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The Quiet American | [Graham Greene]

The Quiet American

Alden Pyle, an idealistic young American, is sent to Vietnam to promote democracy amidst the intrigue and violence of the French war with the Vietminh, while his friend, Fowler, a cynical foreign correspondent, looks on.
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Publisher's Summary

Alden Pyle, an idealistic young American, is sent to Vietnam to promote democracy amidst the intrigue and violence of the French war with the Vietminh, while his friend, Fowler, a cynical foreign correspondent, looks on.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (107 )
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4.2 (61 )
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3.7 (61 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Vinchi 07-17-09
    Vinchi 07-17-09 Member Since 2004

    Vinchi

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "unbearable"

    This reader is unbearable, could only stand it for an hour. Listen to a sample before you buy this one.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay A. Gladieux Cary, NC, US 10-24-11
    Jay A. Gladieux Cary, NC, US 10-24-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I just could not listen to this narrator"

    with his silly attempts at an American accent and overly stilted British one. The story is a good one.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cliff Wilsonville, OR, United States 03-19-11
    Cliff Wilsonville, OR, United States 03-19-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bostonian With a Southern Twang...kinda"

    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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard New York, NY, United States 07-12-12
    Richard New York, NY, United States 07-12-12
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    "Terrible narrator nearly derails Greene novel."

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred Saco, ME, USA 04-26-10
    Fred Saco, ME, USA 04-26-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bad Narrator"

    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 :]

    -Steph.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 07-21-09
    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 07-21-09 Member Since 2004

    Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mystery & political intrigue"

    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?

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Stavros Sydney, Australia 06-26-14
    Matthew Stavros Sydney, Australia 06-26-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Slow development without the rich prose."

    I'm happy to wade into a slow developing story as long as the prose is rich and evocative. This one is not. And the narrator doesn't help. His reading is ropy and wooden, and much too slow in some places. Maybe Graham Greene is better in print, but so far, his "End of the Affair" read by Colin Firth is the only Audiobook I've enjoyed so far. "Our Man in Havana" is not bad either.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H VA, United States 01-06-13
    H VA, United States 01-06-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Listen, then watch."
    What made the experience of listening to The Quiet American the most enjoyable?

    It's a very snide, clever book. I enjoyed the writing.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Not the scenes, but the expository narration and flashbacks were very well done.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The first meeting of these two different expats in Vietnam.


    Any additional comments?

    I resorted to Audible after finding the book's not available as a Kindle download - it was for book club and I was on a deadline! I enjoyed the book so much that I also watched the recent movie with Michael Caine, which changes it up a bit, but does bring the timeframe and experiences to life.

    Nevertheless, was very glad I'd started with the actual text, which is a worthwhile listen - a cross between escapism and the musings of hard reality.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    loyce Auburn, CA, United States 11-25-11
    loyce Auburn, CA, United States 11-25-11 Member Since 2011

    Media Maven

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    "GOOD WRITING, EASY LISTENING WITH GREAT NARRATION"

    I enjoyed this book on audio and appreciated the easy flow of writing and descriptions along with the wonderful narration by Joseph Porter, big fan of Graham Greene, recommended for those who wish to be transported to a foreign country and enjoy intrigue.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Louis Miller Oregon USA 11-29-09
    John Louis Miller Oregon USA 11-29-09
    ratings
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    "American accent attempt"

    I found the reading in general good: the pace, clarity, emotional distancing. The attempt at an American accent, though, was a sad mistake that detracted from my enjoyment of the work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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