Our Man in Havana (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 1 Jan 2004
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"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)
'No serious writer of this century has more thoroughly invaded and shaped the public imagination than did Graham Greene' TimeSee 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!
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...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A black comedy, or farce or love story. EIther way a wonderfully, effortlessly told tale of fake and real spies, with place beautifully observed, characters beautifully delineated. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Pete Cooper
Very funny. The book that explains the famous expression "our man in Havana".Published 11 days ago by TTT
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 1 month 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 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book. Finished it just before we arrived in Havana. A step back in time and humourousPublished 4 months ago by christopher womack