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Leslie

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  • reviews
  • 29
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  • 368
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  • Norse Mythology

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45,623
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 41,761
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41,574

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • As good as it gets without the old texts

  • By William Taylor on 05-10-18

Wonderful Re-Telling of Norse Myth

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

Reviewed: 06-11-17

This was a delightfully entertaining re-telling of some of the great stories of the Norse gods, Oden, Thor, Loki and the rest, along with lots of giants, dwarves and assorted magical creatures. It is beautifully written and accessible to almost anyone. The narration -- by the author -- enhances the stories. My only "criticism" is that I wish it was at least twice as long. I was so sorry when it ended. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in mythology, European history, or just a good story.

  • James Naismith

  • The Man Who Invented Basketball
  • By: Rob Rains, Hellen Carpenter
  • Narrated by: Kenneth Campbell
  • Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

It seems unlikely that James Naismith, who grew up playing "Duck on the Rock" in the rural community of Almonte, Canada, would invent one of America's most popular sports. But Rob Rains and Hellen Carpenter's fascinating, in-depth biography James Naismith: The Man Who Invented Basketball shows how this young man - who wanted to be a medical doctor, or if not that, a minister (in fact, he was both) - came to create a game that has endured for over a century.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable biography of basketball's founder

  • By Leslie on 06-22-15

Enjoyable biography of basketball's founder

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

Reviewed: 06-22-15

This was a fun listen. I knew the basics: that James Naismith had invented basketball in the 1890s to give his students at the YMCA an indoor sport to play in the winter. But this book provided me with a lot more information about how the game came into existence and how it grew and changed in those very early years. It should be of interest to anyone who likes basketball or sports history. Naismith himself, although evidently a very good and intelligent man, doesn't come across as especially fascinating. Indeed, as it turns out, he didn't care for most of the innovations and the competitiveness which most people love about basketball today. He was a very proper, very religious late Victorian gentleman. I imagine he would be shocked by the game today. As a result, the portion of the book about his life after the game was invented is less interesting. Still, basketball fans owe Naismith a huge debt, and if you are at all interested in how the game came to be, this book is worth a listen.

  • The Cave and the Light

  • Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization
  • By: Arthur Herman
  • Narrated by: Paul Hecht
  • Length: 25 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 287
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 255

The Cave and the Light reveals how two Greek philosophers became the twin fountainheads of Western culture, and how their rivalry gave Western civilization its unique dynamism down to the present.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This is a great book

  • By Gary on 04-25-14

All of Western Philosphy Leads to Ayn Rand?!?

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

Reviewed: 06-22-15

This is a fairly shallow and superficial overview of Western Philosophy The author's premise is that there is huge divide between Plato and Aristotle, and that all of western history is shaped by that divide.The author, Herman, goes so far as to say on a few occasions, that historians have it all wrong. Various major historical events weren't determined by economics or religion or culture, but entirely by the tension between Plato and Aristotle. This premise is exaggerated and simplified to the point of being ridiculous. In support of his premise, Herman tries to jam every subsequent thinker in western history into his Plato/Aristotle dichotomy, no matter how poorly they fit. I should point out, as well, that there is considerable controversy over whether there really is or was such a great divide between Plato and Aristotle in the first place. Certainly, any such divide is nowhere near as stark as Herman portrays it. As with so much in this book, the author simply ignores all evidence that doesn't support his premise, and exaggerates the rest to make it fit.

But the most bizarre part of this book is the end, where Herman reveals himself to be a worshiper at the shrine of Ayn Rand. Herman ends his book by a lengthy discussion of Rand, portraying her as the great culmination of all Western Philosophy. In doing so, he proclaims men like John D. Rockefeller as the true heroes of western civilization, dismisses John Maynard Keynes in one sentence as just some "communist," states without any evidence that the belief the US government played a role in winning World War II is "a myth" (according to Herman, the war was won entirely by heroic industrialists), and blithely ignores those parts of Rand's views which make most people very uncomfortable. Up to that point, I thought the flaws in the book were a result of the author's lack of in-depth knowledge of many of the philosophers he discusses. But in the last quarter of the book it becomes clear that his omissions and exaggerations are part of a deliberately selective approach to facts. This book is shallow, dishonest and, in the end, just plain silly. Paul Hecht did a very nice job reading it, however.

16 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • How Star Wars Conquered the Universe

  • The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise
  • By: Chris Taylor
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 20 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,596
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,445
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,447

In How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, veteran journalist Chris Taylor traces the series from the difficult birth of the original film through its sequels, the franchise’s death and rebirth, the prequels, and the preparations for a new trilogy. Taylor provides portraits of the friends, writers, artists, producers, and marketers who labored behind the scenes to turn Lucas’s idea into a legend.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A wonderful, in-depth look at the Star Wars

  • By A Mayne on 11-30-14

Fascinating, Even if You're Not a Superfan

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

Reviewed: 06-11-15

I really enjoyed this book. And let me say that I am absolutely not a Star Wars superfan. I saw the original Star Wars when it first came out in 1977 and loved it. I also enjoyed the first two sequels. I hated the first prequel so much that I have never bothered to see the other two. Despite that, I found this book fascinating from beginning to end. I enjoyed all the behind-the-scenes information and gossip, and finally feel like I have some understanding of George Lucas, who had always seem strange and a bit mysterious to me. And I finally understand why the prequels were so bad. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It did start a bit slow in the introductory section, and I was kind of regretting the purchase. But once the book got into the meat of the story, in Chapter 1, I was totally hooked. The narrator does a fine job keeping it interesting. I recommend the book to anyone who has enjoyed any of the Star Wars movies, even if you are not one of the superfans described in the book. I think almost anyone who sticks with it at least to the end of Chapter 1 will enjoy the listen.

  • Born with Teeth

  • A Memoir
  • By: Kate Mulgrew
  • Narrated by: Kate Mulgrew
  • Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,239
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,039
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,027

Audie Award, Narration by Author, 2016. Raised by unconventional Irish Catholics who knew "how to drink, how to dance, how to talk, and how to stir up the devil", Kate Mulgrew grew up with poetry and drama in her bones. But in her mother, a would-be artist burdened by the endless arrival of new babies, young Kate saw the consequences of a dream deferred.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful Memoir

  • By Jasmine on 07-23-15

A Very Mixed Bag

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

Reviewed: 05-04-15

I've enjoyed Kate Mulgrew's work since I saw the very first episode of Ryan's Hope back when I was in high school, so I was really looking forward to this book. It does have its moments. The best parts are when Mulgrew discusses her professional work, and those portions are all quite interesting. But unfortunately, there is not a lot about her career. Instead, the focus of the book is on her personal and emotional issues, and that is where the mixed bag comes in. Her discussion of some very difficult personal traumas she has gone through is beautifully written and beautifully read. But the endless details of her various romantic relationships get awfully tedious. As another reviewer said, it seems like we get every detail of every date, who said what to whom and when, and how it felt, to the point where I wanted to say: Enough already! There is also a surprising lack of self-reflection or ability to see other people's points of view. Every relationship failure, all of which we hear about in great detail, is almost entirely the fault of the other person. Maybe the self-absorption is part and parcel of being an actor. But I liked Kate Mulgrew better before I listened to her book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Pillars of the Earth

  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 40 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25,660
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 17,093
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17,129

The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame...and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Couldn't Take My Buds Out

  • By Judith on 11-08-07

It was very hard to get through this one

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

Reviewed: 03-12-13

I am astonished at all the great reviews of this book. I thought it was terrible. The characters are cardboard and cartoonish. The good people are really, really good. The evil people are totally evil. And there is no one in between -- the place real human beings inhabit. The plot consists of an endless series of contrived catastrophes which befall the good people, usually at the hands of the bad people, with no apparent point other than to prolong the book.

The characters do no behave or have world views that are remotely like people of the middle ages. Maybe I'm too picky about this, since my undergraduate degree was in the history of medieval England. But anyone who thinks they are getting a genuine understanding of the medieval world is being sadly misled. For example, there are characters who say they don't believe in God. NO ONE in the middle ages did not believe in God. The entire concept of atheism would have been completely incomprehensible to the medieval mind. The endless talk about all people wanting "freedom" from kings or noble overlords is equally absurd.This kind of thinking comes from the 18th Century Enlightenment. People in the 12th Century just didn't think this way. These characters talk and think like 20th Century Americans, not medieval Europeans.

And, as others have mentioned, the long graphic rape scenes were just disgusting. Certainly a rape scene may be legitimately included in a book for artistic or plot reasons. But Follett goes way overboard. He tosses in multiple graphic rapes, plus an interminable and very graphic bear-beating scene, and a long scene where the bad guys try to stone a cat to death, all of which are completely unnecessary to the plot, and seem to be there simply to satisfy the author's interest in sadism.

Because of the glowing reviews, I kept listening in the hope that it would get better. By the time I realized it was not going to improve, I was so far in that I decided to just finish the thing. I wish I hadn't.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Fantasy in Death

  • In Death, Book 30
  • By: J. D. Robb
  • Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,471
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,861
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,863

Bart Minnock, founder of the computer gaming giant U-Play, enters his private playroom, and eagerly can’t wait to lose himself in an imaginary world, to play the role of a sword-wielding warrior king, in his company’s latest top-secret project, Fantastical.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another Home Run!

  • By Judy on 02-23-10

The plot was implausible and unexplained

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

Reviewed: 02-09-13

I love the In Death series and have read, and now listened to, all of them. This one was just way too implausible. This is especially true as to the attack on the second victim, for which no explanation even attempted. I don't read these books for realism. After all, they are set in the future, so by definition they aren't "realistic." But this one just goes way too far over into the implausible or (in the case of the second victim) into the impossible.

The narrator, Susan Ericksen, is wonderful, as always. And there is enough banter between the characters to make it worthwhile for a fan of the series to read or listen to. But the plot problems make it one of the lesser entries in the series.

  • The House of Mirth

  • By: Edith Wharton
  • Narrated by: Eleanor Bron
  • Length: 12 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 415
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 350
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 347

Beautiful, sophisticated and endlessly ambitious Lily Bart endeavours to climb the social ladder of New York's elite by securing a good match and living beyond her means. Now nearing 30 years of age and having rejected several proposals, forever in the hope of finding someone better, her future prospects are threatened. A damning commentary of 20th-century social order, Edith Wharton's tale established her as one of the greatest British novelists of the 1900s.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Catherine on 04-12-11

A wonderful reading of a wonderful book.

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

Reviewed: 10-26-12

I am a big Edith Wharton fan, and I love The House of Mirth. Eleanor Bron's reading is extraordinary, and brought a whole new dimension to this masterpiece. Fair warning: this book is anything by mirthful. It is a very sad, but very thought-provoking exploration of ethics, morality, and personal responsibility,revealed through the life story of Lily Bart and the people in her circle of the New York elite in the early 20th century. I defy anyone to listen through to the end of this book without being moved. Well done!

  • The Cold War

  • A New History
  • By: John Lewis Gaddis
  • Narrated by: Jay Gregory, Alan Sklar
  • Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 710
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 479
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 474

Drawing on new and often startling information from newly opened Soviet, Eastern European, and Chinese archives, this thrilling account explores the strategic dynamics that drove the Cold War, provides illuminating portraits of its major personalities, and offers much fresh insight into its most crucial events. Riveting, revelatory, and wise, it tells a story whose lessons it is vitally necessary to understand as America once more faces an implacable ideological enemy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WOW

  • By Cordell eddings on 10-13-07

A Summary of Major Cold War Events

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

Reviewed: 03-28-12

The author says in his preface that this book does not contain any original scholarship and that it is designed for those with no memory and very little knowledge of the Cold War, so I probably shouldn't complain that it is so simple and basic. But I am old enough to have lived through the later years of the Cold War and while I am no historian, I do have an interest in history. There was literally nothing in this book I did not already know -- and on most topics I know far more than was in this short book. It is a brief summary of major Cold War events for beginners, and should appeal to such persons. I do have one big criticism, however, which is that the author seems to regard Ronald Reagan as some sort of genius who single-handedly ended the Cold War, while Gorbachev is dismissed as if he were a simpleton. This is far too simple-minded a view of the end of the Cold War.

The narrator has a nice voice, and did a nice job of holding my interest.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful