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The Old Man and Mr. Smith

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  432 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
In his new novel, Peter Ustinov has chosen as his protagonists two of the most unusual characters of recent fiction. The Old Man is somewhat overweight and out of shape, wearing slightly tattered robes and sporting a pair of tennis shoes. Mr. Smith is small and dark, with a foul temper only occasionally relieved by a fiendish humor, and a disturbing aroma of sulfur that fo ...more
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published May 1st 1991 by Arcade Pub (first published 1990)
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Corleen gallinger
Jul 26, 2011 Corleen gallinger rated it it was amazing
I think this was one of THE most enjoyable books I have ever read. Helps I heard SIr Ustinov do a reading from the book and as such I had 'voices' for the Old Man and Mr. Smith. If you can find a copy you must read it!
Feb 14, 2016 Saskia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books I re-read at least twice a year. It explores human behaviour and morals seen through the eyes of God and the devil.
God and the devil meet up on earth to see what has become of God's creation, the human race. While they travel to different continents and meet a variety of people (including psychiatrists and the FBI), the devil starts to question the reasons God cast him out of heaven.
Even though the book is quite philosophical at times, it's still easy and entertaining to
T4bsF (Call me Flo)
Jan 05, 2016 T4bsF (Call me Flo) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
With Peter Ustinov being extremely accomplished at everything he touched, actor, dramatist, screen designer, author etc, etc (the list of his talents is endless), I was expecting a good read, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. The story is about God (the Old Man) and the Devil (Mr. Smith) deciding to become mortal on earth for a while, whilst becoming re-acquainted with each other and 'burying the hatchet'. The story was funny, thought-provoking, and interesting, bringing into the equation so ...more
Aletha Tavares
Jun 12, 2007 Aletha Tavares rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: need a laugh
very few know of Peter Ustinov as a writer- this book is absolutely brilliant & one could also set a play on this- the dialogues are fabulous- god & the devil descend to earth in 20th century & get locked up in jail nd then are on the run getting chased by the FBI, the Interpol and they land up in India and are recognised for who they are. It depicts how God is so out of date with things on earth & it is the devil, mr. smith, who has to keep getting GOD out of trouble.
Jul 21, 2014 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was entertaining at times, and a little slow at others. Ustinov used a non-traditional, mortal portrayal of God and Satan to make some points about religion and the nature of belief. The book was not quite as clever as the author seemed to think it was and got repetitive on occasion (the same conflicts with the same resolutions, over and over).
However, there was some good banter back and forth between the two supernatural beings, and some interesting theological ideas. The idea that mo
Oct 29, 2015 Katharina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well written, but it is very hard to read. It has a lot of impact and a lot of stuff to think about, so I would recommend to read it in steps and have time to relax in between. It gives you a lot of ideas and it is often quite philosphical, but it is definitely worth a try.
The story is quite easy to tell: God and the Devil are together on earth.
But what happens in this book is quite suprising, so I will not tell you.

And if you think now, this book will be to hard for you, the
Chanel Earl
I was too young to understand this book completely when I read it. I remember that I enjoyed it, but that I was shocked by it at the same time. I would like to read it again.
Dec 10, 2008 Reinhold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, comedy
Sir Peter Ustinov legt ein Buch vor, wie es kaum ein anderer fabrizieren kann. Immer leuchtet sein Genius durch. Dies betrifft die Geschichte und ihren Verlauf ebenso wie die sprachliche Fassung und die vielen versteckten Anspielungen, die man oft erst beim zweiten Lesen findet. Gott und Satan, so postuliert er gleich zu Beginn, sind keine Gegner, sondern vielmehr notwendige Gegensätze damit der andere überhaupt existieren kann. Es gäbe kein Weiß, wenn es kein Schwarz gäbe.

Gott und Satan sind da
May 21, 2014 Janet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I enjoyed the concept of the Old Man and Mr. Smith, but the conversations started to get preachy and were enough different from my spiritual concepts to make me not want to continue.
Feb 17, 2015 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, I felt as though I could hear his voice all the way through. A real masterpiece.
Dec 24, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Stangely, the book reads like a travelogue of ideologies. The narrative is both whimsical and thought provoking, and filled with uniquely detached commentary on the things that we as a civilization hold important- and how important those things really are in the Grand Scheme. While it does occasionally get lost in it's own prose and there are a few parts of it that are out of date (The Soviet Union, for instance) it is nevertheless a book that you will get something out of each time you read it ...more
Ron Fitzwater
Mar 09, 2014 Ron Fitzwater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely my second favorite book of all time, second only to the Hitchhikers Guide series. My not appeal to everyone, especially those with strong religious convictions; however, it is a charming read.
Hans-Dieter Kreuzhof
Breathtaking humor and a mirror to us in our realtion to God ...
Jun 03, 2015 Bookslicious rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Es fing so unterhaltsam an, aber dann langweilte es mich nur noch
Apr 07, 2013 Pawanraj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
God and Satan visit the Earth, and experience what us mortals live through every day. Lovely book, lot of satire, humour, lot of contemplation about the brilliance and the follies of human race...

A touch personal, and it would seem like Ustinov has given voice to his views about humanity via the characters, but then, he at least considered two sides of the coin.

Έξυπνη υπόθεση και ένα βιβλίο που καυτηριάζει έντονα καταστάσεις της νεώτατης ιστορίας και τον τρόπου της σύγχρονη καθημερινότητας. Ωστόσο με κούρασε και το τελείωσα με δυσκολία. Οι δύο ασυνήθιστοι γέροι όπου και να πηγαίνουν μπλέκουν. Γυρνούν τον κόσμο ολόκληρο, τους κυνηγά η αστυνομία και όσο περισσότερο μένουν στην γη τόσο χάνουν από τις υπερκόσμιες δυνάμεις τους.
Louise Henderson
Apr 23, 2014 Louise Henderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very witty and thought provoking.
Jun 29, 2008 Pmurph07 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy the book all that much, but we read it for book club and I really enjoyed the discussion surrounding it. It's a story about god and the devil returning to earth in modern day. It really brought out a lot of assumptions about how we think about god and the devil and forced you to really consider "what would Jesus do?"
Oct 20, 2014 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
third time I have read this book and it is still wonderful
Oct 15, 2008 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of Max's earliest book suggestions, and definitely one of my favorites. God and the devil come to earth together to try and make sense of things...
It's a bit dated, but still has many funny bits -- definitely good for a laugh or six.
Jul 10, 2012 Djinnie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Couldn't finish it. Having other more interesting books interrupt my involvement in this book has meant that I can't be bothered going back to pick up the thread. Oh well, another one for the charity shop pile.
Kathie Peterson
I started reading the book, but found that I had a hard time maintaining an interest in the story. It felt like the author was trying to hard to make it funny. I lost interest and put the book down.
Easy reading and the voice of Peter definitely comes through.
I pictured The Old Man as Peter Ustinov and Mr. Smith as Andy Hamilton for some reason - perhaps down to Old Harry's Game!
Jan 28, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Book
Mar 24, 2008 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book God and Satan come down to earth, in disguise, to check how things are going. I find most of Peter Ustinov's books perceptive and gently humorous.
"I am not afraid to change my mind. In fact, I encourage myself to do so, regularly. To worry my sense of truth as a dog worries a bone."
Jul 19, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
God (The Old Man) and Mr. Smith (the Devil) come back to earth for a fact finding tour.
Caroline Edwards
Dec 19, 2012 Caroline Edwards rated it it was amazing
it was a great read, very well written
Sep 23, 2012 Eleftheria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eleftheria by: Graf
Shelves: greek, fiction
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Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov, CBE, was a British actor, writer and dramatist.

He was also renowned as a filmmaker, theatre and opera director, director, stage designer, screenwriter, comedian, humorist, newspaper and magazine columnist, radio broadcaster and television presenter.

A noted wit and raconteur, he was, for much of his career, a fixture on television talk shows and lecture circuits, as wel
More about Peter Ustinov...

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