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Our Man in Havana (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Graham Greene
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2001


Wormold is a vacuum cleaner salesman in a city of power cuts. His adolescent daughter spends his money with a skill that amazes him, so when a mysterious Englishman offers him an extra income he's tempted. In return all he has to do is carry out a little espionage and file a few reports. But when his fake reports start coming true, things suddenly get more complicated and Havana becomes a threatening place.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (1 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099286084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099286080
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Graham Greene was born in 1904. He worked as a journalist and critic, and in 1940 became literary editor of the Spectator. He was later employed by the Foreign Office. As well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, three books of autobiography, two of biography and four books for children. He also wrote hundreds of essays, and film and book reviews. Graham Greene was a member of the Order of Merit and a Companion of Honour. He died in April 1991.

Product Description


"As comical, satirical, atmospherical an "entertainment" as he has given us" (Daily Telegraph)

"He had a sharp nose for trouble and injustice. In Our Man In Havana - a witty send-up of an agent's life - it was Cuba before Castro" (Financial Times)

"Nobody should be anywhere near power who hasn't read (or seen the film of) Our Man in Havana, a powerful satire on the silly world of spying by a man who had experienced it" (Mail on Sunday)

"Graham Greene was a profound and experimental stylist" (Time Out)

"The human story is warm and the satire made me laugh out loud" (Simon Shepherd Daily Express)

Book Description

'No serious writer of this century has more thoroughly invaded and shaped the public imagination than did Graham Greene' Time

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Wonderful 21 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great cold war "spy" book. I loved it. Written over 50 years ago it is still funny and just so well written. I was expecting a light spy spoof, but this book is just so much more. At just over 200 pages it shows that good writers dont need 800+ pages to develop characters or tension. Highly recommended.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Gleefully combining the raucous humor of absurdity with slyly subtle wordplay and caustic satire, Greene entertains on every level, skewering British intelligence-gathering services during the Cold War. Setting the novel in the flamboyant atmosphere of pre-revolutionary Havana, where virtually anything can be had at a price, Greene establishes his contrasts and ironies early, creating a hilarious set piece which satirizes both the British government's never-satisfied desire for secrets about foreign political movements and their belief that the most banal of activities constitute threats to national security.
Ex-patriot James Wormold is a mild-mannered, marginal businessman and vacuum cleaner salesman, whose spoiled teenage daughter sees herself as part of the equestrian and country club set. Approached by MI6 in a public restroom, Wormold finds himself unwillingly recruited to be "our man in Havana," a role which will reward him handsomely for information and allow him some much-needed financial breathing room.
Encouraged to recruit other agents to provide more information (and earn even more money), he chooses names at random from the country club membership list and fabricates personas for them, featuring them in fictionalized little dramas which he churns out and forwards to his "handlers." Always careful to fulfill their expectations exactly, Wormold becomes a more and more important "spy," his stories become more creative, his "enemies" find him and his "agents" to be dangerous, and his friends and the real people whose names were used as fictional agents begin to turn up dead.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb 9 Feb 2002
By A Customer
A marvellous story about a vacuum cleaner salesman caught up in the world of espionage, purely to buy his daughter a pony for her birthday. The characters are so real that you feel that you know them personally, and the style of writing employed by Graham Greene is an example of what can be done with the English language in the hands of a truly great writer. The chapter in which the British secret service peruse the sketches sent from Havana by Wormold is one of the funniest I have ever read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...and now see the film 13 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Plenty of positive reviews already, nothing more to be said really. It is a short but terrific read. Are affairs such as this completely out of date? Is there any redolence of "Weapons of Mass Destruction"?, for me there certainly is.

Tony Blair was a 'honest sort of a guy' I think he said, so perhaps he too saw what he wanted.

If you enjoy this, I recommend the film (Alec Guinness in the lead). A black and white gem shot in Havana.

And then of course most of the rest of Graham Greene's work......
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was it such a "Great Game"? 2 May 2000
By A Customer
His daughter was at an expensive age. She wanted a horse; she wanted the tack; she wanted it housed at the country club. And what father can refuse his daughter. She had lost her mother to a rich American in Miami. He was the sole representative of Phastcleaners in Batista's Cuba: a living, but not a glamorous one.
But the times were changing. The Cold War dominated East-West relations and who knew which way the wind would blow in the Caribbean? Already the Communist rebels were striking at Batista's dictatorship - how long could it last? How long before the merchant-king expatriates would need to return to "home soil"?
So when shy and lame Mr. Wormold agreed to become MI6's "man in Havana", how was he to know the consequences of his actions? Was it greed - $300 per month plus salaries and expenses for all his sub agents - that led him to invent his spy ring? Or was it concern for his daughter who was growing up. Growing away. Who needed to attend a finishing school and needed a dowry? Or was it just Cuba?
Or was it the ignorance of the mastermind's behind the Great Game who saw things where they weren't. Who needed to justify their jobs. No one likes to their life or lifestyle threatened.
Not even Mr. Wormold...
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And to say I was afraid I wouldn't like it... 4 April 2002
Our Man in Havana takes place in the late fifties, during the Cold War. It tells the story of Wormold, an English, divorced vacuum cleaner salesman in Cuba.
Sales are not very good these days, and when his 17-year-old daughter's latest caprice turns out to be a horse, he knows he can't afford it. That's when he's accosted in the toilets of a local bar by Hawthorne, a cryptic man with an interesting offer: 300$ a month, to become a secret agent. All he has to do is recruit sub-agents and send regular reports to London.
Wormold uses the money to buy presents for his daughter, sending fake reports and sketches of an imaginary war machine from vacuum cleaner designs. Very pleased with his work, the MI6 decide to send him a secretary...
This was my first encounter with Graham Greene's work. I read this book as a background preparation for the Cambridge Proficiency exam, and even though it's not a genre I am used to (I usually read fantasy), I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly. The story is timeless and could as well have happened nowadays, it's funny and sarcastic, and the characters are extremely human. A great experience!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent customer service
This book arrived on time, and had good packaging. So I would use this distributor again, however- THE BOOK IS SO F/CKING SH/T! Read more
Published 3 days ago by saralinn
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 8 days ago by samwell
5.0 out of 5 stars A mad book but all the same a brilliantly entertaining read
A mad book but all the same a brilliantly entertaining read. One can easily imagine a real life 'Our man in Havana' having taken place
Published 12 days ago by alwaysbetblack
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not as good as I expected. But interesting in its way
Published 1 month ago by Ms Linda Louisa Dell
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing
Published 1 month ago by Blyth
5.0 out of 5 stars Paperback book
The book was delivered promptly and in excellent condition. The story itself was about an unsuccessful Vacuum cleaner salesman living in Havana, who was persuaded to join the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by celia cusworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
If you haven't already read this please add it to you plans. Classic Graham Greene written in a lost age. Entertaining.q
Published 2 months ago by peter dolman
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Vacuum
A review has mistakenly (perhaps) got in here for a chair, in which the recipient describes its various elements and offers some tentative criticism of what, in truth, sounds like... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mike Collins
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny and interesting
As a Cuban currenlty living in the UK, I found this book interesting and funny, with a bit of suspense. It does give you a glimpse of the live in Havana in the late 50's.
Published 2 months ago by D. Casagrandi
3.0 out of 5 stars chair looks great
The chair arrived at our office fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the parts needed to assemble the chair were not included; The chair looks great, but I can tell the faux leather is... Read more
Published 3 months ago by T. Capello
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