Fowler's mistress, a beautiful native girl, creates a catalyst for jealousy and competition between the men and a cultural clash resulting in bloodshed and deep misgivings.
Written in 1955, prior to the Vietnam conflict, The Quiet American foreshadows the events leading up to the Vietnam War. Questions surrounding the moral ambiguity of the involvement of the United States in foreign countries are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.
©1983 Graham Greene; (P)1993 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"There has been no novel of any political scope about Vietnam since Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American." (Harper's)
"Greene is a superb storyteller. He evokes the most actual streets, the most vivid skies, and individuals who can have a lacerating reality as they search the labyrinth of their lives." (Newsweek)
Because Audible asks us about performance, I feel that I should bring it up. But first, because of a recent trip to Viet Nam, I decided to get and listen to this book. The story, itself, is remarkable and very prescient regarding American impending tragic and misguided involvement into Southeast Asia. But at it's heart, "The Quiet American" is a tale of two dissimilar men and their love for a beautiful Vietnamese woman. One man is an older British newspaperman saddled with a wife back in England. The other is a young, naive, low level, diplomat from Boston. The bonds, these two forge in friendship and rivalry, whether in a Saigon dance club or in the heat of battle, takes up the majority of this book.
Unfortunately, Joseph Porter, fails miserably on all accounts in his narrating. Aside from his stilted readings of prose that is both beautiful and exciting, his accents, age and sex differentiation's are atrocious. His Englishmen seem to all come from some strange middle-class. Fowler, the stories narrator, is a mid-fifties hard drinking and smoking Londoner and yet he sounds like bland radio personality. Pyle his rival and friend is even worse, sounding like a late forties mid-westerner with an sixth grade reading level. All the other characters just sound canned-spaggetti versions of real people.
Seriously, forget listening and read the book.
Audilble please redo this classic and terrific story with a much better voice.
While the story was intriguing enough, the narration was a great distraction. The attempt at an American accent (that should have been Bostonian but came across as a bad Southern accent) was poor to be generous. If you want to know what the American accent sounded like, watch Young Frankenstein and listen to the character "Inspector Kemp." It was to say the least very distracting, bordering on annoying.
I had to read this book for a U.S. History course in college. I got through a good portion of the book by reading - but decided to buy the audiobook as listening is much more convienent. After 5 minutes of listening I had to turn it off. The narrator is so unlively and boring that it made the book unbearable. Take caution and listen to the sample before buying.
I still give it two stars, because the story is excellent for those who are history junkies :]
Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.
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 performance was impeccable. I was amazed by the historical significance of the novel -- Greene described, in 1955, -- the political forces that would shape the US involvement in Vietnam in the next two decades. No word was misspoken. This is a reminder we all need to pay attention to the rapporteurs and witnesses to events that may seem local, but are global in import.
Yes to Graham Greene, no to Joseph Porter
Fowler's character, warts and all.
Unfortunately, the narrator's impersonation of an American accent is so, so bad that it was painful to listen to. If in fact Pyle was an East Coast aristocrat, Porter makes him sound like a hick from the swamps of Florida. Sadly, like nails on a chalkboard.
I like to listen to books at 1.5 speed and with this narrators voice I was unable to do this. Even at normal speed his voice is unbearable to listen to. I feel bad giving the story one star because I haven't read or listened to it but the rating is a result of Joseph porter ruining the experience.
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