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Notre agent à La Havane

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  19,721 Ratings  ·  1,264 Reviews
Graham Greene's classic Cuban spy story, now with a new package and a new introduction

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
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284 pages
Published 2001 by 10-18 (first published 1958)
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David Irland Amazon screwed up. They only have some play version of it, where they got it I have no idea but it's very misleading if people aren't aware.
David Pertaub Try to see the film if you can. It is a classic. Wormold is played by a young Alec Guinness - yes, Obi Wan Kenobi from the first Star Wars. Noel…moreTry to see the film if you can. It is a classic. Wormold is played by a young Alec Guinness - yes, Obi Wan Kenobi from the first Star Wars. Noel Coward also makes an appearance. From what I understand, Greene was involved in the adaptation too.(less)
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Jean
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jean by: Leslie
Graham Greene is one of the most highly regarded British authors of the 20th century. The American novelist John Irving has paid tribute to him, calling him,

"the most accomplished living novelist in the English language."

Very popular as a thriller-writer, writing "entertainments", as he called them, Graham Greene also wrote deeply serious Catholic novels, which received much literary acclaim, although he never actually won the Nobel prize for Literature. In these he examined contemporary moral a
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Bill  Kerwin

This is one of Graham Greene’s thrillers which he labeled as “entertainments” as a warning to his audience not to take these books seriously. Our Man in Havana definitely needs such a warning. There is no reason to take the book seriously at all.

The plot is promising. Havana vacuum cleaner Wormold, owner of an Havana vacuum cleaner shop, hard-pressed to satisfy the expensive tastes (horses, country club) of his beautiful, manipulative (and motherless) teenage daughter, decides—when recruited by
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Supratim
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had come across two lists mentioning the top 100 mystery/crime novels some time back. Both the lists - one by Britain-based Crime Writers' Association and the other by Mystery Writers of America, contained multiple books by Graham Greene. You can find both the lists here Link. The CWA list was published in 1990 and the MWA list in 1995. Pretty long time back but the books included are very fine specimens of crime writing.

I had read Greene's The Human Factor long time back and for some reason t
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Hadrian
Who ever knew that Graham Greene could be so funny? This is fine entertainment, although as always influenced by Greene's view on morality and fate. Not that that's bad, because Greene does it so well.

This idea about inventing a spy network and going along with the deception reminds me of the story of Agent Garbo during WWII.
Sue
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: CR reading list
This is a fun read, the story of an accidental spy. Mr Wormold (love that name) sells vacuum cleaners in Havana, not very successfully, until one day he is recruited by a British agent to work for his country while living in that no longer romantic foreign outpost. To be a secret agent! Well--the story takes off from there with a cast of slightly crazy characters: Wormold's religiously manipulative daughter Milly, Captain Segura the head of the local police who has mastered torture, locals of va ...more
James
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of Graham Greene’s novels I’ve read that is classed as one of his “entertainments” – so I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. The style, tone and nature of ‘Our Man in Havana’ clearly has a very different feel to his more serious novels (‘Heart of the Matter’, ‘End of the Affair’ et al) and as such is quite distinct from that oeuvre.

‘Our Man in Havana’ is very well written as you would expect from Graham Greene and is certainly very entertaining, very funny throughout. The plot
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Werner
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Greene fans; fans of cynical satire
Recommended to Werner by: It was a common read in one of my groups
Shelves: espionage
Greene divided his own fiction between the novels and stories he considered more serious, such as The Heart of the Matter, and those he viewed as lighter "entertainments." This relatively short (247 pages --and not all of them with text) novel is one of the latter; and like many of the "entertainments" it draws on the author's World War Ii experiences as a spy for Britain's M-16 intelligence agency. (And it's obvious here that these weren't experiences he looked back on fondly.) Set in pre-Castr ...more
Russ Melrose
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this Graham Greene novel. What a treat! It's a cold war spy novel taking place in the late '50s in Havana (pre-Castro). The protagonist, Wormold, is a peddler of vacuum cleaners who is asked to spy for MI6. Of course, Wormold is about the worst candidate you could possibly find to be a spy. But he takes the job anyway, mainly so he can dote financially on his teenage daughter, Milly.

Our Man in Havana is a humorous satire on the the cold war spy era. Greene especially takes
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Νατάσσα
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-r-a-ce-2017, 2017
Greene. Εξαιρετικός και -επιπλέον- διασκεδαστικός. Μου άρεσε πολύ, θα έβαζα 4,5/5 αν είχε μισά :-)
Grace Tjan
spoilers!


Uncorrected Transcript of Oral Evidence

Taken before the Intelligence and Security Committee Tuesday 15 July 1958

Members present:

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
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David
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-lit
Graham Greene always amazed me as he wrote about topical subjects before they became topical.

It's a funny thing. I read this book several decades ago along with all the other Graham Greene books (the Paul Hogarth illustrated covers series by Penguin). Then last week a local theatre company put on this play so I couldn't resist. To be honest I vaguely remembered this story. At times I thought it seemed a little dated (now it's a period piece) but the mixture of black humour and Greene's plot line
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Panagiotis
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ο Γκράχαμ Γκριν, λέει, κατηγοριοποιούσε τις ιστορίες του σε καθαρά λογοτεχνιάζουσες και σε ψυχαγωγικές.

Δεν ξέρω για αυτόν τον διαχωρισμό, ξέρω όμως το εξής: βρίθει λογοτεχνικότητας, καυστικότητας, απολαυστικών διαλόγων. Έχει χιούμορ ίσως παραπάνω από άλλες του ιστορίες, μα αυτό αποτελεί ένα κοινό γνώρισμά της γραφής του. Ίσως έχει και παραπάνω δράση, αν και δεν είναι πτυχή άγνωστη στα βιβλία του - απεναντίας. Ίσως το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο κάποιος να το χαρακτήριζε φάρσα. Πάντως είναι ένα εξαιρετι
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Alex
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Even though this is one of Graham Greene's "entertainments", it is his own real employment with MI6 during WW2 that adds layers to this otherwise light hearted satire on the British Secret Service.

Here Greene has written a story of a British citizen (Wormold) living in Havana in the early 1950s during the Batista regime. He is a dour middle aged vacuum cleaner salesman with a bombshell 16 year old daughter, Milly, whose burgeoning sexuality is at odds with her Catholic morality: something she h
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Tripp
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana is a delightful farce that manages to be serious and laugh out loud funny at the same time. It follows the unfortunate Wormold, a British vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana whose shortage of funds finds him willing to accept an offer to join the British Intelligence Service. As a generally inept and careless person, he can do any actual spying, so he ends up sending fake reports back to London so that he can use his expense fund to pay for his daughter's many exp ...more
Calzean
I had read this book many years ago and remember it as a farcical lampoon. But I had not remembered it was such a sophisticated piece of writing. Catholicism, anti-American, criticism of England's treatment of it's Empire, the arrogance of the English class system, and a clarity as to what drove the cold war along were all covered. Greene also included lots of whisky, drinking and bars.
The characters were great. The mundane, underachieving vacuum seller Wormold, his half-nun/half-vixen daughter,
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John Farebrother
A brilliant, hilarious read of espionage and pompous civil servants who are so inept they're not fit to run a chip shop. Perhaps not so funny if you've worked for the civil service and you realise that the story is entirely feasible. Uncannily reminiscent of The Tailor of Panama. A spymaster and an expat on the ground in Cuba manage to concoct between them, but entirely without each other's knowledge, a fantasy international plot, which allows the "source" to receive generous ex-gratis payments, ...more
Jeremy
’It seems worthwhile being blind in this sun.’


Our Man and Captain Segura—the Red Vulture, the Cuban police torturer with a cigarette lighter covered in human skin—get together and play checkers regularly; and, regularly enough, ‘huffing’ came into play. I’m not a checkers or draughts player; I had to look it up.

In almost all the variations of the game of checkers, a player is required to make a jump or a capture if such a move is available. There are certain variations of the game however where
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Emma
Apr 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This didn't really appeal to me much. It was meant to be comedic in tone and I suppose I found it slightly so. It is Graham Greene taking a shot at the world of British Intelligence in pre-Castro Cuba. Most reviewers seemed to like this so I think the problem is mine rather than the book's!
Julie Christine
This farce holds the same canny and clever delight as the Pink Panther, Dr. Strangelove and The Comedy of Errors, with dialogue and pacing to which David Mamet is clearly indebted. I could almost see the smoke from Graham Greene's typewriter keys swirling in the air as he tore through sheets of erasable bond, churning out this crazy, wonderful and utterly a propos satire of spies.

It's the mid 1950's when we meet our man, Jim Wormold, a milquetoast British expatriate who moved to Havana prior to
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Daniel
Jan 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, 2008
Given the supposed military intelligence that led to the war in Iraq, it's tempting to look to books such as "Our Man in Havana," Graham Greene's comic spy novel about the Cold War, for parallels to our current situation. (In the book, drawings of pieces of a household vacuum cleaner are passed off as schematics for sophisticated weaponry.) Rather than there being any direct correlation, however, it brings more to mind that quote sometimes attributed to Mark Twain about how history may not repea ...more
Judy
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Judy by: Anne
I LOVE this book! It reminds me of a Wodehouse with smarter characters, but with similar dry British humor and hilarious anecdotes.

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
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Teresa
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, perfectly plotted, political, prescient "entertainment" that, while reading, I didn't feel at all the implausibility of the recruitment by the British Secret Service of a vacuum-cleaner salesman living in Cuba or that of the courting of his Catholic teenage daughter by a Cuban policeman/enforcer. The humor in the dialogue and elsewhere is dry and funny in a-wink-and-a-nod kind of way.

I had disliked the similes in the otherwise-wonderful The Human Factor, which I'd found awkward,
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Jan-Maat
When I was a youngster I read alot of Graham Greene. This one feels to me to be less typical, Catholicism isn't such a feature and guilt isn't quite such an overwhelming presence as in some of his other novels. By contrast this is fairly light.

It's an enjoyable read and there's a value that still seems fairly relevent in it's message of being mindful of the potential sources of intelligence information.
Steve
Not a bad book by any means, but the 150-page set-up seemed to be really excessive when compared to the 50-page climax. Overall, it was a clever, humorous take on the ultra-serious world of international espionage. I don't say this very often (ever?), but I think this book would have worked better as a short story.
umberto
Aug 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: secret-service
A 3.5 star book.

For this title I have once kept a paperback hoping to read enjoyably but, for some reasons, I simply could not have a go after some ten pages thinking it was not my type, I mean the genre involving espionage or secret service (I don't think 'spy fiction' suggests anything positive, rather it reveals inevitable betrayal, high treason and digital sabotage in the 21st century). However, I have recently resolved to pick up his "The Confidential Agent" and happily made it as the secon
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Cbj
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***SPOILERS ALERT***

Our Man in Havana is a satirical spy novel set in Havana during the cold war. British influence over the rest of the world is on the wane. An alcoholic British expatriate Jim Wormold - who owns a shop that sells vacuum cleaners is hired by a British intelligence agency as their man (spy) in Havana.

Wormold is a lot like Henry Scobie in Greene's The Heart of the Matter. He is a middle aged man who does not know what he is to do with the rest of his life. How will he go on? How
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Gill
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was excellent until the final chapter and epilogue. I felt that Greene wasn't sure about how to finish off the story.
Jamie
May 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This would have earned higher marks from me— four, even five stars— if Greene had liked his story half as much as I did. It’s all there— fake spies, that line between fiction and reality, absurdity and inane bureaucracy and humanity— but he doesn’t write like there’s much joy in it for him. I could be wrong. It’s just the feeling I got from it, after all, anyway. The thought that, had he attacked this with relish instead of obligation, man, what a story.
Jason
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Not too bad, a bit slapsticky at times and Wormolds antics had me chuckling at times. My main issue with the book is how vague the author was with Wormold and Beatrice's relationship, felt a bit lazy he just sorts of throws them together and you are expected to accept them.

First Graham Greene book for me and I enjoyed it, looking forward to reading more of his stuff.
Darwin8u
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I love Greene's humor, philosophy, and moral absurdities. Not a perfect novel, but advanced and amazing in many many parts. Probably exactly in the middle stuck between five and four stars. Not as good a book as _The Heart of the Matter_, _The Quiet American_, or even _Power & the Glory_, but probably a more purely enjoyable novel than any of the those.
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Fans of British W...: Our Man in Havana, by Graham Greene 32 16 Sep 01, 2017 11:58AM  
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Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenplay writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene combined serious literary acclaim with wide popularity.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca
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“I don't care a damn about men who are loyal to the people who pay them, to organizations...I don't think even my country means all that much. There are many countries in our blood, aren't there, but only one person. Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?” 296 likes
“They can print statistics and count the populations in hundreds of thousands, but to each man a city consists of no more than a few streets, a few houses, a few people. Remove those few and a city exists no longer except as a pain in the memory, like a pain of an amputated leg no longer there.” 24 likes
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