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on 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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on 29 August 2015
Our Man in Havana is probably my favourite Graham Greene book, and although it isn’t quite the first of his books that I read, it is the first of his books that I fell in love with. I was even lucky enough to catch a stage play adaptation in Richmond, which was just as good as the novel it was based on.

Loosely speaking, it follows the story of a vacuum cleaner salesman called Mr. Wormold, who’s living in Havana and who is offered money on the side to become a secret agent. He pockets the money and starts to fake his reports – unfortunately, his fake reports start to come true.

Now, I’m not going to say any more about the plot because it really is an excellent book, one of my favourites of all time and easily my top Graham Greene novel – that means a lot, when you consider I usually list him as one of my favourite writers, too! Better still, if you get a chance to see a theatre adaptation then seize the chance to do that too. Read the book before you go – I bet it leaves a lasting impression and gets you reading more of his work.
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`Our Man in Havana' is the wonderful satirical novel from Graham Greene that follows Wormold as he is coerced into the secret service in Havana and how he starts to file false reports that start to come true. It has a deceptively simple writing style and yet it manages to be extremely evocative and conjures up that various scenes amazingly well. I laughed out loud many times throughout the book and the almost surreal satire is perfectly set against the backdrop of pre-revolutionary Cuba. I didn't know what to expect with this before I started, but I was very quickly immersed in the story and it became hard to put down. With stunning writing, hilarious storyline, immaculate dialogue and perfectly pitched between outright farce and serious drama this book offers plenty to delight most readers. Highly recommended indeed.

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on 8 October 2013
This has echoes of colonialism and racism which can be reflected on today, but it is a good and effortless read, which gets, and quickly enmeshes the reader in the complex web in which the the hapless hero finds himself.

A dark and comic book with a cynical and salutary ending
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on 12 April 2016
An English vacuum cleaner salesman in pre-revolutionary Cuba is recruited by London as a spy. When his fake reports are taken seriously, real danger threatens. A classic ‘entertainment’ by a great writer I respect and revere, so I wanted to love this. Beautifully written, witty, economical. Colourful characters, vivid locations, plenty of gripping action. So... yes... but I never quite believed or cared. Perhaps it’s the mix of humour with seriousness, satire with realism that held me at a distance. It felt relentlessly flippant and superficial, none of the characters real. Call me sacrilegious, but dare I say I was bored. Perhaps I read it in the wrong mood at the wrong time.
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on 20 November 2014
A very entertaining unabridged audio book. Wormold, a vacuum-cleaner salesman in Havana, is randomly recruited by Hawthorne, a British secret agent, to report on economic and military activity in Cuba. Wormold agrees but with no information to offer and needing the money, he begins recruiting imaginary agents, concocting wild reports even dreaming up military installations from vacuum designs. Very funny at times this is a well observed satire of cold war espionage but much of the action would not seem out of place in the a 21st century spy thriller. This was my first but definitely not my last Graham Green novel. (less)
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on 3 January 2013
Graham Greene is a great writer and this humorous story of 1950s Cuba works on every level. The violence mostly happens off page. A single man raising a beautiful 16 year old daughter in Havana and getting caught up in spying and a revolution would have been written in a different way today. What Greene does demonstrate is that people keep on making the same mistakes. Governments that want to find weapons of mass destruction find them. Innocent people get hurt. While some of the scenes seem farcical, Greene's story telling is so strong that the plot seems plausible. Great holiday reading.
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VINE VOICEon 3 March 2013
I first read this book when I was 14. I remembered the scene when Segura and Wormold play a game of checkers with miniatures. I tried to replicate such a game recently and that got me intrigued in the novel again. In my memory it had been confused with Under the Volcano, which is a lot more turgid and complicated.

This is a delightful story of a man who is tempted to take a quick buck from the intelligence services. It's witty and plausible. And stylish, too. Like Evelyn Waugh, Greene wrote entertaining and elegant novels that made you laugh and think a bit.
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on 4 October 2009
If you enjoy a story that makes light of Cold War politicking and secret service manoeuvering, set in Cuba in the 1950s, then "Our Man in Havana" is a must. It is certainly one of Greene's more accessible, easier-to-read books, although perhaps none of the key ingredients of other Greene books is lacking. Mr Wormold, the central character in the story, is the hero-against-his-will. He is the deeply human person, whose caring personality is presented in contrast to the self-centered careerists of the secret service (Hawthorne) and the foreign service (the British Ambassador). He is loyal -not to such vague notions like communism, capitalism or his country (Britain)- but rather to his daughter and his friends (Dr Hasselbacher). And it is when something happens to Dr Hasselbacher that our hero gets into action. Wormold's professed atheism is in contrast to the catholicism of his daughter Milly. As one would expect of Greene, references to prostitutes are not lacking, with Teresa, a striptease dancer, acting as one of Wormold's "informers". It's a happy end, with Beatrice -Wormold's secretary sent to him by MI16- giving up on the job and all it stands for and joining Wormold and his daughter.
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on 21 September 2001
Greene is warm, honest, genuine and a pleasure to read. His books lack the superficiality, clumsy effort or eagerness to please of so many current best-sellers. Timeless, human and well able to stand the test of time. The characters are believable and exude a real warmth despite, or maybe because of, their complexities. The books enable you to float through the pages as effortlessly as breathing. I'm a recent convert to Greene as a result of the recent repackaging/relaunch via Amazon. There's no turning back. Read and enjoy and keep on going through the whole collection. I certainly will!
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