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Our Man in Havana Audiobook

Our Man in Havana

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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 the Critics Say

"I'd forgotten that Greene could be so funny, but maybe it's just the brilliant way that Jeremy Northam has caught the ironic tone of the book's unlikely hero, James Wormold, who sells vacuum cleaners (not very successfully) in pre-Castro Cuba..."(The Guardian)

"Jeremy Northam catches Greene's tone of ruined romanticism to perfection..."(The Daily Mail)

"When Graham Greene is on comic form, he can't be bettered, and I chuckled merrily even on the M6 during a weekend drive to Cumbria and back. A good audiobook is immensely calming on such occasions; they should be issued free at service stations before notorious traffic congestion spots. Spare, elegant prose, hilarious set-pieces and a happy ending made Our Man in Havanna the perfect choice..."(The Times)

"...Greene's satire is playful in comparison with his other works - Catholic angst is mainly confined to Wormold's teenage daughter, and even for her there's no real contest between God and her horse. Greene's sense of the absurd strengthens the many tense scenarios, whilst the narration captures the ambience and the dialogue brilliantly, projecting a film in the listener's head."(The Oldie)

"The many characters in this satirical spy novel burst with personality, idiosyncrasies, odd mannerisms, and quirky conversation. A theatre director would be lucky to find multiple actors who could do justice to Greene's writing. Jeremy Northam, though, gives each character a distinct voice and presence all by himself. He makes notes of the details Greene uses to cast a character and takes off from there. His London intelligence chief, for example, is raspy and chilling, as if speaking from the grave. The agent Hawthorne sounds clipped and hurried, a touch anxious... Northam expresses them all as if accessing the same secret core that Greene imagined at the heart of all his characters..."(Audiofile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (279 )
5 star
 (139)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.3 (217 )
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Story
4.3 (220 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    AlexB 12/08/2010
    AlexB 12/08/2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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 ;)

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanne OxfordUnited Kingdom 21/07/2009
    Joanne OxfordUnited Kingdom 21/07/2009
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    "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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DD Kaplan 27/07/2010
    DD Kaplan 27/07/2010 Member Since 2015
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    "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

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lily S 29/04/2015
    Lily S 29/04/2015 Member Since 2014
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    "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!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer London, United Kingdom 20/03/2011
    Jennifer London, United Kingdom 20/03/2011
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    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emilia London, United Kingdom 31/03/2015
    Emilia London, United Kingdom 31/03/2015 Member Since 2013
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    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sandandstars 28/12/2014
    sandandstars 28/12/2014
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    "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.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth UK 11/09/2013
    Elizabeth UK 11/09/2013 Member Since 2011
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    "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.

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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane 09/04/2011
    Jane 09/04/2011 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ruined"

    Book great. Reader great. Who the hell thought the music was a good idea? Totally spoiled it for me. Intensely irritating and intrusive - even used underneath the reading, as well as during apparently random breaks. Let's have some Irish dance music with Angela's Ashes, or Chase & Status during Sons & Lovers.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 28/11/2016
    Mark 28/11/2016
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Jean
    Franklin, MA, United States
    05/08/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    28 of 28 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    California
    01/06/11
    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.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • Boston Harbor
    Boston
    11/10/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Biffo
    Newtown, CT
    14/07/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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!!!!!!!!

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • M.
    SOMERSET, MA, United States
    12/02/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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!


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Dennis
    Mazama, WA, United States
    25/07/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    Mackay, Australia
    05/03/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Lynn Eden
    Stanford, CA United States
    17/07/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Verl
    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States
    21/05/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Jan
    Prague, Czech Republic
    26/06/11
    Overall
    "Our Man in Havana"

    The book has been my favourite one, but being not an English native speaker I rather hesitated to download the audio. But it has met all my expectations. Great!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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