Thursday, May 26, 2016

THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP by Michael D’Antonio

No one in current memory grabs the attention of Donald Trump. Using lessons gleaned from Muhammad Ali, Donald is the “verbal jab” equivalent: floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee. In THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP author Michael D’Antonio details the history of the man from birth, including his father’s story, his influences, his rise to power, his women, his love of sports (particularly boxing and wrestling), and the Art of the Deal. D’Antonio, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, spares nothing in his examination of Trump’s empire. As such, it is a must read (or must hear) for anyone considering voting for him or not. Echoing studies in psychology quoted in another new book THE POWER PARADOX, D’Antonio endeavors to explain how we came to this point, where a proud, self-proclaimed narcissist is running (and dominating) as a Presidential candidate. Trump is an enigma to many, saying whatever it takes to grab headlines. But when listeners hear the history and the mindset, it all begins to fall into focus. Trump views public life as a struggle for dominance and control, and for “winning” against opponents (with everyone a potential foe.) When someone throws a punch, he punches back, just like a fighter in the ring. There is no “right” or “wrong,” it’s just “business.” On the many occasions where he has contradicted himself, that’s all part of the game. For example, he once said about Bill Clinton during his administration, “talk about scandals with women, if I ever ran for office, I’d have him beat there.” Yet he recently criticized Bill for being a philanderer. “The rich,” says Dachner Keltner in The Power Paradox, “invariably assign blame to others while they themselves feel no guilt for committing the same things.” It is also a trait of the narcissist to refer to themselves in the third person, as when a basketball player like Lebron James (quoted in the audiobook “The Narcissist Next Door”) says, “You know, I wanted to do what was best for Lebron James, and whatever Lebron James has to do to make him happy.” (‘Him?’ He’s speaking!) Trump has done this too, frequently on stage, besides liking the title “The Donald.” Does Trump really care about his voters? Just as voters, says D’Antonio. People are tools to achieve success, and you do “whatever it takes.” It’s not about love, it’s just business. Personally, Trump (and other very rich people) feel superior to their underlings, and refer to their blue blood roots (as Trump has done) to imply that they are racially and intellectually above the riff raff. (Ironic, that many of Trump’s supporters are NASCAR fans, 95% of which vote Republican and don’t read non-fiction books.) Obviously this is a controversial book with stats that many will dispute. But Trump disputes most science, including global warming, since it has implications to business profits and pollution. Who is right? That’s for you to decide. D’Antonio ends the book by genuinely praising Trump for his accomplishments, yet also saying that in a society and culture that values wealth and fame, he is what we deserve (following the famous quote, “voters get what they deserve.”) He notes that no one, not even many far more wealthy than he, has been able to capitalize on his fortune and fame as has Trump. Enigma, because although he is fair and rewarding to those he perceives on his side, cross him or join the “opposing team” and he will do or say anything to defeat and humiliate you. Welcome to the sport of politics. It’s a winner-take-all cage fight to the death. Audiobook is narrated by Eric Pollins, a voiceover artist and TV/Movie actor whose tone is always spot-on. Related audiobooks to hear on the psychology of power related to Trump are SUCCESS AND LUCK, and MADNESS UNDER THE ROYAL PALMS, reviewed at this site.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Are Ghosts REAL?


Our age is obsessed by the idea of conspiracy. We see it everywhere—from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from the assassination of Kennedy to the death of Diana. In this age of terrorism we live in, the role of conspiracy is a serious one—one that can fuel radical or fringe elements and violence. For award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch, there came a time when he started to see a pattern among these inflammatory theories. He found that these theories used similarly murky methods with which to insinuate their claims: they linked themselves to the supposed conspiracies of the past (“it happened then so it can happen now”); they carefully manipulated their evidence to hide its holes; and they relied on the authority of dubious academic sources. Most importantly, they elevated their believers to membership of an elite—a group of people able to see beyond lies to a higher reality. But why believe something that entails stretching the bounds of probability so far? Surely it is more likely that men did actually land on the moon in 1969 than the idea that thousands of people were enlisted to fabricate an elaborate hoax. Narrator James Langton trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, he has performed many voice-overs and narrated numerous audiobooks, including the international bestsellers The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud by Julia Navarro, The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield, and The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The After Party

From the nationally bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls comes a story of 1950s Texas socialites and the one irresistible, controversial woman at the bright, hot center of it all. Joan Fortier is the epitome of Texas glamour and the center of the 1950s Houston social scene. Tall, blonde, beautiful, and strong, she dominates the room and the gossip columns. Every man who sees her seems to want her; every woman just wants to be her. But this is a highly ordered world of garden clubs and debutante balls. The money may flow as freely as the oil, but the freedom and power all belong to the men. What happens when a woman of indecorous appetites and desires like Joan wants more? What does it do to her best friend? Devoted to Joan since childhood, Cece Buchanan is either her chaperone or her partner in crime, depending on whom you ask. But as Joan’s radical behavior escalates, Cece’s perspective shifts—forcing one provocative choice to appear the only one there is. A thrilling glimpse into the sphere of the rich and beautiful at a memorable moment in history, The After Party by Anton Disclafani unfurls a story of friendship as obsessive, euphoric, consuming, and complicated as any romance. Narrator Dorothy Dillingham Blue has appeared in Jimmy Hunt and The Harold Project and has contributed her voice to many commercials and video projects. In addition to acting, Dorothy directs children’s musical theater. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Serial Killer Whisperer

Fifteen-year-old Tony Ciaglia had everything a teenager could want—good grades, good athletic skills, and good friends—until he suffered a horrific head injury at summer camp. Pronounced clinically dead three times by helicopter paramedics before he reached a hospital, Ciaglia lapsed into a coma. When he emerged, his right side was paralyzed and he had to relearn how to walk, talk, and even how to eat. The areas of his brain that were damaged required him to take countless pills to control his emotions and rages. Abandoned and shunned by his friends, he began writing to serial killers on a whim and discovered that his traumatic brain injury—which made him an outcast to his peers—enabled him to emotionally connect with notorious murderers in a unique way. Soon many of America’s most dangerous psychopaths were revealing heinous details to Tony about their crimes—even those they’d never been convicted of. The killers opened up to him, trusted him, and called him a “best friend.” But there was a price. As Tony found himself being drawn deeper and deeper into their violent worlds of murder, rape, and torture, he was pushed to the brink of despair and, at times, forced to question his own sanity—until he found a way to put his unusual gift to use. Asked by investigators for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for help in solving a murder, Tony began launching his own personal searches for forgotten victims, incredibly with clues often provided to him voluntarily by the killers themselves. Narrated by Alan Sklar, interviewed at this site. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Audie Awards 2016

Some of the major winners in the Audie Awards announced on May 11, 2016 in Chicago at BEA2016 or BookCon. I was one of the first round judges in the non-fiction category. (Born With Teeth by Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek and Columbo.) Scott Brick won as narrator for The Patriot Threat and Jurassic Park productions. (See interview to left.) The Girl on the Train won as Audiobook of the Year. Furiously Happy won as best Humor (see interview with Jenny Lawson.) A Man on the Moon was cowritten by Tom Hanks. To see where Daniel Silva vacations, go HERE. Order downloads by clicking on banner to the right.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Invention of Science by David Wootton

THE INVENTION OF SCIENCE by David Wootton explores the origins of critical thinking and the concept of discovery. The very idea of discovering something new was, surprisingly, little known to sailors and politicians prior to Columbus. It is hard to imagine now exactly how, due to superstition and religious dogma, so very few people in the “dark ages” and beyond conceived—much less experimented—with elements of the natural world, with mathematics, or with abstract concepts. Historian David Wootton, a professor at the University of York, has here explained how it really was, and what has come to be since. The Scientific Revolution was the greatest revolution, he says, because it transformed mankind (or much of it, anyway) from willful ignorance into a better understanding of our relationship with nature. Galileo, Copernicus, Brahe, Newton, Einstein: these men (among others) paved the way, not just to our current technology, but to the very concept of facts, theories, progress, and explanations. Abstract thought was one of the tools used, along with geometry, that led to physics, as Einstein said, “My pen and I are greater than I alone.” This audiobook, read by actor James Langton, is a fascinating overview that gives the listener perspective on why science is important, and how it has infinite reach (to borrow a phrase from an earlier audiobook, THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY.) Being more accessible to the layman than David Deutsch’s masterpiece, Wootton's and Deutsch's books are both highly recommended for anyone wishing to refute bad philosophy and bad science with carefully reasoned logic. For most of recorded history mankind has struggled with conflicting beliefs, which in the present has led to much suffering as people get their identity from those beliefs and fight to force them onto others. “To err is human,” though, and so no one has ever been immune from fallacy, delusion, or ego. Curiosity is key to progress out of the morass, because if one is not curious enough to discover the truth, the problems remain and endlessly repeat. Yet these authors are optimistic because progress has always trumped ignorance wherever it has been applied. AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH.