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The Power and the Glory (1940)

by Graham Greene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,5171211,138 (3.93)1 / 386
In a poor, remote section of southern Mexico, the Red Shirts have taken control, God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest strives to overcome physical and moral cowardice in order to find redemption. 240 pp.
  1. 20
    Silence by Shūsaku Endō (longway)
  2. 10
    The Lawless Roads by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: In 1938 Greene traveled throughout the south of Mexico and experienced first-hand the terror and corruption, The travel Book Lawless Roads is the basis for the novel Power and Glory.
  3. 00
    Getting to Know the General by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)

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 Christianity: The Power and the Glory20 unread / 20timspalding, November 2013

» See also 386 mentions

English (105)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (3)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
About a little-known (in the USA) period in Mexican history, the Cristero War (La Cristiada, in Spanish, I believe). In the late 1920s, the Mexican government sought to abolish the Catholic Church. The story tells of the last few months in the life of a so-called “whiskey priest,” a man torn between his calling and the way he has lived his life. A deserved classic. ( )
  Gypsy_Boy | Aug 26, 2023 |
An escape story heavy with the remains of two ideologies in crisis: atheistic communism and Latin Catholicism. The unnamed whiskey priest is on the run from Marxist forces in rural Mexico, and while eluding several near-captures he struggles with his conscience, knowing full well the futility of his rebellion and carrying the weight of his sins. "The Power and the Glory" is a meditation on the role of religion in a society where most of the people are living on the edge of survival, exploited by those in power and waiting for the comforts of the afterlife. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
At a time when the Mexican government has outlawed the Catholic church, the last priest in an unnamed state (apparently Tabasco) wanders hopelessly one step ahead of the officials who would end his life. An alcoholic with an illegitimate child, the priest is consumed by his unworthiness for his office, yet his sense of duty compels him to perform the rites of the church when asked to do so. Who else is there to do it if not him?

The priest reminds me a lot of the priest in Endo’s Silence. Both priests wrestle with the perverse choice they must make between their obligation to God in the form of religious duty and their duty to their fellow sufferers. Fulfilling their religious duty means death for those to whom they would minister, while renouncing their faith will spare the lives of their fellow sufferers.

The audio was more difficult to follow than most audiobooks I listen to because of the slow pace of the novel. When I’m ready to revisit this novel, I’ll read a print version so I can pick up what I missed the first time. ( )
  cbl_tn | May 5, 2023 |
Another one I remember reading some years ago, without now recalling its details. ( )
  mykl-s | Apr 12, 2023 |
This is, arguably, the better Graham Greene book, especially when compared to The Heart of the Matter (you will not see a review of that book on this blog any time soon, I’m afraid). It feels like a complete story with a character that, while morally grey, you actually grow to love toward the end, and a historical context that blows my mind when I think about it.
The title, I realize now as I am older, is a direct reference to the Protestant ending to the Our Father – “For thine is thy kingdom, the power and the glory, Amen.” Us Catholics don’t end the prayer there, but rather right before it. Just a little titbit, fun fact for all of you who didn’t know that. The title alone should clue you in to the fact that this book is all about religion. And it’s not about religion in the phoney way that The Heart of the Matter is, where it talks about sin in a very surface level way. It’s about religion in a real, raw way that makes you think about things a little bit.
The book takes place in Mexico, during a time when it was practically illegal to be a Catholic priest. If you wanted to be a priest, you either got married and therefore gave up one of the vows you took, or you were executed. The main character of the story, who is unnamed but goes by the Whiskey Priest, is a priest who would rather try to run away and face being caught and executed than giving everything up. In the process, he encounters many things that make him face the consequences of his past actions, and his faith in God.
What I love about this book is that the priest is not a perfect man. If anything, massive spoiler alert, he’s actually a pretty terrible priest when it comes to keeping to his vows. But the most important thing about him is that he is truly a man of God, who believes in God and believes in His message and really wants to try to make the world a better place by administering the sacraments – confession, communion, last rites. He wants to look after his flock as best as he can, but he doesn’t like to think of himself as a martyr. I think that that last part is also very important, because had he gone around thinking of himself as a martyr, he would have been less likable. But he admits that he’s just a man who is trying to make sense of things and trying to keep the promise that he made to God to be his Messenger.
What I really like about this book, as is probably very clear at this point, is the fact that it not only steeps the story in historical context – something that really happened and that was a terrible time for those who had to endure it – but the character is so real. I can almost believe that I’ve met a priest like him, somebody who acknowledges that he isn’t perfect and that he isn’t a reincarnation of God, but he is just there to try and do good by his god. And while this particular priest is an alcoholic who has made some mistakes and missteps in the past, he is a real man who you feel sympathy for in the end.
And what we all want sometimes from our stories are very real characters.
All in all, I give this book a 4/5. It’s a wonderful read, and I do recommend it to anybody looking to read something historical and religious. ( )
  viiemzee | Feb 20, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
This is the story Greene was born to tell. With this novel, Greene brings all his considerable talent, craft, and gift for suspense to bear on a story that penetrates the heart of one tortured man’s mystery. For all its darkness and intensity, it’s a thrilling, page-turning read: the story is structured essentially as an extended chase across the barren landscape of Mexico—mirroring the even vaster desert spaces in the heart of the pursued Priest. Greene evokes the heat and dust and sweat of the country and its inhabitants with cinematic immediacy. The atmosphere is stifling, almost unbearably intense, and Greene’s capacity for storytelling invention never flags.


» Add other authors (107 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alexander, Carolsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aulicino, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Žantovská, HanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Camero, FabioNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Conn, Peter J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandfield, GeoffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gross, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R. W. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindegren, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyall, DennisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magd, VezaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mauriac, FrançoisForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayes, BernardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puchwein, WaltherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sachs, AndrewNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santamaría, JuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap. H.W.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, KätheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svendsen, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vargas Llosa, Mariosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vittorini, ElioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Th' inclosure narrow'd; the sagacious power
Of hounds and death drew nearer every hour.
For Gervase
To Vivien with dearest love
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Mr Tench went out to look for his ether cylinder, into the blazing Mexican sun and the bleaching dust.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In a poor, remote section of southern Mexico, the Red Shirts have taken control, God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest strives to overcome physical and moral cowardice in order to find redemption. 240 pp.

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Book description
During a vicious persecution of the clergy in Mexico, a worldly priest, the 'whisky priest', is on the run. With the police closing in, his routes of escape are being shut off, his chances getting fewer. But compassion and humanity force him along the road to his destiny, reluctant to abandon those who need him, and those he cares for.
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