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The Life of Graham Greene: Volume II: 1939-1955 Paperback – August 31, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142004219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004210
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Frost on June 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sadly, even in death Greene, the master at secrecy, again succeeds at keeping his official, authorized biography at a much distance from himself and his life. Coming in at a bit over 500 pages of primary text, Vol. II is thankfully about 225 pages shorter than the much-too-long Vol. I. But since it covers only about 16 years as opposed to 35 years in Vol. I, each year averages nearly 30 pages. As with Vol. I, this edition needs to be pruned. The middle portion of Vol. II, covering Greene's problems in love (with his wife, first major mistress, and mistress #2) from about 1944-1950, is a jumbled, boring mess. This approximately 150 page section is filled with far too many excerpts from Greene's pathetically repetitive letters to his long-suffering wife and first mistress, and to the new love (who will be replaced in Vol. III). Instead of covering this period chronologically, Sherry separates out portions of Greene's life based on what he was doing (e.g., the period in the 1940s when he was a publisher) and then goes back in time for the next major life activity. This ensures that both Greene's work on two of his major novels (The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair) and even his messed up love life are not addressed in a coherent section. Sherry again relies far too heavily on using Greene's fictional works as primary sources to substantiate his suppositions about Greene's life, as well as Greene's not-to-be-trusted autobiographical works. Fortunately Sherry admits early on that Greene went out of his way to make any biography difficult. For example, Greene sometimes kept two sets of diary entries (one edited, one truthful) and often destroyed the truthful entries.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Oksol VINE VOICE on December 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you grew up in the fifties reading blockbuster novels and watching hit movies based on Graham Greene's books, you will be fascinated reading about the man behind the stories.

If a three-volume biography is more than you want to read about anyone, you will be more than satisfied reading the second volume of this trilogy. It covers the most productive years of Graham Greene, the man who wrote "The Power and The Glory," "The Third Man," "Our Man In Cuba," and "The Quiet American" to name just a very few; these years (1939 - 1955) are also the most interesting and challenging years for the western world in modern history. The second volume does contain an introduction which encapsulates the first volume.

Norman Sherry's writing is a bit uneven, some quite good, but much fairly mediocre. The good news is that Sherry tends to devote chapters to one of three facets of Greene's life: his literature; his relationships; and, his public/private world of adventures in Africa and spying for the British.

If one does not particularly care to read about his relationships, it is easy to skim a particular chapter. If one is interested in additional background to the British double spy Kim Philby, one can read slowly a chapter devoted to the relationship between Greene and Philby. It is hard to believe that Graham worked directly for Philby and may have remained in the service of her royal majesty even after Philby fled the country.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have read very little of Graham Greene and I have not read Vol 1 of this biography. However I found this Vol 2 (1939-55) an enthralling read. It covers his life during the second world war and then later in Vietnam and Africa. There is a bit too much about his lovesick affair with Mrs Walston (a peculiar arrangment and a bit uninteresting at times) The record of his war service and his time in publishing is fascinating.I guess if you have read the books and are already a fan then this biography is even more valuable. The life of G.G. is a novel in itself,full of colour,sadness and bravery.These biographies can be turgid in the wrong hands but Sherry only uses the details necessary to tell a vivid story.His prose is excellent and flows along. A very enjoyable read and it made want to get reading the novels-and Vol3 which is due in 2000 I believe.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Naud on August 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Norman Sherry did an excellent job of chronicling some of the most facinating phases of Graham Greene's personal and professional life. While I found vol. 1 to be a bit slow and often uninteresting at times, vol. 2 really gives great insight into the period of Greene's most productive and important years.
I'm eagerly awaiting vol. 3 to see how well Sherry tells the life of one of the more important authors of the Twentieth Century.
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11 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Sherry's "biography" is saved only by its topic: Graham Greene, a man whose life was so interesting that even Sherry's ineptitude can't quite get in the way.
The flaws in this work abound but of import are the consistent failures by Sherry to dive into anything that would or could possibly reveal "too much" about a man that even Sherry admits, was notorious for not revealing much of anyhting to anyone.
Dreams that beg to be discussed are described and then abandoned as topics, health concerns (Green's hemorage surely deserves some comment, doesn't it? - or have I missed it amid the insesent repetions by Sherry that The Power and the Glory was Grenne's "best work" - understood that the first three times Sherry said it)and refrences to one of Green's acknowledged "masters" (Conrad) are offered up, and then, dropped like hot rocks.
To make matters worse, one is treated to such sparkling gems of "thought" as (to paraphrase) that the insurgents in malaya were fighting against the "benificent" British and their colonial puppets - surely, greene, a man on the side of the "underdog" (regardless of said dog's politics)had something else in mind? Or is this more of the ex-spys double-talk? Using Sherry as a source, one will never know.
Given Greene's penchent for opacity, it should come as no suprise to anyone who knows anything about the man, that having chosen his own "man in biography" that Greene should have played Sherry for his own purposes.
As a source-work for Greene's own material, and as an illsutration of what can happen to an author upon achieving "success" the book is useful.
Beyond that, stick to Greene's own work. You'll be far better served.
Sincerely,
A Reader
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