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The Tenth Man [Hardcover]

Graham Greene
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 11 1985 037030831X 978-0370308319 1st Edition

Graham Greene`s The Tenth Man is one of his most startling and unexpected major novels. Set in wartime occupied France, it is about a man who buys a life in a moment of fear. It begins in the depths of a Gestapo prison, where ten men have been taken hostage by the Germans. Three of them must die, but it makes no difference to the Germans which three - the ten must choose among themselves by ballot.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Review

"A masterpiece - tapped out in the lean, sharp-eyed prose that film work taught Greene to perfect." - Sunday Times

"A smoothly plotted psychological thriller."- Time

"All the Greene hallmarks are there: pace, ingenuity--profundities suggested but never insisted upon." - Penelope Lively --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"A masterpiece - tapped out in the lean, sharp-eyed prose that film work taught Greene to perfect." - Sunday Times

"A smoothly plotted psychological thriller."- Time

"All the Greene hallmarks are there: pace, ingenuity--profundities suggested but never insisted upon." - Penelope Lively

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
MOST OF THEM TOLD THE TIME VERY ROUGHLY BY THEIR meals, which were unpunctual and irregular: they amused themselves with the most childish games all through the day, and when it was dark they fell asleep by tacit consent-not waiting for a particular hour of darkness for they had no means of telling the time exactly: in fact there were as many times as there were prisoners. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A good tale, but shallow. Oct. 15 1999
Format:Paperback
This little story is tightly constructed and gripping. A rich lawyer is incarcerated during the war with a bunch of ordinary joes. As a result of hostage-type negotiations, a set number of them are designated for random executions. The prisoners draw lots to determine those to die, and the lawyer is one of the losers. Desperate to live, he offers all his estate to anyone who will trade places. The man who drew the 10th lot takes him up on the offer, accepts the estate as payment for his life, and has the lawyer make out a will leaving the wealth to his family. The guilt over this "act of cowardice" haunts the lawyer to his grave.
This story is hard to put down and gracefully written, but the characters are relatively flat, 2-dimensional figures. They are useful symbolically, but not terribly convincing as real people. All in all the tale reads more like a parable than a novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Choices and their Consequences May 28 2000
Format:Paperback
Greene presents us with a brilliant morality tale. He quickly sets up his protagonist's choice and then moves to the surprising consequences. If you had the means to buy your 'salvation' would you? Even if it meant that another man would have to die in your place...literally paying someone to die for you? And for the man who is willing to take your offer, what does his sacrifice mean for those he's left behind? Greene deftly entertwines both of these stories into one. I agree that the characters are not well-drawn enough to make us truly care for them. However, the book succeeds on how it makes you consider the consequences of one's choices.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I got to read this novel for one of my college courses, and found it to be extremely intriguing in the depth that was used to demonstrate each and every character. He takes the decision of life or death and puts it into a possible situation. The novel kept me interested throughout every chapter. It gave intriguing personalities to each character. Greene wanted his readers to see the impact of what one decision made by one man can do to numerous people. He accomplished this task very well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a once-in-a-lifetime thriller June 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found this book very well-written in the sense that you couldn't put it down if you were half way through it. I read it about twelve times in a month .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The story of a man who bought his life, the tenth man." Jan. 30 2005
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One of Greene's "entertainments," this short novel written in 1944 was hidden away for nearly forty years before being discovered in the MGM files. Written as the idea for a film, the novella is a fine example of Greene's style, as finished and polished as any of his more complex novels.

Set in France during the war, the story concerns a group of thirty Frenchmen imprisoned by their German occupiers and then told that they must decide for themselves which three of the thirty men will be executed. One of the men who draws a marked ballot for his own death is a wealthy lawyer with considerable property who offers his entire fortune to any man who will take his place. One young man accepts, drawing up legal papers which give his newly acquired property to his sister and mother before he is executed.

The remaining three parts of the novel deal with the return of the now-penniless former owner to "his" house after the war, where he meets the dead man's sister and works as a servant under a new name; the arrival of an imposter who claims to be the former owner; and the showdown between the former owner and the imposter.

As is always the case with Greene, the dialogue is taut, revealing character and plot simultaneously, with no extraneous chat. The main character, like so many others Greene depicts, is a weak man whose bad choices, in this case his decision to buy his own life, have led to the complications which become the story. Living a lie, Chavel/Charlot faces a crisis of morality in which he must decide what, if anything, he can do to redeem himself to atone for the life-or-death decision he forced upon another man. The imposter who arrives at the house claiming to be the former owner is described as resembling a devil, and the showdown between him and the real former owner is seen as the struggle between goodness and evil.

Filled with ironies and absurdities, the novel maintains considerable suspense until the dramatic, tour de force of an ending. Too short to allow for much character development, the novella conveys a strong message within an exciting little morality tale filled with sharply observed details--simple without being simplistic. Mary Whipple
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This was Excellent April 28 2006
By Jedidiah Palosaari - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Greene's writing is phenomenal. He has few words, and packs in oceans of meaning. I've read other authors who publish some 10 books in one series and are still writing- and nothing happens for entire books. This is the opposite type of writing. This is the kind of book that forces you to put the book down after a chapter to contemplate what your life is like and where it is going. And each chapter runs about 3 pages long. I will be dwelling on the final page, the final paragraph, for a long time.

Greene knows life. He has a depth of wisdom that he brings in to the characters that goes beyond the simple ethical dilemma of whether or not it is permissable to purchase one's life at the expense of another. Sometimes, dying for another is the easy part. It is the dying every day that is far more difficult. Less glorious, less noticed, but far more eternal.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, but it packs a punch. Dec 21 2002
By C. Mclemore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This short "entertainment" lacks the intensity of a major novel, but the tightly constructed plot makes this book worth the read. Graham Greene combines his fantastic prose with a few fantastic twists. What whould happen if you could trade all of your possesions for a second chance at life? Greene takes a stab at this very intiguing question, and throws in enough curveballs to keep you guessing until the end.
True, the characters may be flat, but the story is vivid, creative, and well worth a look.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Choices and their Consequences May 28 2000
By Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Greene presents us with a brilliant morality tale. He quickly sets up his protagonist's choice and then moves to the surprising consequences. If you had the means to buy your 'salvation' would you? Even if it meant that another man would have to die in your place...literally paying someone to die for you? And for the man who is willing to take your offer, what does his sacrifice mean for those he's left behind? Greene deftly entertwines both of these stories into one. I agree that the characters are not well-drawn enough to make us truly care for them. However, the book succeeds on how it makes you consider the consequences of one's choices.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good tale, but shallow. Oct. 15 1999
By Margaret Fiore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This little story is tightly constructed and gripping. A rich lawyer is incarcerated during the war with a bunch of ordinary joes. As a result of hostage-type negotiations, a set number of them are designated for random executions. The prisoners draw lots to determine those to die, and the lawyer is one of the losers. Desperate to live, he offers all his estate to anyone who will trade places. The man who drew the 10th lot takes him up on the offer, accepts the estate as payment for his life, and has the lawyer make out a will leaving the wealth to his family. The guilt over this "act of cowardice" haunts the lawyer to his grave.
This story is hard to put down and gracefully written, but the characters are relatively flat, 2-dimensional figures. They are useful symbolically, but not terribly convincing as real people. All in all the tale reads more like a parable than a novel.
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