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Scott

Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 114
  • reviews
  • 416
  • helpful votes
  • 225
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  • Bush

  • By: Jean Edward Smith
  • Narrated by: Tom Perkins
  • Length: 25 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 195
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 178
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 174

In Bush, Jean Edward Smith demonstrates that it was not Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or Condoleezza Rice, but President Bush himself who took personal control of foreign policy. Bush drew on his deep religious conviction that important foreign-policy decisions were simply a matter of good versus evil. Domestically, he overreacted to 9/11 and endangered Americans' civil liberties.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Covers the bases

  • By Scott on 07-21-16

Covers the bases

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

Reviewed: 07-21-16

A comprehensive look at the life, accomplishments, and failings of the 43rd president. Smith is no fan, considering Bush's presidency as a monumental failure though he does credit him with several successes such as his campaign to combat AIDS in Africa and his response to the 2008 financial crisis. In other words, Smith treads on no new ground here. This is worthy history but thin biography. A reader looking for insights into what made Bush tick, his younger years, or his relationships will find slim pickings here.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Dead Wake

  • The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
  • By: Erik Larson
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,864
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,853
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,837

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Naivety VS Barbarians Of War

  • By Sara on 03-05-16

Compelling history debunks many myths

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

Reviewed: 09-19-15

What did you like best about this story?

Larson brings his keen eye for detail and history to the sinking of Lusitania and its role in galvanizing allied forces against Germany in WWI. Though not suspenseful, Larson does a good job drawing together the experiences of the crew and passengers of the Lusitania with those of the U-boat and others as their fates converge. What remains is a tragic tale with no clear cut heroes or villains but lots of what ifs. The book is rich in fascinating details though some readers may tire of some narrative threads that are only scantily linked to the main storyline (e.g. Woodrow Wilson’s romance of Edith Galt). Though Larson doesn’t touch on it, I found it quite interesting that the Lusitania was a tragedy on par with the Titanic but in the years since, has failed to galvanize the public imagination in the same way. Perhaps the greatest kudo that can be said of Dead Wake is that it isn’t for Larson's lack of trying.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • American Nations

  • A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
  • By: Colin Woodard
  • Narrated by: Walter Dixon
  • Length: 12 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,790
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,582
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,590

North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" culture, but rather into one of the 11 distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out mutually exclusive territory. In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of a Kind Masterpiece

  • By Theo Horesh on 02-28-13

Alternate take on the melting pot

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

Reviewed: 09-19-15

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

This is a fascinating book sure to elicit disagreement. Essentially, an ethno-cultural history of northern Mexico, the U.S., and Canada the book tries hard to explain – in broad strokes – the emergence and ongoing persistence of the various groupings of populations sharing common mores, dialects, morals etc. To the author’s credit, he avoids as much as possible stereotypes and the book is most agreeable when it takes the 30,000 foot view. Its explanations of the persistence of these groupings, their role in the shaping of U.S. and Canadian history, and the author’s choice to ignore smaller, regional variations within the groupings (e.g. Cuban culture in south Florida) are sure to get some readers hot under the collar. Still, it is thought provoking and an admirable take on how we got to where we are.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Goebbels: A Biography

  • By: Peter Longerich, Alan Bance - translator, Jeremy Noakes - translator, and others
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 28 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 182
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 165
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 168

In life and in his grisly family suicide, Goebbels was one of Hitler's most loyal acolytes. Though powerful in the party and in wartime Germany, Longerich's Goebbels is a man dogged by insecurities and consumed by his fierce adherence to the Nazi cause. Longerich engages and challenges the careful self-portrait that Goebbels left behind in his diaries, and, as he delves deep into the mind of Hitler's master propagandist, Longerich discovers firsthand how the Nazi message was conceived. This complete portrait of the man behind the message is sure to become a standard for historians and students of the Holocaust for years to come.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Account of the Private Goebbels, But...

  • By Derek on 05-29-15

Vivid bio but with flaws

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

Reviewed: 09-05-15

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I found this bio a mix of odd contradictions, perhaps much like Goebbles himself. Relying heavily on Goebbles voluminous diaries, it is comprehensive, but offers little biographical detail before 1923. It catalogs Goebbles crimes but at times seems oddly sympathetic. It paints a vivid portrait of a narcissistic, self-aggrandizing man, but also a fawning Hitler acolyte. The sum amounts to an engaging and informative audiobook , though it assumes the listener will have some background familiarity with the historical characters and events. Was Goebbles a despicable criminal who stirred the pot of anti-semitism and whose propaganda machine justified the Nazi regimes crimes? Absolutely. But he was also a complex and macabre interesting character which the book does a good job of conveying. I found the narrator a bit disappointing, not only in tone but in his frequent mispronunciations of German names and words. Still it is worth a listen for history buffs.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Reagan

  • The Life
  • By: H. W. Brands
  • Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
  • Length: 31 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 429
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 374
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 375

Ronald Reagan today is a conservative icon, celebrated for transforming the American domestic agenda and playing a crucial part in ending communism in the Soviet Union. In his masterful new biography, H. W. Brands argues that Reagan, along with FDR, was the most consequential president of the 20th century. Reagan took office at a time when the public sector, after a half century of New Deal liberalism, was widely perceived as bloated and inefficient, an impediment to personal liberty.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Comprehensive, fast-paced and well told

  • By Dave on 05-31-15

Where's the beef?

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

Reviewed: 08-24-15

What did you like best about Reagan? What did you like least?

This bio is rich in information but scant in insight. The author had his work cut out for him – Reagan was famous for being inscrutable, even to those closest to him. Hence, this bio relies heavily on the public record as well as Reagan’s speeches and interviews for material Brands does a good job chronicling Reagan’s presidency – there is rich behind the scenes details of the Reykjavik summit in particular, but you get the sense that Reagan’s aides and confidants either weren’t interviewed for the book or weren't in the mood to talk. What you get is a detailed but superficial (though not uncritical) bio but perhaps that is the best that can be expected, especially since the right has made Reagan such a venerated, unassailable figurehead. Readers hoping for a view into what made Reagan tick, or his personal life, will likely come away disappointed.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Being Nixon

  • A Man Divided
  • By: Evan Thomas
  • Narrated by: Bob Walter
  • Length: 20 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 376
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 342
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 340

What was it really like to be Richard Nixon? Evan Thomas tackles this fascinating question by peeling back the layers of a man driven by a poignant mix of optimism and fear. The result is both insightful history and an astonishingly compelling psychological portrait of an anxious introvert who struggled to be a transformative statesman.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sympathetic bio

  • By Scott on 07-27-15

Sympathetic bio

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

Reviewed: 07-27-15

Any additional comments?

This is a very readable and surprisingly sympathetic bio of Nixon. More than most bios of RMN, Thomas devotes as much space to trying to unravel and understand Nixon’s complex and flawed character as he does to the historical record. Thankfully, he has the good sense to rely on the insights and comments (often humorous) of Nixon’s contemporaries in painting a picture of the Nixon personality rather than allowing himself to veer into psychobabble. After reading Being Nixon, I still can’t say I fully understand the man and his contradictions but this is probably as close as any bio will come. If I had a criticism it would be that like most presidential bios, scant time and space is devoted to the post-presidential life of Nixon though I was certainly eager for more details than what was given around, for instance, his reaction to being pardoned, how he dealt with his downfall and attempts to rehabilitate himself, and the Frost/Nixon interviews. Despite this, I quite enjoyed Being Nixon and recommend it.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • American Warlord

  • A True Story
  • By: Johnny Dwyer
  • Narrated by: Peter Jay Fernandez
  • Length: 13 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

A gripping work of reportage that, for the first time, tells the story of "Chucky" Taylor, a young American who lost his soul in Liberia, the country where his African father was a ruthless warlord and dictator.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More a historic review than a biography

  • By SusanKC on 06-01-15

A thug's life

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

Reviewed: 07-20-15

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

What sets this book apart from other bios of third world warlords is that its subject, Chucky Taylor, was born in the United States and spent his formative years there. Other than that, I didn’t find the narrative all that compelling. There is little about Taylor or his story to hold the listener’s interest – his banality, cruelty, and seeming lack of insight into the effect of his actions on those around him could be the story of any number of faceless tyrants that have been all too depressingly common in the history of the dark continent. I had expected a “rise and fall” story of an evil but perhaps compelling figure but there is little here to suggest Taylor did little more than stumble into power by birthright before fading away to irrelevance. In this case, truth is duller than fiction.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • When to Rob a Bank

  • ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants
  • By: Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
  • Narrated by: Stephen J. Dubner, Steven D. Levitt, Erik Bergmann
  • Length: 8 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,256
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,996
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,985

When Freakonomics was initially published, the authors started a blog - and they've kept it up. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • this book is free on the blog and podcast.

  • By Spencer on 05-12-15

Not as interesting as Freakanomics

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

Reviewed: 06-18-15

What could Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I quite enjoyed Freakonomics and its sequel Superfreakonomics. And while this audiobook has some similarities, it isn’t quite able to recapture the mix of trivia, science, and irreverence that the earlier books had. Mostly this is because this book is a collection of postings from Levitt and Dubner’s blog. When the audiobook works, it is because it takes a topic and runs with it, applying a behavioral economic model to unusual questions of human behavior (for example, when is the best time to rob a bank). When the book doesn’t work it is because it ventures into topics that only a devotee of the authors blog or Twitter feed would be interested in, for example, ten reasons to like the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now I have nothing against the Steelers but the ten reasons have little to do with behavioral economics and everything to do with the author’s personal likes. Unfortunately, there were too many of these moments to make the book worthwhile and I got the creeping sense– applying a behavioral economical model here – that either the authors, their publishers, or both, were blinded by the $ signs in this venture. Anyhow, I hope they do get around to publishing a Superduperfreakonomics at some point but stick to the old format. One final note on the narration. “When to rob…” uses a variety of narrators which is all fine except that the pace of narration and vocal clarity tended to greatly vary and I found myself frequently adjusting the volume or rewinding to catch what I had missed.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Target Tokyo

  • Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor
  • By: James M. Scott
  • Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
  • Length: 20 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 599
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 560
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 558

The dramatic account of one of America's most celebrated - and controversial - military campaigns: the Doolittle Raid. In December 1941, as American forces tallied the dead at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt gathered with his senior military counselors to plan an ambitious counterstrike against the heart of the Japanese Empire: Tokyo.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Vengence is Mine, Thus Sayeth Doolittle

  • By Jonathan Love on 06-13-16

Informative but leaden

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

Reviewed: 06-12-15

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

Target Tokyo has many positives: it is informative, comprehensive, and rich in detail. The audiobook is divided more or less equally between the post Pearl Harbor planning of the Doolittle raid, the mission, and the aftermath. The fates of most of the airmen involved are followed throughout and Scott certainly has done his research here – their personalities, viewpoints, and ordeals help propel the narrative forward. Still, the overall treatment comes across as leaden which contrasts sharply with the daring do of the subject matter. Contrast this with the Laura Hillebrand’s Unbroken, whose story has many similarities but whose writing is much more stirring. The narrator does his best to bring the story to life but it isn’t quite enough. Too bad, because the Doolittle raid was one of the more exciting stories of bravery and intrepidness of WWII and the writing here doesn’t quite do it justice.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

  • By: Alan Cumming
  • Narrated by: Alan Cumming
  • Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,965
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,447
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,409

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father's Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Best Part of Saturday

  • By George Knight on 12-16-14

Sucks you in - a pleasant surprise

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

Reviewed: 06-08-15

Any additional comments?


This is less a celebrity memoir (thankfully) than a slice of life drama of a son coming to grips with a loutish father, a childhood of abuse, and a complex lineage. Cumming is a gifted storyteller who wisely keeps a narrow focus and a brisk pace to a narrative which flashes back and forth between circa 2010 and the past. In some ways, this might be mistaken for a stage play, or even a Spalding Gray-ish monologue. Cumming is not afraid to share raw emotion and the interactions he recounts with his father bristle. The story is enhanced by Cumming’s own narration which conveys an authenticity which brings to life the events. You don’t have to know Cumming, or be a fan, to get sucked in by this brisk and worthy read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful