The Quiet American

Paperback, 180 pages

English language

Published Aug. 5, 2004 by Penguin Books.


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4 stars (6 reviews)

One of Graham Greene's best works. The story is set at the time of the French war against the Viet Cong and tells the story of liberal British journalist Thomas Fowler, his mistress Phuong, and their relationship with American idealist Pyle. The latter is an earnest young man indocrinated with geo-political theory and whose attempts to shape the world to American ideals ends in his own personal tragedy and drastically alters the lives of the other two participants. Written before the US involvement in Vietnam this is a strangely prophetic work and seriously encapsulates the British viewpoint towards that conflict. A beautifully written book and highly recommended.

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Review of 'The quiet American.' on 'Import'

4 stars

Greene tells a drmatic story in one of his most famous novels, but what is particularly amazing about this book is how prescient it was. Written in the early 1950s, The Quiet American seems to predict with surprising accuracy the future of US intervention in Vietnam long before they were actively involved in the conflict there. It also carefully deals with colonialism, racial stereotyping and post-war politics while telling a tense story (in part-metaphor) of war, love and loss (albeit still occasionally a victim to the prejudices of the time when it was written).

The narrator, a journalist, is trying not to be engagé, to be a neutral observer as the war goes on around him. He constantly reminds those around him (particularly the brash American Pyle) that the people of the country that they are in are suffering, and that they have their own motivations and desires, despite …

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  • Indochinese War, 1946-1954 -- Fiction
  • Triangles (Interpersonal relations) -- Fiction
  • Americans -- Indochina -- Fiction
  • British -- Indochina -- Fiction
  • War correspondents -- Fiction
  • Indochina -- Fiction
  • Vietnam -- Fiction