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David T.

Texas
  • 8
  • reviews
  • 6
  • helpful votes
  • 422
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  • The Selfish Gene

  • By: Richard Dawkins
  • Narrated by: Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
  • Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,643
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,807
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,746

Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Better than print!

  • By J. D. May on 07-31-12

Excellent, probably my favorite evolution book

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

This book so far is my favorite from Dawkins. His tone is far less assertive and arrogant than his later books, he'll often times admit when something is just his idea and that it very well could be wrong. In this one he's trying to bring more attention to the selfish gene theory, he takes a more cautious approach and tries to convince the reader this is correct and not so much that anyone who disagrees with him needs to be conquered. Also until the end his usual religious rants are completely absent and even then its only a few brief pages (I don't mind this but I know they'll completely turn off some readers).

This book helped to popularize the gene theory and introduced the concept of the meme and regardless of anyone's views of the two ideas, Dawkins influence from this book is enough to at least be a little respected. For me personally, I do think the selfish gene theory is plausible and Dawkins does present a good case, although I don't know near enough to actually have a valid opinion. In the end I really wish Dawkins would have stayed more like this, he seems to ramble more in later books and is more concerned with eradicating the world of creationists and theists than writing books for people who accept evolution and want to learn more about it. I have high hopes that The Extended Phenotype is more of the same (even if the reviews I've read seem to indicate that it will be over my head).

As for the narration, it's excellent. It's co-narrated by Dawkins and Lalla Ward and if you've listened to any of the other many books they've narrated together you'll know they always do a good job (I especially loved how the end notes where included near the text that they are related to, I wish all audio books did this). I loved this book and I'm really just hoping now Audible will get an unabridged edition of the Ancestors Tale soon.

Highly recommended.

  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience

  • A Personal View of the Search for God
  • By: Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan - editor
  • Narrated by: Adrienne C. Moore, Ann Druyan
  • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 48

The late great astronomer and astrophysicist describes his personal search to understand the nature of the sacred in the vastness of the cosmos. Exhibiting a breadth of intellect nothing short of astounding, Sagan presents his views on a wide range of topics, including the likelihood of intelligent life on other planets, creationism and so-called intelligent design.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sagan's lectures about the possibility of God

  • By David T. on 11-13-17

Sagan's lectures about the possibility of God

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

Reviewed: 11-13-17

This audio book is mostly a transcript of Sagan's Gifford lectures from 1985, where Sagan discusses his views on the question of if there is a deity. According to Druyan (from the appendix), she felt the need to publish these now with the growing “extreme fundamentalism violence” and when the United States is in a state of “phony piety”. I partly assume this book was published a few years ago to cash in on the new Cosmos series and the then huge popularity of the new atheist literature. Compared to the modern new atheist movement, this book is far less of an anti-religious polemic but more of a discussion about why when Sagan looks up at night he doesn't see the work of a interventionist deity. (For this reason, I think the book might be a better introduction to some reasons why there might not be a god, than something like End of Faith).

As for the book itself, a major reason Sagan doesn't believe in a god is because of the vastness of space. I can see his point, take a minute watch a youtube video or get a book such as Sizing up the Universe which shows the sizes of the planets relative to the sun and the sun relative to some of the large stars. The earth is just a minor spec in our solar system and our solar system is just a spec in our galaxy and our galaxy is just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. It definitely puts things into a different perspective, it could cause a loss of faith. If everything was created by a deity and humans were the culmination of creation, then everything else sure seems like a waste. Of course to a theist this could have the opposite effect and confirm how magnificent god is, it all depends on your mindset.

The book is far more than just this one argument though and I don't want to list them all out now. I enjoyed it a bunch, I really liked the Q&A where Sagan was questioned by theists and while disagreeing with them, he seemed to at least respect their opinion and give real answers. This is the least offensive agnostic/atheist book I've read. As for the arguments and book itself, I previously read Pale Blue Dot which contained many of the same arguments (although not as focused), and really if you've read then many parts of this are redundant.

The narration is like the other Sagan books on Audible, it's not world class but average and get's the job done.

Also I wrote this during 20 anniversary stuff so:

Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • American Colossus

  • The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
  • By: H. W. Brands
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 23 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 155
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 123
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 120

The three decades after the Civil War saw a wholesale shift in American life, and the cause was capitalism. Driven by J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and oth­ers like them, armies of men and women were harnessed to a new vision of massive industry. A society rooted in the soil became one based in cities, and legions of immigrants were drawn to American shores. Brands portrays the stunning trans­formation of the landscape and institutions of American life in these years.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 8 Thoughts on 'American Colossus'

  • By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12

Good enough for what it is

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

Reviewed: 10-24-17

The title of this book is misleading, it's a general history of the time period instead of one just about capitalism. This book was originally supposed to be released as part of the Oxford History of the United States but ultimately was released through a different publisher and instead the Oxford series released The Republic for Which It Stands a few years later. This book has it's flaws and really isn't up to the standards for the Oxford series, but I'm glad I bought it and it makes a decent substitute until Audible finally gets The Republic for Which It Stands.

  • Cosmos

  • By: Carl Sagan
  • Narrated by: LeVar Burton, Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and others
  • Length: 14 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,892
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,557
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,546

Cosmos is one of the best-selling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Over-acting voice actors

  • By Seph on 11-09-17

Great book

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

For the first few hours I found the narrator distracting, he is a little too upbeat and over dramatic, but by 5 hours in I started to enjoy his narration.

The book itself is great, it makes me want to go back and rewatch the series.

  • Pale Blue Dot

  • A Vision of the Human Future in Space
  • By: Carl Sagan
  • Narrated by: Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 668
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 612
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 607

In Cosmos, the late astronomer Carl Sagan cast his gaze over the magnificent mystery of the Universe and made it accessible to millions of people around the world. Now in this stunning sequel, Carl Sagan completes his revolutionary journey through space and time.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Audio Quality Choices

  • By JR on 05-30-17

One of my favorite books

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

Reviewed: 06-05-17

Any additional comments?

I have a long history with this book. It was probably the first non fiction book I bought (15+ years ago, back during the original picture filled printing). It was after reading this book that I moved away from an adherence to a fundamentalist version of Christianity. This book was partly responsible for my passion for astronomy. This might also be my all time favorite book. So when I saw this was being released on audiobook, it was a day one purchase.

As for the audio you only get Sagan’s voice for only the first 4 chapters (about 2.5-3 hours) and then the next 10+ hours is the Druyan new recording. Druyan does a good job, but I really wish they could have used more of Sagan. There was an unabridged Pale Blue Dot recording where Sagan did the first 4 chapters, all chapter introductions, occasional sections of other chapters and most (if not all of) the final chapters. I really wish they were able to use those parts, but apparently the masters degraded too much to be used (honestly I would have been happy had they just used a cassette copy if it meant more Sagan).

As for the book itself, the books spends time talking about (1) astronomy, its history, the planets and the voyager probes, (2) philosophy, religion, climate change and mankind, and (3) the future of space exploration.

The astronomy part was very informative and well done, but by now it’s getting a little dated. He also talks a bunch about future NASA missions, many of which are taking place now (such as new horizons). Much of the information is still relevant and very interesting, such as how they discovered the conditions on Venus and how different it was from previous expectations, or the various history lessons such as how we got from the geocentric mindset to realizing just how vast the cosmos is. The parts of the future of space exploration were a little speculative but fun and entertaining.

The religious / philosophical parts are probably where some could find this book offensive (these are also the only parts narrated by Sagan), unlike some other atheist/agnostic authors, he doesn't just attack religion, but from his perspective the huge vastness of space makes it very hard for him to believe that there is a deity which is concerned with an individual species (or a religious subset of that species). He has some pretty great parts about how rare life is in our solar system, so far it's only been confirmed on one planet, and so we should cherish, accept one another and take care of the planet. These are also the first 4 chapters and could be skipped (although I think they should be listened to at least once).

Overall I'm glad that I listened to this book again; it's as great as I remembered.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Voyage of the Beagle

  • By: Charles Darwin
  • Narrated by: Richard Dawkins
  • Length: 5 hrs and 44 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88

The Voyage of the Beagle - or, to give it its full title, Journal of researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries visited during the Voyage round the World of H.M.S. Beagle under command of Captain FitzRoy, R.N. - is much more than merely an account of Darwin's scientific observations in his 1831 - 36 travels across the globe: it is fine travel writing in its own right.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Glimpses of a great mind at 22

  • By Margaret on 08-16-10

Excellent book from a young Darwin

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

Reviewed: 05-17-13

Have you listened to any of Richard Dawkins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Dawkin's is one of the best audio book readers out there and his British ascent works perfectly with both Darwin books.

Any additional comments?

This concise book is easier to read than the full version and Dawkin's does an excellent job reading it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Free Will

  • By: Sam Harris
  • Narrated by: Sam Harris
  • Length: 1 hr and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,026
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,676
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,623

A belief in free will touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • LIFE/ WORLD Altering sophisticated thinking!

  • By Ellen on 04-23-12

Decent

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

Reviewed: 05-17-13

Any additional comments?

Harris is a decent reader. This book explores free will, but honestly is too simplistic and short to really be worth anything more than a dollar or two.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Real Romney

  • By: Michael Kranish, Scott Helman
  • Narrated by: Dan Woren
  • Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 70
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 59

Mitt Romney has masterfully positioned himself as the front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Even though he's become a household name, the former Massachusetts governor remains an enigma to many in America, his character and core convictions elusive, his record little known. Who is the man behind that high-wattage smile? In this definitive, unflinching biography by Boston Globe investigative reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, listeners will finally discover the real Romney.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Three dimensional biography entertainly told

  • By David on 06-11-12

Okay

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

Reviewed: 12-04-12

Any additional comments?

I don't see any long term interest in this book and with Romney's loss it likely will be forgotten. Anyways, I listened to this before the November 12 election to get a better idea of Romney. You can sort of tell its written by two authors, the first is smitten with Romney and thinks he's the greatest guy in the world. It almost seems disingenuous and written to show how great Romeny is, the other author seems more honest, but at the same time wants to show Romney's greed and questionable leadership at Bain. Overall it was okay, but a very generic non interesting biography of someone who perhaps might be more interesting than this book lead on.

The reader though did a superb job, too bad it was for such a lackluster book.