The Quiet American

The Quiet American

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""I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas. As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds it impossible to stand safely aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and himself, for Pyle has stolen Fowler's beautiful Vietnamese mistress." -- Amazon
ISBN: 9780143039020
0143039024
Branch Call Number: FICTION Greene 1955

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d2richar
Feb 03, 2021

It's hard to overstate the excellence of this novel. Its varied and deeply true observations about the paradoxes of human motives and choices could make an excellent book of aphorisms. Greene's book influenced a generation, and even with the distance of these decades, it's still possible to be stunned by the clarity and timeliness of the book. Fowler, Pyle and Phuong will continue to linger for a while yet after the last page ends. Every student of politics should read it, and everyone else should put it on their list.

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sgcf
Aug 09, 2020

Author Graham Greene writes with meticulous attention to descriptive detail, of both character and place in a manner that flows artlessly, never artificial. Very atmospheric. "The Quiet American" was written during the mid-1950s French war in Vietnam and prophetically foreshadows the Vietnam war of the 1960s. The plot has aspects of a whodunit, romance, and conspiracy, and characters who are cynical and judgmental. Ultimately I simply could not get into this particular war story and the love triangle within it despite the excellent writing.

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whelenberg
May 26, 2020

The story is diminished somewhat by the portrayal of Alden Pyle, a plastic and not very believable character.

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saweyer
Aug 26, 2019

M. ??

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EPool_Lib
Jan 09, 2019

The Quiet American is a short 180-page novel, but the storyline reveals the very beginnings of America’s involvement in Vietnam. Graham Greene was a terrific writer, and while the novel is fictional, it is based on Greene’s actual experience as a reporter in Vietnam for the London Times in the early 1950’s. Good history here, and many Americans may be surprised to discover the truth regarding the CIA and “The Third Force” in their fight against communism in Indo-Asia. Greene’s novel was published in 1955; however, it has proven to be amazingly precient regarding what ultimately culminated in the disastrous Vietnam War.

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flygt
Jun 10, 2018

This was an excellent read. Pyle's dangerous naivete was paired with distant coldness when confronted with the horrors his outlook led to. Also, I think Greene was pretty woke when it comes to men and women and sexuality.

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xiaojunbpl12
Dec 12, 2017

It failed my higher expectation, I wish my easy siding with Fowler’s anti-American and pro-Communist viewpoints were challenged. Perhaps I was more like Pyle (aren’t the majority of us so?) so as to appreciate his portrayal and profundity in Fowler’s mind. I’d like the book better if Fowler (opium addict, self deceiving affection towards woman and home, passive cynicism, better journalism) were mocked more and not felt representing the author.

I also had problems with the multi-part structure, with each part containing similar and deliberate/random order of timeline and flash back. Part 1 maybe like an outer skin of the fruit, with each part/layer peeled away to reveal the inner layer (next part), till the final part i.e. the core, which was coming to Fowler’s awareness gradually, so was my sense.

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RoyalJellyIII
Oct 06, 2017

One one level, a truly amazing novel on love, betrayal and doubt. Graham Greene was my favorite writer when I was much younger, and I recently read The Quiet American for the third time. This time I more fully appreciated also the political insights of Greene, often referred to as a writer with an almost uncanny ability to visit and then describe a world of politics and revolutions at the right time.
He was a flawed and ambivalent Catholic, and his battles with faith and doubt became the blood that lifted his novels to excellence. Give him a try.

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Mistica
Jul 22, 2014

One of the finest books I've ever read. A masterfully told story that raises the big questions about good and evil and beyond without giving the reader the answers. Wonderful food for thought for people who see the world in shades of grey, not black and white. Beautiful prose - first class use of metaphor - and engaging story. Highly recommend it.

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dbarry111
Jun 02, 2014

I loved this book and also thought the movie with Michael Cain and Brendan Fraser was equally as sensational, which is not often the case. Set in exotic Vietnam in the early 60s as the American presence is slowly increasing, it beautifully recreates the city of Saigon with its cafes and international intrigue. The subplot is the romantic relationship of Michael Cain's character, an older, life-weary English journalist who is living with a beautiful, younger Vietnamese woman, Phoung. Fraser's character is ambiguous at first...what is he actually doing there, who is he really? Cain takes a liking to him, until Fraser bodaciously reveals he is in love with Phoung and wants to marry her. Turns out he is with an American agency (CIA?) bent on fomenting upheaval. All of the different plots, the desires for Phoung, Fraser's real purpose, the setting, the war that is raging in the North and moving south, Cain's expatriot and indulgent lifestyle (smoking heroin almost daily) fire the imagination and are beautifully woven together by Greene's masterful skills. If you like romance and intrigue in exotic locations, this has it all!

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