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Extended Audio Sample A Good American Audiobook, by Alex George Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 5 3.70 (20 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alex George Narrator: Gibson Frazier Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2012 ISBN: 9781101538401
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An uplifting novel about the families we create and the places we call home.

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead ("What's the difference? They're both new"), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together.

Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf.

A Good American is narrated by Frederick and Jette's grandson, James, who, in telling his ancestors’ story, comes to realize he doesn't know his own story at all. From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies, the Kennedy assassination, and beyond, James's family is caught up in the sweep of history. Each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American. And, in the process, Frederick and Jette's progeny sometimes discover more about themselves than they had bargained for.

Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, A Good American is a novel about being an outsider-in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Richly drawn, tragic, yet laced with humor-A Good American is a remarkable, multigenerational story of a German immigrant family struggling to find roots as dreams collide with honor and secrets lead to heartache. Beth Hoffman, New York Times-bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
  • . . . at once funny and sad and spectacularly real. A must-read. Speer Morgan, editor of The Missouri Review
  • A Good American is a novel to be savored. It's brave, tender, and funny. As George promises in the opening line of this multigenerational story, 'Always, there was music.' Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters
  • Alex George's A Good American is good, old-fashioned storytelling, and his characters, both recognizable and startlingly fresh each time, linger in the mind and heart like the strains of a treasured melody. By turns funny and heartbreaking, A Good American lifts the reader from the first sentence and carries her all the way to the powerful end with the swiftness and confidence of the big muddy river running through the little town of Beatrice, Missouri. It was truly a joy to read. Lise Saffran, author of Juno's Daughters
  • “There’s plenty of storytelling charm on display here, with echoes of John Irving’s humane zaniness.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • What does it mean to be a good citizen? A good member of a family? In A Good American, George considers both questions with humor, compassion, and grace. A beautifully written novel, laced with history and music. Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
  • This lush, epic tale of one family's journey from immigrant to Good Americans had me alternately laughing and crying, but always riveted. It's a rich, rare treat of a book, and Alex George is a first-rate talent. Sara Gruen, New York Times-bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House
  • As epic as an opera, as intimate as a lullaby, A Good American swept me through an entire century of triumph and tragedy with the wonderful Meisenheimer family. By turns laugh-out-loud funny and achingly sad, the story of the residents of Beatrice, Missouri, and all their glorious, messy secrets and dreams is a winner from the first page. Alex George has created that rare and beautiful thing-a novel I finished and immediately wanted to start again. Eleanor Brown, New York Times-bestselling author of The  Weird Sisters
  • “As epic as an opera, as intimate as a lullaby, A Good American swept me through an entire century of triumph and tragedy with the wonderful Meisenheimer family…Alex George has created that rare and beautiful thing—a novel I finished and immediately wanted to start again.”

    Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters

  • “A sweeping, lush intergenerational novel about a family…learning to live in twentieth-century America.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “This lush, epic tale of one family’s journey from immigrants to good Americans had me alternately laughing and crying, but always riveted. It’s a rich, rare treat of a book, and Alex George is a first-rate talent.”

    Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House

  • “Richly drawn, tragic, yet laced with humor…Remarkable.”

    Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

  • “George has created an expansive yet intimate family saga in which he adroitly explores aspects of identity, loyalty, chance, and determination that define the immigrant experience.”

    Booklist

  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book
  • Selected for the February 2012 Indie Next List
  • A 2012 Library Journal Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Albert Rocheteau | 2/12/2014

    " A multi-generational story of an immigrant family in America. At times amusing and at times heartbreaking, but always enjoyable. Great charcters, great family drama and dysfunction. A really satisfying read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa Bergeman | 2/3/2014

    " Picked it up as a pass-the-time quick-read, but was quite surprised at how the characters and their story drew me in. Finished it in a day - quick-read, certainly, but not a throw-away. Wanted parts of it to slow down, especially as the pages left dwindled. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Meghan | 1/26/2014

    " The first third of this book - the story of two brave German immigrants and their early years in Missouri, with a New Orleans cook as their guide - was great. The writing is clear and direct; music flows through the story, tying together loose ends. But after a seminal character dies, I started to feel like the narrative went off the tracks, with vignettes that seemed increasingly disjointed and unrealistic. The final twist was out of left field, and I'm not sure it did anything to make the book richer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Viccy | 1/24/2014

    " A family saga covering four generations beginning in 1904 when Frederick Meisenheimer and Jette Furste leave thier homeland and flee to New York, but end up in New Orleans and then up the Mississippi to Missouri, where Frederick hopes to find work. They sheer ordinariness of their lives is the hallmark of this book. We see the immigrant experience as the family traverses history: World War I; Prohibition; the Great Depression and World War II. Beatrice, MO is populated by unforgettable characters who serve as archetypes for the American experience. At its core, this is a novel about being an outsider and the universal search for home. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Teresa | 1/21/2014

    " The history of the German immigrant Meisenheimer as told through one of their descendants from their first landing in New Orleans to their settling in a fictional Missouri town. Their history is linked through music, food and periods of American history. I enjoyed this book for its unusual characters - the jazz playing gumbo cooking friend, the preacher who issued a challenge and wouldn't cut his hair, etc. The incorporation of these and other unusual characters & events made the story more believable to me. Surprising ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shaheen | 1/10/2014

    " I liked it a lot at first, though somewhat less as the book went on. The grandparents and parents generation were more interesting than the narrator for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martha | 12/30/2013

    " Very entertaining story about an immigrant couple who come to the US in the early 1900's, and follows their story through two more generations to present day. It has some humor, some sadness, some quirky characters, nothing too deep, but kept me interested throughout. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 12/13/2013

    " Excellent read; I didn't see the twist at the end coming. First book by Alex George. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ulrika | 12/8/2013

    " A good start and decent middle lead to the last 75 pages which simply were 75 pages too many. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Konnie | 11/28/2013

    " I was riveted from the beginning to the end. The struggle to survive and the lasting love were wonderful themes from which the narrator drew. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne Hickling | 9/11/2013

    " Readable multi-generation family saga with plenty of quirky characters and unexpected turns. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 8/13/2013

    " Nothing outstanding but a good story about 3 generations. The first generation were immigrants from Germany who settled in a small town in Missouri. Interesting characters and intertwining lives. I enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 7/29/2013

    " A very simple story with nothing that exciting happening the whole book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gretchen | 5/27/2013

    " Loved this booK!. A multi-generational story that's an easy read, with involving characters I could've grown up with. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 4/18/2013

    " Immigrants from Germany arrive in Missouri. Lovely language. Dashes of humor. Character emphasis. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 3/28/2013

    " June 11 to June 17 2012. Reminded me of Midlesex in scope. Great story. Loved it. Very sad though... lots of people die. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gini | 9/8/2012

    " A riveting story of a German immigrant family settling in a small Missouri town. Wonderful characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy Gilliland | 5/21/2012

    " A good book about family and struggles. It slowed down a little for me in the second half of the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judi | 4/1/2012

    " I loved this book! One of my favorites of 2012. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 3/12/2012

    " Very much enjoyed this from beginning to end. Recommend. "

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About the Author
Author Alex George

Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in Missouri. He studied law at Oxford and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States in 2003.

About the Narrator

Gibson Frazier has performed with such distinguished off-Broadway theater companies as the Civilians, Les Freres Corbusier, the Vineyard, the Cherry Lane, New Georges, the Foundry, and Clubbed Thumb and is a founding member of the Los Angeles–based theater company Buffalo Nights. He was recently named as one of the Village Voice’s favorite actors.