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Penguin Classics Quiet American Paperback – 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039020
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 1.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #583,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam "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. Originally published in 1956 and twice adapted to film, The Quiet American remains a terrifiying and prescient portrait of innocence at large. This Graham Greene Centennial Edition includes a new introductory essay by Robert Stone. For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio Cassette
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Graham Greene is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors since I recently read The Power and the Glory, The End of the Affair, and now this masterpiece. The narrative is wonderfully entertaining, the characterization of Fowler is deep and insightful, and Greene's grasp of America's political outlook seems prophetic (particularly considering the recent Iraqi "war").
The story is of Fowler, a middle-aged English journalist, who is covering the civil war in Vietnam (pre-US war), and he is involved with a young Vietnamese beauty Phuong. Enter Pyle, a naive American who sets out to take Phuong and sets out to pursue naive American political interests.
The novel works on a lot of levels. For one, it is very entertaining; I can see how they wanted to make a movie out of it. It also develops an interesting moral commentary as Fowler is forced to handle a moral quandary. The reporter is forced to "take a side," is forced to grasp some type of belief structure. The political commentary Greene gives to this post-colonial world is also highly intriguing. This should be required reading for politicians (particularly in these times). The Quiet American is one of Greene's best novels and will certainly go down as one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
The excerpt comes from a quote from the poet Arthur Hugh Clough that serves as one of THE QUIET AMERICAN's two epigraphs. Graham Greene thrusts us into one of his moral quagmires in which the crabwise scuttling of his narrator comes up against the straightforward thrusts of the dangerously naive.
Thomas Fowler is a British journal in Saigon during the 1950s, when the French were fighting Vietnamese Communist insurgents before the United States inherited that mess after the battle of Dien Bien Phu. He comes upon Arden Pyle, the Quiet American of the title, a man almost too innocent to live. (At one point, Greene writes that "innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.") While purporting to be an economic consultant, he is actually an American agent attempting to apply simplistic principles to a tangled situation that is beyond his understanding.
In the process, he snags Fowler's Vietnamese mistress while pretending to remain the journalist's friend. Although he seems to be invulnerable in his innocence for a while, the quagmire finally claims him as a victim. He is very like one of Conrad's "pilgrims" in THE HEART OF DARKNESS, cool and elegant in their pursuit of nefarious colonial pursuits to the very end.
The "illegitimate process" may be a good description of Pyle's work, but Graham Greene's ever-present "malpractice of heart" is seen in Fowler, the French police inspector Vigot, the mistress Phuong's sister, Fowler's fellow journalist Bill Granger, and the suspicious Mr Heng.
At one point, Fowler wonders, "Wouldn't we all do better not trying to understand, accepting the fact that no human being will ever understand another, not a wife a husband, a lover a mistress, nor a parent a child?
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Format: Paperback
Greene's The Quiet American is powerful and moving and anyone who desires to better understand the mindset of American policymakers at the outset of the United States' deepened involvement in Indochina. Greene writes with the candor and insight of a seasoned overseas correspondant and shows the ideals and idealism that propelled Vietnamese and American interests to tragically clash. Greene portrays the characters in the novel in a manner in which they are complex and very real and not soundbytes and stereotypes that confront us in other books and in the current news media.
A valuable bonus of the Viking Critical Library edition are the essays at the end of the book that provide additional detail to Greene's story. In addition to reviews of the book in the context of US diplomacy, espionage and counterinsurgency, of particular worth is the brief history of American military involvement in the late 1950s/early 1960s in Indochina by Frank Futrell, former Historian of the Air Force. Futrell is knowledgeable and a prolific yet very readable writer, and his 14-page essay at the end of the book serves as a stark epilogue to the novel.
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