Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Audio Buzz, Past
Audio Book News
By Jonathan Lowe

JAN 2014
by Jonathan Lowe

In his new novel THE PRINCE OF RISK author Christopher Reich formulates a plot surrounding the world financial trend that has resulted in America's dominating the pushing of paper rather than in manufacturing goods. Financial services are centered in New York, where the barons of Wall Street have ruled the roost for much too long, with Washington cooking the books for them. Shanghai, by contrast, has become impatient and angry, and is looking to crush the West's last remaining stronghold. Enter hedge fund manager Bobby Astor, whose father, (head of the NYSE), and the Federal Reserve chairman, are both killed on the White House lawn as part of a conspiracy by a third party allegiance to overthrow our financial system.

The backstory of Astor's involvement in a risky venture parallels and dovetails nicely with the high tech attack, and one learns much about the speed made by electronic trades, where advantages are eked out in microseconds by widely separated servers.

Remember the EAT THIS, NOT THAT books? Perhaps because those books were very visual, and so not rendering themselves well to audio format, author David Zinczenko has come out with an audiobook titled EAT IT to BEAT IT, which he also narrates. The three hour production includes a PDF on the first disk, to assist with those "boring to read aloud" stats, and is written with the same basic premise that people want to eat at fast food restaurants, but are unsure about which entr e to choose. Not surprisingly, most people are ignorant about the ingredients in the items they order. For example, if you have high blood pressure, you will want to stay away from PF Chang's hot and sour soup, one bowl of which has more salt than is recommended for three days, even by people without high blood pressure! Cheesecake Factory takes multiple hits too, as does Applebee's, On the Border, IHOP, Olive Garden, Quiznos, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, Sonic, TGI Fridays, Sbarro, Steak & Shake, Dennys, Nathan's, Chili's, not to mention Burger King, Carl's Jr., McDonalds, etc. Zinczenko makes a point to suggest alternatives within the same restaurant to choose, knowing that people are loyal to these brands. Worst item, which may sound healthy? Baja Fish Tacos at Long John Silver's. It has 9 grams of trans fats, the worst kind of fat, shown to cause memory loss and brain shrinkage. Not a very smart choice. Of course if you eat Calamari Ricardo at Carrabbas, you're getting 11 grams of trans fats.

But at least you don't think it's healthy! Other surprises include the fact that processed foods in your grocery store may contain pulped wood shavings, insect body parts, and even human hair. And that often the FDA accepts the manufacturer's claims without followup or investigation. And that the phrase "contains whole grains" means nothing if the "100%" isn't the prefix. And that many additives are shown to cause cancer, ulcers and inflammation, while sugars hide in ingredient labels under multiple names that you wouldn't expect to be sugar. It's all about keeping you buying by lying. Of course to avoid much of this headache, one could avoid the inner aisles of grocery stores and junk food restaurants completely. One could avoid soda, and eat raw foods with little (if any) factory raised meat. This book, though, is for the majority of people, who simply won't do that, and are enticed by commercials (which some companies spend more money on than they do their products.)

DOUBLE DOWN by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann examines the months leading up to Obama's second term election, defeating Mitt Romney.

This insider's look behind the curtains at the debates and on the campaign trail is subtitled "Game Change 2012," focusing on Romney's blunders (such as his "47 percent" comments) as "Mitt happens." How did Clint Eastwood end up on stage at the Republican convention? Why did Romney reject Chris Christie in favor of Ryan? Why was the Clinton speech so effective, although it lasted double the time it was supposed to? These questions are answered by the two political analyst authors, as narrated by Robert Fass. Obama: "What am I supposed to do when Romney starts spewing his bullshit?" Clinton: "The facts are eloquent enough." Their high stakes winner-take-all poker match is fun to watch, and may have you wondering where we'd be now had Romney not stumbled, and had rather been able to make the super rich even richer.

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S SECRET SIX by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager, narrated by Kilmeade, has the subtitle "The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution," and points to Robert Townsend as leader of the Culper Spy Ring, without whom the Revolution might not have succeeded.

With the NSA spying on everyone big time, now, this audiobook may have you wondering if spy networks of various degrees of sophistication have been modus operandi in politics from the beginning. Could it be the origin of the phrase "information is power"?

And then there's the return of Clive Cussler and Jack DeBrul's partnership in MIRAGE, an adventure featuring the cryptic ship Oregon.

The formula is to present an action sequence lending historical perspective on some mystery that will later (usually in the present) set the plot in motion. Narrated by Scott Brick, the story is not without cliches (eg. "eyes like saucers") and involves a missing WWII destroyer, a mysterious container protected by three different mob bosses, and a secret weapon somehow linked to Nikola Tesla. I've interviewed all three players here, Cussler, Debrul, and Brick.

Together, they make a good team to bring imaginative diversion from the usual simplistic video violence that is television.

2014 Past Columns