Set during the French War in Vietnam, "The Quiet American" is a multifaceted story told in the words of Thomas Fowler, a cynical British correspondent and one of the novel's two main characters. The story involves a struggle between Fowler and Pyle, an American undercover operative and Fowler's romantic rival. Pyle and Fowler hold opposing views of the war, love, God, democracy, whatever matters to man, they disagree about. Fowler, whose vision of reality stifles his belief in ideals, emerges as a romantic and ideological rival of Pyle, whose ideals blind him to reality. America's Cold War policy in Southeast Asia is critically presented in the person of Pyle. Masterfully written, Graham Greene confronts us with two flawed, stereotypical characters and leaves us to determine the hero and the villain. I still have not made up my mind. A work which can leave the reader in such a quandary is a great work of art. Read and form your own conclusions.