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The Quiet American

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  49,508 ratings  ·  3,190 reviews
A “masterful . . . brilliantly constructed novel” of love and chaos in 1950s Vietnam (Zadie Smith, The Guardian).
 
It’s 1955 and British journalist Thomas Fowler has been in Vietnam for two years covering the insurgency against French colonial rule. But it’s not just a political tangle that’s kept him tethered to the country. There’s also his lover, Phuong, a young Vietna
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Kindle Edition, 232 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Open Road Media (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 complete…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 ma…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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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.
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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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Hanneke
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-read, favorites
An absolutely brilliant book. I think it is a genuine masterpiece to be enjoyed on numerous different levels. It goes straight to my favorites ever list! Graham Greene employs the right tone for this book, cynical yet compassionate. Correspondent Fowler's non-commitment is the best attitude for the place and time of his assignment in Vietnam, but whether it is psychologically healthy cannot be said with certainty. Written in 1955, it is shocking to see how very relevant the book still is today, ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
“That was my first instinct -- to protect him. It never occurred to me that there was a greater need to protect myself. Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”

As if this book were not brilliant enough for its multi-layered plot and meaningful, carefully written prose, it was also a harbinger of the disaster awaiting the United State's inv
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Ahmad Sharabiani
499. The Quiet American, Graham Greene (1904-1992)

The Quiet American is a 1955 novel by English author Graham Greene which depicts French colonialism in Vietnam being uprooted by the Americans during the 1950s. The novel implicitly questions the foundations of growing American involvement in Vietnam in the 1950s and is unique in its exploration of the subject topic through the links among its three main characters - Fowler, Pyle and Phuong.

The novel has received much attention due to its predic
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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.
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Fergus
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The other day it occurred to me that this jarringly complex book was a wry attempt on Graham Greene’s part to defrock the dreaded americanos of The Power and Glory with an ironic image - the gregarious, wellmeaning, crewcut volunteers of that brave invention, the Peace Corps.

Greene was always so perplexed by the bizarre and continually morphing forms of violent behaviour in the world - and stymied by the fact that so many of the cleared paths open to it are paved by bystanders’ like Pyle’s inno
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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 opium-addicted British journalist. 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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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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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 ...more
Tim
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing


I don't know how to review this book. I cannot fairly review it as my own notion of the book is so altered by my own experiences, that I'm not sure anyone reading it would see what I see. Hell, to a certain extent, I know they can't... not quite the same at least.

Instead I will try to express how this book made me feel.

This book took me way too long to read. Not because it was bad, life just kept getting in my way even when I would much rather have been reading, that said, I was happy to take
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Jason
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Bryant
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Well I pretty much hated the worldly weary opium smoking politically neutral smug bastard of a first person our-man-in-Vietnam reporter narrator who dolefully wraps his middle aged melancholia around himself and sprinkles mournful aphorisms into the languid air like ditsy bumblebees dressed up as badass hornets :

You cannot love without intuition (Yes you can)

Even an opinion is a kind of action (well, not really)

To be in love is to see yourself as someone else sees you (ridiculous)

When you escap
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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
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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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
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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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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Cathrine ☯️
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: group-challenge
4.5 ⚖️ ⚖️ ⚖️ ⚖️ ⚖️
For certain when you turn the pages of a Graham Greene novel it’s like peeling an onion and once cut into, stimulation of your reader ducts is triggered.
This is a murder mystery with heavy substance as Greens’s themes and motifs of innocence, detachment, morality, and religion play out through the pages which keep you pondering long after finishing.

Protagonist Fowler thinks he has no bias, believes he has taken no side in the issues confronting him as a reporter in early 1950s
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Loretta
While I did enjoyed the book, I was expecting more.
[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
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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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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Lisa
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[4+] The Quiet American could be called "The Ignorant American" or "The Arrogant American" but the wry title sets the tone of the novel. Written in 1955, the novel is a searing look at the beginning of U.S. involvement in Vietnam through the eyes of a war-weary English journalist. If only we had heeded Greene's cautionary message! I'm glad my book club is going to discuss this novel because there is so much going on under the surface to talk about.
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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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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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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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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4,409 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
...more

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