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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


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  • Richard
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 07-12-12

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

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.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


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

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cliff
  • Wilsonville, OR, United States
  • 03-19-11

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.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Fred
  • Saco, ME, USA
  • 04-26-10

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 :]


4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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horrible American accent

If you could sum up The Quiet American in three words, what would they be?

prescient, well-written

What three words best describe Joseph Porter’s voice?

terrible American accent

Any additional comments?

I thought that Porter's overall reading was fine except for his voicing of the title character, which was some sort of guttural south-western thing. If he watched a few Matt Damon movies, or even Mayor Quimby for that matter, he'd get a better feel for a Boston accent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 04-26-17

Interesting story, poor performance

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I would like to have known more of Phoung, her thoughts, her views, her decision making process.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Vigot, as he is torn between friendship and duty is one of the more interesting characters.

How could the performance have been better?

My major critique is that many of the American accents by the reader sounded very similar to each other. As such, there in a passage where the Americans were speaking with each other, it was hard to follow who was who.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic book, hilarious narration

The book is a masterpiece. The narrator, while not nearly as bad as indicated here, only has two modes: the default "Evil British Guy" voice and the worst attempt to mimic an American accent (or more accurately, all American accents at once). I doesn't fit the tone of the novel, but it is mighty entertaining all the same.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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?

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Not Green’s best work...

which is often the case when an author exposes his political and nationalist biases so overtly. Being said, the narration with it’s distractingly poor attempts at various accents, the worst being his stab at Bostonian American, but nearly as appalling his french and Vietnamese English...I couldn’t wait for this narration to finish!