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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

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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.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Franklin, MA, United States
  • 08-05-11

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.

32 of 34 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • Mackay, Australia
  • 03-05-12

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Lynn Eden
  • Stanford, CA United States
  • 07-17-12

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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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!!!!!!!!

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Verl
  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States
  • 05-21-12

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • McEditor
  • SOMERSET, MA, United States
  • 02-12-14

Fine narrative ruined by goofball music

What disappointed you about Our Man in Havana?

Northam's enjoyable and well-spoken interpretation of this Greene classic is tortured by incessant musical interludes -- not only between chapters but inserted at all the wrong moments by some over-reaching (certainly tone-deaf) producer. Perhaps an intern let run amok? CSA Word Classic should be ashamed of this amateurish tactic that serves only to repeatedly kill the mood and enjoyment of an otherwise first-rate narration. The music relating to Cuba is bad enough, but the trite ditty you hear when the scene changes to Britain is particularly laughable and annoying. Take away his headphones and fire that guy!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Adding My Two-Cents on the Music!

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

Why on earth the loud, disruptive music! I thought those days were over!

If you’ve listened to books by Graham Greene before, how does this one compare?

I enjoyed the other two much more - sans music!

What didn’t you like about Jeremy Northam’s performance?

So many of your British men have deep, gravely voices that are hard on the ears and not clear. The women are fine and British men without the ancient whiskey voices are great! I love the accents, but not the tobacco-damaged sound.

Was Our Man in Havana worth the listening time?

No.

Any additional comments?

It was better as a book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • DD Kaplan
  • 07-27-10

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

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Emilia
  • 03-31-15

Very enjoyable, grit your teeth & ignore the music

For some reason this excellently read story is punctuated with long musical interludes: Cuban-style music when the action is in Havana and really badly produced, pompous music when it switches to the UK. The narrator, simply states the change of location anyway so it's also unnecessary for understanding the plot. I'm afraid it adds nothing but is a little annoying.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Lily S
  • 04-29-15

Great book - shame about the cheesy music!

Book was spoiled for me by the awful music used throughout! Very unnecessary!
Well read though and a fab story!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • AlexB
  • 08-12-10

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 ;)

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 11-28-16

Classic spoiled by Muzak

Great story by the wonderful Graham Greene; funny and cynical.

Including that terrible music throughout was an awful idea that spoils it quite a bit.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian
  • 08-22-16

Expected an audio book, not music.

Would you try another book written by Graham Greene or narrated by Jeremy Northam?

No. I am so disappointed in this audio book I would like my credit refunded.

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

The story is fine, it is obscured by the music that is sometimes playing over the audio. It completely the book for me.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

As I have said it is the playing of music within the book that detracts from this work.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Our Man in Havana?

I would have cut the decision to include the music.

Any additional comments?

I like audiobooks, and I like to hear the story without distractions such as music being played.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Joanne
  • 07-21-09

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • sandandstars
  • 12-28-14

spoilt by the inane muzak

what idiot thought they could "improve" a classic book by mixing in long bits of cheap music to "set the scene" every few minutes. they must think their readers are stupid. what next? a "teaser" before each chapter? how about a commentator? celebrity endorsement? adverts? did Greene sell his book with a free record attached? it's a book. b. o. o. k. book.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 09-11-13

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

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer
  • 03-20-11

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • nick moody
  • 07-03-16

just an amusing tale of little substance.

just an amusing tale of little substance.at least to my un cultured ears you see.