Profile for Brian D. Rubendall > Reviews


Brian D. Rubendall's Profile

Customer Reviews: 1419
Top Reviewer Ranking: 334,249
Helpful Votes: 13479

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Brian D. Rubendall RSS Feed (Oakton, VA)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
World Made by Hand: A Novel
World Made by Hand: A Novel
by James Howard Kunstler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.50
84 used & new from $2.08

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Long Emergency Comes to Life, April 4, 2008
Leave it to James Howard Kunstler, visionary author of The Long Emergency, to write the first great novel set in a possible Peak Oil future. Expanding on the main themes of his previous book and adapting them for dramatic impact, Kunstler tells a simple story that is simultaneously frightening and yet a bit hopeful. Surprisingly considering that detractors think he is far too pessimistic, World Made by Hand is light and airy compared to say, the utter bleakness of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

The setting is upstate New York, an area that Kunstler is convinced will survive the oil crash a bit better that the rest of the country. His hero is a former software executive turned carpenter eking out a barely more than subsistence living with his fellow townies. The outside world has become unknown to them as their only sources of news are in the form of travelers' tales and rumors. The status quo of their humdrum lives is shaken up when a new religious sect moves into town and a boatload of local traders goes missing.

Kunstler is a deft writer capable of spinning scenes both moving and dramatic. He also avoids obvious clichés. His religious cult leader turns out to be an okay guy and the inevitable strong arm militia is discovered to be greedily pathetic rather than omnipotent. The one quibble I have about the novel is its small scale. Given the grandiosity of The Long Emergency and its predictions for the future of the world this was a bit surprising. But it in no way detracts from what is an effective and well told story.

The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
by James Howard Kunstler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.57
257 used & new from $0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pessimist is Rarely Disappointed, March 2, 2008
Before reading "The Long Emergency," I had only a vague notion of the implications of Peak Oil. Thanks to Mr. Kuntzler, I now realize exactly how dangerous the situation is. Do I necessarily believe that things are going to play out exactly as he describes? Of course not. Speculative writing is always just that, an educated guess. What I am certain of as a result of reading this book is that some variation of the future it outlines is going to play out.

What was most eye-opening was the discussion of so-called alternative fuels. Most people seem to believe that the free market will take care of itself by developing replacements for oil, coal and natural gas with little disruption to our way of life. Kuntzler painstakingly demonstrates why this is a dangerous fantasy. For that alone, the book is worth reading.

One word for those who say Kuntzler is too much of a pessimist. His vision of the future is actually more positive than that of some Peak Oil theorists who believe that it will be a (human) extinction event. Kuntzler believes the world's population will merely return to pre-industrial levels (about one billion), and that this will eventually mean a return to locally based economies. Admittedly this shows a bit of a hippie mentality on his part, but it in no way detracts from his overall message.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2010 9:36 PM PST

Summer of the Apocalypse
Summer of the Apocalypse
by James Van Pelt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.60
68 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Best of the End-of-the-World Genre, March 1, 2008
I love end-of-the-world fiction. Ever since I first laid eyes on "The Stand" and "On the Beach" while in high school, I've been hooked. That said, many end-of-the-world books are poorly conceived and poorly written.

But every now and then a superior example of the genre comes around, and James Van Pelt knows how to string his sentences together. The story unfolds over a 60-year stretch following a virus that wipes out most of humanity. The depictions of society crumbling, as seen through the eyes of a teenaged boy, are chillingly believable. Intertwined is the story of the boy at the other end of his life trying to keep the flame of civilization alive. He embarks on a journey through the changed world, finding some things that might be expected (a crazed militia) and some unexpected (a tribe evolved from feral children).

For all of the death and destruction, however, this is a surprisingly humane novel, and it builds to the kind of emotional climax that only "On the Beach" has achieved within the genre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2008 9:15 PM PST

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
by Joe Bageant
Edition: Hardcover
83 used & new from $1.71

305 of 319 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening in its Implications, June 30, 2007
As a progressive who grew up in exactly the kind of town the author describes, I found "Deer Hunting With Jesus" to be a chilling and dead on accurate account of modern day America. Unless you've had the experience of seeing the house you grew up in only 20 years ago boarded up and sold at a HUD auction, or turned into a crack house as my best friend from high school's house recently was (we were solidly middle class by small town standards), you really can't appreciate what the author is trying to describe.

That said, this is no biased political rant, as the author's staunch defense of gun ownership demonstrates. It is instead a desperate warning to all Americans just how perilously close we are to seeing our way of life destroyed by our own misguided collective actions. The author believes that progressives and the white working class (rednecks as he calls them) ought to be able to find political common ground based upon economic interest. He's also realistic enough to realize that it is unlikely to happen in time to rescue America from the precipice we seemed so determined to fling ourselves over.

Be forewarned, it is depressing as hell and in no way conforms to the Republican OR Democratic narratives of what America needs to do to preserve our way of life. It is the kind of truth-telling book that could only be written by someone who has seen enough of living on both sides of the red-blue divide to truly understand what ails this country.

In all, a perfect antidote to what the author calls the "American Hologram" of our mass media culture.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2010 6:19 AM PST

Dead City
Dead City
by Joe McKinney
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.29
62 used & new from $0.01

11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well Written but Unsatisfying, May 27, 2007
This review is from: Dead City (Mass Market Paperback)
There have been a slew of zombie books recently, and with the exception of Max Brooks's superb "World War Z" most of them are atrociously written and edited. In that "Dead City" is an exception. Joe McKinney clearly knows how to string his sentences togather.

The problem is that this is one of the least compelling "zombie" stories I've read. The early scenes of the outbreak are well handled and compelling, but it quickly becomes apparent that the focus of the story is the attempted reuniting of the protagonist with his wife and child. It doesn't help that early on the wife's character is established as so thoroughly dislikable that as a reader you sincerely hope she becomes an early victim. Alas, the narrative eventually leads to an ending that is as big a cop out as Speilberg's horrible remake of the "War of the Worlds."

Zombie fans, take a pass on this one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2007 11:44 AM PDT

Sky Blue Sky
Sky Blue Sky
Price: $8.17
126 used & new from $1.33

75 of 156 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars In a Word: Dull, May 27, 2007
This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)
Lots of people became excited upon hearing that Wilco's newest recording would be somewhat of a return to their more traditional roots-rock origins. Count me among them, for although I eventually warmed to the "Summerteeth" to "Ghost is Born" sonic progression, I missed simple pleasures like "Passenger Side" from their debut album.

That said, "Sky Blue Sky" is a huge disappointment. Whether Jeff Tweedy and company decide to dress their songs up with sonic flourishes is irrelevant if the songwriting isn't terribly compelling in the first place. "Sky" is a tepid folk rock album which contains not a single memorable track. It slides along pleasantly, and then fades from memory almost instantly. Too bad. The horribly mediocre American rock music scene sorely needs Wilco to be at the top of their game.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2008 9:05 AM PDT

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders
Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders
by James D. Scurlock
Edition: Hardcover
102 used & new from $0.01

24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Financial System is Blinking Red, March 4, 2007
What "An Inconvenient Truth" did for Global Warming, "Maxed Out," the book and the documentary should do for America's impending debt crisis. Author and moviemaker James Scurlock sounds the warning about credit card companies' predatory lending pratcices, but he also makes a larger and much scarier statement about America's addiction to debt and how it may well cause a major societal breakdown sometime in the near future. All of this comes from a Wharton Business School graduate and former (Daddy) Buch campaign worker who quite obviously has had his eyes opened as to the crisis America will soon no longer be able to deny. Particularly unnerving are the quotes Scurlock digs up from various political leaders which show how clueless they really are about even the basics of how America's financial system works.

Whether you read the book or see the movie, "Maxed Out" contants an imporatnat message we all should heed.

Something to Take the Edge Off
Something to Take the Edge Off
Price: $15.21
14 used & new from $7.47

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Quite Edgy, April 30, 2006
Anyone who is easily offended will NOT like comedian Doug Stanhope. In fact, chances are that something he says on any of his CD recordings will enrage just about every listener. Shock comics don't come much more extreme--or brutally honest. On "Something to Take the Edge Off" Stanhope experiments with having accoustic guitar music played in the background during his performance. It's an interesting gimmick (also tried by the late Bill Hicks), but it hardly smooths the comedian's edges.

This CD marks the turning point in Stanhope's career when he transitioned from telling mostly (sexual) stories about his life to overtly political (libertarian) rants. His broadsides against vice cops, social conservatives and religion are worth the price of admission alone, but there are also plenty of hilarious sex bits like "Big Rubber Fist." Overall "Edge" ranks with "Die Laughing" as one of Stanhope's two best recorded CDs.

Die Laughing
Die Laughing
Price: $14.98
20 used & new from $3.75

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bracing, Vulgar and Unflinchingly Honest, April 30, 2006
This review is from: Die Laughing (Audio CD)
Comedian Doug Stanhope is truly an antidote for the inoffensive blandness of many mainstream standup comedians. Hard to believe this is the same guy who hosted "The Man Show" and "Girls Gone Wild." There's no vacuous, fratboy humor here. In fact, one of the edgiest (and funniest) bits is a pro-school shootings rant in which Stanhope confesses his secret high school desire to "kill all the jocks." It is true that Stanhope's raunchy sex jokes are a big part of his appeal, but his consistent stance on behalf of the little guy (and girl) completely separates him from the dimwitted Andrew Dice Clays of the world.

All that said, "Die Laughing" is probably the best of Stanhope's CD recordings (along with "Something to Take the Edge Off"). If you're looking for a place to get acquainted with his extreme verve, this would be the place to start.

Half Knots
Half Knots
Price: $18.11
8 used & new from $0.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Americana At Its Finest, April 24, 2006
This review is from: Half Knots (Audio CD)
I had never heard of Half Knots before I downloaded a couple of free tracks from No Depression magazine's website. On the strength of the two songs, I ordered the album and am very glad I did. Simply stated, Americana rock music doesn't get any finer than this. The songs are all midtempo country rock, but the songwriting is uniformly excellent. All too rare in today's music world, it is an album meant to be heard as a whole. It creats a sweetly somber mood from the opening notes and never falters throughout. The best comparison I can think of is a cross between The Vulgar Boatmen and Saturnine, for those fortunate enough to be familiar with those two obscure-but-great bands.

Here's hoping this band will be successful in developing a larger audience. On the strength of their fine debut album, they deserve it.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20