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The Quiet American (1955)

by Graham Greene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,9441581,011 (3.97)460
This novel is a study of New World hope and innocence set in an Old World of violence. The scene is Saigon in the violent years when the French were desperately trying to hold their footing in the Far East. The principal characters are a skeptical British journalist, his attractive Vietnamese mistress, and an eager young American sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission.… (more)

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» See also 460 mentions

English (149)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 149 (next | show all)
fiction (loosely based on the British author/correspondent's observations over several years during conflict amongst the French/Viet Minh/General Thé, 1952-1955)--writing is very smooth, setting seems lifelike and accurate, opinions are Greene's own. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
A dark insightful view of war, espionage and the danger of ideology. The author accepts that no one is purely good or bad but in reality a bit of both. in some ways this is a very cynical perspective but it is closer to 'real' than most authors get ( )
  Aetherson | Apr 26, 2021 |
I've never read any Graham Greene before. I really enjoyed this. His ability to portray characters with very few words is outstanding. The tension is superbly maintained. An interesting period of modern history, that is rarely talked about; the situation in Vietnam before the intervention of the Americans but clearly showing the build up and that philosophy that they always 'interfere' for the greater good despite regrettable casualties along the way. ( )
  Patsmith139 | Mar 15, 2021 |
I found this book interesting in that it deals with the lives of people in Vietnam during the "time of turmoil" back in the 1950s, i.e. when the Vietnamese were trying to expel the French colonials. My phrase, "time of turmoil", sums up what I knew of Vietnam when I was a kid. In third grade, the Weekly Reader informed us that there was "turmoil" in Vietnam. Miss Hill pointed out the location of Vietnam on the world map she used to teach us geography. Of course, now some 60 years later, I know a bit more about the country.

Anyway, it seems that Thomas Fowler is a British journalist who is living in Vietnam. He has taken on a young woman named Phuong. An American named Alden Pyle shows up. Allegedly, Pyle has something to do with commerce and trade. Actually, he is trying to "help" foment trouble in Vietnam. He sees a "third way", rather than the Communists under Ho Chi Minh, or the French colonials, he is trying to find a non-communist, Vietnamese to take over governing the country, and is subsidizing a second-rate war lord.

Well, anyway, Pyle becomes enamored with Phuong and wants her for his own. But he's very honorable and asks Fowler's permission to have her. He says he'll marry her and give her babies. Fowler can't do that because he's married to a woman in England, a woman who makes exile in Vietnam seem preferable to being back home. Something like that.

So, anyway, we have mostly the finaglings of the love triangle to work out, with a bunch of scenes of the "turmoil" in Vietnam as background. [3½*s] ( )
1 vote lgpiper | Jan 10, 2021 |
couldn't help reading Pyle with a British accent. ( )
  stravinsky | Dec 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 149 (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 (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, Grahamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caddell, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
English, BillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorra, MichaelSuggestions for Further Readingsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandfield, GeoffIllustratorsecondary 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
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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
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.
innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

This novel is a study of New World hope and innocence set in an Old World of violence. The scene is Saigon in the violent years when the French were desperately trying to hold their footing in the Far East. The principal characters are a skeptical British journalist, his attractive Vietnamese mistress, and an eager young American sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission.

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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.
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