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Things Fall Apart | [Chinua Achebe]

Things Fall Apart

Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger.
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Audible Editor Reviews

You can almost feel the warmth of a campfire as Peter Francis James delivers a passionate reading of Chinua Achebe's classic African tale about power, prestige, and the Herculian struggle of one man to acquir status in the face of overwhelming odds and one gigantic obstacle after another: droughts, missionaries, poverty, and, most of all, his own powerful Shakespearian demons.

Things Fall Apart remains one of the most revered African novels ever written, and James brings an authoritative tone to this 1959 classic. Listening to his booming voice, you understand why he previously narrated portions of The Bible. His rich, baritone voice perfectly suits Achebe's fable-like prose. James' melodic voice lulls you into thinking this seemingly simple tale will resolve itself with everyone living happily ever after. Don't be fooled. This short, incisive book packs a punch you might not see coming right away.

The main character, Okonkwo, aspires to be everything his father was not: industrious, serious, successful, respected. But no matter how hard this determined farmer works, fate or the forces of nature seem to conspire against him. Then things become even more complicated when a missionary comes to Okonkwo's village. The changes seem subtle at first, but slowly the social fabric of the village begins to unravel like a loose strand of yarn in a hand-made sweater.

The razor-sharp plot twists could easily feel far-fetched in a lesser author's hands. But Achebe earns every predicament that bedevils Okonkwo with precise sentences and perceptive insights into what drives people to do what they do. And you don't have to know anything about Africa to relate to Okonkwo's struggles. Like all great authors, Achebe taps into the same fears and desires that inspire and consume people around the world, for better or for worse. —Ken Ross

Publisher's Summary

With over eight million copies in print world wide, Achebe's work is a definitive novel in African literature. Filled with powerful language and finely drawn characters, Things Fall Apart also shimmers with the sounds and sights of village life.

Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives, and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger.

Things Fall Apart traces the growing friction between village leaders and Europeans determined to save the heathen souls of Africa. But its hero, a noble man who is driven by destructive forces, speaks a universal tongue.

©1959 Chinua Achebe; (P)1997 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Deceptively simple in its prose, Things Fall Apart packs a powerful punch as Achebe holds up the ruin of one proud man to stand for the destruction of an entire culture." (Amazon.com review)
"Peter Frances James offers a superb narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe's deceptively simple 1959 masterpiece." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (554 )
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4.1 (440 )
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  •  
    Mr 01-09-14
    Mr 01-09-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    28
    5
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    "Loved this book"

    I really loved this book, and the narration helps, rather than hinders, the engagement with the plot.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela N. Mankato, MN, United States 12-05-12
    Pamela N. Mankato, MN, United States 12-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Dry. The narrator was kind of robotic."
    Would you try another book from Chinua Achebe and/or Peter Francis James?

    I listened to this story because my 16 year old was reading it in his world literature class. This story was about missionaries coming to Africa in the middle of the 20th century. There were many characters with indigenous African names. Lots of references to culture-specific customs, practices, ,and artifacts. I kept wanting to google the names of various "things" to find out what they were. Perhaps the print edition of this book comes with a glossary to define all the unique names.


    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony 11-10-12
    Tony 11-10-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    46
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    "HOW WE TREAT FIRST NATIONS"
    Any additional comments?

    This is an interesting story of the culture of First Nations in Africa. The all to familiar mistreatment by so-called 'civilized' people is outlined once again. For me, it was an interesting novel but it did not hold my attention and I have not recommended 'Things Fall Apart' to any of my family.

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin S. 07-28-15
    Kevin S. 07-28-15 Member Since 2015
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    1
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    "Great, thought-provoking quick read"

    Excellent view into another culture. This is one of those books that brings an unpleasant truth to light-- imperialism desecrated an entire people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    King of the boardroom 07-23-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Fantastic storytelling"

    Excellent audiobook. Love the story. A true classic. "Read" in a few days during my workouts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JILMA 07-17-15
    JILMA 07-17-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    1
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    "Things Fall Apart"

    The reader is SO SLOW and the book is very uneventful. I was forced to read this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John W Mullens Jr 07-14-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More power does not equal wisdom"

    The author accomplishes his goal of helping us realize the mature depth and complexity of the native tribes.

    The assumption that those who have greater technology and power also have the right to rule is brought into question.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CarolRabbit SF Bay Area 07-13-15
    CarolRabbit SF Bay Area 07-13-15 Member Since 2013

    Donator to Kindergarten

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
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    Story
    "Informative, interesting and exceptionally enjoyable"

    Learned a lot and now want to learn more about Africa, native people, colonial rule and the collision of Westernization and modernization of society against the old order and traditional societies.
    Chinua Achebe is called ' skillful storyteller'. He is first and foremost a highly educated native Nigerian with an awesome resume in education, broadcasting, authorship, and research. Achebe has lectured extensively and received numerous rewards.
    He has so much to tell and it is simple and musical to comprehend. The narration has a poetic cadence that falls beautifully on ones ear but still remains in ones memory.
    It was a wonderful learning experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audrey 06-29-15
    Audrey 06-29-15 Member Since 2011
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    13
    12
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    Story
    "An interesting story"

    I first read "Things fall apart"many years ago. I found the words & dialect difficult. It was assigned summer reading for my son, so we decided to try the audible version. The audible version definitely helped get through the book and was well worth the credit spent.

    The story is a bit confusing in the beginning as the reader is introduced the the characters, culture & way of life. Later as the story unfolds it is easy to understand the conflicts that arise. While the ending of the story is unexpected, the development of the characters and plot allow one to better understand the events that take place.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WL Bennett 06-04-15
    WL Bennett 06-04-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    Story
    "Interesting story about African life"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, to learn a little more about Africa from an African author.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I was looking for a different end than what happened. I wanted to see how people coped with the changes or sought to mitigate them.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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