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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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    165
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    120
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    60
  • 2 Stars
    11
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    7

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    94
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    37
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    11
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    8
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    4
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True Lies

First, as far as the performance goes, Jeremy Northam does an absolutely spectacular job with the narration. However, as many other reviewers have pointed out, the inclusion of that obnoxious faux-Latin music every five minutes gets very annoying very fast. I powered through it by skipping ahead 30 seconds each time it played, but be warned; the editing job is genuinely that bad.

As for the novel, this is a classic of the spy genre. Set in pre-revolutionary Cuba, Graham Greene based this on his own experience with misinformation in MI6. Not many authors could use this theme for smart British humor and intense spy drama with equal skill, but Greene pulls it off. If you love espionage stories, you owe it to yourself to enjoy this. If you can ignore the awful music, or just read it in print, this novel is highly recommended.

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It's a classic read - good entertainment

Worth reading or listening to either before or after a trip to Cuba. Not too long.

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Great book, great narration, terrible music.

The story is fun and the book is well narrated. I could do without the music between chapters, but it is still a great listen!

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Brilliantly read by J Northam, even with the music

The complaint about the Cuban music in this audiobook almost kept me from a great listening experience.
Mind you, the addition of the music is unwelcome and tacky, and if you are very neurotic about this type of thing, yes, it might well ruin your experience, but only if you are very neurotic
Well, the music comes between every chapter, and with Greene doing short chapters that's quite a bit, but the music rarely intrudes in the narration except for a couple of times.
On to the book, Jeremy Northam is absolutely brilliant, as a matter of fact he is so good that he made me appreciate him more as an actor and wonder why he hasn't had a better career.
The book itself is brilliant, nasty, funny, and with razor sharp insights into human nature, politics and the espionage game. Graham Greene must be one of the most astute writers when it comes to the folly of the spy game. The plot of Our Man in Havana might be viewed as absurd or impossible if it didn't resemble so closely the road to the Iraq War. This is a brilliant book with an absolutely brilliant performance with Jeremy Northam differentiating each character, with especially fabulous work when he does Millie, Captain Segura and Spy Chief C.
Do not miss it. With the dearth of good Graham Greene readings on audiobooks, get your ears on this asap.

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Fun and Funny

And even surprisingly touching! I really enjoyed his characters and the world of Havanna in the 60s had just as much charm.

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Music too?

Great story as usual by Greene. Fine narration, too. But loud and intrusive (and lengthy) music between books/chapters. Why? Why? I hated that part.

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Music??????

Sublime reading by Jeremy Northampton, delightful spy story (with vacuum cleaners) by Greene, interrupted by regular intervals of obnoxious, repetitive music. WHY?

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  • CR
  • 04-30-17

Fine, except for the musical interludes

Where does Our Man in Havana rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Middle of the pack - not bad, not great.

Any additional comments?

Good story...nice performance by Mr. Northam (I would listen to him narrate again), but as others have mentioned, the musical bits so distracted from the storytelling as to cause consistent, obtrusive frustration. Very distracting; I honestly feel I enjoyed the story less than I would have, without the music.

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Great Narration cut the music

A fine book with fine narration ruined by tango music every 5 minutes. Who in their right mind would think that tango music would enhance the listening experience to an otherwise fantastic narration. Completely ruins the listening of a classic novel.

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  • Melinda
  • Melrose, MA, USA
  • 01-11-17

Badly produced

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Maybe. A classic by Greene, spendidly voiced, but overlong musical interludes and uneven sound levels ruin the experience.

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

He's a master of character. I can almost see the main character, Wormold, who is a man under duress and basically a weakling. The other characters are likewise masterfully voiced.

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

It's a funny, ironic book.

Any additional comments?

A little tweaking of sound levels, and getting rid of that music would make this an A+ experience.

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  • Ed Switzerland
  • 10-17-17

Excellent narration of an all-time classic

I’d forgotten how funny this book is. Jeremy Northam does the voices to perfection. 5 stars for both.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Christina
  • 03-01-16

TRAVESTY

Great story, fair narrator but book totally spoilt by gratuitous brass band music at the end of almost every chapter, which sometimes runs for minutes. Travesty is the only word for it. I couldn't get to the end of the book as the music was far too intrusive and deeply annoying. Editors, please note we do not need music in an audio book!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 02-11-16

Excellent narration and story, let down by music

A great audio book - perfect length, well written story with great narration. What's not to like? Well the awful lift music preceding each chapter, location change or plot element for one! Whoever thought that was good idea needs to change careers and why is it so long, there were sections of a couple of minutes at times? It only serves to break up the narrative and annoy - CSA Word take note please.

However, please do persevere with this title. It's the only version available on Audible (in the UK at least).

Jeremy Northam does a sterling job with the characters and sets the right tone - finding the comedy without going to far.

Greene's Havana is pre-Castro and populated with foreigners who all seem to have a second (or third) motive. The main protagonist is an Englishman getting in over his head in the world of espionage.

As others have noted there is a change between the sections in Cuba and London, the heat and alcohol being replaced with smog and damp. Greene's characters feel well created with depth, ambiguity and their own motives. He takes a few week aimed pokes at the establishment and those in public positions, with a few plot points tied up a little too neatly. However it's a great novel and we'll with your time, just skip over the awful musical interludes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • darren
  • 01-14-16

Wonderful!

Any additional comments?

On the pro side, I loved this wonderful, witty book and highly recomend it.
On the con side, the music is so,so bad! If you can find a version without music buy it and not this version as it did overpower this loverly story at times and put me in a bad mood!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • 11-28-14

Too many musical interludes!

What made the experience of listening to Our Man in Havana the most enjoyable?

This excellent book is spoilt by the continual musical interlude after almost every change of scene/topic.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Our Man in Havana?

None because of the annoying music

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

Yes the repetitive music 'moved' me to switch off!

Any additional comments?

The book and the narration was excellent spoilt by that awful music. Can a version be done with the narration only?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • NH Stevens
  • 02-26-13

The music helps a lot

Am I the only person who loved the musical intervals which distinguished events in London and Havana? Maybe because I was brought up on Cuban music (growing up near Miami) I thought it

added mood and flavour to Jeremy Northam's brilliant reading of this hilarious satire. I'd love to know who composed the Cuban music.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 08-14-12

Brilliant novel, flawed presentation.

I'd have given this an easy five stars were it not for the constantly intruding theme music, often lasting as long as 90 seconds, separating chapters and even parts of chapters. I find it distracting and patronising (Yes, I KNOW this bit is set in London, you don't need to wheel out the military band). Northam's excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr J Griffiths
  • 01-20-18

Excellent

Funny and well plotted. Willie's Catholicism is a bit implausible OTT. Captain Segura and Hasselbakker superbly portrayed. Well read. on the whole, very entertaining

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  • Ricci M.
  • 01-15-18

Great novel and great production

One rarely finds a work where there is nothing to criticise, but this audio book appears to be one such case. The novel in itself is a classic, deliciously witty satire of the world of Cold War espionage. The audio book production managed to stay on the same level of quality as the novel. The narrator never stumbles, and he has managed to give each of the characters its own peculiarly recognisable voice. I also appreciated the idea of placing at the end of each chapter a short musical piece that relates to the setting of the chapter itself.

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  • Aisling
  • 01-01-18

Such a pleasure to listen to!

It's a beautifully written book. the language is so descriptive. I could almost feel the heat of Havana. The story is clever and funny and the narration is really good. The different characters are so believable. Also i really loved the musical interludes between the chapters. I have given it 4 stars because I only give 5 on very rare occasions, but I would definitely recommend this book