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Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
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Our Man in Havana (original 1958; edition 1958)

by Graham Greene

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,210661,731 (3.87)194
Member:pokarekareana
Title:Our Man in Havana
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:The Viking Press (1958), Edition: Second Printing, Hardcover, 242 pages
Collections:Already Read
Rating:***
Tags:@2012, Borrowed from library

Work details

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene (1958)

  1. 31
    The Tailor of Panama by John le Carré (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Le Carré's 1996 novel was inspired by Greene's "Our Man in Havana".
  2. 10
    The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell (terrazoon)
    terrazoon: Good satires are hard to find. Although the subject matter is different, if you like one you will probably like the other.
  3. 10
    Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (alalba)
    alalba: In both books the main character makes up stories as a way of keeping his job, in both cases, they become reality.
  4. 00
    The Fat Plan by Glen Neath (sanddancer)
  5. 00
    My Life In CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 by Harry Mathews (slickdpdx)
  6. 01
    The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (LamontCranston)
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» See also 194 mentions

English (56)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
completed 7/4/14, 5 stars ( )
  bookmagic | Jul 7, 2014 |
Mr. Wormold is British. He lives in Cuba with his daughter. He sells vacuum cleaners. He is not very successful. Life is dull. Then Mr. Wormold becomes 'our man in Cuba'. Recruited by the British Secret Service because he was in the right bar at the right time (or was it the wrong bar at the wrong time?), Wormold now has to adjust to the life as a spy on foreign ground. Not knowing anything about the intelligence business he fakes reports to his superiors in London, invents subagents and makes a fair living doing this. But then his invented agents start being involved in 'accidents' and his fake reports begin to have an effect on reality.

Among the reasons I like this book is the great set of characters. There is the vacuum cleaner salesman turned spy Wormold, his daughter Milly who is especially Catholic when in need of a favor, the German Dr Hasselbacher who still finds the time to see a few patients while drinking the rest of the day, a brutal Cuban police captain who divides people into a 'torturable' and a 'non-torturable' class, and secretary Beatrice who falls in love with Wormold on first sight. This makes for a cast for a humorously written Cuban spy story that manages to entertain as well as to criticize. Greene succeeds in taking his readers to 1958 Havana and experience Cuba, the spy business and one small character finding his way in the big intelligence arena. Greene probably gave one of the best fitting descriptions of Our Man in Havana himself when he said that it "was potentially a very funny plot which if it comes off will make a footnote to history."

Our Man in Havana is a great novel. It made we want to know more about Wormold, read more stories about him. It made me want to go to Havana. I love it when a book does that to me. 4.5 stars. ( )
1 vote OscarWilde87 | Jun 9, 2014 |


So many great lines... "You are interested in a person, not in life, and people die or leave us.... But if you are interested in life it never lets you down. I am interested in the blueness of cheese." ( )
  EllenReads | Apr 26, 2014 |
Jim Wormold is an ordinary guy, struggling to make enough money to provide all the things his teen-aged daughter wants. As a Brit living in Havana, he gets recruited by secret service and can't pass up the salary. But, he doesn't know how to be a spy, so he makes up his reports and his agents. Then, things begin getting out of control....

Very funny, with very human characters. ( )
  LynnB | Mar 13, 2014 |
Great times. I like my comedy deadened with a bit of despair about the world, and here it is. Why he calls this an 'entertainment' is beyond me; it seems to have almost as much reflection about morality and politics and religion as any of his 'serious' novels. Highly recommended. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
10 of the Greatest Cold War Spy Novels
“Possibly the greatest writer of prose to devote so much of his time to the theme of espionage, Greene was himself briefly an intelligence agent. His WW 2 experiences in London, dealing with a disinformation-dealing agent in Portugal, provided the impetus for this satirical and prescient look at the spy game. Wormhold, a British vacuum salesman in Havana during the Batista regime, becomes a spy for the MI6 to better provide for his daughter (he’s a single parent). The reports Wormhold concocts involve imaginary agents, whose salaries he collects. But his lively reports begin to greatly interest London, who send in reinforcements, initiating a deadly black comedy of errors, making the hapless agent a Soviet target. In an instance of perfect casting, Alec Guinness portrayed Wormhold in the 1959 film version.”
 
Toward the end, as we go into a business luncheon at which Wormold is due to die, things begin to warm, and it seems we will get what we came for. But when, for a climax, a dog wanders into the dining room, laps the whisky Wormold spilled, dies, and thus gives warning of poison, things simply fall apart. I never saw a dog drink hard liquor, and don't believe this one did. However, I do believe he could read, and had had a look at the script, to know what he should do. All in all, little as a Greene fan likes to say it, this book misses, and in a thoroughly heartbreaking way, for it misses needlessly where it might have rung the bell.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, James M. Cain (Jul 12, 2011)
 
For once, Greene's Roman Catholic hang-ups, which make novels such as The End of the Affair so desolate, are kept in check - even joked about. "Hail Mary, quite contrary", prays convent-educated Milly, aged four. Nine years later she sets fire to a small American boy called Thomas Earl Parkman Junior because he's a Protestant - "and if there was going to be a persecution, Catholics could always beat Protestants at that game."
 

» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, Grahamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lundblad, JaneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oddera, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap, H.W.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turtiainen, ArvoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallverdú, JosepTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winiewicz, LidaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And the sad man is cock of all his jests
GEORGE HERBERT
Dedication
First words
'That nigger going down the street,' said Dr Hasselbacher standing in the Wonder Bar, 'he reminds me of you, Mr Wormold.'
Quotations
The separating years approached them both, like a station down the line, all gain for her and all loss for him.
You should dream more, Mr. Wormold. Reality in our century is not something to be faced.
He was aware whenever he entered the shop of a vacuum that had nothing to do with his cleaners.
In a mad world it always seemed simpler to obey.
As long as nothing happens, anything is possible, you agree? It is a pity that a lottery is ever drawn. I lose a hundred and forty thousand dollars a week, and I am a poor man.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142438006, Paperback)

Graham Greene?s classic Cuban spy story, now with a new package and a new introduction

First published in 1959, Our Man in Havana is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire that still resonates today. Conceived as one of Graham Greene?s ?entertainments,? it tells of MI6?s man in Havana, Wormold, a former vacuum-cleaner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job, he files bogus reports based on Lamb?s Tales from Shakespeare and dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start coming disturbingly true.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Follows the plight of Wormold, a former vacuum cleaner salesman, who becomes a slave to the expensive whims of his thirteen-year-old daughter, Milly, and takes on a job for MI6 as Secret Agent 5920015 to pay for them.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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