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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation
Greene's talent for characterisation and plot is astounding. Rather than tell the story entirely through a central character Green actually begins this book with a dentist before going off on what appears to be a tangent with a person that he meets. It's a demonstration of his talent that there is no such thing as a peripheral character in this book - everyone is clearly...
Published on 14 Jan 2003 by Mr. Paul J. Bradshaw

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best!
The Power and the Glory was hailed as Greene's greatest book but after reading it for a second time many years apart, I cannot for the life of me understand why. Green was a master of characterisation and plot. His single POV style and his sparse but hugely telling descriptions were legendary. This book by contrast was written to a plan. He wished one the one hand to...
Published on 6 May 2012 by F. P. Nath


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation, 14 Jan 2003
By 
Mr. Paul J. Bradshaw (Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Greene's talent for characterisation and plot is astounding. Rather than tell the story entirely through a central character Green actually begins this book with a dentist before going off on what appears to be a tangent with a person that he meets. It's a demonstration of his talent that there is no such thing as a peripheral character in this book - everyone is clearly thought-through with their own motivations and characteristics. Quite often you will witness scenes through a minor character's eyes, and this makes for a quite new experience.
The story - of the flight of a pursued alcoholic priest - is a compelling one. The inner conflict, especially when he is trying to decide what his duty actually is, is quite awesome reading. As he says many times, he is no saint, and what emerges is a picture of weakness and mortality, painted without pity or fear by a master of his art.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale of persecution and flight, 23 Dec 2005
By 
jacr100 "jacr100" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
In The Power and the Glory, Greene fictionalises his distaste for anti-clerical 1930s Mexico through the efforts of a lapsed priest to escape execution by the police. This anonymous ‘whisky priest’ is far from saintly: he craves brandy, is a father, and candidly admits his hypocrisy and unworthiness. But as the last practising priest in the state, he is compelled to promote the Catholic faith – and through his travels he finds that the Christian devotion of communities is strong (frequently stronger than his own devotion), despite the dogma of the civil authorities.
Greene’s depiction of the Mexican pogrom of clerics and one man’s bid to stay alive is more sophisticated than a battle of good versus evil, as it is riddled with ambiguous personalities. The priest drinks excessively and doubts himself, but is at times compassionate and heroic. Likewise, the lieutenant who pursues him is cold and relentless, but his zeal is grounded in a desire to give Mexico’s children a world free of superstition, corruption and fear. Another priest has married to escape execution, while the chief of police regularly breaks the law by drinking spirits. There are no sinless characters in the novel. Instead, faith and violence give some sense of order to the lives of people worn down by poverty.
The cat-and-mouse plot allows the reader to sense the fear of the priest on each occasion that he is captured or placed in danger, especially through his preoccupation with pain rather than death. At times the priest is like a Christ figure wandering dishevelled and exhausted through the sweaty, claustrophobic tropics. He can be coolly fatalistic or implausibly generous, but his constant failings are a reminder of his mortality and the impossibility of his situation.
A poignant book, grounded in historical realism and religious doubt, that conveys one man’s plight to justify his faith in an unforgiving era.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graham Greene's masterpiece, 21 April 2001
By A Customer
Since his death I would say Graham Greene's reputation and position as a novelist has declined. It may take twenty years and a new generation of readers to rediscover his true genius as a prose artist. I hope it won't take even that long.
The Power and the Glory is Greene's supreme achievement in my opinion. Set in Central America in an unnamed country (a thinly disguised portrait of Mexico however) where a Revolutionary Marxist government has come to power and outlawed the Church, Greene employs the narrative conventions of the thriller to explore spiritual, political and philosophical concerns (as he often did in his books).
The main plot concerns a renegade Catholic priest on the run from a Secret Policeman working for the Revolutionary government. This is no simplistic narrative. The Secular Humanist perspective of the policeman and the State is presented every bit as sympathetically and fairly as the Christian world view which Greene himself believed in. This classic "hunt" type plot allows Greene to explore his theme: what happens when the power of the Secular State comes into opposition with the Spiritual power of the Church of God?
Greene's answer to that question will provide food for thought and debate for all serious readers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The passion to protect must extend itself over a world--but he felt it tethered and aching like a hobbling animal.", 27 Mar 2008
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
(4.5 stars) Graham Greene's most elaborate and personal examination of the good life--and the role of the Catholic church in teaching what the good life is--revolves around an unnamed "whiskey priest" in Mexico in the 1930s. Religious persecution is rife as secular rulers, wanting to bring about social change, blame the church for the country's ills. When the novel opens, the church, its priests, and all its symbols have been banned for the past eight years from a state near Veracruz. Priests have been expelled, murdered, or forced to renounce their callings. The whiskey priest, however, has stayed, bringing whatever solace he can to the poor who need him, while at the same time finding solace himself in the bottle.

Constantly on the move, the priest suffers agonizing conflicts. His sense of guilt for the past includes a brief romantic interlude which has produced a child, and though he recognizes that he is often weak, selfish, and fearful, he still tries to bring comfort to the faithful. Pursued by a police lieutenant who believes that justice for all can only occur if the church is destroyed, and by a mestizo, who is seeking the substantial reward for turning him in, the desperate priest finally decides to escape to a nearby state in which religion is not banned so that the police will stop killing hostages taken in the villages he has visited.

The police pursuit of the priest is paralleled by their pursuit of a "gringo" murderer, a man so base that he thinks nothing of murdering children, yet the priest even sees value in this man's life, and when the gringo, the mestizo, the lieutenant, and the priest finally come together, Greene's philosophical and religious analysis reaches its climax. For all their faults, the priest is often heroic, the murdering gringo still has a soul worth saving, the mestizo (a Judas figure) offers the priest his best chance to see God, and the lieutenant eventually sees the priest as a human, not simply as a symbol.

Greene's novel is beautifully constructed--intricate, filled with symbols and parallels, yet often sensitive and moving. Though the action moves through an almost unremittingly bleak landscape and the sense of dread is positively palpable throughout, the novel eventually reveals the "power" and the "glory" of faith. In this sense, the novel is as much a philosophical and religious tract--specifically an examination of the Catholic faith--as it is a human story. While some may find the novel dogmatic and the priest's agonized self-examination sometimes tedious, others will find the novel uplifting and inspiring. n Mary Whipple
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best!, 6 May 2012
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The Power and the Glory was hailed as Greene's greatest book but after reading it for a second time many years apart, I cannot for the life of me understand why. Green was a master of characterisation and plot. His single POV style and his sparse but hugely telling descriptions were legendary. This book by contrast was written to a plan. He wished one the one hand to condemn the polital pogrom against Roman Catholic priests in Mexico and on the other to absolve himself of his own adultarous lifestyle which he always struggled with. He lived in 'sin' and was never divorced. If he had been a true Catholic he would have acknowledged that he had committed mortal sin and was not going straight to heaven. In my humble opinion he does the same in The Heart of the Matter in which he also excuses mortal sin on the basis that Hell can't exist for such 'crimes'.
In this book, he writes well but one has the slight feeling he is trying too hard. When he wrote this book he rented a room in Central London and worked half a day on Power and the Glory and half a day on 'A Gun for Sale'. To do that he often took 'speed' to stay awake and switched on. For my money, A Gun for Sale is a more powerful book because it doesn't have its roots in a stale religious philosophy where he contrives to make a point.
All in all the eventual end of the book is a short curtain raiser for another priest who apears in the last two pages indicating that the Catholic faith cannot be wholly repressed in a place where the people want their religion.
The descriptive prose, as on might expect is stunning and the flow of the story is beautiful. The Officer who pursues the 'little whisky priest' has more than one dimension and the priest himself is ambiguous with one foot in the camp of evil and sin, and the other in the world of duty as a priest.
Although I cannot recommend this book to someone who doesn't already love Graham Greene's work, for those who are already fans, it will engage and entertain and leave behind an aftertaste of ruminations on both good and evil as well as God versus atheism. It's an ambiguous premise however and I found most of his other books better entertainment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic novel of the 20th century, 23 Jun 2005
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In this novel, Mr Greene portrays various characters in an unnamed southern province of Mexico at the time when the Red Shirts - a Communist party - have taken control. It is well known however that these events took place under Presiedent Calles, elected in 1924, and the infamous atheist Governor of Tabasco, Garrido Canabal.
The central figure of the novel is a nameless priest, a so-called "whisky priest" since this spirit was used during illegal Masses due to the lack of wine. Furthermore, the name attests for a drinking habit with most illegal priests in this tropical, crooked and anti-clerical part of Mexico. The story-line is a succession of harrowing scenes as the haunted priest tries to keep conducting his Masses but the most ironical and corrosive scene is the one in which he must watch a half-caste mestizo, a fiercely anti-clerical lieutenant and a corrupt chief of police drink up a bottle of wine he had bought with his last money for sacramental use.
Graham Greene's sympathy with the poor in spirit and the world's losers is obvious. The whisky priest's descent into illegality and darkness and his simultaneous ascent in martyrdom are spectacular because they so dominate the plot - all other characters have an insignificant importance except that of the lieutenant. The priest's existence seems particularly dogged and doomed not only because of the illegality of his clerical activities but also because he is an alcoholic and has an illegitimate daughter. But clearly the author distinguishes between man and function and this also applies to Father José, a debased priest compelled by the authorities and his own cowardice to marry - a figure of ridicule even to the children of the town.
Finally it is worth mentioning the author's brilliantly built and abrupt scenes and artfully lit images which have a cinematic touch of surreal reminiscent of pictures by Luis Bunuel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent narrative, moral ambiguity, moving ending, 27 Dec 2006
By 
Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This fine novel, written 'from life' as a result of one of Greene's South American visits, is a modern classic. The whisky priest should not be a good man - he is drunk, often afraid and apparently unheroic (he would see himself in that light) and has a child. The child's mother despises him and the child is quite indifferent to him. Yet he does what the people need - he carries out his duties covertly in a land where to be discovered means death. There is real tension in the narrative and the inevitability of eventual discovery once he has met the mestizo. His capture, which he almost expects, is the result of a trick, when, again, his sense of duty overcomes his terror. In the end, he is paradoxically a real hero - it's the kind of moral paradox Graham Greene generates in many of his serious novels. The ending, where he is led out to die, is deeply moving and beautifully written. It's one of Graham Greene's best books, excellent on a purely narrative level but also emotionally involving and genuinely moving.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A David Attenborough of the literary world..., 11 Dec 2010
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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Like Mr. Attenborough, Graham Green has roamed the world. His interests were not primarily plants and animals, but representatives of the human species, often those profoundly flawed. His novels are set in Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Cuba, Mexico, and more. His characters play out their drama against these exotic backgrounds, the expatriates and the natives, and almost certainly it is an interaction between these groups that is a dynamo which drives the novel forward. I used to think that The Quiet American: Centenary Celebration 2004 set in Vietnam, was his finest, but after re-reading "The Power and the Glory," I would rank them equally.

It is pre-World War II Mexico, anti-clerical forces are reigning, and therefore the agents of the Catholic Church are outside the law, often literally hunted, and if caught, executed. The two principal characters are reflected in each noun of the title, a police lieutenant who vows to bring in the last functioning priest in the province. This is the principal thread of dynamic tension that unifies the novel. There is a similar thread within the hunted priest himself. He is considered a "whiskey priest," with a fondness for brandy, and he has a daughter. Does he really want to escape his pursers, or does he believe his capture would be just punishment for his sins? It is a many-faceted issue that is used to explore his character.

Graham also populates his novel with numerous minor characters, mainly part of the human detritus that has washed up in this developmental backwater. There is an American dentist, barely surviving with his antique tools; a steamship captain, his wife and their precocious daughter; and a German-American couple who have opted for Mexico instead of submitting to conscription during WW I. There are also the natives, a "half-cast" who haunts the priest, and a touchingly stubborn Indian woman with her dead infant.

In reading Greene, and particularly such a novel on the Catholic Church, it is important to reflect that according to his biographers, Greene himself was both Catholic, and profoundly flawed. Along with the works of Carlos Fuentes, this is a quintessential book on Mexico, and therefore a vital read for all Americans in particular.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on June 04, 2008)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinematic masterpiece, 22 Dec 2006
The Power and the Glory is arguably Graham Greene's masterpiece and is one of the greatest books written about Mexico by a gringo (see also Malcome Lowry's Under the Volcano and Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy). As with much of Greene's 'serious' literary works (as opposed to the so-called 'entertainments'), the narrator's internal struggle with faith and guilt can be difficult to relate to, especially as it is so deeply connected to Catholic spiritual tradition. What makes this novel so definitive is its visionary, proto-cinematic eye, its intricate setting of mood and scenario.

Greene's love of cinema was well-known (he was a film critic for The Spectator), but what may not have been explored fully enough is the influence of the medium on his writing. Greene's visual aesthetic reads like a highly nuanced film script with evocatively rendered mise-en-scène. Where other writers of the time were adopting more subversive, modernistic approaches to narrative (Under the Volcano being the most interesting counterpoint to this novel) Greene looks to cinema to enrich the art of storytelling. Less interested in trickery of syntax or plot (he was a writer popular perhaps for his accessability), he breathes life into a linear plot by creating a rich visual world. Man's fallibility is depicted against an unmerciful landscape: the 'Whiskey Priest' riding his donkey through the Mexican wilderness is one of 20th century literature's enduring images.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "To Err is Human...", 26 Mar 2005
Graham Green's The Power and Glory is a novel where the threads of personal desire and those of duty be it moral or religious intersect like they never did in other novels.The priest is not as much a misrepresentation of the religion he advocates as he is a true representation of the frailty of the human being always and everywhere. I enjoyed reading the novel and would very much agree that Green could have added credibility and prestige to the Nobel Prize.
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The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics)
The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics) by Graham Greene (Paperback - Feb 2003)
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