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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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NOT a soy book, and the narrator doesn't get comma

The story is supposed to be a spy Thriller but it is more a romance until the last couple chapters. The narrator has a weird way of reading commas and quotations, it made it hard to listen to and understand what timeline we were on in the book. His accents and voices were so crazy and not always unique, rather indistinguishable.

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Parecía que estabas en una montaña rusa...

Would you try another book from Graham Greene and/or Joseph Porter?

Joseph Porter... NO!!

What didn’t you like about Joseph Porter’s performance?

Nada!!!!

Any additional comments?

He escuchado varios... y con diferencia es el peor de todos... Joseph Porter es muy malo. Cuándo lo estabas escuchando... constantemente con subidas y bajadas de tono sin venir a cuento... ¡¡Muy mala interpretación!! Unas voces horribles...

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Nasal Brit and Offensive Accents

The reader of this audio book has a big task: he must perform at least 5 different accents, and he's awful.

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  • Stephen
  • Silver Spring, MD, United States
  • 05-26-16

Excellent Book and Fine Narrator

People need to take it easy on the narrator. His upper crust British accent is perfect for the material. His "American accent" is a bit distracting at first, mostly because of all of the horrible reviews it got. It isn't that big of a deal. He uses it relatively rarely throughout because the book contains much more narrative than dialogue. The writing is exquisite.

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Great book, but mediocre narration

Most of the interest of this story relies on the fascinating, and engaging character of the narrator, a cynical British journalist, whose moral sense is paradoxically awakened by the naive, seemingly-innocent, but fundamentally even more corrupt idealism of a crusading young American. The title misrepresents the book in my opinion: it's less about this man than the Brit who tells the story, and the American is not all that quiet, either. But it's a superb story, with a surprise ending. Even more surprising to me, is that it came from Graham Greene. I'd thought of him more or less as a Catholic author, but any limitations suggested by that label are blown out of the water by this book. Its moral subtlety and irony is like Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Doctrinaire Catholics (or doctrinaire anything) would certainly be disturbed by it.
However, the narration was ... well, tolerable is all I can say. At times, the narrator speaks mechanically, as if he's reciting a text. At other time, he comes more alive, but it's very uneven. He adopts a cynical tone, which is quite appropriate for the novel's narrator, but he overdoes it, using it all the time, even for situations where it sounds incongruous.

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Do not let the mediocre narration get in the way

This is absolutely one of my favorite Graham Greene novels, one that I have reread three times now. It provides a very unique insight into Vietnam during the 1950s prior to direct US involvement. Though the narration is uneven and the American accents in particular are dreadful, do not let that get in the way of this incredible story.

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almost unlistenable

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The Quiet American is an interesting, engaging and beautifully written novel inspired by Greene's own experiences as a war correspondent. Unfortunately, the audio is terrible. The narration was one of the worst I have ever heard. He has a very nasally voice with very odd inflections. <br/><br/>The worst part of his narration was the attempt at American accent. One of the main characters, who was supposedly from Boston, was rendered with an American Southern twang blended with British/English accent. The Vietnamese characters sounded very much like a racist comedy sketch. It was so bad that I spend the entire first hour trying to figure out how to return the book or consumed with horror at the awfulness of it all. Eventually, I sped it up to make it through it as fast as possible. To be far, the narration improves (or I just got used to it) after the first half because Pyle (the American) has less dialogue but overall the audio really destroyed my ability to truly the story.<br/><br/>The sample provided does not give you a good sense of how terrible it really sounds because the it doesn't let you hear the American accent (and this character is quite prominent). That said, it's a good book so I would highly recommend that you pass on the audible version and buy the hard copy or ebook.

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Great novel, horrible american accent

The novel is great but the performance really had a negative effect. The american accent he used was
borderline cartoon.

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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.

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  • H
  • 01-06-13

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. <br/><br/>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.