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The Tenth Man (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 1 Jun 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099284146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099284147
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,576 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


"Greene was a past master of the psychological thriller and this was no exception" (Observer)

"A masterpiece - tapped out in the lean, sharp prose that film work taught Greene to perfect" (Sunday Times)

"All of the Greene hallmarks are there: pace, ingenuity, a sense of profundities suggested but never insisted upon" (Penelope Lively Sunday Telegraph)

"Typically full of psychological obsession and tricks of perspective, this short story plays games with the concepts of identity and freedom. Threaded through with paranoiac attempts to be sure of time, life, and death, the story ends with impenetrable paradox; with a tragedy and a travesty, a revenge and a redressal, truth and the ultimate lie" (The Times)

Book Description

Graham Greene's 'lost' novel, reissued with a beautiful new jacket.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 Jan 2005
Format: Paperback
One of Greene's "entertainments," this short novel written in 1944 was hidden away for nearly forty years before being discovered in the MGM files. Written as the idea for a film, the novella is a fine example of Greene's style, as finished and polished as any of his more complex novels.
Set in France during the war, the story concerns a group of thirty Frenchmen imprisoned by their German occupiers and then told that they must decide for themselves which three of the thirty men will be executed. One of the men who draws a marked ballot for his own death is a wealthy lawyer with considerable property who offers his entire fortune to any man who will take his place. One young man accepts, drawing up legal papers which give his newly acquired property to his sister and mother before he is executed.
The remaining three parts of the novel deal with the return of the now-penniless former owner to "his" house after the war, where the meets the dead man's sister and works as a servant under a new name; the arrival of an imposter who claims to be the former owner; and the showdown between the former owner and the imposter.
As is always the case with Greene, the dialogue is taut, revealing character and plot simultaneously, with no extraneous chat. The main character, like so many others Greene depicts, is a weak man whose bad choices, in this case his decision to buy his own life, have led to the complications which become the story. Living a lie, Chavel/Charlot faces a crisis of morality in which he must decide what, if anything, he can do to redeem himself to atone for the life-or-death decision he forced upon another man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback
"The Tenth Man," is a bleak suspenseful thriller, a crime drama of a novel, and a puzzling anomaly in the writing career of distinguished British author Graham Greene. For years, I couldn't figure it out. It is only 156 pages, really novella length, yet it has his usual power, though it lacks the accreted detail I've gotten used to in his work. Still, it gives us an excellent picture of wartime, occupied France, and the people who had to live there; the city of Paris, and the countryside at the time. Greene's characters, as ever, are sharply drawn, and ring true to their natures.

It is set in 1944, in a Gestapo prison in occupied France, during World War II, where 32 Frenchmen have been taken hostage. Local resistance activity causes the Germans to decide that one of every ten men - three men--must therefore meet their deaths by firing squad, but they don't care which three men. The hostages draw lots. Jean Louis Chevel, a lawyer and a rich man, gets one of the marked ballots; he offers his entire fortune, and all his holdings, to the heirs of any man who will take his place, and a sickly young man Michel Mangeot, known as "Janvier," agrees. As the Germans are driven out of France in 1944--Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944, and the war ends for the French, the hostages are released, and Chevel, not knowing what else to do, finds his way to his hereditary estate in the country. There, under an assumed name, he finds Janvier's mother and sister installed, and becomes their unpaid handyman. He falls a little in love with the sister, but realizes that mother and sister hate "Chevel" for taking Janvier's life. Then, suddenly, another man shows up, claiming to be Chevel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Hopper VINE VOICE on 27 July 2010
Format: Paperback
An interesting novella (at 112 pages, I suppose almost a novel) about some French prisoners under Nazi occupation. Some Germans are murdered in the town and the occupiers condemn one in every ten of the prisoners to be shot. The prisoners themselves have to draw lots. One of the unlucky three out of 30 prisoners, a wealthy lawyer, panics and offers his house and wordly goods to anyone who will take his place. A young lad takes his place and makes a will leaving his new found wealth to his sister and mother. The bulk of the story deals with the lawyer's guilt and his return to his old house under an alias, plus a further complication of identities. An overlooked gem that was a lost idea for a film written during the war, overlooked until 1983.

Also in this book are two other short treatments for potential film scripts. One, Jim Braddon and the War Criminal, sounds exciting and concerns an ordinary man who happens to look like a Nazi war criminal, loses his memory in an aeroplane crash, and then falls in with real war criminals and is caught and tried. The other, Nobody to Blame, is a rather farcical spy story.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is as short as it is skillfully written, another genuine pleasure from the pen of Graham Greene. In a prison in occupied France, one in every ten prisoners is to be shot. The tenth man, then, is Lewis Chavel, a rich lawyer who picks the short straw. As you can imagine, that gives his character a kind of reluctant charisma, especially after he offers to give all of his money to the beneficiaries of another prisoner if he takes his place, which one man agrees to do.

It’s an incredible idea for a story, and it really draws you in – the rest of the novel focuses on the aftermath of such a transaction, and the evolution of the lawyer’s conscience, which couldn’t have been healthy to begin with. It’s a cracking novel, it really is impressive.
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