The Human Factor

  • by Graham Greene
  • Narrated by Tim Pigott-Smith
  • 9 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When a leak is traced back to a small sub-section of SIS, it sparks off security checks, tensions and suspicions - the sort of atmosphere where mistakes could be made. This novel opens up the lonely, isolated, neurotic world of the Secret Service.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Non-traditional Espionage Novel that Subverts ALL

I love Greene's subtle touch. Greene is a master at the muddy nature of man. He is able to tell an absolutely non-traditional espionage story that takes one of man's greatest virtues (gratitude) and shows that even this can be used/abused in a world full of bureaucratic vipers who are all comfortable in Weber's "polar night of icy darkness". Greene's plot erodes the romance and violence of the majority of spy novels and replaces it with amoral bureaucratic impulses.

When reading any of Greene's spy novels, it is important to remember the answers are never easy and sometimes written with smoke. The poetry, however, of Greene's language slowly builds his arguments and counter-arguments and weaves a powerful morality play that left me feeling just as limited and corrupt as the rest of the world's pension-seeking spy-masters.

Tim Piggot-Smith did a great job with this book. The audiobook requires a subtle reader. This is not a novel you can overdo. Tim did a great job floating on that thin line between reading and acting. Very enjoyable.
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- Darwin8u

definitely not James Bond

Greene details the mundane, human workings (physical and psychological) of a small group of MI6 workers during the detente years of the Cold War. These civil servants "listen" to Southern Africa, including apartheid era South Africa. All have to some degree or none a personal life. The main character is married to a former "contact" he worked in a South Africa township.

The novel is very British in setting and tone. An antidote to James Bond fantasy, it doesn't have even the physical action/suspense of a Lecarre. But magnify Lecarre's intense characterization and psychological tension to come close to Greene's espionage. The psychological tension builds very slowly until the last third of the novel. It's not as politicized as Greene's Quiet American, but like that novel, it concerns morality and amorality of choice, as individuals and collectivities. Irony abounds.

Don't download this for "happily ever after" mindless escapism; however, it is an engrossing listen, and to my ears, one of the best narrated audiobooks I've heard.
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- connie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-19-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios