The Quantum Spy

Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
4 out of 5 stars (848 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The race to build the first quantum computer heats up in the newest high-tech spy thriller from best-selling author David Ignatius.

A hyper-fast quantum computer is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb: whoever possesses one will be able to shred any encryption in existence, effectively owning the digital world. The question is: Who will build it first, the United States or China?

The latest of David Ignatius' timely, sharp-eyed espionage novels follows CIA agent Harris Chang into a quantum research lab compromised by a suspected Chinese informant. The breach provokes a mole hunt that is obsessive, destructive, and - above all - uncertain: Do the leaks expose real secrets, or are they false trails meant to deceive the Chinese? Chang soon finds that there is a thin line between loyalty and betrayal, as the investigation leads him down a rabbit hole as dangerous as it is deep. Grounded in the real-world global charge toward technological dominance, The Quantum Spy presents a sophisticated game of cat and mouse wired to an exhilarating cyber thriller.

©2018 David Ignatius (P)2017 Recorded Books

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Both/And not Either/Or

Because the reviews are all over the place, I thought I should try and do one to help potential readers. I am a huge lover of the spy novel genre yet don't enjoy the ones that are 'action-packed', adrenalin rushes. The spy novel readers who like that in abundance won't find that here. This seems much more character driven and, given that the human person is complex and contradictory at times. that's what we see here. That ties in with the central theme of quantum computing as well in the sense that two contradictory things can be present at the same time, but not for very long. I get that that level of ambiguity may be annoying to the crowd, which I'm in, that wants and needs to see the west as superior, despite mistakes that might be made. I loved this book and couldn't put it down, which doesn't happen often, yet a couple of times I feared it was going to slide into some anti-American outlooks or actions that didn't fit with the characters and I prepared myself to dump it if it did. I don't think it did, but I may not hunt down a lot more by this author. I don't think we see the world in the same way. For example, racism and sexism are far from the biggest issues in my opinion in today's America and I'm not too interested in reading books by people who think they are being deep by exploring these issues in novels. It came up a bit in this story but for me didn't go to far. For me, this story, the characters, the intrigue, the view into China and the easy lessons in quantum computing made it worthwhile. So, the action oriented fans may be disappointed, but those of us that did like the moral ambiguities present in writers like John Le Carre, will enjoy it. I say if I can handle learning far more about weapons than I ever dreamed possible and can actually begin to visualize hand to hand combat and be engaged in the Tom Clancy books, I'm sure some other action-oriented folks can find some unexpected pleasure in this one. I see I abandoned another book by this author because of too much violence early on and there's none of that here. The little sex there is is very light and turns out to fit into the overall story, so is not gratuitous. I know there are others like myself that like to check that out before we start a book. I hope this helps!

43 people found this helpful

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Be a fly on the wall

As usual, Ignatius puts together a realistic depiction of the CIA and it's operations, making you feel like a fly on the wall as a battle for global supremacy rages in the shadows. While lacking in character development, The Quantum Spy feels relevant and packs enough entertainment to make it a worthwhile read (or listen). At times the narrator's portrayal of some of the characters seems a bit off, but over all Ballerini puts in a good performance.

9 people found this helpful

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Is Harry Chang A Loyal American?

A great thriller with a civil rights twist. Harris Chang, a Chinese American born in Flagsgtaff, Arizona, is recruited by the CIA while still on active military duty in Iraq. He ‘bleeds red, white, and blue’ and just wants to serve his country. He is sent on a mission to recruit a Chinese scientists to work with the CIA on creating a quantum computer. Harris using an alias, Peter Chong, feels that he has convinced the scientist to defect. However, the scientist hangs himself leaving his leather diary in the hands of the CIA. From that point on there is much suspicion on the part of the CIA that Harris Chang might not be as loyal as he appears. Is he actually leaning toward China? His boss, John Vangal, raises suspicion making Chang wonder why his boss and old friend would suspect him. The race between China and the U.S. to get the first quantum computer is real and the entire book is very timely. The intrigue and behavior of the spy world is intense. The Chinese have a mole in the CIA and Vangal is determined to find out who. Is it Chang? Is it another former rising star? How far will Vangal go to get to the bottom? I listened to this book on audible and the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, was excellent. If you like espionage stories like the ones of LeCarre, you’ll like this one.

18 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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At times tedious and rarely thrilling.

The book was at times tedious and rarely thrilling. The core “twist” was poorly conveyed and strained credulity.
On the other hand, I got to learn plenty about some interesting tech/geeky stuff.

16 people found this helpful

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I hoped it would be more thriller

Very technical... in a good way....... maybe too much so... not enough thrill but I did finish it an that is saying something

7 people found this helpful

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Didn't finish - Disappointed

Would you try another book from David Ignatius and/or Edoardo Ballerini?

No, The problems were in character development. I didn't feel sympathy/empathy for any of them. The discussion on the technology was unfulfilling. Granted that this is a new and very complex area of technology but I didn't feel that I was getting anything more than a Time magazine article. The tech just seemed to be a play on buzzwords and well know potential. Quantum computing added nothing to the story. I like being able to identify and care for at least one of the characters and I like technology thrillers that use something novel from the technology weaved into the story line.

Has The Quantum Spy turned you off from other books in this genre?

The Genre is fine.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The Chinese American character rendition is not believable. He is portrayed as a frightened neurotic. You would expect someone aspiring for a career in the CIA to be more dynamic and motivated. The character came across as a timid accountant with no discernable motivation.

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

Disappointed - I could not feel any interest in any of the characters. I really didn't care who was the spy, so I pushed myself to read/listen to several more chapters hoping it was just a slow start. When I realized I was forcing myself to read something I didn't enjoy, I just stopped. I was not vested in the outcome. I didn't care if or who they found to be the mole or if they stopped him/her or not.

Any additional comments?

I did appreciate the difficulty in understanding the complexity of people and how difficult it must be to uncover a mole. I enjoyed thinking about being fair and how you would always need to challenge your assumptions. The problem was that the managing characters, the would be heros, were not deserving. Maybe I am too simplistic but I like an identifiable hero/heroin I can identify with. They can be seriously flawed and make tons of mistakes but I need to have some vested interest in the main characters succeeding. I lost that here.

5 people found this helpful

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mehhhhh, mediocre

I was expecting much more from this author I think he can do better. cliches are on every page characters are underdeveloped.

3 people found this helpful

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Outstanding story and narration -- FIVE STARS!

A great story about the US / China intelligence war seen through the prism of a race to gain dominance in quantum computing. The narrator is outstanding. The book flows and never lags.

9 people found this helpful

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Bland

A very boring story, despite a promising description Slow and un-engaging. Can not recommend. Will return for credit.

2 people found this helpful

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Wishful thinking masquerading as a spy story

Quantum computing is the tool which will —dare I say it?— let us rule the world. David Ignatius dangles this possibility before his readers but neglects to give even a hint as to what constitutes a quantum computer or how it works. This unfortunate situation leaves the reader wondering, “Does the author himself have any clue about how this gadget works and why it’s so wonderful?”

So let’s pretend that Mr. Ignatius really does know what quantum computing is all about. To read “Quantum Spy” as anything other than an exercise in wish fulfillment, we also have to pretend that the Russians and PRC can’t hack into American computers and that China’s government is non-functional because its officials are hampered by ego, stupidity, and unyielding loyalty to thousand year old traditions. A little blind faith in good old Yankee ingenuity and America’s intrinsic, God-given superiority would also help.

In short, the author’s dreams and prejudices become clear quite quickly, and after that the book becomes transparent, predictable and childish.

6 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Michael Burton
  • Michael Burton
  • 01-22-18

Quiet genius

The book is nominally a spy thriller but , like ale Carre, the author uses the genre to explore issues of ambiguity and morality, contrasted with the black and white world of sociopathic neoliberals. The fact that the main protagonist walks away in the end may signal that the CIA and government is too far gone for redemption.0