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Beek2350

Fresno, CA
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Accessory to War audiobook cover art

Needs an Editor

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

Reviewed: 12-19-18

This book could easily be condensed into a book less than half it size. I gave up at about halfway out of boredom. Much of the book is spent filling out rather minute details of the historical development of certain technologies, such as the telescope. While this might be interesting to historians of science, the amount of time spent on each technology is overkill, in my opinion. This is typical of history scholars. So, in that sense, it is appropriate. But I see this as a flaw with professional historians so I certainly don’t enjoy it when scientists emulate it.

We're Doomed. Now What? audiobook cover art

Not what I expected but good. Very good.

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

I purchased this book based on some reviews I had read on Facebook ads and Amazon. The premise of the title follows my overall worldview about climate change -- that it's irreversible and will get worse. The "Now What" was what I was intrigued to hear. I've come up with my own ideas about "Now what?" but I was eager to hear how somebody else has decided to live with the problems we face. To read that the book brought the author's experiences as a combat veteran into his perspectives was another intrigue since it is completely different from my life experience. In short, I was hoping to learn something new from his perspective.

The book was not at all what I expected. In truth, based on the title, the entire book could be edited down to the first and last hours of the text. Everything else had little to do with the title at all. From his life story, his time in the military, literary critiques, philosophical discussions on the nature and utility of thought, nearly everything sandwiched in between the first and final chapters appears to this listener as only relevant to the discussion in a stream of consciousness sort of way. Scranton goes on tangents -- long protracted tangents. The book itself seems to be mostly tangents rather than sticking with the core premise of the title. So if you're only looking for a better sense of how to live in a doomed world, simply listen to the first and last hour of this book. Skip everything in between. You won't get any concrete answers. In fact, the one tangible solution he offers is a call for a global socialist order -- something I feel is about as viable in the real world as some ecological utopia. I think he may be right. A global socialist order might be the only way to delay the apocalypse he sees. But it's far from an ideal solution and carries a high potential to further systematize and/or even exaggerate the global problems we face. In many ways, it felt like an act of intellectual laziness to pull the socialist card. After all, we humans are really doing what we've always done. We've always burnt, killed and disregarded the consequences of our actions. We're probably better at watching our carbon footprint today than ever in our history. But the scale is different now. And turning to socialism to reign in our evolutionary behaviors is like trying to domesticate a wild animal. You may succeed. But it isn't the same animal anymore. In other words, socialism requires a different species for it to work. We homo sapiens are simply not geared for socialism any more than a bison is geared to pull a plow.

But if you enjoy learning from other people, jumping into the minds and experiences of others who are well educated and extremely thoughtful, then you may yet enjoy the content between the beginning and the end of the book. Although I skipped several sections which I didn't find much relevance or importance for me, I found that there was still a lot of thoughtful discussions on topics which I may not have ever picked up had it not been hidden in the Trojan horse of a book on how to live in an age of apocalypse. For me, a good book is a journey and adventure of thought and reflection. And predictability is the enemy of adventure. In that sense, I am grateful that the author chose to insert his tangential thoughts and experiences into the book. For artistic and intellectual pursuits, I am a willing sucker for this ruse. Scranton appears to lack an editor of any kind. But this allows the reader to truly enter into his mind and heart in ways that any good editor would censor or block. So although I am somewhat critical of the structure and content of the book, I am also somewhat grateful.

So if you're looking for a book with a clear 12-step plan to save our species, you will be disappointed and extremely bored. But if you enjoy learning from the wisdom, thoughts, experiences and education of others, no matter what your ideology, then this is a fine place to embark on your next intellectual adventure. I would, however, highly suggest that the book be read with a small group of friends. It's simply too rich and covers too much ground to sum up for somebody else in a brief explanation.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

The Journey of Crazy Horse audiobook cover art

Fantastic!

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

Reviewed: 01-19-18

If you could sum up The Journey of Crazy Horse in three words, what would they be?

A cut above!

What other book might you compare The Journey of Crazy Horse to and why?

None so far.

Which scene was your favorite?

The naming of Crazy Horse. I thought I could hear the author's voice quivering as he read it. The naming of Crazy Horse doesn't have any particular emotional content to me. But I can certainly appreciate when it does to somebody else. That's hard to fake.

Any additional comments?

The author did not write a typical history book and that's a very good thing. This was an attempt to humanize Crazy Horse and make him more understandable as a person, rather than as the historical figure or heroic legend. Toward this objective, the author did an amazing job. There's some obvious creative license. But what better way to discuss a man like Crazy Horse than as a personal story? After all, the facts don't always tell the story. To hear a story of a person like Crazy Horse is to experience a story. That experience is what is conveyed by the author. I'd recommend this book to anybody who is interested in mid 19th century US history. It is an experience to remember!

The Heart of Everything That Is audiobook cover art

Hard to Take

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

Reviewed: 01-19-18

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. This is a book that fails to take into account the Native American perspective while discussing Native Americans. Most all the evidence is from Europeans and White Americans of the time. It is full of Euro-centric biases and beliefs. Among these are the assumption that agriculture is the natural and deterministic progress of the human species and that Red Cloud and the Lakota were savages by nature. I agree that the "noble savage" is a problem in itself. Ignoring negative information does no service to a culture. Yet, ignoring or downplaying the atrocities committed by Whites during this time while highlighting the atrocities of the Sioux in graphic detail is a shameful use of history. I had to double check the date to verify that it wasn't published sometime before 1950. A more balanced perspective, or even just an attempt to be more balanced, would have represented the atrocities committed by both Whites and Natives leading up to Red Cloud's war. Discussions of savage natures and inevitable progress have no place in a book that even tries to be objective or thorough in its presentation of facts.

On the positive side, the authors are very well versed in history. There's a lot of good source material presented as evidence for their ideas. I may yet finish it just to learn a few more things. But this would be like trying to engage in a discussion with the deceased Lt. Col. Custer himself. I would learn a lot. But I wouldn't consider it objective.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I have not finished the book yet. I may or may not decide to finish it.

Did George Newbern do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes. The narrator seemed to play his role well when quoting historical figures. The reading is a bit fast, however.

Was The Heart of Everything That Is worth the listening time?

No. Not yet. I'm going to have to put it down for a while.

Any additional comments?

I can't help but think that the book is the result of what happens when we try to tell the story of a culture that isn't ours. I know nothing about the authors and their backgrounds. Yet, the line from a book I cannot recall at the moment keeps ringing in my head, "That story is not mine to tell." Based on the sampling bias in the evidence presented in the text and the clear feelings of cultural superiority by the authors, I feel that whatever the background of the authors may be, Red Cloud's story is not theirs to tell.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Wake audiobook cover art

Great Ideas Wasted by a Bad Ending

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

Reviewed: 10-02-17

I was excited by this book. I had read some of Kingsnorth's latest book, CONFESSIONS OF A RECOVERING ENVIRONMENTALIST, and some smaller pieces. I thought I would give this book a try. At first, I was really excited by the book. The creation of a pseudo Old English language was a very creative way to add depth to the story and make it seem as though I had, indeed, stepped into a different place and time. The ideas in the book, particularly those of religion and place, were also interesting. But the ending was terrible. The best way I can describe it is that it was as if I was reading LORD OF THE RINGS and the entire story just ended right when Frodo and Sam were caught by the orcs while in Mordor. There was no resolution and hardly even a climax. Maybe another comparison would be with MONTE PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, when everything just stops, leaving you completely hanging. It's just not as funny. The Narrator did a fantastic job at portraying the main character in both speech and emotion. He gets 5 stars. But, as much as I like Kingsnorth's ideas and creativity in this story, the story itself was a flop.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful