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Our Man in Havana | [Graham Greene]

Our Man in Havana

In a legendary novel that appears to predict the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Graham Greene introduces James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose life in transformed when he is asked to join the British Secret Service. He agrees, and finds himself with no information to offer, so begins to invent sources and agencies which do not exist, but which appear very real to his superiors.
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Publisher's Summary

In a legendary novel that appears to predict the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Graham Greene introduces James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose life in transformed when he is asked to join the British Secret Service. He agrees, and finds himself with no information to offer, so begins to invent sources and agencies which do not exist, but which appear very real to his superiors.

Then follow some very real events, such as undercover work and even murder attempts, all backed up by phantom chains of information and invented covert agencies.

An often light-hearted but massively important complete and unabridged audiobook, which makes many comments on present-day life despite being published over 50 years ago. The book was also made into a hit film starring Carol Reed and Alec Guinness in 1959, and has recently (2007) been the subject of a play adaptation staged in Guildford to a enthusiastic public reception.

©2008 CSA Word; (P)2009 CSA Word

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (121 )
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4.1 (104 )
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  •  
    Jean Franklin, MA, United States 08-05-11
    Jean Franklin, MA, United States 08-05-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delete the Music and It Would Be Fine"

    Aaarrgh! I wish I had listened to the reviewer who said the music made listening to this book intolerable. I thought if was worth a shot because I liked the sample of Jeremy Northam's reading so much, but it was a complete waste of a hard-earned credit. It is the same wretched piece of music every single time, it plays ever five minutes, and it's louder than the reading (like commercials during TV shows). Someone should lose their job over this because it would have been so enjoyable otherwise.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Boston Harbor Boston 10-11-11
    Boston Harbor Boston 10-11-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Kill the music"

    I too wish I had listened to the prior review about the music ruining the listening experience. I only listened to about an hour and I can't listen anymore. Jeremy Northam is great, but dear lord. the LOUD music that plays incessantly is enough to make you scream. Like the prior reviewer stated, the music is louder than the narration like commercials on TV. Obnoxious. I've deleted the book from my iPod. I can't endure it.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard California 06-01-11
    Richard California 06-01-11
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    "Annoying music nearly ruins book"

    Whoever edited the audio productions must be a big fan of shopping center music. A VERY LOUD Latin rhythm or British band music interrupts the narration every five minutes (or so it seems) at the end of every chapter and between sections within chapters. It was like being tapped in an elevator for 7 plus hours, which very nearly ruined the book for me. "Our Man in Havana" is one of Greene's lightest works, an absurd comic plot but with serious (and prescient) political insights. The reader is adequate. The story itself is well worth the time if you can live with the frequent musical interruptions.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger Newtown, CT, USA 07-14-12
    Roger Newtown, CT, USA 07-14-12 Member Since 2009
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    "music is a disaster -- don't buy this!"
    What disappointed you about Our Man in Havana?

    see headline


    What does Jeremy Northam bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    great voices


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    anger. music spoiled it. Only just managed to get through it


    Any additional comments?

    I'd like to strangle the guy who put in the disgusting music!!!!!!!!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 07-25-12
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 07-25-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Classic British spy novel"

    Lets start with this, if you like classic mystery novels of the "Maltese Falcon" genre then this is going to be a great pick for you. The writing is solid and the plot is quirky enough to keep the interest of the reader, the performance is great and for the genre it is going to be a great experience. The ending, like all British spy novels wraps up in a very tidy package and the whole thing is very wholesome. If you like to dip your toe into the genre every now and then I would say "add to cart" and take a trip to Cuba pre-revolution.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn San Francisco, CA, USA 07-17-12
    Lynn San Francisco, CA, USA 07-17-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Brilliant story, worth the terrible music"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Our Man in Havana to be better than the print version?

    Definitely not


    What other book might you compare Our Man in Havana to and why?

    The script of Dr. Strangelove: they're both brilliant satire.


    What three words best describe Jeremy Northam’s voice?

    excellent, excellent, excellent


    Any additional comments?

    Published four years before the Cuban Missile Crisis, this is a brilliant, very funny cloak-and-dagger about a vacuum cleaner salesman enlisted into British intelligence. The so-called agent reports on unidentified military emplacements that, coincidentally, look a lot like vacuum cleaners. What's real, what's not, and what becomes real are in the mix of this great send-up. Jeremy Northam is a superb reader. The producers, however, got carried away with their own importance and tried to gussy this up with a repetitive snippet of carnival music that works against Graham Greene's straight-faced telling. Even so, it's terrific and well-worth listening to. Let's hope the producers don't come close to wrecking too many other audio productions.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Mackay, Australia 03-05-12
    Richard Mackay, Australia 03-05-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Greene cooked to perfection"

    I found myself chuckling whilst I listened to this beautifully written and recorded book. Greene draws us into the serpentine world of the secret agent and allows us to simultaneously join him in smiling even laughing aloud at the traps the narcissistic members of the professional spy brigade weave for themselves. And through it all the hero and his delightfully artful daughter manage to dodge the bullets and emerge with innocence largely intact. All set against the backdrop of pre-revolution Cuba.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Verl COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 05-21-12
    Verl COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 05-21-12 Member Since 2008

    Reader and Writer from Colorado Springs carefully disguised as a financial advisor all these years. Who knows what lies below a snowy rooftop?

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    "Graham Greene should not be a Well-Kept Secret"
    What did you love best about Our Man in Havana?

    I wasn't expecting the chuckles. This is really a preposterous story, one which pokes fun at the Cold War intelligence gathering establishment. While not per se satire, at least in my opinion, the humour is very droll; tongue-in-cheek.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    No one ever expected this to be that kind of page turner. It's a great story set in the days before Castro, when so many players had "interests" in Cuba. But you get a real sense of the era and what it must have been like back in the day.


    What about Jeremy Northam???s performance did you like?

    Very Competent.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No "extreme reactions," but a very satisfying read. I was surprised at how much fun Greene had with his characters, and by the same token, his audience.


    Any additional comments?

    This is not Ian Fleming, James Bond, action thriller. This is not any of the current crop of writers who do this kind of story for the current reader who wants a summer read that can be tossed on the way back from the beach. But this is very entertaining in its own way.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Prague, Czech Republic 06-26-11
    Jan Prague, Czech Republic 06-26-11
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    "Our Man in Havana"

    The book has been my favourite one, but being not an English native speaker I rather hesitated to download the audio. But it has met all my expectations. Great!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Flemington, Australia 07-09-12
    Nicole Flemington, Australia 07-09-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Our Man in Havana"

    This was an audiobook that I didn't want to end: the story is amusing and entertaining, well written and it really brought the time and place to life. Jeremy Northam does an excellent job reading it, I'd like to hear more of his books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Joanne
    OxfordUnited Kingdom
    7/21/09
    Overall
    "A good yarn - well read"

    I enjoyed this immensely. It is the often hilarious story of cold war espionage in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Jeremy Northam's reading is excellent with superb characterisations - even of the female characters. the excerpts of 'theme music' between chapters - Samba music for Cuba, Brass band for English scenes, fast music at the end of an exciting chapter - were rather irritating though.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Alex
    Alcester, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
    8/12/10
    Overall
    "Pity I had to wait so long to hear it..."

    I enjoyed the book, I must have to put up with the stupidly long musically interludes, Whoever came up with them needs calling back to London ;)

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Jane
    Fleckney, United Kingdom
    4/9/11
    Overall
    "Ruined"

    Book great. Reader great. Who the hell thought the music was a good idea? Totally spoiled it for me. Intensely irritating and intrusive - even used underneath the reading, as well as during apparently random breaks. Let's have some Irish dance music with Angela's Ashes, or Chase & Status during Sons & Lovers.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jennifer
    London, United Kingdom
    3/20/11
    Overall
    "Entertaining and funny"

    Really enjoyed this. Like another reviewer, I could have done without the musical interludes to tell us when we were in Cuba and when we were in London, but the rest was great.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel
    Reigate, Surrey, United Kingdom
    7/27/10
    Overall
    "Shame about the music"

    Great story, well read. The recording could have done without musical interludes every 5 minutes, it breaks the flow of the narration

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Helena
    SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom
    7/8/14
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    "Quintessential Greene well read"

    Great story which I have read myself some years ago. Well read in style suited to Greene's writing. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Iain
    Altrincham, United Kingdom
    6/8/14
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    Performance
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    "Thoroughly enjoyable."
    Would you listen to Our Man in Havana again? Why?

    Yes. Some of the language is brilliant and the characters are wonderfully realised.


    What about Jeremy Northam’s performance did you like?

    Well matched to the text.


    Any additional comments?

    The musical interludes used to indicate the settings in each chapter (Havana or London) were rather long, and jarred slightly, but this is a very minor issue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • FIona
    London, United Kingdom
    12/18/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Please cut the horrendous music"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I would have done anything to get rid of the hideous music that intruded loudly between every chapter & sometimes in the middle of chapters. Really awful.


    Have you listened to any of Jeremy Northam’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    He is absolutely brilliant. The book is beautifully read.


    Any additional comments?

    A brilliant book, superbly read. But dear god, whose idea was that GHASTLY music???

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michael
    Sherburn Village, United Kingdom
    12/4/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unbearable music"

    Performance ruined by stupid musical interludes every few minutes that take you out of the story and disrupt the flow.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    UK
    9/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Utterly engrossing first taste of Graham Greene"
    If you could sum up Our Man in Havana in three words, what would they be?

    Wry, subtle, intelligent.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I'm a sucker for intelligent espionage fiction. How could I not have read Graham Greene until now? His subtle and understated writing is perfect for this setting. The story is both dark and amusing, and cruelly takes the mickey out of governments and civil servants. When we were in Cuba I felt languid and relaxed, in Britain chilled and grey. An utterly engrossing listen.


    Which character – as performed by Jeremy Northam – was your favourite?

    The main protagonist has the perfect name: Wormold, and he's weak and pliable and ambiguous. But the character with delicious depth and subtlety is Captain Segura, the corrupt and evil strongman who has his own morality and ethics.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    An audiobook has to be an absolute masterpiece to keep me from all other brain activity from start to finish. Our Man in Havana doesn't quite reach those dizzy heights. But it's a rollicking good listen and the perfect length. I definitely rearranged my activities so I could get back to listening. Highly recommended.


    Any additional comments?

    My first Graham Greene, I'm ashamed to admit. I chose "Our Man in Havana" over other Greene novels because the narration (by Jeremy Northam) was highly rated, and for good reason. The narration and production was just my cuppa tea - completely engrossing story-telling with little snatches of Cuban music between scenes.

    There were a handful of convenient plot coincidences but they didn't spoil my utter enjoyment of this engrossing audiobook experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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