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The Quiet American (Vintage classics) Paperback – 4 Jan 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (4 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099286076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099286073
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,390,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"There has been no novel of any political scope about Vietnam since Graham Greene wrote "The Quiet American,"" -- "Harper's"

Review

'A great writer who spoke brilliantly to a whole generation. Prophet-like.' (Alec Guinness)

'A master of storytelling.' (The Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Enjoyed reading this, was trying to improve my literary choices and from that point of view was happy with it. Very high quality writing and very atmospheric of it's time. I'm sure I could read it again another time and get more from it. The characters were very 'real' and it was easy to picture them and the setting in which the story is set. I'm a fan and looking forward to my next encounter with Graham Greene
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The first Graham Greene I read was The End of the Affair which I loved.
I must say that I have equally enjoyed The Quiet American.
I enjoy Greene's brevity. He paints pictures expertly with a minimum number of words but so eloquently.
I don't want to introduce any spoilers but I had sort of guessed how the protagonist was involved in the ending but it did not protract from my enjoyment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So I thought I knew about Vietnam - wrong. This book was a revelation to someone brought up on the American "TV" war.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here's the thing: I was rarely entertained by this book. Mostly, the characters did nothing for me. I couldn't even find it in me to dislike them. I was utterly bored for the approximate 180 pages, pushing through, hoping it would get better by the next chapter, but continuously disappointed. Nothing much happens.
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Format: Paperback
How ironical that one of the characters in Graham Greene's tale of turmoil in post-war Indo-China should state that the old colonial powers of England and France `couldn't expect to win the confidence of the Asiatics. That was where America came in with clean hands'. Twenty years later they (the Americans) certainly did not leave with clean hands. In fact, they were already becoming embroiled in Vietnam at this early stage while the French were floundering and blundering.
The quiet American of the title is Alden Pyle, a young idealist who has come to Indo-China with the intent of promoting Democracy via an undefined `Third Force' using whatever means are available to him. He is already dead at the start of the novel. His story is told by Fowler, a cynical, world-weary English journalist who is intrigued by the ideals and motives of Pyle but their relationship is complicated by love for the same girl.
This is typical Graham Greene, related at a languid tropical pace. He manages superbly to convey the paradoxical allure of a country racked by violence and confusion yet at the same time intoxicatingly warm and human. I personally find Greene's novels a bit patchy but this may be one of his better works.
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An excellent book and well worth the 'Modern Classic' description. Greene writes in a spare, lucid, style and carefully constructs the story of the American sent to Vietnam to create a 'Third Force', essentially to fight the communists. The role of the American is slowly revealed as the story progresses, seen through the eyes of the world-weary, older, English reporter Fowler. The book contains prescient comment on the increasing role of the Americans bent on regime change under the guise of promoting liberal democracy. The book also has frequent references to religion and belief in a God, this subject being important to the Catholic convert Greene who changed faith at the age of 22. This is a gripping story of political intrigue and jealousy over a Vietnamese woman, Phuong, bent on finding a safe haven in England or America. The 2002 film of the same name starring Michael Caine is faithful to the book and captures the atmosphere very well.
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Format: Paperback
Along with Waugh's "Decline & Fall" I read this book every year & never fail to get something new from it. Not one word is out of place, not one scene mis-judged. Greene's characters inhabit a world unfamiliar to all 21st century Western wage-slaves; a world of physical danger, intellectual doubts & moral crises. But yet their paranoias & motives render every one of them as believable as ourselves & make their world as real as our own. The hero of this book in particular fills us with the uncomfortable realisation that even despicable acts born of unashamed selfishness can sometimes not only strike a chord within ourselves, but make us favour the perpetrators of such behaviour over other more innocent players. If you find nothing in this book for you stop reading.
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Format: Paperback
This was my first Graham Greene novel, and it won't be my last. It's one of those cleverly constructed 'circular' novels that, after the initial scene, takes you right back to the beginning of the story which slowly unfolds to end with the same initial scene, but seen in a totally different light.
I picked up this novel because I imagined it to be full of the atmosphere of war-torn Vietnam in the 1950s, a historical portrait of the end of colonial Indo-China. And that is indeed one feature of the book, but it is more involving still: realistic characters, consistent only in their complexity, a moving story of a triangular relationship between two men and a woman, a stand-off between the opposing ideologies of cynicism and idealism. I was left wondering: was this a happy ending or not?
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