Columbus, NC, United States | Member Since 2004
The Quiet American of the title is not the simple aide worker he seems to be...he has been sent to Vietnam to open a door for American influence, to secure a place for American power to grow from a tiny beginning. The American government sees that the French are about to lose the country, and the Americans do not plan to stand by and let the country go "communist."
Greene astutely points out that to the peasants in the rice fields, who have been there for hundreds of years and will be there for hundreds more, the style of government in the capital, whether it be Hanoi or Saigon or elsewhere, matters little. The rice farmer is concerned with his work and with feeding his family...he knows nothing of the democracy of the Greeks or of the socialism of Marx.
But powerful nations are determined to play out their chess game in Vietnam, indeed in all of Indochina. And this quiet American is calm on the surface but roiling inside with his idealism of saving these little brown brothers from the evil of communism....saving them even at the cost of killing a few, or more than a few of them in the process.
Along with a morally ambiguous plot, standard in Greene novels, there is an unusual love story involving two western men who are captured by the allure of a young and beautiful Vietnamese woman. For both men she is life itself...but she may also be death, perhaps for the one who wins her and also for the one who loses her.
An earlier reviewer did not like the narrator, the reader of the audiobook. Like him, I say listen to a sample. I did not find the reader to be unsatisfactory. For me, the reader simply disappeared as I got caught up in the story. Isn't that the way it should be?
The title of this book kept me from reading it for many years even though I love Steinbeck. The title suggested that the book was a vapid piece of bragging about what a wonderful place America is....well, I do not disagree that America is wonderful and great, but I did not want to hear my beloved Steinbeck doing some kind of Readers Digest puff piece on America. Wow! Was I wrong! This book is great Steinbeck writing....nothing short of his usual perceptive and feeling prose. It reminds me a bit of Travels with Charley in that this book is non-fiction and a report on the state of American and Americans during the fifties and sixties mostly, with some World War II stuff added. One or two pieces are among the last of Steinbeck's last writings....the essays on Vietnam deal with his trip to that county during the war in 1967, and Steinbeck died less than two years later. His mature, late-life writing is simply great, as indeed most of his work was from at least 1939 forward. Thank God I took a chance on this book....good Steinbeck prose is as good as any prose ever written, and there is very good stuff here. Finally, much of what he includes here is humorous, very reminiscent of some of Twain's journalism with tongue in cheek, such as his Innocents Abroad or Roughing It. Listen and enjoy! (PS...the narrator is excellent, the sound quality excellent also)
Volume II of this new autobiography is better organized and easier to read than Vol I was...and it is very very humorous. Twain rips apart those who wronged him, as he saw it. No one can destroy an enemy with such fun as Twain does. But he also praises friends like General Grant and tells about Grant's dying days as the general writes his memoirs and Twain sets up a publishing house just to publish Grant's work. And when Twain launches into his critique of the Old Testament and the character of the god described in it, you will laugh regardless of your religious convictions or lack thereof. Twain says things everyone has thought but he says those things in ways that are both humorous and dead-on to the point. Like the old phrase: what oft was thought but never so well expressed.
Excessive unnecessary details, too much description that is ordinary, not vivid, and the plot drags along so that I wished the story was a long short story or novella rather than its present length. The main character is interesting, as are one or two other persons....but the book is loaded with so many people who pop in and out that you had better keep an alphabetical list to remember them....or maybe you should just ignore them once you figure out who is important to the story...which is not easy the first half of the book. The author's style seems to be that of a first-time novelist....as I said but must repeat: wordy wordy wordy. Were the reputed author not JKR, this book would not have been published. And I do wonder if JKR did write it or if she is boosting someone else's effort to break in to publishing...but if JKR is doing that, did she even READ the book?
The narrator killed any joy I could have gotten from this book. He did not put emphasis in the right place while reading. He read introductory clauses and many other sentence parts as if they were complete sentences....as if they required a full stop. Then the next part of the sentence he read as if it were a new sentence unconnected to what had just been read. That was very distracting and it interfered with understanding the narrative. I have read the book several times and I love it, but this narrator lacks skill in reading to an audience.
Besides a fundamentalist approach, this book promotes a literal interpretation of the Bible. The narrator has an irritating habit of chuckling or grunting to make the listener think what has been spoken is obviously true....sort of like canned laughter to let you know when to laugh. I rate it a three, but for many people it would rate a one and for others it would be a five...depends on one's outlook.
Ian Fleming wrote some fabulous thrillers with James Bond at the center. Doctor No is one of the better stories. The plot is at least feasible, although it is somewhat dated now, given that the story is 60 years old. Still, I enjoyed the audio as much as I did the print book which I read 40 years ago. Fleming keeps the listener on edge with his sharp eye on leading the listener into suspenseful situations. Of course Bond is victorious in the end, but the voyage is very entertaining.
I love Sherlock and I admire the Foyle's War television stories Horowitz has written, but I am not happy with House of Silk. I found the story boring and disconnected at times. Jacobi performs Holmes with a voice one would expect from an overweight, hysterical old lady....wonder why? I hope there are listeners who love this audio, but for me it was not enjoyable at all.
The narrator does an excellent job interpreting this Sherlock Holmes tale...good accents, good pacing. The story itself is not quite as good as some of the Sherlock tales, so I gave it a four, not a five.
Faulkner humorously tells tales about the Snopes family members....sneaky, oily, crafty, ravening, grasping, double-dealing, nearly wolfish lower class Southerners who are determined to rise above their birth status.
This is one of the easier Faulkner titles to read. Still, Faulkner does employ his challenging prose style at times, so the reader/listener must attend carefully.
The narrator of the book did a very good job, with an excellent accent and very good pacing.
Not as difficult as some Faulkner, The Unvanquished deals with the Civil War through the eyes of a youth who matures during and after the war and who recounts his encounters with violence. From the violence eventually a pacificist viewpoint emerges in light of the Almighty's dictum: thou shall not kill. Yet there is humor throughout the book, and you may find yourself laughing out loud. And the skill of the narrator is of the highest quality I have heard on audio. Enjoy.
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