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Audio Buzz, Past
Audio Book News
By Jonathan Lowe

MARCH 2014
by Jonathan Lowe

Just out is THE COUNTERFEIT AGENT by Alex Berenson, a timely suspense novel about Iranian nuclear terrorism, and the games played within the CIA. It all begins when a "test package" of radioactive content is sent via ship to America from Dubai. Veteran narrator George Guidall reads. And Guidall also reads Robin Cook's latest, a new novel that plays on our high tech obsession with smart phones. CELL postulates, of all things, a phone that is as smart as a surgeon. Called iDoc, this phone can not only diagnose you, but also treat you using nanotechnology and genomics (Cook's last book was NANO.) With such a phone, would you need a doctor anymore? (Or as the movie HER features a "Siri" type artificial intelligence in your cell, would you need a real girlfriend?) Of course things go very wrong in beta testing.

After all, it's depressing to imagine that soon no one will need anyone for anything.

With drones and robots on the way, we're almost there, as it is!

The Audie award nominees have been announced. Looking over the list, I've picked a few of my favs, below. For the full list go to the press releases section of the Audio Publishers Association website.

* World on a String by John Pizzarelli and Joseph Cosgriff, narrated by the authors
* Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan, narrated by Jonathan Davis
* Matilda by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet
* The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Simon Vance
* The Good House by Ann Leary, narrated by Mary Beth Hurt
* Someone Could Get Hurt by Drew Magary, narrated by the author
* The Son by Philipp Meyer, narrated by Will Patton, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Sheperd, and Clifton Collins, Jr.
* William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher, narrated by a full cast
* Unleashed by David Rosenfelt, narrated by Grover Gardner


Turning to non-fiction, let's examine two controversial new books written by scholars for major publishers. According to the book THE CRASH OF 2016 by Thom Hartman, read by Dan Woren, the repeat of 1929 did not end in 2008, but will come in full force in two years. This inevitability, he says, began with "the madness of 1981," when Reagan ushered in the age of deregulation and the rape of the middle class by deeply lowering tax rates for the richest Americans. Hartman shows that every time the upper progressive rates have been below 50% in the past, the economy has bubbled and either fully or partially collapsed. It's what the Royalists (the super rich with political ties) want, however: to shake the tree and force the foolish to perish by falling out of it. Our age of free trade, which began with Reagan and continued with Clinton and the Bush presidencies, has also resulted in a total reversal of manufacturing fortunes, in which America (pre-Reagan) was importing the most raw materials and exporting the most finished products...and is now exporting the most raw materials and importing the most finished products (purchased at massive deficits.) Fifty thousand manufacturing jobs have been lost in America yearly ever since Reagan took office, while the profit percentage of the Royalists has been going up in a parallel line, due to investments overseas (where they exploit slave labor.) Meanwhile, deficits during the Reagan administration exceeded all previous presidents combined, (before Clinton bought into lax regulations, and Bush accelerated it.) So now it's time to pay the piper. Is Obama to blame, too? Yes, according to Hartman, who says even Obama has been opted by the Royalists to bankrupt the middle class, and notes that CEOs didn't used to be given stock options, back when their earnings were merely 30 times the average worker's, and they were accountable to employees. Now they don't need to care about employees or customers or anyone else, because they can collect 300 times average earnings plus millions in bonuses and stock options. Ominously, Hartman ends by talking about what we can (and will) do AFTER the crash (to save America), as though stopping the crash itself is now too late.

Finally, why do Mormons, Jews, Chinese Americans, plus Indian and Nigerian immigrants outperform entrenched minorities, and even the majority of whites? According to authors (and Yale Law professors) Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld it's because they are outsiders, and so don't feel entitled to special treatment due to perceived inferiority or the inculcated baggage of fairness politics. In fact, what they feel is not that they are inferior or even just equal, but superior. THE TRIPLE PACKAGE outlines three major traits and misconceptions, the first fallacy being that we are taught to believe no ethnic group is superior to another in any way. Not true, say the authors. Each group has their own traits and history in relation to others, and so their approach to life is different. These approaches vary, and have a direct bearing on success due to one's individual perceptions, (most specifically attitude and the work ethic.) Ironically, the second misconception (that feeling good about oneself is the key to success) is also untrue, since these most successful groups actually feel insecure…and that they need to prove themselves. Finally, American culture has for decades taught us to demand instant gratification, and to seek (and flaunt) self indulgence (often to make up for feeling inferior.) But this is the opposite of what motivates the most successful people. What they possess is discipline, patience, and impulse control. They are not angry: they actually believe they will win, but only if they reject stereotypes, and work hard. Learn who has all three of these package traits most, the authors say, and you will discover the highly successful groups listed above. A controversial but thought provoking take on achievement and success, as narrated by the clearly delineated voice of actor Jonathan Todd Ross, this audiobook shows (with groundbreaking original research) that our cultural pursuit of the fast buck is resulting in mass debt and future misery, and that legally leveling the playing field doesn't matter if the players are too lazy to excel on that field. The authors also show the downsides of basing success solely upon money (ie. greed), and include commentary on how to profit from the three rules before letting them go to pursue one's own individuality. (Of course what we do as individuals is what matters, and dividing into groups leads to war and conflicts as well as competition. "Nationalism is the measles of humanity" --Einstein) Rubenfeld is an expert on constitutional law, while Chua is Asian, and an expert on free market Democracy. She was named by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.


2014 Past Columns