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Lance Johnson

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  • 81
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  • Schulz and Peanuts

  • A Biography
  • By: David Michaelis
  • Narrated by: Holter Graham
  • Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

Charles Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the most misunderstood figures in American culture. Now, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of Schulz: at once a creation story, a portrait of a hidden American genius, and a chronicle contrasting the private man with the central role he played in shaping the national imagination.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Are you a good man Charles Schulz ?

  • By Harald-Gerd on 29-03-09

A look through the window of inspiration of Snoopy

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

Reviewed: 14-08-18

Dear Great Pumpkin,
I remember reading a story and watching a movie about you as a child. Not only did it promote your existence, but promoted Halloween into a mainstream holiday and American values. It inspired many modern cartoons, including Garfield and the Simpsons. I read many comic books about you as a child and realised in many ways how funny and interesting you and your friends: Linus, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang; could be. Much of it has dark humour, with stories of constant failure being presented in a funny way. I read a book by Kevin Hart the stand up comedian who says being authentic, using your real life situation, is the best way to create true humour. It connnects with many readers as many of they share those experiences, and perhaps can identify the funny side of reality.

I listened to this book by D Michaelis about the creator of your stories. The author tried to demonstrate the many real life connections that inspired Charles Schulz to create this unique sense of humor.

1. Charlie Brown: A person with constant failure, depression, with an iron will to succeed is based on the Schulz life and rejection. Named after a friend of Schulz

2. Lucy: Inspired by his 1st wife, a high demand personality.

3. Schroeder: Dedicated to his craft of playing the piano, as C Schulz was to comic strip writing.

And the list goes on.

Schulz family has protested this book, originally this book was to be an authorised biography, but due to its painting of Schulz as a depressed and unloving man, I suspect this was drawn. Nevertheless it is a book that gave me much insight into the characters in the strip, and the man who wrote them.

Let's be clear, Schulz (your creater) was not happy throughout his life- you can see how his comic strip illustrates Charlie Brown constant failure, girls rejecting him (The little red hair girl was a love interested of Schulz who rejected him), publishers rejecting him, settling for a lady who previously ran off with a cowboy and was pregnant with his child, and treated him badly (Lucy was based on her, this lady ran off with a construction worker), his affair with several women, his second wife was a lady who was married at the time of the affair. Schulz appeared to have taken these badly, feeling his self-worth go down. He failed to realise that self-worth comes from within, not from without.

He sought happiness throughout his life, although never to quite enter it. He failed to realise that happiness is not a goal in itself, but a by-product of our thoughts, beliefs, values, and labour.

He is another example on how money, fame, and women will not make you happy.

The answer of why this is, one cannot be too sure. The author of this points to the mother not being as loving as she should be to her only child, Schulz, or the death of Schulz's mother to cancer at a young age,

Whatever the true meaning, one can safely that the turmoil of C Schulz inner demons was reflected in the comic writing, producing a humorous, clean, and enjoyable read.

Charles Schulz was a brilliant man, with many tragedies. Reading this story has given me a deeper insight to my own behaviour.
PS: if you are not real, don't tell me, I don't want to know.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Everything Store

  • By: Brad Stone
  • Narrated by: Pete Larkin
  • Length: 13 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,012
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 882
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 879

Winner of the 2013 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. Amazon.com started off delivering books through the mail. But its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn't content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To achieve that end, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that's never been cracked. Until now...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Force for good or for evil?

  • By iLard on 16-06-14

I did not want like this book

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

Reviewed: 20-06-18

This is the story of how Amazon was conceived, started, and formed. It highlights Jeff Bezos life and personality, Amazon culture, Amazon ventures: how they were conceived, how Amazon dealt with competition, and how Amazon grew into the largest company in the world.

If you are reading this review, you are either a person interested in starting a business, or someone who is frequently using Amazon.com and want to know more about this great business. I believe one of the inspirations of this book, and for many biographical books on business leader was the enormous success of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.

There are certain things this book does well, and certain things it should have done well. One thing the author did well was to first to meet and find Ted Jorgenson, Jeff Bezos long-lost biological father, and reveal what actually happened to his son. Another thing it did well, was repeat a theme recurrently, adding to the narrative at each stage. For e.g. Jeff Bezos laugh was highlighted throughout the book. It was highlighted at the beginning as unique and bombastic to terrorising employees. I felt it was very strange, except at the end the author highlights how the laugh is exactly like his father, a person he never met. A unexpected but deep and touching connection.

The book did not do enough to investigate Amazon financial and funding record. Amazon has been able to run for at least 10 years in loss, a highly unusual situation for a retail giant. One wonders who would keep throwing their money into a loss making organisation. Long term investment in that is extremely unusual, one wonder if rumours of Amazon funding are true. To me it is plausible, because no VC has 100s of millions of pound to throw at a losing business.

Mackenzie Bezos, Jeff Bezos wife, wrote a Amazon review pointing to some inaccuracies. While I am sure this is the case, even Ms. Bezos would make errors about certain facts of her life from ten years ago. The most important thing to note, is this book is balanced in its praise and criticism of Amazon, something that the Amazon's company may not like, and the real reason for Ms. Bezos's review. Despite some errors, it tells an important story in an interesting way to give its reader lessons in an entertaining format.

I wish for anyone who watches Bezos interview to read this book. What Bezos's philosphy is not consistent with his actions. For e.g. Jeff Bezos says to focus on the customer, not competition - this is not the case e.g. Diaper.com.


Bezos shares many qualities of Steve Jobs, he is difficult to work for, he demands high quality, he is extremely intelligent, and he is extremely hardworking.

I would thoroughly recommend this book, and the excerpt on Audible does not do justice for the book.

Other books like this book I have read, which I also enjoyed are: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, and Losing my virginity by Richard Branson.

If you had listened and enjoyed those books you will definitely enjoy this.

  • Qaddafi's Point Guard

  • The Incredible Story of a Professional Basketball Player Trapped in Libya's Civil War
  • By: Daniel Paisner, Alex Owumi
  • Narrated by: Neal Ghant
  • Length: 8 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

A Nigerian native who emigrated to the United States at age 11, Alex Owumi's exploits on the basketball court earned him a college scholarship to Georgetown University. Undrafted by the NBA, Owumi pursued his basketball dream overseas, eventually signing with Al-Nasr of Libya, a state-run athletic club privately funded by the family of Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Misleading title - Qaddafi never appears in it!

  • By Lance Johnson on 31-05-18

Misleading title - Qaddafi never appears in it!

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

Reviewed: 31-05-18

This is the Godzilla of writing faff - irrelevant stories that eventually lead to the main story. Like the recent Godzilla movie, you see the flash of Godzilla (the actual story of him in the civil war) at small times peppered throughout the book, while mostly focusing on faff just to delay the punchline. Eventually u get to see Godzilla at the end of the movie, but by this time, you were so angry because you had to sit through all the crap to get there. Godzila was only about 2 hrs, this is over 8hrs!

Let me put it in an another way.

Imagine you had an interesting story for two weeks of your life. Then imagine you want to make money selling the book. What you do is talk about your boring life, your biography, and leave the interesting part which is only a short part of the book towards the end. You write pages of irrelevant detail that the reader does not want. Then at the actual interesting part of the book, you realise you don't have much to say, so you milk every moment for whats it worth. E.g. "the phone rang, it made a sound, like the ringing of freedom. It made me have so many emotions. Is it my mother or is it my dog who I left at 5 years old giving me a call? It took me 30 seconds, each second felt like an hour, as if I am struggling to breathe" - you get the picture, overemphasizing every irrelevant moment.

I understand authors have to meet a certain word limit, but if he had not much to say, just do an article for a magazine and get paid for it. Don't bore us with you boring life details, and write a book.

The author himself does not mentally seem to be the sharpest tool in the box, or shall we say "sharp as sausage". He makes so many dumb decisions I wanted to scream at him, almost hoping he gets run over so he remove his DNA from the gene pool. His poor decisions include (but not limited) (1) Not focusing on one sport (2) Leaving the Georgetown college team (3) Going to Macedonia to play basketball to play for money (4) Going to Libya, when his family told him not to, due to the civil unrest (5) While at a Egypt internment camp, a bus driver helps smuggle him out - he goes and then demands to be put on another bus to Alexandria and leave his friend behind. Like he was shopping at the grocery shop or ordering his favourite meal, knowing he and the poor bus driver could be thrown in jail! Also he has amazing selfishness! His experience is evidence of not making your own decision - because his were so poor.

Look the parts which he explains about the Libyan civil war were horrific, and how he survived was very interesting.Perhaps some of his suffering was unnecessary, because he starved for two weeks, while people around him were eating relatively well. Again, not the sharpest tool in the box.

People need to understand that Qaddafi sent Sub Saharan black African troop mercenaries to control the protests, but they lost and were captured. Because he was black, he could have been easily mistaken for these guys.

Would I recommend you get this book? Absolutely not, watch his TED talk instead. I actually recommend if you have any foreigners who work with/friends with, ask them there war torn stories. They can tell you of stories similar and in briefer detail than this guy would. Probably more interesting.

If you want a good survival story, listen to Viktor Frankl story, "Man's search for meaning". It talks about suffering, and gives you idea how to cope with your own suffering.

If you want to learn about struggles of getting into the NBA, listen to Dre Baldwin "Buy a game".



  • Losing My Virginity

  • By: Richard Branson
  • Narrated by: Richard Branson
  • Length: 5 hrs and 25 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,490
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,209
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,209

Losing My Virginity is an amazing memoir, a definitive business guide and an inspirational story that reveals Sir Richard's unique philosophy on business, the Virgin brand and life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fasinating insight...

  • By Neil on 12-04-09

The man is his own best publicist

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

Reviewed: 23-05-18

When I was at school, I heard many things on Richard, and even read a book on him(not autobiography), of which I did a report.

Recently I met him on a plane, he was flying first class (not on Virgin!) and shook his hand. So I decided to read up on him.

I believed I read this book many years ago, as some of it felt very familiar.

Now when many people approach this book, they do so from the mindset of wanting to start businesses themself, and become rich. This book will not let you do that. Others are attracted to the brand of Branson, some both.

It is the life story of Richard, told by himself - in a very positive light. It covers his childhood, his businesses - Student Magazine (failed), mail order record business (failed), record shop (failed, but only due to recent internet rise), his recording label (failed), his airline (failing), his purchase of Necker Island, his cross Atlantic trip, his fight with BA. Don't get me wrong he had some one off hits - e.g. Tubular bells.

He lived under constant loans to support his business. That being said it is easy listening, and told by the man himself. It was enjoyable, anyone would love.

Branson in this book comes off as a playboy than a serious, realistic businessman. Now this is what he portrays in the book, it may not be the case of reality.

Let's compare this to some really famous business men.

vs Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald's chain, yes he is the "founder") - read his autobiography
Worked two jobs when starting working as salesman in day and piano player in evening for radio. When starting Mcdonald's worked one job selling milkshake mixers. Once founded McDonald's he went all out and CONCENTRATED on his art. He had HIGH STANDARDS, WAS OBSESSIVE, AND HARD TO WORK FOR.

vs Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathway) - read his biography - Snowball
Father was a stock trader, started learning stocks, and worked for a brilliant man (Benjamin Graham) offering to work for no money. He CONCENTRATED on his art and WAS OBSESSIVE.

vs Steve Jobs (Apple) - listen to his official biography - Walter Isaacson
Abandoned by his parents, adopted, met Wozniak, knew IT was going to big, worked HARD, CONCENTRATED on his art, WAS OBSESSIVE, and HARD TO WORK WITH.

vs Elon Musk (Tesla, Space X, Solar City) - listen to his biography
Closest to Branson, but again - very INTELLIGENT, worked HARD - aka boundless energy/slept in the office (even now at this time of writing), OBSESSIVE, and HARD TO WORK WITH.

vs Jeff Bezos (Amazon) - listen to his biography
Knew web was going to be big, left his well paying job on the biggest risk of his life, worked HARD, very frugal, OBSESSIVE, HARD TO WORK WITH.

I could go on and on - look at Walt Disney, Bill Gates.

These characteristics don't seem to come out. All the others I have mentioned have more money than Richard Branson by at least several fold. If anyone conducted business like Branson, failure is a high likelihood, instead if you are interested in business, the others mentioned above would be better options to learn from.

The closest to Branson is Donald Trump, a showman, attention grabbing personality. I question both of their net worths. There is a book which helps to counter the image of Richard by Tom Bowers.

That being said, I did enjoy the book, and would recommend it to everyone, if you note the above caveats. I am listening to more books read by Branson, as I like his easy going style.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Yes Man

  • By: Danny Wallace
  • Narrated by: Danny Wallace
  • Length: 5 hrs
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 318
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 205
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 203

Danny Wallace had been staying in. Far too much. Having been dumped by his girlfriend, he really wasn't doing the young, free and single thing very well. Instead he was avoiding people. Texting them instead of calling them. Calling them instead of meeting them. That is until one fateful date when a mystery man on a late-night bus told him to 'say yes more'. These three simple words changed Danny's life forever. Yes Man is the story of what happened when Danny decided to say YES to everything.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Life Changing audio book

  • By Paul on 11-02-09

Movie was more entertaining, but book realistic

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

Reviewed: 22-05-18

The Yes Man has always had a negative connotation. The man who says yes to the boss despite how imbecilic his plan is, the person who the tyrant/dictator will state his wicked plan, and the Yes man will agree, The Emperor's new clothes advisor, who despite knowing the emperor was naked, still said yes - you look great. This book is not about this type of YES man. NB: With spouses, especially if u have a female spouse - YES - is important if they ask u - do I look good in this.

Preamble: This reviewer is 10x more adventurous than the writer, so I find most of the experiences he undertakes a bit of a yawn. I have done in one year - marathon/tough mudder/triathlon/visit Europe/visit Himalayas while holding down a real job and having a family. I think people who have busy schedules and multiple projects, may not benefit from the point of this story.

Vs Movie - Movie (starring Jim Carrey) is more entertaining, in my opinion, but the book is more realistic and has its moments.

Who will love this book - People who have become isolated, alone, had a recent breakup, or recent depression will benefit from the philosophy of this book. It is starting point to re-engaging life, which I applaud.

The book - A light hearted story of a man after getting dumped by his girlfriend who spirals into a isolated existence, undertakes a program of saying Yes to every opportunity. The story takes part in a year of his life. It explains his motivation, his highs, his lows, and the transformation he undertakes.

Is it funny? - Kinda.

Is the written book better - I don't know as I have not read it, and will not. Normally if I like a audiobook and it is abridged, I will always try to get the full version, but this book has left me uninspired.

Should you get it? See above, but to contradict the book - NO - if u r like me, YES if u need to take more chances in life.

Books better than this? This is a story of transformation, that offers a path you yourself can undertake. Other transformation books which I thoroughly enjoyed (more than this) -
(1) Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
(2) Neil Strauss book's - NOTE ADULT HUMOUR
(a) The Game - The story of how a nerd became a outgoing ladies man.
(b) Emergency - The story about how a journalist become a survivalist(and the skills you need to learn and how), to ultimately a person who will help people survive (volunteer emergency medical helper).
(c) The Truth - The story of a ladies man who learns how to be committed to one girl

Note: If you want to learn how to say no - watch Elliot Hulse - Be more aggressive - on youtube.

  • A Higher Loyalty

  • By: James Comey
  • Narrated by: James Comey
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,071
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 989
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 984

In his forthcoming book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Respect

  • By sara on 18-04-18

Dear Donald - I hate you.

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

Reviewed: 05-05-18

Spiel of my review.
Comey, former FBI director during 2016 election comes across well in this book. He does everything he can to insult Donald Trump, from giving glowing reviews of Trump's hated predecessor, Obama, to making fun of his Trump's orange skin.

Why I believe Comey is a liar:
1. He says the FBI is a trusted US institution and he had to work hard to defend its reputation, and therefore had to make the announcement during the election. It is not. J Edgar Hoover is a well known as a corrupt menace to society. To the point where U.S. President Harry S. Truman said that Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force:

" ... we want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him."

FBI is seen in our media traditionally as a corrupt organisation, from the FBI in X-files, through the bumbling portrayal of FBI agents in Rush Hour.

2. He did not reveal the Russia interference in the US 2016 election, he says Trump was not directly involved, though he admits the Trump campaign was. Now post election we are having an investigation of President Trump, something that has been catastrophic for the FBI, which could have been avoided had he revealed this investigation before the election.

3. He voted against Obama all elections. He is hardcore republican and has purposefully kept out his time working for a private law firm.

4. FBI are trained in skilled lying.

5. Apply his standard to his book: He is volunteering information, although we did not necessarily ask for it. He said of suspected liars e.g. Trump, that Trump would volunteer information without prompt, e.g. for the Russia Golden shower incident.

6. He is extremely intelligent - watch his CNN town hall meeting. Look how he manages disagreement in a graceful way.

7. He did not follow protocol - if the Clinton case needed to be re-open, standard protocol is to inform Department of Justice, and let them handle it, he did not, and his reasons are weak.

Why I might believe him?

1. I want the person in this book to exist. The person in this book is thoughtful, and dedicated to rules of Justice. Whether this actually occurs in reality is questionable.

2. The decisions were tough, but the FBI never and should not get involved with Politics - which it most definitely has.

3. He comes across as likeable.

There is no other reason to believe him.

Why I believe he is a showboat/going to run for political office.

1. Does anyone remember the previous FBI director - no? - it was Robert Mueller - did u ever hear his name much while he was director? - no - because FBI are discrete, James Comey is the opposite.

2. The book and how he comes across as honourable, and honest - painting an unrealistic picture of his character -if one does not critically think while reading the book - one would not pick up on the embellishment of his character and his false statements.


Great book - great listen, really enjoyable. Be wary of its content, but I listened through it in less then a week.

  • Hannibal

  • One Man Against Rome
  • By: Harold Lamb
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19

This is the breathtaking adventure of the great Carthaginian general who shook the foundations of Rome. In the world's first "global" conflict, Hannibal Barca marched up and down the Italian peninsula for 18 years, appearing well nigh invincible to a Rome which began to doubt itself for the first time in its history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating history

  • By Anne on 03-09-05

A fantastic story of man against the odds

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

Reviewed: 22-11-17

This is a well delivered story of Hannibal Barca, one of the few men who defeated the Romans in their own land. It is read by the excellent Charlton Griffin. It begins with the beginning of the Punic conflict, to the Barcas, through to Hannibal's life. Like Alexander the Great, Hannibal had a successful military father in Hamalcar Barca. It is through his promise to his father that Hannibal attacked Rome.

The book is intriguing and brings many insight into Hannibal. It was written by an author in the early 20th century. Much of what we know about Hannibal no longer survives, and most if not all sources are from the Roman sources. We may never know the true reason why Hannibal winded up eventually losing the way.

Though the Roman sources says it was their military might, one question whether betrayal may have a causative factor.

Be that as it may, the story of Hannibal reads out much like a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy.

Hannibal has been always associated with military genius, with even a character of the A-Team being named after him.

I think most people will enjoy this story, and will find it a great listen.

One point - the book fails to mention that Hannibal lead several successful naval campaigns, after he left the Greeks, before the Romans finally got him.

  • Emergency

  • This Book Will Save Your Life
  • By: Neil Strauss
  • Narrated by: Neil Strauss
  • Length: 8 hrs and 17 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 49

A tale of paranoid fantasies and crippling doubts, of shady lawyers and dangerous cult leaders, of billionaire gun nuts and survivalist superheroes, of weirdos, heroes, and ordinary citizens going off the grid. It's one man's story of a dangerous world - and how to stay alive in it. Before the next disaster strikes, you're going to want to read this book. And you'll want to do everything it suggests. Because tomorrow doesn't come with a guarantee....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Real title: How to survive the apocalypse

  • By Lance Johnson on 14-11-17

Real title: How to survive the apocalypse

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

Reviewed: 14-11-17

This is a brilliant book, with a very poor title. The book's title rings of a boring post 9/11 survival guide for executives. It is anything but boring.

In light of recent disastrous world events, the author describes his desire to be self-sufficient, and survive the apocalypse. He then takes us a journey of:

1. How he tries to become a dual citizen of another country (He is a USA citizen).

2. Learns survival skills from Legends such as Tom Brown - camping, tracking, catching and fishing his own food. Preparing his own food.

3. Learns urban survival skills as how to escape from a boot of car when you are handcuffed, and cross the city and avoid bounty hunters.

4. Survive 3 days without electricity and heating.

And more.

The author takes you through his reasoning and his journey, and how and what things he did, much of what he says is reproducible - providing you have the time, money, and more importantly the will.

At the end of the book, he learns to be a community support emergency services worker. It is here where he undergoes a paradigm shift, deciding he would rather do his best to help society when difficulties fall, rather than run away.

Neil the author specializes in transformation books. His book the Game was how he became more confident as a person/pick up artist, his other book the Truth was how he transformed from a pick up artist, to a more "settled" human being.

Emergency is how he became person dependent on society, to a person society can depend on.

To undertake the activities of this books requires time, and money. Something a successful writer could do. Perhaps if this book could encourage us to take the time to go camping, or learn a martial arts, than the book would have worth it for you.

Extremely easy to read, for all to enjoy, both male or female.

  • The Truth

  • An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships
  • By: Neil Strauss
  • Narrated by: Neil Strauss
  • Length: 16 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 322
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 292
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 291

No more games; it's time for the truth. I am not the hero in this tale. I am the villain. Do you believe in monogamy? Neil Strauss didn't. The New York Times journalist made a name for himself advocating freedom, sex and opportunity as author of The Game - with intimacy and long-term commitment taking a backseat. That is, until he met the woman who forced him to ask the questions that men and women are asking themselves every day: Is it natural to be faithful to one person for life?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The search for the perfect relationship

  • By Lance Johnson on 05-11-17

The search for the perfect relationship

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

Reviewed: 05-11-17

Let me introduce you to the common reader of this book, lets call him Bill. Bill is likely to be in a monogamous heterosexual relationship, and may have a few relations before that. Often he walks down the street and sees/fantasise about beautiful women he encounters and wonders what could be, but doesn't have the ability and/or motivation to take the steps to achieve this desire, including a possible moral/religious code.

Enter Neil Strauss, author of this book. He is not like 99% of the readers of this book. He has claimed to slept with 100s of women, and has written a fantastic book on meeting women, entitled "The Game". Unlike Bill, Neil has the ability to seduce women, complimented by a lack of moral compass to undertake and explore the desires that Bill/most men has.

The book begins with Neil, stuck in a relationship with his girlfriend/future wife Ingrid. Ingrid is a lady who has extremely poor male role models - her father tried to murder her mother, her step father treated her badly, etc . Ingrid is not like 90% of the female population. She is the door mat to Neil's back door to the outside garbage dumpster. Neil can't understand why apparently being with an attractive woman like Ingrid, he still desires other women/watches porn. He then leaves her to go explore many different avenues available to the heterosexual/famous writer male.

He explores polyamoury, Bliss, commune, sex orgi parties, and open relationships. He undertakes sex therapy, all in his to seek the ultimate heterosexual sexual relationship.

Now I would be lying, if I did not find Neil's journey, enlightening. In fact, I found that his book gave me an appreciation for my own monogomaus relationship, but more importantly my ethical code. I appreciated his discussions with his friend and his psychologist, which helped me to open doors or help explain some of my own behaviour, not related to sex, which I hope to correct.

The most important thing I learnt, is that it is a blessing from God, that most men like Bill are deficient at certain skills in their lives. It is a blessing that men like Bill do not have the ability of Neil, to be able to seduce low self-esteem women easily. Because if one has easy access to any power, it is certainly at high risk of abuse. Such is the way of dictators, with their absolute power, or the expert male pick up artist.


I recommend listening/reading this book, with the certain intellectual caveats.

1. Neil is extremely powerful at justifying his claims/beliefs. If you are easily swayed/influenced, please stop. Think and create an argument against it when presented by him. You will find that when Neil comes back to refute his original beliefs, that you may already found that you had come to that conclusion long ago.

2. Neil fails to realise or acknowledge certain truths of man – man will continue to desire things no matter how much he has – e.g. if he had a valley of gold, he would want two valleys of gold. That is his nature and that is a constant battle to restrain himself, he must prepare and undertake for the rest of his life.

3. Neil talks about the ultimate goal - being true to himself – he does not realise that man is ultimately flawed, and his self is in constant flux – it will change from week to week.

4. The women Neil actually dates, are for most men, one nightstand you might want, but ultimately are poor wives/partners. Ingrid takes Neil back after dumping her, undertaking this sexual journey. Rather than be strong, and telling him to get lost, she incredulously takes him back. One wonders if this relationship is going to last.

5. Neil blames his parents for the origin of most of his problems. Don’t get me wrong, it may contribute, but perhaps the fact that he ends up hanging around nutcases like actors/singers/pick up artist who a large proportion are drug addicts/mentally unstable may have something to do with it.

6. Neil blames looking after your mother need when they are older as being the cause of certain peoples’ relationship tensions. I disagree, looking after your mother when she is older is one of the great privileges of being a man. We would hope our children would do the same for our wives when we get old. Of course, this should not be at the expense of the relationship with your dependent family, but I found the idea put forward by Neil a little distasteful.

7. Sex is part of intimacy/developing deep relations with a female one has chosen. What he does by sleeping and dumping women, is hurting them, and ultimately hurting himself. Sex is not the ultimate goal of a relationship, it is a benefit of having a strong emotional connection with a female human being.

8. You don’t need to stick your finger in the electric socket to know it is dangerous. You don’t go around “trying” every relationship model to see if you like it, it could ultimately be deadly for your health/spirit. I am sorry to say, but I think Neil’s experiences have damaged him so much, I fear more than being a prisoner in a concentration camp. A concentration camp, one can blame his captors. Neil’s is his own prison guard.

I did enjoy the book, but I was able to intellectually combat, many of Neil’s idea. At times, it became difficult to listen to the book for the amount of sex Neil was having. Neil is an excellent writer, with strong memorable writing, entertaining, and comedic at times. I have also read/listened the Game, and will listen to another book he has done. I am sort of glad that someone like Neil has explored this, and it has thankfully increased my dislike of this lifestyle.

All in all, if you are not offended by graphic writing about sex, if you are like Bill who wants to glance at the dark side of sleeping with many women, than this book may give Bill and others, a deeper appreciation for who they are.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Agent Storm

  • My Life Inside al-Qaeda
  • By: Tim Lister, Morten Storm, Paul Cruickshank
  • Narrated by: Neil Shah
  • Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78

He was the Western convert who would plunge deep inside al-Qaeda. He named his first son Osama after 9/11 and became a Jihadist. But then - after a sudden loss of faith - Morten Storm made a life-changing decision. He became a double agent and joined the CIA, MI6 and MI5. Filled with hair-raising close calls and deception, Storm's story builds to the climactic finale when he must betray his friend and mentor al-Awlaki - al-Qaeda's biggest threat to the West.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • good honest account

  • By Faye on 11-10-15

A sad story

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

Reviewed: 07-08-17

If you could sum up Agent Storm in three words, what would they be?

False, Interesting, Sad

What other book might you compare Agent Storm to, and why?

In the process of reading...

Have you listened to any of Neil Shah’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Nil

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

See below

Any additional comments?

This story centres around the following: a man seeking fame and fortune - to fill a hole inside his heart, that would never be filled. He apparently was a Muslim convert, that eventually rejected the faith, and became a double agent, spying on Al-Qaeda for Western intelligence agencies. I am afraid this man is a professional liar, so much of this story is likely not true, or severely twisted. Try to listen to story between the lines: look at what he means, not what he writes. The other is to gleam some information on the operation of intelligence agencies including CIA, MI5, and PET(Danish CIA).

The protagonist of the story is Morten Storm, a man born in a broken home who never got love or approval of his parents. He was a troubled boy, and I am afraid, from his own story, a troubled man. This is evident in the story when he went as a man to see his birth father who had left his mother when he was young, and was rejected. I suspect his involvement in Islam, Spying, publishing this book etc was to try to get this approval from all his peers and family, to be accepted and respected. This is evident when in the story he forces the Danish Intelligence agencies to tell his mother directly what he was doing as a double agent.

My feelings on this book can be summarised in the following.

1. Why this book is released.
I suspect the intelligence agencies could have easily stopped this book. They either could taken him out, or used laws such as the Secrecy Act to gag or arrest him. Make no mistake the intelligence agencies wanted this release. At this time he still lives in the West. Remember Assange was under house arrest, Snowden is stuck in Russia, Richard Tomlinson is in jail in France and Chelsea Manning was in jail for secrets revelations. And these are only the more prominent people, I am sure there are many others in jail we will never hear about. Perhaps the agency wanted to use this as they thought it possibly as good PR.

2. Intelligence agencies actively radicalise people
"If you don't have permission, create an event to get you permission" If you want to get permission to slap your brother, fake evidence that he ate out of the cookie jar. If you want to arrest people, put pressure on them such as restricted movement, healthcare, and then when they get angry, blame them for being unfair. A lot of the extreme fringe groups, are full of CIA/intelligence agents who recruit and actively radicalise people, so that minorities can be villified. Awlaki was not radicalised until after his 9 month stint in a Yemeni prison, complements of the CIA. Also a young Croatian girl was sent to Awlaki as a wife by this spy, who probably was not radicalised until after she was sent to Yemen. At no point in the story did Morten try to convince anyone to not undertake terrorism, in fact, he fostered it, then collected money leading to the arrest of the radicalised person, he had helped radicalise.

3. This man probably never converted in the first place.
Although he says he converted to Islam, I suspect he never did but was a trained intelligence agency throughout his so called "Muslim" activities. This idea is nothing new, and is employed by the Police to infiltrate a movement.

4. This man and the intelligence agencies are severely corrupt, and morally bankrupt
Both he and the agencies, indulge in illicit such as cocaine use to the the use of prostitution.

I could go on and on.

Should you read this book?
Yes, if you are interested in spy fables, not necessarily to get to the truth.

I pity Mr. Storm, no matter how successful he is, or how much money he gets, he will, forever, never be able to get happiness, when he continues to see outside rather than within.

0 of 5 people found this review helpful