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Joe

Kansas City, MO, United States
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  • 457
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  • 323
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  • Blackwater

  • The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
  • By: Jeremy Scahill
  • Narrated by: Tom Weiner
  • Length: 14 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 651
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 307
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 312

A largely untold facet of the war on terror is the widespread outsourcing of military tasks to private mercenary companies. Accountable neither to the citizenry nor to standard military legal codes, these largely unregulated corporate armies are being entrusted with ever-greater responsibilities on behalf of the nation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wakeup Call.

  • By swatch1776 on 04-30-10

Well... this was terrifying

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

Reviewed: 11-27-16

This was a scary, intense, thought-provoking book to read, and I'm so glad I did. Here you will find the story not just of how a powerful and rich ultra right wing and fundamentalist family created the largest private army in the world, but more importantly, the story of how America has slowly outsourced more and more of the war effort. We see the beginnings of Blackwater, as a training ground for armed forces and police. But then they grow to private security, peacekeeping operations, and worldwide mercinaries. The questions this book raises are serious, profound, and largely neglected by American culture: if private armies fight our wars, then who holds them accountable to the same code of conduct as the actual army? If we privatize our wars, and don't count these contractors among the dead, do Americans get a real sense of our war's devistation? If we use a 1:1 armed service-member to contractor ratio, doesn't that make it easier to fight in wars, and doesn't that mean we will deploy troops with less oversight? And what does that mean to our democracy? And if contractors are sent out with less legal oversight and on shorter contracts, whose to say they won't leave an area less politically secure than when they went in?

This is an important book. It makes two real points as it charts the company from its founding in 1997 to 2006. First, contractors are not held to the same moral and legal code as the real army, and are thus more likely to commit abuses. Second, the use of contractors makes it much too easy for a country to engage in wars without real consequence of oversight of the population. You should read it.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

  • By: Sean Carroll, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Sean Carroll
  • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,283
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,152
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,134

Time rules our lives, woven into the very fabric of the universe-from the rising and setting of the sun to the cycles of nature, the thought processes in our brains, and the biorhythms in our day. Nothing so pervades our existence and yet is so difficult to explain. But now, in a series of 24 riveting lectures, you can grasp exactly why - as you take a mind-expanding journey through the past, present, and future, guided by a noted author and scientist.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Get From Eternity to Here instead

  • By Michael on 07-24-13

worth your while

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

Reviewed: 11-23-16

In this course you will explore the physics of time, how they relate to entropy and the Big Bang, and how understanding time leads us to try to understand the nature of the laws of physics. I have read several of the Great Courses classes now, particularly on physics. Many of them repeat essentials about Special and General Relativity, the nature of quantum mechanics, dark matter, dark energy, and the forces of nature. With that in mind, they tend to cover much of the same ground. This has been a completely different course. Here we spend quite a bit of time on entropy, the big bang, and how theories on the beginning of time also has consequences for multi-verse theories.

The instructor spends a little too much time on the introduction and calendars and perhaps labors on entropy for a bit too long. But with that said, he is an engaging teacher, the subject really evolves over time, and goes places I did not expect. Really worth the time you invest in it. Hang on until the second half especially, where it gets really interesting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Security

  • By: Gina Wohlsdorf
  • Narrated by: Zach Villa
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 47

When the gleaming new Manderley Resort opens in 24 hours, Santa Barbara's exclusive beachfront hotel will offer its patrons the ultimate in luxury and high-tech security. No indulgence has been ignored, no detail overlooked. But all the money in the world can't guarantee safety. As hotel manager Tessa and her employees ready the hotel for its invitation-only grand opening, a killer is in their midst. One by one staff are picked off with ruthless precision.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A new and engaging thriller

  • By Joe on 11-21-16

A new and engaging thriller

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

Reviewed: 11-21-16

I'm always inclined to give a thriller a try. Some are good, some are disappointing, but I enjoy the genre enough that it usually equals out. This book was wonderful, even by my standards. We watch a team preparing to open a new hotel, but not from a typical narrator. This narration comes from the point of view of the security cameras and what they see. And one of the things they see is a killer moving from room to room, stalking the survivors.

What really will shock and amaze you is the genius behind the narration. Just as you think you know what is happening, just as you think the point of view of the story, the author completely changes the ground underneath you. The narrator keeps up with the voice and the tone of the story. This is thought provoking, paced beautifully, scary, and engaging. I loved it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Paris 1919

  • Six Months That Changed the World
  • By: Margaret MacMillan
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
  • Length: 25 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,075
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 776
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 768

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize, renowned historian Margaret MacMillan's best-selling Paris 1919 is the story of six remarkable months that changed the world. At the close of WWI, between January and July of 1919, delegates from around the world converged on Paris under the auspices of peace. New countries were created, old empires were dissolved, and for six months, Paris was the center of the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent History

  • By Martin on 12-03-05

Amazing events that will never happen again

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

Reviewed: 11-21-16

This book really was something special. At the end of the Great War the leaders of the world were in a position to actually remake the world. Going country by country, rather than chronologically, MacMillan discusses the players, the desires, the forces that conspired to literally change countries and divide up resources. Though many of their changes have no lasted to this day, their impact on world events can scarcely be exaggerated.

World War 1 has always seemed under-valued and under-read, and so the peace process right afterwards is not well understood. That in mind, I had very high hopes for the analysis, the depth, and the scope of this book. It still surpassed all expectations. Even the narration is great. Please, enjoy.

  • The Shadow of the Torturer

  • The Book of the New Sun, Book 1
  • By: Gene Wolfe
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 12 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,744
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,389
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,392

The Shadow of the Torturer is the first volume in the four-volume epic, the tale of a young Severian, an apprentice to the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession - showing mercy towards his victim.

Gene Wolfe's "The Book of the New Sun" is one of speculative fiction's most-honored series. In a 1998 poll, Locus Magazine rated the series behind only "The Lord of the Rings" and The Hobbit as the greatest fantasy work of all time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • "All of you are torturers, one way or another"

  • By Jefferson on 10-21-12

just not entertaining

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

Reviewed: 04-24-14

I have no doubt that Gene Wolfe, the author, created a well thought through and populated universe and that his attention to detail was genre defining. But in the end that mattered very little to me, because this book is pretty boring. Here we have the story of a Torturer, raised amongst others of his guild. Then he commits the unthinkable act of having mercy on his victim. He should be killed, but instead is evicted, and this begins his four novel ourney. You can bet that I won't be joining him in the other three.

He's not a very interesting person and his inner thoughts have very little imagination. They are, instead, formulaic and trustful of the world's status quo. His adventure is also not very adventurous. Sure, there's a battle with deadly plants (I kid you not) but the hours and hours that pace without action wore me down. Sorry.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • William Shakespeare's Star Wars

  • By: Ian Doescher
  • Narrated by: Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, and others
  • Length: 3 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,459
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,356
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,356

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas's epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare's greatest plays. 'Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • To Thine Ears, Brilliance This Doth Be!

  • By Troy on 10-02-13

the empire doth protest too much, methinks

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

Reviewed: 04-24-14

This is such a great concept for a book, and executed with such enjoyment and wonder that you'll be completely willing to overlook a few minor mistakes. Here you have something NEW and FUN, a book unlike anything you've read before. As you can see from the publisher's description, it's the story of Star Wars Episode 4 written in Shakespearean Iambic Pantameter. The soliliques are here, the asides, the great references to Shakespeare lines and Starwsars fandom (such as a reference to Han shooting first.)

Also, the author isn't afraid to rethink the characters. For instance, R2D2 speaks in beeps and squeaks, but then will give a monologue as an aside to the audience about how HE'S really the one controlling the action and how much he hates C3P0. If the gimic wears a bit thin in the middle and the author attempts to write stage directions at the end of the piece in a way Shakespeare never would, that's ok, because this is a fresh author and cast and they just want us to have fun with them. Go along for the ride.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • In Defense of Food

  • By: Michael Pollan
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,890
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,957
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,952

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Life and Death

  • By James on 06-03-10

Prepare to change your habits

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

Reviewed: 04-07-14

The best books affect you, make you think and sometimes they even make you change your day to day habits. This is one of those books, a short read of ground shifting potential. And like all great books I’ve read, it starts with a simple premise and a simple question: Western culture is, by and large, health obsessed and has been for a while. We count calories, we examine fat content, we examine with finite prevision the nutritional makeup of our foods. So why, in a culture of nutritional obsession are we getting sicker and sicker every year?

What the author poses as an answer is, to use his words, that we have removed culture from our eating habits (culture being a word that means your mother). So he examines the food industry for all its faults and suggests an alternative: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It’s strange that someone would need to spend a whole book defending food but most of what we eat is not, strictly speaking, food. You should read this book, it has made an impact in my life. So go on, get cooking.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Cockroaches

  • The Second Inspector Harry Hole Novel
  • By: Jo Nesbø
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,056
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 956
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 952

When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case. But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • The Rest of the Harry Hole Series is Excellent!

  • By L. O. Pardue on 02-27-14

As always, amazing

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

Reviewed: 04-07-14

The Harry Hole series never fails to deliver. Here's another in the detective sage: a series of surprising murders, a cascade of suspects, a world of depravity and sin, and our hero, Harry, stuck in the middle. This time Harry finds himself sent out to Bangkok to investigate a diplomat’s murder in a seedy motel room. The unfolding layers of insider drug rings, ruthless businessmen, and illegal pornography conspire to give Harry his most dangerous case yet.

As always, Nesbo delivers real human drama, strong characters, and an interesting plot. As I’ve always said, the Harry Hole books use genre clichés to deliver unfaltering character studies. This book is no exception, and the narrator’s pretty amazing too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Five Days at Memorial

  • Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
  • By: Sheri Fink
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 17 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,388
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,220
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,228

In the tradition of the best writing on medicine, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the listener into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Must Read

  • By Sharon on 09-13-13

An amazing story with suspect pacing

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

Reviewed: 04-04-14

Well, this is a terrifying story. A horrible flood, under-prepared staff members caring for sick patients, no plan for emergencies, and a time frame that stretches on adding day to day. This is the story of Memorial Hospital as it was stranded during Katrina. There is dirt and fear and failing electricity and patients who need hand pumped ventilation and air conditioning. Then the really crazy question: did the staff members euthanize the patients? There's ample evidence that they did.

The author takes you through the decisions and the points of view in great detail for the five days of the disaster. It's really epic reading and you'll storm through the first half of this book. But the disaster is only the first half. Then we have the legal story, told with the same care for balance and detail, we watch the investigation into Dr. Amanda Pou, who likely ordered the injections. Was she guilty and would she be convicted? This is inherently not as interesting a subject matter and there is less human drama (though the complexities of legal struggle did keep my attention). If this book was more disaster and less legal struggle it would have been perfect. As it stands, it's just really, really good.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Mornings on Horseback

  • By: David McCullough
  • Narrated by: Nelson Runger
  • Length: 19 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 769
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 661
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 662

Winner of the 1982 National Book Award for Biography, Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as a masterpiece by Newsday, it is the story of a remarkable little boy -- seriously handicapped by recurrent and nearly fatal attacks of asthma -- and his struggle to manhood.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Did not like this one

  • By Randall on 11-05-18

This book is a scalpel

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

Reviewed: 04-04-14

This is my second David McCullough book and they just get better and better. Here we have a story that will surprise you: not the biography of the TR that we know from history, but the shaping of him into that man. His father and mother were truly exceptional people, she a wonderful story teller coming from an eccentric southern family and he a patriot and charity-driven socialite. This book tells the story, as McCullough says in the afterward, of what formed the frail, asthmatic boy into the larger than life President. The books ends when he is finally the man we know.

And the journey there is amazing. He struggled throughout his childhood with sickness, his family lived a lifestyle that has long since vanished, he deals with amazing victories at an unprecedented early age and he survives the most devastating of losses. His character changes and grows and we watch with amazing precision as a new man emerges. This book is wonderful history, fantastic detail, an intimate character study, and ripping good fun. Enjoy it!

15 of 45 people found this review helpful