Our Man in Havana
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 r...more
“You should dream more. Reality in our century is not something to be faced.”(6)
"Our Man in Havana" is a comic story about a vacuum salesman who sends concocted reports back to MI-6 and forwards schematics of enemy weapons that look vaguely familiar. “Our man in Havana has been turning out some pretty disquieting stuff lately.”
James Wormold probably dreamt of a more distinguished destiny when he was younger, but he has now accepted...more
Uncorrected Transcript of Oral Evidence
Taken before the Intelligence and Security Committee Tuesday 15 July 1958
Mr. Paul Anderson, in the Chair
Mr. Jonathan Blakeley
Mr. Richard Cunningham QC
Witnesses: MR. JAMES WORMOLD, O.B.E., former SIS operative in Havana, Cuba, 1955-1957; and MRS. BEATRICE WORMOLD (NEE SEVERN), formerly a secretary at the SIS headquarters.
Q1 Chairman: Mr. and Mrs. Wormold, may I welcome you to this hearing, which purpose is to examine the veracity of...more
The sauciness of teenage saint Millie, her too-old-for-a-suitor torturing policeman who knows everything that goes on in Havana (and probably Cuba), her father, Wormold, who is "our man in Havana", not to mention his secretary and agents, provided me with belly laughs, snickers and guffaws aplenty. Wormold ekes by as a vacuum cleaner dealer until approached by a Sec...more
I had disliked the similes in the otherwise-wonderful The Human Factor, which I'd found awkward,...more
"An Entertainment" describes the novel very well. It had me laughing out loud with glee. A rollicking well-paced satire on espionage and patriotism with a surprisingly sobering and heartfelt ending.
However, this is one of the rare cases where the book and the movie version are equally wonderful. If you haven't already, watch this film - one of Alec Guinness's best in my opinion! So it is no criticism of Jeremy Northam's narration when I say that even listening to the audiobook, I heard Alec Guinness in my head for Wormold.
Wormold is one of Greene's more hapless heroes, a reluctant player in the Cold War spy game who begins manufacturing agents he's supposed to be running, dreaming them up the way a novelist dreams up characters. One of them is Teresa, whom he imagines as a nude dancer, the mistress simultaneously of the Minister of Defense and the Director of Posts and Telegraphs.
It's the mid 1950's when we meet our man, Jim Wormold, a milquetoast British expatriate who moved to Havana prior to...more
Happy to be proven wrong, I romped through this 'entertainment' (Greene's own term for his lighthearted stories), in a matter of days, and really enjoyed the wry wit and characterizations throughout the text. Set in Cuba, just at the end of the Bat...more
When the book suddenly and dramatically veers towards the Tragic at about the half-way point my feelings also began...more
For the longer review, please go here:
I’m honestly a bit mystified as to why this is considered a classic. A satirical spy novel about a vacuum cleaner salesman recruited by MI-6, I honestly didn’t find Our Man In Havana funny enough to be a comic novel or thrilling enough to be a thriller.
Wikipedia tells me that Greene originally set the novel in Estonia, which explains a lot – Havana as a setting is so lightly sketched...more
Hmmm, looks like there’s a Tuesday's Overlooked A/V I’ll need to do as well.
Greene books I tend to either dive i...more
no heroes, lots of character flaws and risibility (mostly in the good way). the star spy is spineless and dithering -- a fun way to turn the genre on its head.
because the characters are so selfish, timid, and short-sighted, living in their psyches for so long got quite tiring. though the narration held plenty to amuse and the plot was admirably and tightly woven, this is not a universe i'd care to revisit.
i listened to jeremy n...more
It is surely the sign of a good story that we each read in it what we need through the filter of our experience. This generation can compare Wormald’s vacuum cleaner diagrams with the recently bombed powder milk factory...more
There are noticeably two side effects of my irrational hat...more
Graham Greene’s work must be included in any survey of top-rank spy novels, and “Our Man in Havana” may be his best. The problem here is Hollywood: Just as you can’t read Greene’s “The Third Man” without thinking of Orson Welles, “Our Man in Havana”...more
'You should dream more, Mr. Wormold. Reality in our century is not something to be faced.' [10:]
'You can't love and be as confident as he was. If you love you are afraid of losing it, aren't you?' [99:]
And yet I’m drawn to books like Our Man in Havana. Books that seem to titter in a Puckish tone: “lord what fools these mortals be!” Books that create a cast of tightly-wound characters appro...more
Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca...more