The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Synopsis from back cover:

Into the intrigue and violence of Indo-China comes Pyle, a young idealistic American sent to promote democracy through a mysterious ‘Third Force’. As his naive optimism starts to cause bloodshed, his friend Fowler, a cynical foreign correspondent, finds it hard to stand aside and watch. But even as he intervenes he wonders why: for the sake of politics, or for love?

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  1. moirabbc

     /  November 30, 2010

    I am inclined to agree with Sarah (see her blog) with regard to the misogyny in this novel, although I was aware of Greene’s reputation and so have hitherto given him a wide berth. I did find much to admire and make me cringe in The Quiet American.
    I take it that Phuong is a metaphor for the naive pro-Western part of Vietnam and this region. She is desperate to make a ‘good ‘marriage and experience the ‘delights’ and comfort of the West. Our narrator, the world-weary British hack uses her for sex and other servicing, but doesn’t really want to change her, whereas the charming young American with his quiet, dangerous arrogance wants to take her back to the States to become an all-American, but exotic trophy wife.
    In Greene’s defence on the misogyny charge, Sarah makes a good point that the one character whose integrity shines through, is the narrator’s ex-wife.
    This book resonates so strongly with US foreign policy of the past 60 years; the undercover dirty tricks, arming/advising brutal but tame forces in other countries, inevitably leading to more overt military action.
    A big thumbs-up.

  2. richardbbc

     /  November 18, 2010

    What a great novel. Complex political and emotional dilemmas described in a dramatic and well constructed narrative. Anti-war novel, love story and murder mystery, with a nod towards Henry James and an anti-American theme that still resonates today. I think its one of the best books we have read for quite some time.


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