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N. Rogers

San Antonio, TX, USA
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  • The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague

  • By: Dorsey Armstrong, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Dorsey Armstrong
  • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,168
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,088
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,091

Many of us know the Black Death as a catastrophic event of the medieval world. But the Black Death was arguably the most significant event in Western history, profoundly affecting every aspect of human life, from the economic and social to the political, religious, and cultural. In its wake the plague left a world that was utterly changed, forever altering the traditional structure of European societies and forcing a rethinking of every single system of Western civilization: food production and trade, the church, political institutions, law, art, and more.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • informative, interesting, well organized

  • By Tricia Munter on 06-12-16

What Was The Black Death Really?

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

Reviewed: 02-23-19

I almost always enjoy The Great Courses lectures, and this offering on the Black Death was no exception. It's a subject of morbid curiosity for many of us, but more than that, this catastrophic, mysterious epidemic dramatically changed not only the lives of those unfortunates who experienced it, but altered the very nature of European society. Many scholars, Dorsey Armstrong among them, believe that the appearance and repeated return of this deadly infection was the catalyst which transformed the medieval world of Europe into the early modern period. By killing between one-third and half of the population of Europe, it upended many of the social, economic, religious, and political institutions and forced profound change in all of them. I found it fascinating.

In addition, the discussion broadened to include other pandemics of the past, challenges faced in modern times, and warnings for our future. Armstrong is clearly captivated by the possible causes of this pandemic, its impacts on art and literature, and its relevance for us today. She answered many of the questions I have pondered on a subject often mentioned, but seldom deeply examined, in most histories I've read or classes I have attended. She handled this topic with some humor but also with the respect and gravity it warrants.

I've read several excellent fictional accounts of The Plaque, including Connie Willis'Doomsday Book and Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, which were referenced in these lectures. Much of what their characters experienced was supported by this lecture series. I often find that good historical fiction can personalize history through identification with characters, creating a desire to dig further into nonfiction sources of the setting.

If you have an interest in this period of our common history, I recommend this series of lectures for the information and understanding it provides of the past as well as the implications for us today.

  • The Haunting of Hill House

  • By: Shirley Jackson
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,642
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4,232
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,240

Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Well written horror tale

  • By Crystal on 02-11-14

Not My Genre

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

Reviewed: 02-22-19

I seldom read or listen to "thrillers." It's just not my genre. However, I decided to listen to Shirley Jackson's iconic 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House simply because it is reputed by many to be the best of its kind. So...

I was engaged during the first half of the book, interested in what might actually transpire in the old, spooky house where four people have committed to watching and waiting for whatever psychic phenomena might appear. However, as the tale continued, I became less enthralled. Maybe I have watched too many really scary movies to be easily shocked or surprised. In any case, I somehow cared less and less about these characters and the weird old house as time went on.

I'd probably rate this book 3.5 stars, but I rounded up to 4 based on the strength of the first half, and in recognition that this is not my favorite type of story. It's such a modern classic that I'm glad I listened to it; it's not long so the time investment was minimal. But with few exceptions, "thrillers" usually end up boring me. I do enjoy certain selected "mysteries," but they are quite different from "thrillers." I guess I'm too much of a realist to buy into haunted houses, ghosts, and such.

  • The Truths We Hold

  • An American Journey
  • By: Kamala Harris
  • Narrated by: Kamala Harris
  • Length: 9 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 870
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 787
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 786

By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Impressive

  • By Jean on 01-20-19

Impressive Woman

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

Reviewed: 02-22-19

I have listened to and watched Kamala Harris since she first became a Senator in 2016, and I am always impressed with her empathy, dedication, courage, and ability to articulate her position. I have observed her questioning difficult people who had been coached in how to avoid answering directly and how to use up allotted time, but she never became angry or flustered. She kept her emotions level and persisted with them, firmly and with determination.

As I listened to her tell her story in her own voice, she maintained the same consistent qualities of compassion and dedication to justice under the law that I have always heard her speak of in other settings. I have great respect for this woman, and I found her book enlightening. It explained her upbringing, her developing career, her personal attachments, and her goals and aspirations for herself and for our country.

I don't know if she will succeed in securing the nomination of the Democratic Party for the Presidency in 2020. But if she does, I will feel completely secure in her ability to win and then to govern wisely and with fairness. Her book represents her well.

  • A Tale of Two Cities [Tantor]

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 13 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,760
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,138
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,192

A Tale of Two Cities is one of Charles Dickens's most exciting novels. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, it tells the story of a family threatened by the terrible events of the past. Doctor Manette was wrongly imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years without trial by the aristocratic authorities.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • it's the singer not the song*

  • By Maynard on 11-09-13

Better Late Than in High School

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

Reviewed: 02-13-19

I was assigned this book in high school, but I never read it. It was unusual for me to fake assignments in school, especially those involving books, but I really found this one especially annoying. I think I was in the midst of a brief period of rebellion (maybe not actually so brief, but I pretty much kept it undercover), so I simply could not stand "Little Miss Perfect Lucie." She represented for me all that I wanted to avoid as a young female--the servitude and subjugation of women by men. And so, somehow I faked my way through the class discussions and avoided this novel without obvious consequences.

I finally decided after many years that the time had come for me to bite the bullet (figuratively, of course) and tackle this classic as an audiobook. It was a good decision, and it was probably wise to have skipped it as a callow adolescent. While my life has been very different from poor Lucie's, I can, with the perspective of years, appreciate her for what she was in her time. Her achievements were many, and she was respected by all who knew her, with the exception of the "evil" Madame Defarge and her revolutionary compatriots. I also believe in duty and fidelity; Lucie consistently lived up to both as they existed in her world.

In getting past the character of Lucie which had blocked the far younger me, I could now appreciate this novel for its scope and language. I was able to simply enjoy the story, chuckle at the humor, and let the plot unfold. If I could, I would rate this book 4.5 stars, but it was close enough to a 5 that I rounded up. It's possible I was simply pleased to discover that listening to this classic was not a chore...and I liked the ending which was satisfying and uncomplicated. And finally, the cardinal sin of "cheating" on that ancient class assignment has been expiated.

  • The Language of Kindness

  • A Nurse's Story
  • By: Christie Watson
  • Narrated by: Christie Watson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

Christie Watson spent 20 years as a nurse, and in this intimate, poignant, and remarkably powerful book, she opens the doors of the hospital and shares its secrets. She takes us by her side down hospital corridors to visit the wards and meet her unforgettable patients. In the neonatal unit, premature babies fight for their lives, hovering at the very edge of survival, like tiny Emmanuel, wrapped up in a sandwich bag. On the cancer wards, the nurses administer chemotherapy and, long after the medicine stops working, something more important.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Story of kindness, story of Nursing in GB

  • By michael on 06-19-18

One of the "Very Good Ones"

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

I have had the misfortune of being hospitalized only a few times in my life, but the impact nurses had on my experience was always profound. Most of my nurses were efficient, competent, professional, and yes, kind. The outliers who did not display these traits stood out for their lack in one or more areas. In my experience they were rare and only served to help me appreciate the vast majority of nurses who helped me to recover quickly and return me to my normal life.

I recommend this memoir, written by a dedicated nurse, one of the the truly "good ones." What nurses do is so very important. We need to compensate them far better and elevate their status to the level it deserves. I very much hope physicians appreciate what a good nurse can bring to the table, the important contributions they make in patient care, recovery, and quality of life.

  • The Butchering Art

  • Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
  • By: Lindsey Fitzharris
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,414
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,312
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,311

In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of 19th-century surgery on the eve of profound transformation. She conjures up early operating theaters - no place for the squeamish - and surgeons, working before anesthesia, who were lauded for their speed and brute strength. They were baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. A young, melancholy Quaker surgeon named Joseph Lister would solve the deadly riddle and change the course of history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not one boring moment!

  • By WRWF on 12-22-17

Interesting and Informative

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

This is a worthwhile history of surgery and its development from a barbarous practice to the scientific art that it is today. Primarily it focuses on the work of Joseph Lister and his tireless efforts to bring safe surgery into hospitals across Europe and the United States. I found it interesting and informative.

  • The Coming Storm

  • By: Michael Lewis
  • Narrated by: Michael Lewis
  • Length: 2 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,183
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,519
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,478

Tornadoes, cyclones, tsunamis… Weather can be deadly – especially when it strikes without warning. Millions of Americans could soon find themselves at the mercy of violent weather if the public data behind lifesaving storm alerts gets privatized for personal gain. In his first Audible Original feature, New York Times best-selling author and journalist Michael Lewis delivers hard-hitting research on not-so-random weather data – and how Washington plans to release it. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Why you shouldn't ignore the weather forecast

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 09-10-18

Adequate

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

The Coming Storm is an attempt to describe the development of weather forecasting in modern times. It was offered as an "audible original," one of the complimentary two short audiobooks available to subscription members each month. I enjoyed some of the factual tidbits and had to laugh at people who claim they don't pay any attention to government Weather Service forecasts because they get all of their information from AccuWeather or The Weather Station so they "don't need the U.S Weather Service." Of course, the source of the information they receive is gathered and organized by government satellites, weather balloons, etc., without which there would be no data to work from.

The weakness of this audible origninal offering is its disjointed presentation of the information. The narrator seemed to wander around, presenting facts but not really pulling it all together into a meaningful thesis. It was short, somewhat interesting, but I'd be pretty disappointed if I had paid extra for it. As a benefit of membership, it was adequate.

  • The Warmth of Other Suns

  • The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
  • By: Isabel Wilkerson
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles, Ken Burns (introduction)
  • Length: 22 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,552
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,055
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,037

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to previously untapped data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the most amazing books I have ever read!

  • By Ernest on 04-09-12

Worth the Time to Listen...

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

Reviewed: 01-22-19

This was a well-researched and illuminating book which described the migration and resettlement of African-Americans from the Jim Crow South into the northern and western sections of the United States between 1915 and 1970. The author follows the histories of three individuals and their families who took one of the three most common routes north to California, Chicago, and New York City. Ida Mae Gladney left Mississippi in 1937 for Chicago. George Starling escaped from probable lynching in Florida in 1945 to settle in NYC, while Robert Foster choose to leave Louisiana in order to practice surgery in California where he could exercise his profession more fully.

What Isabel Wilkerson does so effectively is personalize the horrors of Jim Crow and the discrimination the migrants and their descendants have experienced. She brings experiences of real people to life by describing the devastating effects our institutionalized racism has had on them personally, professionally, and spiritually. I thought I knew about this history, but my understanding didn't come close. I observed some of these events on the media over many years, but I saw it from the perspective of white privilege, while being mostly unaware of that privilege.

I recommend this book highly. I found the structure a bit confusing, but it's an epic story that would be difficult to organize and relate clearly. In my opinion The Warmth of Other Suns should be required reading for advanced American History classes in every high school of the land. It is a part of our history that is often untold and very seldom adequately appreciated. It is an issue we, as a society, need to address.

  • Becoming

  • By: Michelle Obama
  • Narrated by: Michelle Obama
  • Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 74,544
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 67,945
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 67,561

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites listeners into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it - in her own words and on her own terms.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Didn't know what I was getting into

  • By Kenneth Woodward on 12-05-18

My Words are Inadequate...

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

Reviewed: 12-11-18

I didn't think it was possible to admire and appreciate Michelle Obama more than I already did. But that was before I listened to her read this wonderful, thoughtful, and revealingly honest memoir. She is brilliant, educated, and poised, but more importantly, she is honorable and devoted to helping others gain these attributes as well. Like most women, she also struggled to find balance among the multitude of demands and priorities of her busy world, and she often resented the intrusions that political considerations thrust into her personal and family life. Yet she took stock, inhaled deeply, and then thoughtfully adjusted to her reality while never surrendering her own goals and aspirations.

This narrative encompasses her childhood, adolescence, the bloom of love, and the reality of a long, committed marriage while career and child-raising competed fiercely for her finite time and energy. Her book relates a journey of growth, one that continues on with more adjustments and changes to come. She opens herself in ways that few others do when they relate their lives to others. I suspect that her personal narration of this book made it more meaningful. To me it felt like an honest conversation, flowing easily until closing in the present with a promise of hope for the future--her future, that of her loved ones, and of her country.

The contrast between the Obamas--all of them--and the present inhabitants of the White House could not be more stark even though she doesn't draw distinctions in this book. She clearly has no respect for the likes of Donald Trump, but she does not dwell upon this. Rather, she focuses on the values gifted to her by her loving family in earliest childhood. She shares these and offers them to all of us. She seeks to awaken in us our better angels through the example of her journey, not a perfect life at all, but one in which each individual strives to be better through the process of continually becoming...

  • Pompeii

  • A Novel
  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,848
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 880
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 881

All along the Mediterranean coast, the Roman Empire's richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas, enjoying the last days of summer. But the carefree lifestyle and gorgeous weather belie an impending cataclysm, and only one man is worried. The young engineer Marcus Attilius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay of Naples. His predecessor has disappeared.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brought my visit to Pompeii back to life

  • By Marty-Seattle on 12-11-03

Enjoyed This One

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

Reviewed: 12-04-18

I enjoyed this historical novel a great deal. It was well-researched and brought to life the events surrounding the unexpected eruptions of Vesuvius in AD 79 and their aftermath. Descriptions of homes and baths inhabited and visited the characters, actual and fictional, matched my reading of the archeological ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other nearby ancient towns. The eruption and events preceding it were told from the perspective of a fictional character, the engineer who was sent from Rome to inspect the Augustine aqueduct.

My interest remained high throughout the novel even though I knew from the beginning that these cities were doomed--a credit to the author's narrative skill. Because of this and the authenticity of the setting as well as its natural history, I plan to seek out and listen to more books by this author, hopefully narrated also by John Lee.