HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Quiet American (1955)

by Graham Greene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,9801811,077 (3.98)527
Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Alden Pyle, an idealistic young American, is sent to Vietnam to promote democracy amidst the intrigue and violence of the French war with the Vietminh. His friend Fowler, a cynical foreign correspondent, looks on but soon finds it difficult to remain simply an observer. Fowler's mistress, a beautiful native girl, creates a catalyst for jealousy and competition between the men and a cultural clash resulting in bloodshed and deep misgivings.

Written in 1955 prior to the Vietnam conflict, The Quiet American foreshadows the events leading up to the war. Questions surrounding the moral ambiguity of the involvement of the United States in foreign countries are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago.

.
… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 527 mentions

English (169)  German (3)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (180)
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
It is period of 1950's and we follow ageing British reporter as he tries to keep at least a pretense of normal life in the world engulfed in ugly civil war. French are still fighting for their colonial possessions, locals are fighting against each other because everyone (including the French) is aware that French dominance in Indochina is for all means and purposes over and they will go home very soon.

In the middle of all of this American mission comes in, group of young, adventurous men and women, full of ideals and on a crusade of sorts, crusade to stop the Communism from establishing foothold in Indochina. They don't want to deal with the French nor with the local French allies (because of their colonial roots) and they especially don't want to deal with the Communist organization (or anyone leaning towards them). So they start engagement with the other militias and paramilitary forces, some with rather weird political and religious agendas. But without knowledge of the terrain and the people and not willing to learn from their predecessors can this mission truly achieve anything except accidental mayhem?

And when you put in the middle of all of this love drama you get the powder keg just ready to go off.

I watched the movie version on more than one occasion but book is much deeper. Constant introspection of our main story teller, British reporter Fowler, shows us a man that is aware he is growing old and needs to make something of his own life. So when he starts the contest with very young Pyle from American mission over a woman Fowler's being living with for months he steps on a very dark path.

Graham Greene captures how at its core people are generally selfish. People will help others but there is always a goal to achieve, reason why people do what they do. And when one is in position of despair as Fowler is, middle-aged man in remote foreign country where he finally found comfort with Phuong, young local woman, then lots can happen, and nothing good. When Phuong slowly gets taken over by Pyle, prosperous young man working in diplomatic team, Fowler decides to do what is necessary.

If you are looking for an excellent character drama then look no further. Book is full of great observations of the power change during the 1950's, French forces engaged in what they themselves call unnecessary and half-hearted conflict that buries the French soldiers for no reason in a far away country while waiting for politicians to swallow their pride and sign the treaty so they can go home. We see locals as people aware that all of the foreigners present are there just for a very short time, trespassers that conquered the country for a while but have no role in true power play - various private militias and ethnic groups will continue the true fight for the control of the area and to achieve that everything is allowed - crime, smuggling, inter-tribal killings and of course gaining support from the same foreigners while they are useful.

It is just astounding how powers to be get involved into conflicts in remote countries of no strategic meaning (as Vietnam war will prove when it ended, since Singapore and Malaysia together with Thailand remained pretty much under Western influence) without any knowledge of locals, their points of view - they just decide to meddle and unfortunately cause the chaos and more mayhem and more casualties until one day they lose interest and just move out. Someone might call it neo-colonialism but to me it is just case of elephant in glass shop. These powers are not interested in those remote areas, they just want to show their might.

Excellent book in more than one way. Do note that this is slow-burner with lots of comments on the politics of 1950's, society in general and interpersonal relations. It is a very interesting spy novel with espionage pushed to back and people and their relations set at front.

Recommended to fans of thrillers and character drama. ( )
  Zare | Jan 23, 2024 |
Incredibly well-written, like everything I've read by him (4 or 5 at this point (2023), but very cynical. And this one especially hard to like the narrator. he narrator is really like a self-righteous asshole and for the first 50%-70% of the book I assume we're supposed to regard him as deeply flawed. But then I come to believe we're supposed to find him jaded but still the one who we identify with. That's kinda tough, he's a real jerk. I'm a bit of an Anglophile and not "rah-rah" about America, but GG seems to REALLY hate Americans.
I preferred the narrator of "Comedians" who was flawed and super jaded / cynical but you could relate to him. ( )
  dtscheme | Jan 1, 2024 |
This novel still holds a lot of historical value. Reading this as an older adult, it was easy to identify with Fowler's character too. ( )
  John_Hughel | Sep 30, 2023 |
Beginning with the end and then unspooling the events that preceded it, Greene offers a history lesson from a place and time not included in general education: Viet Nam during French occupation. Is it a who done it, or the examination of one man's insistence not to become engaged in the politics of the place he loves? Both and more.

Distinctive characters represent fading European colonialism (journalist Thomas Fowler), and the rise of American democracy (Alden Pyle) in competition for the love and loyalty of the beautiful and enigmatic (to westerners) culture and land of Viet Nam (Phuong).

( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
Revisited after recently finishing _Nothing Ever Dies_, originally read the month I left the Navy in 1999. Not only is Greene prescient on USAs Vietnam efforts, but this book is an excellent little novel and thriller. ( )
  kcshankd | Jul 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
Easily, with long-practiced and even astonishing skill, speaking with the voice of a British reporter who is forced, despite himself, toward political action and commitment, Greene tells a complex but compelling story of intrigue and counter-intrigue, bombing and murder. Into it is mixed the rivalry of two white men for a Vietnamese girl. These elements are all subordinate to the political thesis which they dramatize and which is stated baldly and explicitly throughout the book.
 
There are many natural storytellers in English literature, but what was rare about Greene was the control he wielded over his abundant material. Certainly one can imagine nobody who could better weave the complicated threads of war-torn Indochina into a novel as linear, as thematically compact and as enjoyable as The Quiet American
 

» Add other authors (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buckley, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caddell, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cronin, BrianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
English, BillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandfield, GeoffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundblad, JaneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magnus, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scheepmaker, H.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, KätheÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valja, JiøíTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
This is the patent age of new inventions
For killing bodies, and for saving souls,
All propagated with the best intentions. — Byron
I do not like being moved; for the will is excited, and action
Is a most dangerous thing; I tremble for something factitious,
Some malpractice of heart and illegitimate process;
We're so prone to these things, with our terrible notions of duty. — A. H. Clough
Dedication
Dear Rene and Phuong - I have asked permission to dedicate this book to you not only in memory of the happy evenings I have spent with you in Saigon over the last five years, but also because I have quite shamelessly borrowed the location of your flat to house one of my characters, and your name, Phuong, for the convenience of readers because it is simple, beautiful, and easy to pronounce, which is not true of all your country-women's names. You will both realized I have borrowed little else, certainly not the characters of anyone in Viet Nam. Pyle, Granger, Fowler, Vigot, Joe - these have had no originals in the life of Saigon or Hanoi, and General The is dead: shot in the back, so they say. Even the historical events have been rearranged For example, the big bomb near the Continental preceded and did not follow the bicycle bombs. I have no scruples about such small changes. This is a story and not a piece of history, and I hope that as a story about a few imaginary characters it will pass for both of you one hot Saigon evening. Yours affectionately, Graham Greene
First words
After dinner I sat and waited for Pyle in my room over the rue Catinat; he had said, ‘I’ll be with you at latest by ten,’ and when midnight struck I couldn’t stay quiet any longer and went down into the street.
Quotations
innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Alden Pyle, an idealistic young American, is sent to Vietnam to promote democracy amidst the intrigue and violence of the French war with the Vietminh. His friend Fowler, a cynical foreign correspondent, looks on but soon finds it difficult to remain simply an observer. Fowler's mistress, a beautiful native girl, creates a catalyst for jealousy and competition between the men and a cultural clash resulting in bloodshed and deep misgivings.

Written in 1955 prior to the Vietnam conflict, The Quiet American foreshadows the events leading up to the war. Questions surrounding the moral ambiguity of the involvement of the United States in foreign countries are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago.

.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
While the French Army in Indo-China is grappling with the Vietminh, back in Saigon a young and high-minded American named Pyle begins to channel economic aid to a "Third Force."

Caught between French colonialists and the Vietminh, Fowler, the narrator and seasoned foreign correspondent, observes: "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused." As young Pyle's policies blunder on into bloodshed, the older man finds it impossible to stand aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and to himself: for Pyle has robbed him of his Vietnamese mistress.
Haiku summary

Legacy Library: Graham Greene

Graham Greene has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Graham Greene's legacy profile.

See Graham Greene's author page.

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.98)
0.5
1 10
1.5 5
2 54
2.5 24
3 290
3.5 110
4 684
4.5 95
5 444

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 202,138,964 books! | Top bar: Always visible