Our Man in Havana Paperback – 1 Aug 1969
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Graham Greene's new "Entertainment" offers only a questionable diversion this time, substitutes a lightminded travesty of secret service operations (the intentions are not too clearly decipherable) for the surer suspense of the earlier books in this genre. Wormold, a vacuum cleaner representative in Havana, a middle-aged man whose daughter is his prime security interest, is tapped as secret agent number 59200 stroke five by the British Secret Service. With "no accomplice except the credulity of other men", Wormold turns in bogus reports and fabulous diagrams (vacuum cleaner parts), recruits an extensive payroll of imaginary sub-agents, and rigs an elaborate deception which backfires when one of his men materializes- only to be killed, his friend Hasselbacher is a second victim, and he is a potential third... For all the occasional overtones and undercuts, this is no more than a genial form of nonsense in which Greene is not at his best. This still may be good enough for a great many people to whom the name assumes more than is this time assured. (Kirkus Reviews)
'No serious writer of this century has more thoroughly invaded and shaped the public imagination than did Graham Greene' Time --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
The sinister machinations of Captain Segura and the refreshing Beatrice add to the above to create a story well worth reading.
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!
`Our Man in Havana' is of course set in Cuba under the regime of Batista and our protagonist Wormold, who's wife has left him alone with his daughter who is rather high maintenance in more ways than one, is selling vacuum cleaners for a living with the odd drink or five with his friend Dr Hasselbacher. This all changes however when he meets Hawthorne, a man from British Intelligence who is looking for a new agent and who decides that Wormold is the perfect man for the job. However Wormold isn't the perfect man or agent for the job, though he thinks the money is brilliant and to keep it coming starts making up agents, their storylines and tales of espionage in the depths of Cuba. Things start to get a little more complicated for Wormold, and all the more entertaining for the reader, as the things he makes up start to actually happen.
I did enjoy this book as a read, it didn't blow me away liked I hoped it would. I liked the idea of your average man becoming a hopeless spy, yet really all we had was Wormold telling lies and creating mild deceptions for his own gains which kind of put me off him. I know that shouldn't matter but it did a bit.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Perfect classic. Not a long book but a great read and makes me want to visit Havana. The descriptions are excellent and the story builds in a credible and amusing manner. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Avid Reader
I went to Cuba last year and therefore easily relate to the area covered in the book. Perhaps this is the reason why I am so obsessed with I am so the moment.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Great book. Finished it just before we arrived in Havana. A step back in time and humourousPublished 2 months ago by christopher womack
A strange novel which I enjoyed but would not have read, but I have just visited Havana.
I will probably try Brighton Rock as Grahame Greene displays obvious talent and... Read more