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The Quiet American

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  41,738 ratings  ·  2,766 reviews
Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam

"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious
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Kindle Edition, 210 pages
Published October 10th 2010 by Vintage Digital (first published 1955)
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Max No. Lansdale was first stationed in Viet Nam in 1954. The events in the book took place in 1952. When Greene first met Lansdale he had nearly…moreNo. Lansdale was first stationed in Viet Nam in 1954. The events in the book took place in 1952. When Greene first met Lansdale he had nearly completed the book. Also, Greene denied Lansdale was the basis for Alden Pyle. Pyle was based on Leo Hochstetter, public affairs director for America’s Economic Aid Mission. Greene had shared a hotel room with him and they drove back to Saigon together just as Pyle and Fowler do in the book. On the way Hochstetler told Greene of the need for a third force and mentioned General Thế as a good choice. Greene did say that Hochstetter was much savvier than Pyle.(less)
Au Yong That partly depended on which movie version you were referring to and what you might have expected from the book.
There were two movie versions, one…more
That partly depended on which movie version you were referring to and what you might have expected from the book.
There were two movie versions, one made in 1958 with Audie Murphy and Michael Redgrave in the leads; the other was released in 2002 with Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.
We shall refer to the Michael Caine version in our reply.
Broadly speaking, the movie has not left out anything of material significance from the book. But like most movie versions, the producers will have to rearrange the sequence of events in the book.
The movie version starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser has done justice to Graham Greene's novel.
Perhaps the most memorable line in the movie was when there was an explosion which killed several civilian bystanders and the local Vietnamese guy said "You have to take sides - if you are to remain human."(less)
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3.97  · 
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 ·  41,738 ratings  ·  2,766 reviews


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Agnieszka

I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused.

I assume that everyone for once in own life had to face such a moment that, though convinced about doing the right thing, felt nevertheless poorly and uncomfortably. How is it possible, we asked then, we acted righteously so why such bad feeling, such turbulence in our mind? We did a good choice so why this bile that fills our mouths? Why that need to rationalize our deeds? There was no other way, we say. But really? And th
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Lizzy
'I shut my eyes and she was again the same as she used to be: she was the hiss of steam, the clink of a cup, she was a certain hour of the night, and the promise of rest.'

Sometimes a few notable books cause me to start thinking just I turn the last page. So, excuse me for beginning this review with some of my latest ruminations. When I reflect on the meaning of life, although I am not a philosopher I do that sometimes, the fact that we are here for such a short while strikes me as so dismal. I
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Adina
This is a cautionary tale about the involvement of America and Britain in the Vietnam war. Reading this book was a great way to learn more about the Vietnam war.

The two main characters are symbols of the American and British participation in Vietnam. The British does not want to get involved in the war, and he is deluding himself that he is only an indifferent spectator.

Pyle, the American, represents the idealistic principles that the Americas brought in the Vietnam war and the lack of guilt fo
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Fabian
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The perfect novel.

Ingenious in its pace and tone. The plot unravels in a peculiar, non-linear way, easily enviable by even the most capable of writers. Perhaps because it is more like a meaty novella about star-crossed lovers, hidden intentions, and the war of the classes that it makes it's powerful, jarring punch to the gut.

I LoooVE this book. It's incredibly elegant, both prophetic and historic, & very very adult.
MischaS_
This was actually read for my university course. We were tasked to read a book (or watch a movie but...) and write a paper about how a journalist is presented in the.

Unfortunately, there was a blacklist as well and all the books I had in my mind were on it. So I had to look for a new one. And I am a bit angry that I did not know this book before! Graham Greene has a unique way how to tell a story and I really liked it.

“Death was far more certain than God.”

The most interesting was the differenc
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Michael Finocchiaro
This is an amazing story about the French colonial war in Vietnam and an incompetent CIA-wanna be agent seen through the eyes of a heroin-addicted British diplomat. Cynicism abounds. Great writing, gripping scenes. Excellent read. A true classic. I definitely need to read more Graham Greene.

If you enjoyed this book and wish to have more background on the historical canvas on which the story was painted, I highly suggest Fredrik Logevall's Embers of War about the French Indochina War and Frances
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Jason
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben
"War and Love -- they have always been compared."

Like The End of the Affair, this is a Greene novel that affects you viscerally. It is a war novel, set in Vietnam. Being so, it is not cheerful or pretty: dead children lying in the street and the like. It hits on the complexities of war; the complexity of morals: how it's impossible to stay neutral forever on such matters when you’re directly involved: you have to make a decision: you must decide, or you're as good as dead.

"'You can rule me out,'
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Michael
I was pleasantly surprised how moving this story was and how strongly I warmed up to the humanity of the main character in the face of his generally detached outlook. Thomas Fowler is in a slump. As a British war correspondent working out of Saigon in French-occupied Vietnam, he gets a daily dose of duplicity and brutality in the world of ongoing guerilla conflict between the Viet Minh communist insurgents and French colonial forces. And then he comes home to play house with his Vietnamese mistr ...more
Jen
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the usual suspects
Recommended to Jen by: um. Gary? Ben?
My time on Earth will be brief, very brief, inconsequential really to things like North America's seasonal movements, Earth's orbit, and the galaxy's star patterns. Yet I, and pretty much everyone else with as brief a life as mine, continue the search for meaning and meaningful experience (stupid humans). Are we looking for profundity in the brevity, a way to either surpass our life's span or are we simply trying to forget about its paltry duration? Birthing, dying, birthing, dying....ad infini ...more
Sara
The Vietnam War is an era that is all too real for me. If you lived through it, you will probably agree that, as a people, we never understood what we were doing, why we were there, or who we were “saving”. The French had already tried to remake Vietnam into a Western style democracy, and had failed entirely. This book takes place just at the passing of the baton--France has not quite given up, and America is beginning to think they have the solution.

That is the scene, but this book, as with all
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David Schaafsma

“I can’t say what made me fall in love with Vietnam - that a woman’s voice can drug you; that everything is so intense. The colors, the taste, even the rain. Nothing like the filthy rain in London. The smell: that’s the first thing that hits you, promising everything in exchange for your soul. You could be forgiven for thinking there was no war; that the gunshots were fireworks; that only pleasure matters. A pipe of opium, or the touch of a girl who might tell you she loves you. And then, someth
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Sue
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Rebecca, Anne Reach
'What's the good? he'll always be innocent, you can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity.' (p155) The crux of the story the crux of the entire sad history of nations trying to remake Southeast Asia in a Western image.

As I read The Quiet American, I felt myself sliding down a slippery path to a very messy era I remember all too well. I was 12 in 1960 so I was a teen as the build up of the American turn i
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[P]
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Earlier this year I was in Prague visiting a friend of mine. My personal circumstances haven’t been the best for the last twelve months and I had slipped into a state of deep depression without realising it. The purpose of this trip was to get away from everything, to drink a lot and lose myself in that beautiful city. One afternoon my friend and I were in a bar, six drinks deep and thrillingly relaxed. That is, until a group of Americans arrived. They took the table behind us, and began to figh ...more
Jason Koivu
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
Relationships are complicated by human failings. It's one of British author Graham Greene's themes, and it's fair enough and true. And in Green's world a happy ending is, at best, an ambivalent one. This would explain why I have such a hard time enjoying his books.

He was a great writer. His stories often get to the heart of the matter, eventually. The problem is, he wrote so accurately about human behavior as to make his novels quite trying to one's patience. If you're looking for flawed charact
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Alex
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
On the weekend, I came across a box of books belonging to my late brother. It's well over three years since his passing and I thought I had "unpacked" his belongings that still hold hostage to my garage. This box contained many gems, on the top was sitting The Quiet American. As one does, I started reading the first paragraph. By the next day I had finished it, astonished that I had not gotten to reading the work of my brother's favourite author.

In death, my brother has moved into a sort of hero
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
On Recognising the Pattern of the Mosaic

My recollection of first reading “The Quiet American” at school 44 years ago is that it was a work of consummate realism with a moral dimension that revolves around war and what we would now call (state-sponsored) terrorism (it was published in 1955).

What I hadn’t recalled was how Graham Greene so skillfully structured his narrative. The chronology is fragmented, starting more or less at the end, with the assassination of the quiet American, Alden Pyle, a
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Edward
Introduction

--The Quiet American
Whitaker
I’ve only read three Graham Greene’s so far, but he definitely seems like a writer whose works I should look into more. Prior to this, I’d read Our Man in Havana and The Power and the Glory. This is a little like a mash up of both. There’s the inept skulduggery of the first, and the searing bleakness and cynicism of the second.

Greene is my kind of guy: He’s got a jaundiced view of people and the world. This novel thrums with moral ambiguity. And reading this now in 2012, some 60 years after it
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Loretta
While I did enjoyed the book, I was expecting more.
Mike
Very little is written about The First Indochina War, the post-WWII (1946-1954) conflict involving French and French allied forces against native communist insurgencies. It is often overshadowed by the American Vietnam War, the Korean War, and contemporaneous events in Europe. But make no mistake, it was a long, savage, and destructive conflict that foreshadowed much of the American Vietnam experience.

The Quiet American takes place during this often overlooked conflict and is told from the pers
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Perry
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The End of the Innocents

"'God save us always,' [Tom Fowler] said, 'from the innocent and the good.'" The Quiet American

The essence of Greeneland, if one may dare to try and define it, is the combination of the exotic and the romantic with the sordid and the banal.” Christopher Hitchens, Introduction to Orient Express, by Graham Greene

Another vatic novel by Graham Greene, this time predicting, in 1955, the failures to come from American foreign policy and intervention in Vietnam, intended to sav
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Karen
Dec 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a critique of American intervention in foreign affairs, the story was excellent. The "quiet" American (he never shuts up) steps into a world he knows nothing about and creates havoc.

My problem with the book was a problem common to many similar authors (DeLillo, I'm looking at you): it was very male-centric and I got annoyed. Phuong, the love/lust/possession interest in the book, was never given a character, described as innocent, childish, a sexual object, and a caretaker in turn. I realize
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Rachel
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, classics, 2019
Set during the First Indochina War, The Quiet American is narrated by the cynical British journalist Thomas Fowler, who meets the young idealistic American agent Alden Pyle. The novel's larger conflict is centered on the French and American invasion of Vietnam, which is echoed microcosmically in the conflict that arises between Fowler and Pyle when they both fall in love with the same Vietnamese woman, Phuong.

I loved Greene's writing, which was sparse but filled with sharp observations and imag
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Gabrielle
4 and a half stars, rounded up. This is a novel about the good intentions that pave the road to Hell…

Greene’s prose is truly beautiful, simple yet elegant, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how eerie it was that he penned this novel in 1955, making it more than a bit prophetic: it could be looked at either as a strange love triangle, or as a metaphor for the way naïve, well-meaning Americans clumsily try to help out people they perceive as less privileged or sophisticated than them – and wreck
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Michael Perkins
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Pyle was very earnest and I had suffered from his lectures on the Far East, which he had known for as many months as I had years. Democracy was another subject of his— he had pronounced and aggravating views on what the United States was doing for the world."

"Death was the only absolute value in my world. Lose life and one would lose nothing again for ever. I envied those who could believe in a God and I distrusted them. I felt they were keeping their courage up with a fable of the changeless a
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Kevin Shepherd
Reportedly, the genesis of The Quiet American was a happenstance encounter between author Graham Greene and a prattling, obnoxious, now-anonymous American aid-worker on a road trip from Ben Tre Provence to Saigon, Vietnam in the autumn of 1951. Greene's story is certainly rife with distain for virtually all of its American characters, none of which are particularly quiet, except a dead one. I got the impression that Greene's book title was itself a sarcastic stab, the irony being that the only q ...more
Yigal Zur
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great novel
Viv JM
Graham Greene is one of those authors I had always thought wouldn't really be to my taste. However, I am challenging myself to read as many as possible from the 1001 books list so when this came up as a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p I grabbed it.

The book is set in Vietnam in the 1950s and depicts a bit of a love triangle between a cynical English journalist, Fowler, a naive young American, Pyle, and the woman they both love, Phuong. However, there is certainly a lot more at play here in terms of pol
...more
Esteban del Mal
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novel, war
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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3,476 followers
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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“Innocence is a kind of insanity” 306 likes
“Time has its revenges, but revenge seems so often sour. Wouldn’t we all do better not trying to understand, accepting the fact that no human being will ever understand another, not a wife with a husband, nor a parent a child? Perhaps that’s why men have invented God – a being capable of understanding. ” 137 likes
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