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David

STAMFORD, CT, United States
  • 82
  • reviews
  • 349
  • helpful votes
  • 88
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  • The Threat

  • How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump
  • By: Andrew G. McCabe
  • Narrated by: Andrew G. McCabe
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2,833
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,611
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2,596

On March 16, 2018, just 26 hours before his scheduled retirement from the organization he had served with distinction for more than two decades, Andrew G. McCabe was fired from his position as deputy director of the FBI. President Donald Trump celebrated on Twitter: "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy." In The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, Andrew G. McCabe offers a dramatic and candid account of his career and an impassioned defense of the FBI.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The FBI & DOJ

  • By Greb on 02-19-19

Integrity at the FBI

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

Reviewed: 03-21-19

Andrew McCabe displays a calm, quiet dignity in his reading of his memoir, “The Threat.” The book shows off both McCabe's persistence in ferreting out crime and his understanding of the techniques and procedures that make the FBI a crucial player in the American justice system.

McCabe repeatedly demonstrates his loyalty to the FBI and his affection for its career agents, who work as government servants despite the likelihood of higher pay in the business world. The burdens on his family are probably understated. The reader finishes the memoir rooting for this likeable, dedicated public servant who is ready and willing to go after bullies, whether in organized crime, the terrorist community or the White House or Congress. He is a brave man.

I usually prefer to hear professional narrators read audiobooks, but in this case the author’s everyday voice added to the book’s reasoned tone.

  • Offshore

  • By: Penelope Fitzgerald, Alan Hollinghurst - introduction
  • Narrated by: Jot Davies, Alan Hollinghurst, Stephanie Racine
  • Length: 5 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 33

On Battersea Reach, a mixed bag of the temporarily lost and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the tide of the Thames. There is good-natured Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by chance a receiver of stolen goods. And Richard, an ex-navy man whose boat, much like its owner, dominates the Reach.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bohos on the Thames

  • By David on 03-03-19

Bohos on the Thames

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

Reviewed: 03-03-19

“Offshore” presents a group of charming misfits who live on houseboats in a fading section of London in the early 1960s. The novel follows their romantic entanglements, frustrated ambitions and (like their boats) efforts to stay afloat.

The novel was well-written, although it sometimes drifted too far into the whimsical. I was not amused by two precocious sisters, ages 6 and 12, who are a little too brave, perceptive and well-spoken. But overall, this provides a brisk, entertaining listen. The narrator was strong on his characters’ voices, if sometimes a little overenthusiastic.

  • Godsend

  • A Novel
  • By: John Wray
  • Narrated by: Suehyla El-Attar
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 18

Like many other 18-year-olds, Aden Sawyer is intently focused on a goal: escape from her hometown. Aden’s dream, however, is worlds removed from conventional fantasies of teen rebellion: She is determined to travel to Peshawar, Pakistan, to study Islam at a madrassa. To do so, she takes on a new identity, disguising herself as a young man named Suleyman. Aden fully commits to this new life, even burning her passport to protect her secret. But once she is on the ground, she finds herself in greater danger than she could possibly have imagined. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • compelling novel, though could have done more

  • By Amazon Customer on 12-30-18

So Brave, So Flawed

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

Reviewed: 02-08-19

Aden Grace Sawyer, the protagonist of “Godsend,” is intense. She leaves her comfortable California community, where her father is a secular professor of Islamic studies, to join the fight for Islamic fundamentalism.

Aden is relentless in achieving her goals. She has taught herself much of the Quran. She persuades her shallow Muslim boyfriend to fly with her to Pakistan, initially to study in a madrassa. She disguises herself as a boy too young to shave so she can participate in the all-male school—and fight those she perceives as religious and political enemies.

The novel becomes suspenseful as Aden—now Suleyman—struggles to protect both her faith in jihad and her boyish identity. Many fellow fighters, from a variety of Muslim countries, find this American “boy” a novelty and perhaps a threat. But she never loses her focus, even as she witnesses the increasingly senseless violence of her fellow fighters.

Basically, Aden offers treasonous assistance to those who would kill her fellow Americans. But Wray makes her deeply sympathetic, almost understandable, despite her radical rejection of family and country. Aden is willing to sacrifice everything for her faith and her cause. And Wray's sensitive writing makes that dedication seem almost reasonable.

Wray uses a lot of indirection to show Aden’s changing relationship with the fighters around her. While Aden understands her dangerous situation, she never seems to give up on the purity of her own vision and faith.

The narration by Suehyla El-Attar was outstanding. She brought a subtle distinction to each character’s voice, and she narrated some very disturbing scenes with calm and control.

Overall, a fascinating look at a young true believer.

  • Asymmetry

  • A Novel
  • By: Lisa Halliday
  • Narrated by: Candace Thaxton, Arthur Morey, Fiona Hardingham, and others
  • Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 468
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 424
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 422

Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, "Folly", tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • This is not a fair review. Doesn’t work in audio format.

  • By Elizabeth on 02-16-18

Top of the World, and Not

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

Reviewed: 01-28-19

“Asymmetry” became more intriguing the more I listened. Each new section (there are three) causes the reader to think differently about the prior sections.

The novel opens with a love affair between a stylish young editor in Manhattan and an aging, worldly novelist (reportedly modeled after Philip Roth) whom she meets while sitting on a park bench. The novelist appears to have everything—culture, intelligence, respect, the financial security to support needy acquaintances (like the guy at the neighborhood newsstand), and the charisma to attract beautiful young women. Apart from his serial wives, the novelist tries to do good and to live an exemplary life.

The second section shifts to a different world. The narrator is an Iraqi-American economist, held at a London airport as he tries to fly to visit his brother in Iraq. Through flashbacks, the narrator calmly recalls his history in both America and Iraq, where much of his extended family remains. Those in Iraq have lived through chaos and terror, but the tone is light, as if the narrator were distancing himself from his suffering relatives. The asymmetry seems to be between the affluent and sophisticated New Yorkers of the first section, trying to do good and be fair while living well, and the nearly helpless Iraqis, also educated and trying to live well, but surrounded by constant threats and danger. America's role in creating the Iraqi situation is frequently invoked.

The third section returns to a character from the first. The character is seen in a different light. This section was especially well-narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Arthur Morey.

The novel regularly slips into brief philosophical discussions, which I found interesting. Overall, despite a slow start, “Asymmetry” was a well-written, thoughtful and provocative listen.

  • Heirs of the Founders

  • The Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants
  • By: H. W. Brands
  • Narrated by: Eric Martin
  • Length: 14 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 121

In the early 1800s, three young men strode onto the national stage, elected to Congress at a moment when the Founding Fathers were beginning to retire to their farms. Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, a champion orator known for his eloquence, spoke for the North and its business class. Henry Clay of Kentucky, as dashing as he was ambitious, embodied the hopes of the rising West. South Carolina's John Calhoun, with piercing eyes and an even more piercing intellect, defended the South and slavery. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent

  • By Jean on 12-04-18

Refresher Course

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

Reviewed: 12-18-18

“Heirs of the Founders” covers a lot of early 19th Century history, from the War of 1812 to the Missouri Compromise to the annexation of Texas to the Compromise of 1850. But there wasn’t a lot of new material or insight. It felt like a review of things I’d learned in high school.

The lives of John Calhoun, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster provide the framework, but some of the other figures are more intriguing. John Quincy Adams, after his presidency, returned to the House of Representatives as a visceral foe of slavery. The deep feeling of his quoted speech on abolition was more moving, to me, than the political rhetoric of Calhoun, Clay and Webster. Hot Andrew Jackson and cool John Tyler may have had as much influence, in their ways, as the title figures. H.W. Brands digresses at one point to recount at length the life of Solomon Northup of “12 Years a Slave.” That’s an important story, but here it felt like filler.

Clay, Calhoun and Webster were intense, brilliant and persuasive legislators, and this is good serious history. Much of the book is taken up with lengthy quotes from their speeches and letters. But that does not make for compelling listening, especially in the car.

I enjoyed some of Brands’ earlier histories, like The First American (Ben Franklin) and The General vs. the President (MacArthur/Truman). With my high expectations, I was disappointed by this thorough but often plodding book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Bad Blood

  • Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
  • By: John Carreyrou
  • Narrated by: Will Damron
  • Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 18,953
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 17,223
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 17,192

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose start-up “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fund-raising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’ worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Extreme retaliation against former employees

  • By 🔧Eugene on 05-29-18

Suspenseful Business Journalism

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

Reviewed: 11-14-18

The main story is about a scandal--how an aggressive, charismatic young woman persuaded rich and powerful men to help her build a healthcare company based on (apparently) lies. That story was thrilling. But the secondary story is equally fascinating--the tenacious efforts by the author to get the story, to persuade insiders and others to overcome their reluctance to be whistle-blowers in the interest of the public health and their own integrity. Frankly, by the time I reached the point where the initial article was published in The Wall Street Journal, I actually whooped in my car and began clapping (sorry, nearby drivers). What a great job of reporting, and what a great read.

  • The Great Believers

  • By: Rebecca Makkai
  • Narrated by: Michael Crouch
  • Length: 18 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 770
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 724
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 720

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying, and after his friend Nico's funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A story for all time

  • By Amazon Customer on 08-06-18

Friends in Pain

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

The two parallel stories in this moving novel deal with friendship, family and the difficulty of maintaining relationships in the face of bad behavior.

The bigger story is a heartbreaking study of a group of gay men in 1980s Chicago, as the AIDS crisis grows. The men have created a tight friendship circle in Boystown, a neighborhood of stylish if not wealthy gay men. Yale Tishman, who works at an art gallery at Northwestern University, watches as one friend after another contracts the disease.

The secondary story, told in alternating chapters, focuses on a mother seeking her estranged daughter in 2013 Paris. Fiona, the mother, was the sister of one of the AIDS victims in the earlier story and a close friend of many of the Boystown men. One of the author’s skills is in how she reveals how a wholly sympathetic character like Fiona can inadvertently alienate and betray her own child.

The narration by Michael Crouch was excellent and just right for this understated, empathetic novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Pope Who Would Be King

  • The Exile of Pius IX and the Emergence of Modern Europe
  • By: David I. Kertzer
  • Narrated by: Will Damron
  • Length: 13 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43

Only two years after Pope Pius IX’s election in 1846 had triggered great popular enthusiasm across Italy, the pope found himself a virtual prisoner in his own palace. The revolutions that swept through Europe and shook Rome threatened to end the popes’ thousand-year reign over the Papal States, if not the papacy itself. The resulting drama was rife with treachery, tragedy, and international power politics. David Kertzer, one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of Italy and the Vatican, brings this pivotal moment vividly to life.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting perspective, somewhat confusing

  • By S. Jones on 05-25-18

Like a Suspense Thriller

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

Reviewed: 08-31-18

I had no knowledge of the life of Pope Pius IX (“Pio Nono” to the Romans) or the troubles in Italy during his tenure. So as this history progressed, I found myself wholly absorbed in the car, waiting to see what happened next. There were multiple players in a game of international politics—the French, the Austrians, the other Italian kingdoms, as well as the conservative cardinals and the rebellious Roman liberals. The major issues, primarily the church’s control of state government and the unification of Italy, were fascinating. And after the Pope’s exile from Rome (not a spoiler—it’s disclosed in the first pages), the suspense turned on whether and when he might return to Rome.

David Kertzer has a novelist’s ability to draw characters and create suspense. Characters like Cardinal Antonelli, Alexis de Tocqueville and Garibaldi are well-drawn. The pope himself comes across as somewhat tragic, longing for his people’s affection but suffering because of his own weaknesses and his tendency to be manipulated by others.

The history was well-read. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

  • Warlight

  • A Novel
  • By: Michael Ondaatje
  • Narrated by: Steve West
  • Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,099
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,016
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,014

In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself - shadowed and luminous at once - we follow the story of 14-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • BRILLIANT

  • By Linda on 06-03-18

The War is Not Over

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

Reviewed: 07-31-18

Warlight is a novel of mystery and loss. The young narrator, Nathaniel Williams, and his sister Rachel are left in London by their parents at the end of World War II, ostensibly because their parents are relocating to Asia. Nathaniel and Rachel are left at their London house under the care of secretive, potentially unsavory characters they call the Moth and the Darter. But those characters and the others who frequent the Williams’ house are not so bad. They protect the teens and fascinate them as well. By example, they teach them something about grown-up life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the cool, seductive narration by Steve West. The second half of the novel focuses on Nathaniel’s mother’s activities during the war, and that too is an engaging if troubling story. The threads come together with an understanding that actions taken in war have ongoing impact, and that for some the war is never over.

The novel reminded me of “When We Were Orphans,” by Kazuo Ishiguro, another novel with parentless children dealing with war and loss, smoky atmospherics, and with surprising—perhaps shocking--plot turns. (And that’s another excellent audiobook.) Both books are highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The War Between the Tates

  • A Novel
  • By: Alison Lurie
  • Narrated by: Judith West
  • Length: 16 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

Erica Tate wouldn't mind getting up in the morning if she enjoyed her children more. Until puberty struck, Jeffrey and Matilda were absolute darlings, but in the last year, they have become sullen, insufferable little monsters. Erica's husband, Brian, is so deeply immersed in university life--and the legs of a half-literate flower child named Wendy--that he either doesn't notice his wife's misery or simply doesn't care. Worst of all their pleasant little neighborhood is transforming into a subdivision.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So Sixties. So Current.

  • By David on 07-20-18

So Sixties. So Current.

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

Reviewed: 07-20-18

The War Between the Tates was written in 1974, and it takes place in the late ‘60s. But its plot and its themes are quite current. The novel turns on issues like the importance of marital fidelity, the right to life, women in the workplace, alternative philosophies, lonely individualism and academic freedom. An attempt by students to shut down a right-wing, conservative professor could have taken place now.

This is a campus novel, focused on Erica Tate and her professor husband Brian. Both are attractive, smart, articulate and unhappy with middle age. Brian acts out with a needy, free-spirited graduate student, while Erica tries to maintain her ordered life. The events are potentially sad and disturbing, but Alison Lurie writes with a light, bemused touch (and she writes beautifully). The novel is frequently comic—a combination of Jane Austen manners and John Updike infidelity.

My only disappointment was the treatment of the Tates’ teenage children, Jeffrey and Matilda. They are never developed beyond a one-note grumpiness. I felt like Lurie was trying to show the generation gap without really understanding it.

The narration by Judith West was excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful