Nikoli Gogol

  • 19
  • reviews
  • 163
  • helpful votes
  • 53
  • ratings
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-13-15

Mind-numbingly Boring

A self-absorbed Spanish lawyer finds himself in a world filled with zombies.

This is presented as if read from a journal. Give me a break. Journal entries are terse comments describing a situation not elaborate flowing verbose prose.

Every possible cliche is used. Cars won’t start till the last moment; the climb down the rope will result in a fall hurting an ankle; an entry into a house will invariably be too noisy alerting the zombies… How many guys would spend time and precious paper writing in a journal that they can’t use a pistol, that they fear shooting themselves in the foot, and worrying if they will be able to shoot a zombie in the first place?

Every action has to be second guessed agonized. Man up buddy! Stop the hand-wringing. You are in a zombie novel. Act accordingly.

Read More Hide me
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-13

Misleading Title

This is a 9 hour book referring to the battle of Marathon. The first six hours are about the political history of Athens and its neighbors. The next hour is devoted to the actual battle where most descriptions are prefaced by “according to Herodotus”. Then it becomes a survey of architecture, drama, philosophy and sculpture.

Read More Hide me

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-21-13

Great Story, Horrible Narration

Bobby Hull was a phenomenal player who revolutionized the game. More than anyone else, he caused the NHL to expand to cities where the NHL would not have ventured and his efforts resulted in raising the salaries of players.

I watched Bobby Hull play live and on television. He was a complete player who could skate, shoot, and pass better than anyone else on the ice with him. Off ice he would spend endless hours signing autographs, talking to fans, and submitting himself to interviews.

The author shows a darker side to Bobby Hull and the ugliness of the business of hockey. The NHL will never live down the fact that they kept Hull from participating in the 1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Summit.

The narrator spoils the story by not having done his homework. He pronounces Russian and Swedish hockey player names flawlessly but completely butchers half of the Canadian players' and sports officials' names. Take the name Henri Richard, it is not pronounced as Bernard Clark chooses as the Shakespearean Kings Henry and King Richard. Rather the correct pronunciation is "On-Ree Ree-shard". This mangling renders some of the play by play accounts to be ridiculous and grating. Worse, no 10 minutes of narration goes by without a mispronounced name.

Read More Hide me
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-30-13

A Monster Depicted A Military Figure

Although the author describes some of Tamerlane's atrocities, he is far too kind to a brutal monomaniacal warlord.

Tamerlane is estimated to have killed 17,000,000 people, about 5% of Earth's population at the time. He would have enslaved huge numbers, maimed or wounded others, and left orphans and widows.

His attacks stretched from the Levant to China. He eradicated most of the Christians from Asia. Baghdad never recovered from his sack of that city. An equal opportunity aggressor, he attacked Hindus in Delhi and other cities. To what end? He claimed to be the aligned with Allah but he slaughtered many Muslims. Personal glory, captives, plunder is a more likely motivation.

Harold Lamb is a popular writer, not a serious historian. Many of his comparisons of tactics are related to what Napoleon did. Lamb also has biographies about Hannibal, Suleiman, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan, all of whom waged wars of aggression.

The narration is too rapid. There are too many characters to keep track requiring rewinding. An accompanying map and chronology would have been helpful.

It should be noted that Chechnya was Tamerlane's stomping ground and that radicalized older of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers was named after Tamerlane, namely, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Read More Hide me

6 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-22-12

The Future of War and the End of Privacy

Out of a concern about objectivity, I would not have bought this book if I knew beforehand that the author is a prominent left wing activist. I am very pleased to have listened to this audiobook.

The book describes the use of drones in war as killing and surveillance platforms. Considerable detail is given about the types of drones that exist or are in planning stages. Civilian use is described where drones are used or a growing number of purposes from patrolling borders to fighting forest fires.

The author then presents a long list of negative factors in the use of drones.

The chief concern is that they are proliferating at an exponential pace. Other countries and non-state entities, including terrorists, are acquiring them. The use of drones is being explored at national, state, and municipal levels.

Drones malfunction and operators are prone to error. This can lead to the killing or maiming of civilians.

Medea Benjamin devotes much of the book to legal and moral concerns associated with the use of drones. These are too numerous and complex to summarize in a review but they are well reasoned, researched, and presented. Whether you agree with Benjamin or not, you should be aware of these issues. Drones will have an increasing worldwide role in the coming years.

Read More Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-01-12

Re-Broadcast of a BBC's "Russia: The Wild East"

Is there anything you would change about this book?

There is an astonishing lack of proportion and emphasis. The communist regime killed millions of peasants. The prison system established by the communists was a source of slave labor as well as a means of suppressing dissent. The Russians dealt with minorities in a particularly bloody and brutal manner. While each of these topics is covered, it is hasty. Instead, Martin Sixsmith spends an inordinate amount of time on covering the day-to-day minutia of the USSR's downfall and his coverage of it for the BBC.

If you’ve listened to books by Martin Sixsmith before, how does this one compare?

I have read his Putin's Oil which is a superior work.

Did Martin Sixsmith do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

This is a rebroadcast of BBC's "Russia: The Wild East, Part 2" presented in 25 episodes. Although Sixsmith is the primary narrator, there are interviews, clips from news accounts, tape recorded speeches of historical figures, quotes from poems, choirs singing in the background, etc. In many respects the historical characters speak for themselves.

Could you see Russia: Part Two: The Rise and Fall of the Soviets being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

There is far too much turf to cover for this to be made into a movie.

Any additional comments?

Martin Sixsmith is a BBC journalist who served in the USSR, Poland, and Washington. He was Tony Blair's Director of Communications and has written both fiction and non-fiction books. I would recommend this audiobook for someone who wants a general overview of the events of the past century. However, it does not come close to describing the full magnitude of atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet regime.

Read More Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-25-12

Good Introduction to Classical Greece and Rome

What did you love best about The Founders of the Western World?

Michael Grant has written extensively about Greece and Rome and this is a summary of his larger works. It provides fundamental information about eras that continue to influence our daily lives.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Founders of the Western World?

In an introductory book of this nature one would expect discussion of politics and wars. Grant includes this but also spends a an impressive amount of time on the arts of the period.

What about Wanda McCaddon’s performance did you like?

Professional job of narration.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The film could only be a length documentary as the topic of the book spans over a millennium.

Any additional comments?

Audible should be providing the copious maps from the book as a download.

Read More Hide me

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-12-12

Informative But Factually Flawed In Some Respects

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The author describes the roots of Rock 'n Roll from the time of Charlie Patton forward to 1960s. There is the obligatory nod to Robert Johnson. Various genres of music from blues to country to gospel have an influence on an emerging musical format. In addition to artists like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bo Diddly, Buddy Holly, there is coverage of DJ's, record producers, songwriters, and managers who are described in this account. The lecturer often indicates the influence particular musicians had on those who followed.

What other book might you compare The Modern Scholar: Rock 'n' Roll and American Society: Part One to and why?

Any collection of articles by Lester Bangs. Audible has many biographies and autobiographies of musicians.

What about the narrator’s performance did you like?

The author and narrator are the same and the presentation is in lecture format. The lecturer is polished and easy to follow.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

A movie could probably not be made of this subject.

Any additional comments?

Audible usually provides an accompanying booklet in PDF for with a Modern Scholar title but fails to do so here.The lecturer makes some grating errors and omissions. Johnny Cash did not put tissue paper under the strings of his guitar to achieve his sound. Country music of that era did not feature drums so Cash would put regular paper under his guitar strings to mimic the snap of a snare drum. Les Paul is mentioned as a pioneer who made electric guitars and experimented with multi-track recording. However, completely unmentioned was Leo Fender who had a far greater influence. Leo Fender made the first electric bass guitars that truly give rock music its drive and its rhythm. His Stratocasters and Telecasters are used by more musicians than Les Paul guitars. Finally, Leo Fender made wonderful amplifiers to suit the needs of musicians, including the need for distortion and reverb.

Read More Hide me

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-22-12

Just The Facts And You Will Need Maps

I listened to this book in advance of reading Thucydides' "The Peloponnesian War".

The author presents the work in an objective manner, providing an account of what transpired and not engaging in polemics or comparing this war to others.

The story is impossible to follow without reference to maps. Just as an example, geographic place-names like Naupaktos, or Mthone, or Locris are bandied about and there is no way of knowing what the author is referring to without reference to maps. To remedy this, I borrowed Kagan's book from the library but though it has multiple maps, they are of poor quality. You are best off by following along with "The Landmark Thucydidies" by Robert Strassler. Pity that Audible did not provide a pdf file for maps and names.

Read More Hide me

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-28-11

A Charming Account of R&R Heroes From Groupie

The expectation of a book authored by a groupie is that it would be a salacious tell-all about sexual encounters with musicians. There is plenty of that in the book but the author is unfailingly positive and generous in her description of her amours.

There are three things that make this book a standout.

First, Pamela Des Barres can write. Although her book is based on her diaries, the book is wonderfully descriptive and witty in her unique style.

Secondly, Pamela Des Barres can narrate. This is her story and listening to the book is like having Pamela Des Barres tell her life story directly to you. Her voice modulates particularly when quoting someone and she otherwise personalizes the story for the listener.

Thirdly, Pamela Des Barres is very upbeat and happy.

Read More Hide me

5 of 8 people found this review helpful