Nonfiction audiobooks with a strong point of view
December 4, 2010 11:56 AM   Subscribe

I want to listen to a good, persuasive argument. I'm looking for nonfiction audio books in which the author makes strong factual arguments for or against a certain point of view. Particulars inside.

I've found that the audiobooks that best hold my attention are nonfiction books that strongly argue a point of view, as opposed to just laying out facts to tell a story. For instance, I just greatly enjoyed Reclaiming History. I'm looking for debunkings, historical revisionism (in a good way), arguments, etc. The more strongly the argument is made, the better. The topic isn't as important, with one caveat: I'm really not interested in general [CONSERVATIVES/LIBERALS] ARE IDIOTS books of either the Al Franken or Glen Beck type. Books on political topics are fine if they are more narrow, as well as any science topics, cultural topics and histories.

PS - No A People's History of the United States, please.
posted by Bookhouse to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Few contemporary figures are seen as presenting conclusions as strong, revolutionary, and well-argued as Peter Singer. (Note, he also has a co-author here.)

I don't say this as a Singer-apologist (I'm not one). Even people who disagree with him and find his conclusions ludicrously extreme still respect him as a philosopher.
posted by meese at 12:04 PM on December 4, 2010

Sam Harris, Letter To A Christian Nation
posted by Right On Red at 12:11 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Malcolm Gladwell? I really loved Outliers but haven't read his other books. It's available as an audiobook but I read it so can't speak to the quality of the audio version.
posted by lvanshima at 12:20 PM on December 4, 2010

Unfortunately The Mismeasure of Man is only on audio cassette, so hopefully you still have a tape deck lying around :)
posted by muddgirl at 12:23 PM on December 4, 2010

Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution [Audio CD].

"Supreme Court Justice Breyer offers his view of constitutional interpretation at a crucial time, when the Court's future is very much at stake. ... Breyer works this explanation into a larger look at an important aspect of his judicial philosophy: the need for justices to look at cases in light of how their decisions will promote what he calls "active liberty," the Constitution's aim of promoting participation by citizens in the processes of government. It's an approach that emphasizes "the document's underlying values" and looking broadly at a law's purpose and consequences rather than relying on a rigid overarching theory of judicial interpretation.The justice looks at six areas of law to show how this approach influenced, or might have influenced, high court decisions on free speech, affirmative action, and privacy, among others."
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:30 PM on December 4, 2010

I liked the audiobook of Outliers but it felt at the same time kind of like there wasn't really a there there, somehow. Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine is very political but not so much CONSERVATIVES ARE IDIOTS as NEOLIBERAL ECONOMICS IS POSSIBLY EVIL AND ALSO IT DOESN'T REALLY WORK, so YMMV about whether that you'd like it, but the example stories in it were things I found great and compelling and yet everything was very clearly tied in with the message. Pollan's In Defense of Food and Omnivore's Dilemma were both reasonably good although I think the actual arguments are less of a thing there than being interested in the subject matter.

Watching this question with interest, I like this kind of thing but I've found a lot of stuff disappointing.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2010

On the Origin of Species. I know it's available from iTunes.

Yes, there are a lot about pigeons, but he's making a point.
posted by endless_forms at 12:39 PM on December 4, 2010

The Greatest Show On Earth
posted by empath at 12:47 PM on December 4, 2010

Taking a slightly different tack, have you considered podcasts? One that I am particularly fond of is Judge John Hodgman. There have been five podcasts so far, but John Hodgman decides matters of relative insignificance between two parties, such as whether chili is a soup, whether breaking down the fourth wall in art is a good thing, and if machine guns are robots. What is important is that both parties appealing to Hodgman present pretty persuasive arguments, and usually Hodgman comes back with a humorous and well-thought-out assessment. They are short and sweet, about 14 to 20 minutes long.
posted by i8ny3x at 1:19 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Echoing empath, I'll second Richard Dawkins. His information flow is astounding and he is a benchmark for setting strong, clear limits to his arguments.

I'd skip the anti-religion screeds and go straight to the source of his renown: The Selfish Gene.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:57 PM on December 4, 2010

Lies My Teacher Told Me

I'm usually quite sensitive to left/right bias, but it's quite neutral actually, despite presenting rather forceful arguments.
posted by holterbarbour at 6:24 PM on December 4, 2010

This might not be quite what you're looking for, but you might consider downloading some classic Supreme Court arguments. It fits your criteria, and they can be awfully interesting.
posted by waldo at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2010

Life after Death: The Evidence
posted by dpcoffin at 10:12 AM on December 5, 2010

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