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Summary

Whichever option I choose, men are going to die.

When the entire Soviet Union wheat crop is destroyed by a devastating string of failures, the population faces starvation. The USA is quick to offer assistance. They devise a plan to trade vital food resources with the Russians in exchange for sensitive political information. But the Politburo has other ideas: the invasion of Western Europe to commandeer the food for them...

As the paths of communication breakdown the president of the United States and leaders from around the world face an appalling choice: Should they allow the loss of thousands to save the lives of many more? This is the Devil's Alternative and in this incomparable and gripping thriller the Cold War giants must fight a battle to the death.

©1979 Frederick Forsyth (P)2012 Random House AudioGo

What listeners say about The Devil's Alternative

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gripping thriller with renewed topicality

Published in 1979 this book is redolent with the suspicion and hostility between the Soviet Union and the West that prevailed at the time. I listened in the early 1990s (when audiobooks came on numerous tape cassettes) and recall thinking that although the book was exciting it was less convincing owing to the new rapprochement between the old adversaries. As many years had passed and I’d forgotten most of the story I thought I’d download the book and see how it played in the current climate of renewed tensions. It couldn’t be more topical as the story involves Ukrainian freedom fighters, the importance in saving face for Soviet leaders and tussles between hawks and doves on either side of the Atlantic.

Apart from its renewed relevance to today’s world it remains a first class thriller. As with other books by the author, there is quite a bit of technical detail about, for example, guns, tankers, aircraft, the SAS that I would normally find boring but somehow in these books adds authenticity. Though largely a book about men wielding power and manipulating events the book, unlike, say, those by Wilbur Smith, avoids misogny and the few women characters are not clichés.

David Rintoul narrates with perfect manly authority making the characters seem believable as they save the world from disaster.

11 people found this helpful

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A bit dated but still classic Forsyth

Would you consider the audio edition of The Devil's Alternative to be better than the print version?

It's probably on a par. It was easy to follow as an audio book - the characters were distinct from one another and there weren't so many that it confused.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Devil's Alternative?

To be honest it was a bit formulaic and while I can remember key points, they would seem trivial, for instance the captain of the tanker receiving a visit from his wife was quite poignant but hardly a pivotal moment.

What does David Rintoul bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

David Rintoul brought the characters to life by 'doing' their accents. I also thought he pronounced the various place names correctly and I liked that he had taken the effort to do that. The performance was the best part.

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

Not at all. It was a good listen but not outstanding. Steady, innocuous stuff.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Nothing much to say. The man is a master storyteller. The narration was on the button.

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Superb!

What a great story.... I enjoyed every word of The Devil’s Alternative, it’s great stuff and David Rintoul did it proud.

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how topical.

Everything you would like from The Master Storyteller. Just shows how little the world has changed in 40 yrs

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Excellent

Great story, timeless and perfectly narrated. I wish more narrators would follow the “less is more”

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Cold War Thrills

This took some time to get into. There are multiple strains to the plot, which made it a little confusing and a bit slow in the early stages. As the different plot lines come together, the pace picks up and the end was not what I imagined – in a good way.

The complexity of the plot probably explains why this novel wasn't adapted for the screen, like his previous novels. Personally, I think “The Day of The Jackal” and “The Odessa File” were better, but this is on a par with “The Dogs of War”.

It's biggest weakness is that the end of The Cold War means the novel has dated; however as art tells you much about the period in which it is created, youngsters studying this period in history may find it of interest.

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Excellent

Brilliantly sculpted spy drama, with several threads that eventually come together, crissing and crossing. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment, and I hooe you shall, too.

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An Interesting Story

Read the book years ago and listening to the audio was relaxing. You will definitely get hooked.

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Flows nicely : Very much enjoyed this story.

I like to listen to books whilst exercising, so whilst some may regard a bit predictable I greatly enjoyed the tale.

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  • Mike
  • 25-10-16

Unsurpassable performance of a brilliant novel

I just couldn't imagine a better narration. Such a pleasure just listening to Rintoul's genius. Forsyth's real world understanding of spycraft and politics makes for a wonderfully believable adventure.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tracey
  • 14-06-15

ALTERNATIVE

What did you like best about The Devil's Alternative? What did you like least?

the closer to the end the story got better it is a litttle longwinded at the start slow going nearly stopped listening

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

yes a lot more action at start

What three words best describe David Rintoul’s performance?

slow to go

Could you see The Devil's Alternative being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

matt damon and donald sutherland and anthony laparlia

1 person found this helpful

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  • sunny
  • 30-06-13

very good

very good clarity , narrator is 1st class would not mind another book by him