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Our Man in Havana (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 1 Jan 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099286084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099286080
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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)

Book Description

'No serious writer of this century has more thoroughly invaded and shaped the public imagination than did Graham Greene' Time

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great cold war "spy" book. I loved it. Written over 50 years ago it is still funny and just so well written. I was expecting a light spy spoof, but this book is just so much more. At just over 200 pages it shows that good writers dont need 800+ pages to develop characters or tension. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Gleefully combining the raucous humor of absurdity with slyly subtle wordplay and caustic satire, Greene entertains on every level, skewering British intelligence-gathering services during the Cold War. Setting the novel in the flamboyant atmosphere of pre-revolutionary Havana, where virtually anything can be had at a price, Greene establishes his contrasts and ironies early, creating a hilarious set piece which satirizes both the British government's never-satisfied desire for secrets about foreign political movements and their belief that the most banal of activities constitute threats to national security.
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.
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Format: Paperback
If it were not for his spendthrift daughter, Wormold may have bumbled along in Cuba until the rise of Castro would have forced his emigration back to his native soil, but his country and his offspring unknowingly conspired together to thwart such an uneventful end to Wormold's sojourn in Havana. Thoughts he might have had of whiling away the years with his drinking pal Dr. Hasselbacher, indulging the shopaholic Milly, playing checkers and selling his vacuum cleaners were soon to be put to flight. Hawthorne from MI6 made him an offer he couldn't refuse. If its reports they want, and are willing to pay for them, reports they shall have. Wormold takes to writing fiction like a duck to water and applies his skills to his new employment.

The sinister machinations of Captain Segura and the refreshing Beatrice add to the above to create a story well worth reading.
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By A Customer on 9 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
A marvellous story about a vacuum cleaner salesman caught up in the world of espionage, purely to buy his daughter a pony for her birthday. The characters are so real that you feel that you know them personally, and the style of writing employed by Graham Greene is an example of what can be done with the English language in the hands of a truly great writer. The chapter in which the British secret service peruse the sketches sent from Havana by Wormold is one of the funniest I have ever read.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
His daughter was at an expensive age. She wanted a horse; she wanted the tack; she wanted it housed at the country club. And what father can refuse his daughter. She had lost her mother to a rich American in Miami. He was the sole representative of Phastcleaners in Batista's Cuba: a living, but not a glamorous one.
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...
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