adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $42.00

Buy for $42.00

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

"Enthralling.... Lying and stealing and invading, it should be said, make for captivating reading, especially in the hands of a storyteller as skilled as Anderson." (The New York Times Book Review)

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

At the end of World War II, the United States was considered the victor over tyranny and a champion of freedom. But it was clear - to some - that the Soviet Union was already seeking to expand and foment revolution around the world, and the American government’s strategy in response relied on the secret efforts of a newly formed CIA. Chronicling the fascinating lives of the agents who sought to uphold American ideals abroad, Scott Anderson follows the exploits of four spies: Michael Burke, who organized parachute commandos from an Italian villa; Frank Wisner, an ingenious spymaster who directed actions around the world; Peter Sichel, a German Jew who outwitted the ruthless KGB in Berlin; and Edward Lansdale, a mastermind of psychological warfare in the Far East. But despite their lofty ambitions, time and again their efforts went awry, thwarted by a combination of ham-fisted politicking and ideological rigidity at the highest levels of the government. Told with narrative brio, deep research, and a skeptical eye, The Quiet Americans is the gripping story of how the United States, at the very pinnacle of its power, managed to permanently damage its moral standing in the world.

©2020 Scott Anderson (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Anderson delivers a complex, massively scaled narrative, balancing prodigious research with riveting storytelling skills...Over the course of the narrative, the author amply shows how the CIA was increasingly pushed to function as an instrument of politically charged ambitions. An engrossing history of the early days of the CIA.” (Kirkus Review [Starred])

"Anderson notes the harrowing emotional cost on his subjects…as the U.S. threw its support behind autocratic leaders and missed opportunities to aid legitimate liberation movements such as the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Such blunders, Anderson writes, recast the U.S. from WWII savior to “one more empire in the mold of all those that had come before.” Laced with vivid character sketches and vital insights into 20th-century geopolitics, this stand-out chronicle helps to make sense of the world today." (Publisher’s Weekly [Starred])

"Anderson weaves his narrative among the lives of his subjects, highlighting aspects of their livelihoods as American spies that were at times equally frustrating, ridiculous, and chillingly dangerous...A fascinating and compulsively readable account of wartime spying." (Library Journal)   

More from the same

What listeners say about The Quiet Americans

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    191
  • 4 Stars
    48
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    184
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    165
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Tragedy for One

The Quiet Americans is not a book about American Exceptionalism, it is a book about four extremely talented people who, through necessity or patriotism, find their way to the front of the Cold War. It details the challenges they encountered and how they responded. What's more is the individual flaws each man, as they are all men, faced in the closing years of the second world war and the opening of the Cold. Most of all, it is an epitaph for one of the most dedicated and ultimately tragic figures of America's early espionage history. It goes from bright opportunity and singular goals to uncoordinated madness with no goal in sight.

An important thing to note is the author himself is a front row observer of many of the effects detailed in the book, especially those felt in the middle east, southeast Asia, and South America. He grew up in the shadow of the Vietnam war, and his early days in journalism saw the atrocities inflicted by the dictatorships in South America, and thus is not nor can he be unbias in his assessment. This is very apparent in the last few chapters of the book, and his closing assessments on the activities therein described.

The narration is well done and portrays the story in a way that is neither distracting or forgettable.

The structure of the book is fairly linear, though details the after effects of certain events that the author does not return to, as they fall outside the book's scope. It can be considered a mini biography of each man described in this way.

I recommend you read this book.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • RF
  • 10-25-20

Enormous detail with a personal feel

A simply elegant and amazing book. It has a personal feel while sharing the lack of appreciation for people when it comes to governments in general. Our over fascination in statistics and good versus evil prevents our governments from making a true difference.

Well worth reading to get a glimpse into the real machinations of America's migration pre-WWII to today.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Lack of personability

I got this book because Robertson Dean narrated only one other book that I know of and I love that book; Delta Force by retired CSM Eric Haney.

Unlike that book, however, this book seems to slog on with many more details and many less personally inspiring feats of accomplishment about the people it talks about. In other words it's just quite boring.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but rarely compelling

A broad Cold War overview full of interesting facts and observations but rarely engages or compels.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

95% about politics 5% about their personal life.

Can't call this a book about spys. It's a political book. Very boring and slow.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Something fresh in the history of espionage

It was great to experience more and different details in the history of American espionage and geopolitics from a new publication. So many other books rehash or summarize stories already covered by other books, so to have a fresh look into the people involved and their personal struggles was a real contribution to the discipline.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good spy stories. Bad/biased history.

Great real life spy stories well told. Author has standard biased progressive views of history re FDR, Truman, Joe McCarthy, Cold War, Vietnam etc. But there’s enough in here to explain the origin and problems of the Deep State.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Surprising in a good way

I wasn't sure I'd like this book, but after the author's interview on NPR's Fresh Air, I decided to give it a chance. The reason I wasn't sure I'd like it was that, although I'm a Democrat, I have affection and respect for the IC and especially the CIA perhaps not common to liberals. I have a complete picture of their failures throughout their history, but to me, most of CIA is comprised of patriotic, very smart people who choose to put themselves in danger for a govt salary, to make sacrifices on behalf of our nation. I respect and appreciate this about the Agency. I got the impression that the author has a more jaundiced view of the Agency, which I think, was born out, but his criticisms are fair and leveled at specific individuals for specific decisions in the past, they are well-informed, well-formed criticisms, and made with genuine empathy for CIA officers who were genuinely just trying to do a good job. Also, despite the criticisms, it's just a fascinating, facts-packed read that as a history nerd, I very much enjoyed. I still hold my respectful views of the Agency regardless and I think there is absolutely value for all of us in reading things that we don't necessarily entirely agree with!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

I listened for hours and hours and nothing actually happened. "Quiet Americans" indeed. They must be the most boring "spies" who ever had a book written about them.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A lot to absorb

People who were truly anti-communist in 1946 are buried under empty politics and rabid extremism. We never have a plan and don’t follow through, as in Hungary. The country is still divided along lines that emerged 70 years ago. Ultimately, the US will matter less and less because the schemes simply fail. Over and over.

1 person found this helpful