Robert Graves
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 307
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 250
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 247

Physically weak and afflicted with stuttering, Claudius is initially despised and dismissed as an idiot. Shunted to the background of imperial affairs by his embarrassed royal family, he becomes a scholar and historian, while palace intrigues and murders surround him. Observing these dramas from beyond the public eye, Claudius escapes the cruelties inflicted on the rest of the royal family by its own members and survives to become emperor of Rome in A.D. 41.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An..An..Ancient Rome comes to life, brilliantly

  • By Robert on 04-29-11

Great read

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

Reviewed: 07-10-13

I chose this book as I am working through a Christopher Hitchen's reading list. In essence, a fictional "autobiography" by Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Drusus Germanicus) based on historical accounts of the lives of the protagonists. Brutality and cruelty abound, but very educational and quite funny in places. I give it a thumbs up!

Frederick Davidson narrates this book wonderfully. His Caligula was my favorite, followed closely by the voiced Claudius himself. If you listen carefully with headphones you can hear him turn the pages, but never miss a beat. A true master. RIP.

  • The Kite Runner

  • By: Khaled Hosseini
  • Narrated by: Khaled Hosseini
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,656
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,404
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,436

Why we think it’s a great listen: Never before has an author’s narration of his fiction been so important to fully grasping the book’s impact and global implications. Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Goodness, What a Audiobook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • By Andrew Covington on 11-02-07

Moving story, well read

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

Reviewed: 01-07-13

I recently saw a picture taken in the 1970s of a garden with trees and a decorative pool in Kabul. The picture showed young girls playing. Then alongside another photo from the same vantage point today. There is nothing but bare ground and rubble. Although this story is fictional, it depicts the events that create the Afghanistan we see today.

My teenage niece read this book at school, which surprised me as there are some disturbing parts in it.

I didn't like the author's voice in the beginning, but it grew on me and in the in end he does a fine job. It general it's a net-positive when the author reads his/her own work.

  • Death in the Afternoon

  • By: Ernest Hemingway
  • Narrated by: Boyd Gaines
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 243
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 181
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 181

Still considered one of the best books ever written about bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon reflects Hemingway's belief that bullfighting was more than mere sport. Here he describes and explains the technical aspects of this dangerous ritual, and "the emotional and spiritual intensity and pure classic beauty that can be produced by a man, an animal, and a piece of scarlet serge draped on a stick."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Death In The Afternoon

  • By Kevin B. Keenan on 02-02-15

No previous interest in bullfighting required

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

Reviewed: 01-07-13

No fan of bullfighting here. If anything I came into this with a negative opinion. I choose this book, because I felt Hemingway would do something great with it and he doesn't disappoint. Boyd Gaines delivers a fantastic read, with perfect Spanish pronunciations. It doesn't change my opinion on bullfighting much, but maybe a little on life and death.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Kill Decision

  • By: Daniel Suarez
  • Narrated by: Jeff Gurner
  • Length: 13 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,042
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,533
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,539

Linda McKinney is a myrmecologist, a scientist who studies the social structure of ants. Her academic career has left her entirely unprepared for the day her sophisticated research is conscripted by unknown forces to help run an unmanned - and thanks to her research, automated - drone army. Odin is the secretive Special Ops soldier with a unique insight into the faceless enemy who has begun to attack the American homeland with drones programmed to seek, identify, and execute targets.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not Daemon/Freedom, but still good Thriller

  • By T. Menefee on 07-21-12

A disturbing use of a new technology

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

Reviewed: 12-08-12

Dan Suarez creates stories in which he imagines technology that's a little more than one step ahead of where it is today in 2012 (a statement like that needs a time stamp!).

This book follows on from earlier work, depicting a frightening abuse of a new technology. Today many countries have drone programs including Iran, and groups like Hamas. Very few Americans care when a US drone missile wipes out a terrorist and his family. It's about "bad guys" and it's a new warfare, detached, remote, fire and forget. Suarez takes this paradigm and turns it around, forcing us to consider how we'd feel being on the end of those missiles.

The plot and storyline are superb, but I didn't enjoy this book as much as Daemon and Freedom, Inc. For me it boils down to the "John Wayne" dialog, and the perpetually astonished female protagonist. I think the author can do better. The dialog started to really annoy me and became reflexive reaction as the book progressed.

That said, I really did enjoy this work and recommend it wholeheartedly. Dan Suarez embraces and extends the genre created by Clancy and Larry Bond in the 80s. Looking forward to the next one.

  • The Sun Also Rises

  • By: Ernest Hemingway
  • Narrated by: William Hurt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,321
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,742
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,747

The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the story introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. Follow the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of the 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointed with narration

  • By Mary Jo Ignoffo on 04-17-15

Superb story, well read

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

Reviewed: 04-25-12

The definitive novel of the Lost Generation. Fast, promiscuous lives in Paris, Spain. Bullfighting and infighting, told in Hemingway's trademark understated, elegant way. Simply outstanding.

William Hurt's choice of emphasis on parts of the sentence struck me as odd at first. Pauses and emphasis where you don't expect it give a feeling of awkwardness, like Macon Leary was reading this book.

As he is vocalizing Hemingway's inner voice I am not sure this is entirely out of place, but it took me a while to get used to it. Overall I really enjoyed the narration. The character voices were simply superb. Mr Hurt does a mean Scottish accent.

  • The Old Man and the Sea

  • By: Ernest Hemingway
  • Narrated by: Donald Sutherland
  • Length: 2 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,957
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,929
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,916

The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal, a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Truly a Classic

  • By Dave on 07-01-08

Superbly read

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

Reviewed: 04-13-12

Donald Sutherland's tired, smokey voice is perfect for this reading. You can almost feel the tired, aching old body. Loved it.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful