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Alex

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  • Iran Rising

  • The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic
  • By: Amin Saikal
  • Narrated by: Simon Shepherd
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 2

When Iranians overthrew their monarchy, rejecting a pro-Western shah in favor of an Islamic regime, many observers predicted that revolutionary turmoil would paralyze the country for decades to come. Yet 40 years after the 1978-79 revolution, Iran has emerged as a critical player in the Middle East and the wider world, as demonstrated in part by the 2015 international nuclear agreement. In Iran Rising, renowned Iran specialist Amin Saikal describes how the country has managed to survive despite ongoing domestic struggles, Western sanctions, and other serious challenges.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not bad

  • By Alex on 06-02-19

Not bad

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

Reviewed: 06-02-19

This book gives a basic overview of Iranian history over the past few decades, including some brief background before it. There are some peculiarities. Unusually, the author makes the division of Iranian politics into 'Jihadi' and 'Ijtihadi' camps (fundamentalists and reformists), words that seem disconnected from their meaning. Apart from these stylistic issues, there are a couple of potshots at the state of Israel, and the book is rather sympathetic to the 'Reformist' camp in Iran.

The analysis of the future is limited to 'the Reformists offer the best path for Iran' and 'the road ahead is unlikely to be less challenging'. I am not too fond of baseless speculation, so I do not mind, but a view of Iran's future is explicitly promised in the title.

The narration is decent, except when it comes to Iranian words, and not just the ones that have sounds that English lacks. The word 'Majlis' (Assembly) is consistently mispronounced as 'Majilis'. Khamenei is pronounced with a diphthong at the end, which was confusing at times.

These blemishes and the slight bias do not prevent a decent enough overview for those not very familiar with Iran.

  • Unjust

  • Social Justice and the Unmaking of America
  • By: Noah Rothman
  • Narrated by: Chris Abell
  • Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

The social justice creed is shaping our every daily interaction. It influences how businesses structure themselves. It is altering how employers and employees interrelate. It has utterly transformed academia. It is remaking our politics with alarming swiftness. And there are consequences for those who transgress against the tenets of social justice and the self-appointed inquisitors who enforce its maxims. Noah Rothman deconstructs today's out-of-control social justice movement and the lasting damage it has had on American politics, culture, and education and our nation's future.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A good case against a growing problem

  • By Alex on 03-02-19

A good case against a growing problem

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

Reviewed: 03-02-19

This is a good exploration of the rise of identitarian extremism in the United States. It's short on prescriptions, but in order to solve a problem, you first have to recognize that it exists. That seems to be the goal of this book. In short, logic and reason matter less and less today. They are being replaced by an assessment of how oppressed someone's identity is considered to be. Equality of opportunity and taking care of the root causes of problems are being thrown out in favor of an insistence on equality of outcome, even if the inputs are not the same (whatever the cause of that is). This leads to injustice: reversing oppression instead of getting rid of it. The book also has some problems. Right-wing and left-wing identitarianism are discussed in one breath, as though they're remotely equivalent, when only one brand dominates corporations and institutions. The author occasionally goes into irrelevant digressions about how much he dislikes the current President of the United States. The most striking of these was when he bemoaned that politicians and elites do not condemn right-wing violence and left-wing violence equally, when he earlier bemoaned Trump doing that exact same thing. Still, unlike for many public figures, his dislike for Trump does not make him more sympathetic to identitarian extremism.

  • Reformations

  • The Early Modern World, 1450-1650
  • By: Carlos M. N. Eire
  • Narrated by: David Drummond
  • Length: 39 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 6

 

Carlos Eire, popular professor and gifted writer, chronicles the 200-year era of the Renaissance and Reformation with particular attention to issues that persist as concerns in the present day. Eire connects the Protestant and Catholic Reformations in new and profound ways, and he demonstrates convincingly that this crucial turning point in history not only affected people long gone but continues to shape our world and define who we are today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Phenomenal work

  • By Alex on 21-07-18

Phenomenal work

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

Reviewed: 21-07-18

I have hundreds of audiobooks in my Audible library, and I must say that this is one of the best works, if not the single best one, that I ever purchased. This work is expressly aimed at a popular audience that wants to learn more about the Reformation. its aim is modest: to familiarize people with the Reformation era. However, it offers a thorough understanding of this period.

The book is divided into four parts: first it sketches the groundwork for the Reformation. Then it focuses on Protestants and Catholics respectively. Finally, it talks about the consequences of the Reformation. It avoids any bias or presentism. Sometimes it gets relatively minor facts wrong. For example, the war between the Dutch Republic and Spain resumed in 1621, not 1619. It also suggests that the Spanish Inquisition had "millions" of eyes and ears, which comes dangerously close to the old notion that it had large networks of spies, simply because it relied on the population at large.

Any small issues pale in comparison with the great achievement that is this book. This is a 'must read', or should I say 'must listen', for any individual who seeks to have a basic understanding of the Reformation, though it offers much more than that.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Medieval Feudalism

  • By: Carl Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 2 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

Medieval feudalism is one of those subjects which most of us are familiar with, and yet have difficulty describing. Was is a political, military, economic, or social system? And how did it develop? All these questions are answered in this superb book. Carl Stephenson has done a magnificent job of paring away all extraneous subjects and focusing on just the key elements. This short book, a masterpiece of brevity, succinctly sums up medieval feudalism better than anything ever written.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Feudal system

  • By Rogayah on 28-09-08

Short but interesting

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

Reviewed: 10-07-17

This essay was written before the whole controversy over the word feudalism. It explains the basics of feudalism argues that this system was not a degeneration of a more centralized state, but a reaction to differing needs and circumstances.

  • The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise

  • Muslims, Christians, and Jews Under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain
  • By: Dario Fernandez Morera
  • Narrated by: Bob Souer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30

Scholars, journalists, and politicians uphold Muslim-ruled medieval Spain - "al-Andalus" - as a multicultural paradise, a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony. There is only one problem with this widely accepted account: It is a myth. In this groundbreaking book, Northwestern University scholar Darío Fernández-Morera tells the full story of Islamic Spain. As professors, politicians, and pundits continue to celebrate Islamic Spain for its "multiculturalism" and "diversity", Fernández-Morera sets the record straight.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A harrowing account of Islamic Spain

  • By Alex on 10-07-17

A harrowing account of Islamic Spain

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

Reviewed: 10-07-17

Andalus is often cited as an example of Islamic tolerance and enlightenment. The politically correct academics who make such statements tend to overlook Berber dynasties, if they are aware of these groups at all. This book provides a reconsideration of the earlier, relatively milder period as well. The possibility of being branded a racist for presenting inconvenient facts about a religion, or of loss of funding for Middle Eastern Studies departments (much of which comes from repressive Middle Eastern regimes), have often prevented a truly honest and balanced look at Islamic Spain.

Each chapter provides a thematic examination of a different subject, from Jihad to women's rights and the treatment of religious minorities. The parade of horrors is not for the faint of heart. We hear of the widespread use of infidel women as sex slaves, some girls as young as 11 years. Based on strong primary source evidence, the author argues that there is at least the strong possibility that female genital mutilation was practiced among the Muslims of Spain. Religious minorities were humiliated and taxed at higher rates, but at least they were allowed to exist initially.

Because the book argues against conventional wisdom, it can't make claims like "Islamic Spain was a beacon of tolerance" without backing them up. So for each claim, a lot of evidence and different examples are cited. This may be tiresome for some people. While an honest look at the evidence in this book would lead to most of the author's claims being accepted, it is most likely that the politically correct establishment will simply ignore it, because it goes against their narrative.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful