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Quadratic

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  • 3
  • helpful votes
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  • Becoming

  • Written by: Michelle Obama
  • Narrated by: Michelle Obama
  • Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3,291
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,929
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2,913

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
  • inspiring

  • By sheena on 2019-02-18

Saddening

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

Reviewed: 2019-03-27

I was actually saddened by this book, in how a person can view the world and her circumstances as negatively as she does. I'll account but one example here.

The first section of the book details her growing up in a two-parent middle-class home in the 1970's, in the United States. She accounts how the piano she took classes on was not tuned properly, and there may have been some broken keys, which she realized after playing later on a nice grande piano shortly after.

It is simply amazing that people before us set up a system of strings of particular length and thickness, aligning them in such a way for them to play particular tones at a keystroke, ordering them by semi-tone. It's amazing that people would develop a skill on top of that, to arrange the playing of notes in such a way as to create music with their hands off of those strings. It's amazing that people further developed a system of language to music, and that people before her birth designed musical pieces for others to play and to practice. The very fact that she was able to play the piano at night, with electricity, puts her above almost all humans in history in terms of opportunity and privilege.

Instead of seeing any of that and being grateful, she ends that section by pointing out how - she imagines - some of the other children probably had better pianos than she did, that they were probably tuned closer to that grande piano than hers was, and probably didn't have broken keys. Thus, she probably had less privilege than other people did, and for this we should really take note.

I really did view pianos that way (the positive way) when I was a kid. Heck, every day I was in continual amazement at how many things people set up for us. I was amazed that a stranger actually comes to our house every week to take our garbage away forever. I was amazed at the idea of a television. I didn't have access to a piano as she did, but their very existence on this earth was amazing to me, and I was grateful to be in a world where such things even existed.

I strongly urge potential readers not to learn from this person. There are far better ways to look at life than through the dance of mimetic desire, looking for crisis and scapegoats in the form of oppressors. The one value in this book is that she seems unaware of this condition of her character, giving us a brutally honest exposition because she does not know to guard it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Right Side of History

  • How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great
  • Written by: Ben Shapiro
  • Narrated by: Ben Shapiro
  • Length: 6 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 62
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 62

America has a God-shaped hole in its heart, argues New York Times best-selling author Ben Shapiro, and we shouldn't fill it with politics and hate.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • common sense look at politics and how we got here

  • By Dougleaffan on 2019-03-21

Very close to the mark

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

Reviewed: 2019-03-21

The author has done several hard things very well in this book, although there are some misses here. I don't feel the author has correctly understood the kind of ally Kant was in this narrative, as one who highlighted the importance of revelation, and one whose usage of the word "reason" was so expansive that he could easily be mischaracterized as one who would ever want reason without faith.

This book desperately needs someone like René Girard in this conversation, and John 6's "To whom shall we go?". I feel as though the author is just observing the phenomena across history rather than really getting to understand the mechanisms at play. For the final advice to be individualistic appeals to western values, I can understand that leaning from a right-leaning author, but the problem is memetic and the solution is the exposition and despelling of that memeticism.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Essential Talmud: An Introduction

  • Written by: Adin Steinsaltz
  • Narrated by: Shlomo Zacks
  • Length: 10 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars 1

The Essential Talmud is a masterful introduction by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz to the great repository of Jewish wisdom, the Talmud. A book of profound scholarship and concise pedagogy, The Essential Talmud succinctly describes the Talmud's history, structure, and methodology. It summarizes the Talmud's main principles, demonstrates its contemporary relevance, and captures the spirit of this unique and paradoxical sacred text as a human expression of divine law. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Starts off pretty slow

  • By Quadratic on 2019-03-07

Starts off pretty slow

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

Reviewed: 2019-03-07

The second half of this book is what I thought the book would be (a breakdown of key Talmudic concepts across the various categories of thought touched on by the volumes). I felt, though, that the amount of focus on the historical background of the development of the Talmud was much more than warranted. The first half is a history book, and the second is an essential breakdown of the Talmud.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A People's History of the United States

  • Written by: Howard Zinn
  • Narrated by: Jeff Zinn
  • Length: 34 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

A classic since its original landmark publication in 1980, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is the first scholarly work to tell America's story from the bottom up - from the point of view of, and in the words of, America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Eye opener

  • By Guy on 2019-02-24

Karl Marx's History of the United States

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-19

My first impression of the book was that the author was telling the American story from the perspective of "the people" as the title and preface suggest. My second impression was that he was telling that story from the perspective only of the poor and down-trodden. After the second or third positive reference to Karl Marx, I realized that this is not a book trying to put a spotlight on the poor at all, but rather on the bourgeoisie and their oppression of the proletariat. In other words, this is a book about communism, thinly veiled.

I'm not a historian, but I've read enough letters and quotes from some of these figures to say that this author is putting a number of American heroes in their worst possible light, such that this book will give you far from a balanced, multi-lateral understanding of US history.

At times the author sounds like a conspiracy theorist, attributing the most nefarious motives to people like Madison, Jefferson, and Lincon, so far as to suggest the US constitution itself was a deliberate deception put on by the privileged few rich people to control the masses.

Insofar as a nation is defined by its values and ideals rather than its people, I think I can comfortably say that this author hates the United States of America, its founding document, its founders as people, and nearly all of its heroes. Cliché as this may sound, this author does not see the United States for the vanguard of freedom that it has been for the last century, and he thoroughly does not understand much less love the country he is writing about.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Things That Matter

  • Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics
  • Written by: Charles Krauthammer
  • Narrated by: Charles Krauthammer, George Newbern
  • Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

A brilliant stylist known for an uncompromising honesty that challenges conventional wisdom at every turn, Krauthammer has for decades dazzled audiences with his keen insight into politics and government. Now, finally, the best of Krauthammer's intelligence, erudition, and wit are collected in one volume. Things That Matter also features several of Krauthammer's major path-breaking essays - on bioethics, on Jewish destiny, and on America's role as the world's superpower - that have profoundly influenced the nation's thoughts and policies.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Should be two books, but both are good reads.

  • By Quadratic on 2019-02-17

Should be two books, but both are good reads.

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-17

Krauthammer himself orated a good amount of the beginning and end of the book. It was good to hear his voice again, as I'd always found him to be one of the most reasonable political voices on television. I normally don't care about celebrity deaths but I did feel that an important voice was lost with his passing.

I do find it odd that such a large portion of this book deals with Israel and Jerusalem. That portion (Krauthammer's views on Israel) could be its own book, but seems out of place here.

Overall, it's a good compilation of his articles over the course of decades.