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Pete

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  • Tambora

  • The Eruption That Changed the World
  • By: Gillen D'Arcy Wood
  • Narrated by: Tom Pile
  • Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 62
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 63

When Indonesia's Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano's massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years. Amid devastating storms, drought, and floods, communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An unexpected pleasure

  • By Pete on 09-04-16

An unexpected pleasure

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

Reviewed: 09-04-16

Any additional comments?

I didn't really know what to expect from this book. What I discovered was an interesting and engaging story of the global impacts following the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. This book is not just about the actual eruption, which was the largest in recent history, but about the subsequent global weather impacts that was connected to a cholera outbreak, political upheaval, famine. It was the links to things such as literature (for example Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein") that made this book a truly remarkable expose on the existence of global connections even two centuries ago. In short, this book was fascinating and interesting, even if it was unexpected.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Buried Giant

  • A Novel
  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: David Horovitch
  • Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,897
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,734
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,738

"You've long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it's time now to think on it anew. There's a journey we must go on, and no more delay..." The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The beauty of the reveal

  • By Pete on 03-17-15

The beauty of the reveal

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

Reviewed: 03-17-15

What made the experience of listening to The Buried Giant the most enjoyable?

Ishiguro's "The Buried Giant" is similar in style to his other novels. This is not to say that is more of the same, but an extremely engaging and interesting novel. The aspect most enjoyable is the process of discovery that is present in the other Ishiguro's novels I have listened to (Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day). The reveal is slow and paced, but appropriately so. The language is delicious and engaging. The story is many things all at once, which makes it all the more interesting. For the first third of the novel it was a bit difficult to figure out what the story actually was, but having read other works by this author I was prepared to be patient. Doing so is well worth the effort as the interplay of the different characters results in a weave of such intricacy that it's hard to stop listening.

What other book might you compare The Buried Giant to and why?

Other works by Ishiguro are similar. In particular the slow, steady reveal of plot seems to be a hallmark of this author. The weaving together of a very tight story makes it similar to other great stories.

Which scene was your favorite?

No one particular scene, but one device that I particularly appreciated about this story is the use of reminisces to fill in what has happened up to this point of the story. It seems that every character in the story experiences such reminisces at some point of the story and they are well used to skip ahead in time, but keep the listeners informed and engaged.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Clearly endings are something this author does well. The ending is tender, heartfelt, and moving. It is the perfect bookend to the story that both finalizes the reveal, but allow for the reader's imagination to come into play in the concluding of the story.

Any additional comments?

There are few authors who I read without any knowledge of what the story is about. I purposely avoided reading other reviews of this story since storytelling is what Ishiguro does so well. Listen to this book at the pace it was intended; give it the attention it deserves. You won't be disappointed.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Civilization

  • The West and the Rest
  • By: Niall Ferguson
  • Narrated by: Niall Ferguson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,696
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,451
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,441

The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years. All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thoughtful analysis of the ascendancy of the West.

  • By Patrick on 05-25-13

Fascinating Insight into Western Civ

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

Reviewed: 05-17-13

Any additional comments?

This book is a fascinating examination of western civilization: its origins, strengths, and weaknesses. As Ferguson sees it, western cultures developed "6 killer applications" that allowed them to succeed as empires. While one might not agree with each and every assertion that Ferguson makes, this book will no doubt stimulate discussion and consideration of these factors. What's more this book does a very nice job taking the history out of the history book and making it relevant to modern events as well as an eye toward the future. This book is well written and interesting. I recommend it for anyone interested in history as well as the intersection of historical processes with current events.

  • How to Survive the Titanic

  • The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay
  • By: Frances Wilson
  • Narrated by: Robin Sachs
  • Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 21

On the terrifying, chaotic night of April 14, 1912, while the Titanic was sinking, Bruce J. Ismay, the ship's owner, made a decision that would save his life - and end it. Ismay boarded a lifeboat meant for women and children, and within days became The Most Talked-of Man in the World. Branded a coward, he became a flesh-and-blood embodiment of Joseph Conrad's legendary eponymous character, Lord Jim.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not especially uplifting, but quite good

  • By Pete on 04-18-12

Not especially uplifting, but quite good

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

Reviewed: 04-18-12

Any additional comments?

The author did a good job pulling together quite a bit of different sources to describe what happened leading up to and following the sinking of the Titanic. This was a great story and look at J. Bruce Ismay's life. The story was fascination and mostly well told. It was a bit convoluted in parts and delved into aspects that seemed only tangentially related (e.g., there's a long section relating Ismay to a character in Conrad's "Lord Jim"), but overall I would rate it as entertaining and informative. It wasn't entirely satisfying in that one never really knows whether Ismay is a selfish bastard who took a spot in a lifeboat from one of the 1500 casualties OR if he was just an opportunist who jumped in one of the last boats to leave OR if he was the secret cause in his acting as superCaptain. It almost doesn't matter what the answer is since in trying to figure out the answer to this question one may actually have insight into one's own character and thoughts. Ultimately until and unless you're put in that situation I don't think it's possible to know what you would do and that may be one of the points of this book. Recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Quest

  • Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
  • By: Daniel Yergin
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 29 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 653
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 544
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 546

A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change. It is a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace them. From the jammed streets of Beijing to the shores of the Caspian Sea, from the conflicts in the Mideast to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us into the decisions that are shaping our future.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best nonfiction book of 2011

  • By Joshua Kim on 05-06-12

Mostly good; could have been better

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

Reviewed: 04-18-12

Any additional comments?

For the most part I really enjoyed this book. Yergin does a good job of going through the history of the geo-political universe that has led us to this point as regards energy. While this book is very U.S-centric for the most part, he does investigate energy from a broad perspective in numerous parts, which adds to the depth of this book. What's more he laces his narrative with subtle historical aspects of the energy story that give it more depth than I was expecting. For instance, he talks about the people involved and the back story in some detail. This makes the book rather long, but it wasn't annoyingly so. In addition, this book was very timely and up to date. My biggest issues with this book were the seemingly glib glossing over of certain problems, especially environmental concerns as regards hydraulic fracturing (fraking) and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For instance, with the latter the author cites a NYTimes report that bacteria are consuming the oil and that the spill was just not that bad an environmental problem. I think this is a gross simplification of an important component of an important issue. Another problem I had with this book was that the author went into great gory detail about certain aspects of new energy (e.g., photovoltaic effect to make solar panels), yet didn't even mention certain emerging technologies that may arrive on the scene of energy production. For example, no mention of tidal power, which has been operating successfully in France for several decades. Granted this would fall in the tenths of percent of energy currently produced, but if your goal is to look forward to the "remaking of the modern world" one would think that more fully discussing these possible energy sources would be of value. Alas, no. This book is mainly about oil, coal, gas, wind, solar, and efficiency. Don't get me wrong, I HIGHLY recommend this book and think it essential reading for anyone interested in the intersection of energy, conservation, efficiency, and our complex global economy, but it could have been better.

  • The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz

  • A True Story of World War II
  • By: Denis Avey, Rob Broomby
  • Narrated by: James Langton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 93
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 77
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 77

The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz is the extraordinary true story of a British soldier who marched willingly into the notorious concentration camp, Buna-Monowitz, known as Auschwitz III. In the summer of 1944, Denis Avey was being held in a British POW labor camp, E715, near the site of Auschwitz III. He had heard of the brutality meted out to the prisoners there and he was determined to witness what he could.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great, great story

  • By Pete on 08-12-11

Great, great story

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

Reviewed: 08-12-11

Who cares if it's all entirely true or not, this is a great, great story. Funny at times, gruesome in spots, this book recounts the exploits of Avery during his time in British forces of WWII. I thought it was very well written and well read. The humor is of the dry, British sort, but this book kept me listening just to find out what else could happen to Ginger (Avery's assumed name). I don't think you'll be disappointed.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • The Most Human Human

  • What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive
  • By: Brian Christian
  • Narrated by: Brian Christian
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 507
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 361
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 357

The Most Human Human is a provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can "think". Named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, the Turing Test convenes a panel of judges who pose questions - ranging anywhere from celebrity gossip to moral conundrums - to hidden contestants in an attempt to discern which is human and which is a computer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Wedding of Computer Science and Philosophy

  • By Roy on 03-13-11

Fascinating examination of being human

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-19-11

I really liked this book. It was fairly well written and read. There were spots where the author went on and on about some obscure aspect of technology (e.g., lossy vs. lossless data compression) and some stretches where the focus seems to wander, but overall this was a fascinating and comprehensive examination of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human. I though the author could have provided a more consistent thread relating to his participation in the Turing test, but the competition itself was less important than his examination of the various aspects of humanity. I liked this book so much that I assimilated (i.e., read) it in one day, then again on the very next day. There was just that much fascinating detail to hold my attention as much the second time through as the first.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

  • By: Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Narrated by: Scott Holst
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7,932
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6,216
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6,302

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My friends thought I was crazy.

  • By bluecat1861 on 03-23-10

Very fun book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-22-10

This book was well written and well conceived. It weaves together historical events with seemingly plausible fictional events. I liked this book because at times it was hard to tell where the fiction began. Overall, a very fun book.

  • Green Hell

  • How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them
  • By: Steven Milloy
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 53
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 16

In Green Hell, Steven Milloy shows how the government and environmental elites will soon have you under their Green thumb, controlling the speed you drive, the temperature of your home, even when you can retire - and that's just the tip of their melting iceberg. Milloy argues that our hasty Green policies are more harmful to society than helpful to the environment and shows how we can counter the Green agenda. We all want a healthy planet, but we don't need to live in a Green nanny state to have one.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • must listen

  • By Rodney on 05-27-09

Not worth it

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-29-09

I listened to this book hoping it would be an even treatment of these issues. Sadly, it's not worth the time or money. Very one-sided in most parts, just plain wrong in other parts, and extremely hard to get anything constructive out of this book.

5 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising

  • Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion
  • By: Daniel H. Wilson
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 3 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 309
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 92

How do you spot a robot mimicking a human? How do you recognize and deactivate a rebel servant robot? How do you escape a murderous "smart" house, or evade a swarm of marauding robotic flies? In this dryly hilarious survival guide, roboticist Daniel H. Wilson teaches worried humans the secrets to quashing a robot mutiny.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Funny and Interesting Book

  • By Gurmukh on 09-29-07

Tongue-in-cheek

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-28-06

This book is fantastic. It's funny, engaging, and fairly factually based. The author does a good job of incorporating recent advances in robotics into a fun and entertaining book about how to beat back the robot hoardes. I recommed this short book for a good laugh.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful