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The Quiet American (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – September 28, 2004
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Intrusion: A Novel
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This is no simple tale, although it can be read as one. It works on many different levels. In its simplest form, this is a story about two foreigners in Indo-China: a middle-aged British reporter, and a young idealistic American. They involve themselves in two main plots: one concerning the French Army's battle with the Vietminh, and the second, concerning the two men's relationship with a native woman and the subsequent fight for her affections. On this level, THE QUIET AMERICAN works as an effective thriller. Who is the mysterious "third force" that Pyle, the American, is aiding? Why is he even there, and why is he providing aid to this group? Will Fowler, the British journalist, abandon his policy of neutrality and enter into the conflict? Who will end up with the girl at the end?
But there are all sorts of other subtexts and subtleties going on here. Pyle isn't just "the quiet American"; he is America -- at least as far as the US's involvement in Vietnam is concerned. And the difference in age between Pyle and Fowler is no random chance. Fowler is the older man; his country has already had its expansionist, colonial period. Fowler already knows what it's like to get one's fingers burnt interfering in other people's conflicts. But Pyle won't be told. He's the young inexperienced man who has to find out for himself -- to the detriment of everyone.Read more ›
For those of you who haven't read the book, its both an odd love story and a metaphor for American involvement in Vietnam. The hero, Fowler is a washed up, middle aged, English war correspondent, content with his opium pipe and his Vietnamese mistress, Phuong. His world is gradually disrupted by the arrival of an American covert operative named Pyle who is both a zealous ideologue and a naïve optimist. Things get complicated when Pyle steals Phuong away from Fowler, yet attempts to remain friends with him. The normally indifferent Fowler soon becomes morally repulsed by Pyle's seemingly well intended terrorist activities, and gradually becomes politically involved. By the time Fowler helps to engineer Pyle's murder it is unclear even to him whether he is doing so to help the Vietnamese people or to win Phuong back.
"The Quite American" explores several different concepts. Like many of Greene's novels and short stories it examines the peculiar morality of love. Fowler and Phuong form a strange symbiosis. Fowler is estranged from is English wife, and is old enough to be Phuong's father.Read more ›
Thomas Fowler, the narrator, is a hardened British war correspondent. He in a relationship young Vietnamese woman named Phuong, enjoys his opium pipes, and manages to get along with his fellow correspondents. Suddenly, a young naïve American, named Alden Pyle, arrives in Vietnam, supposedly as an aid worker. When he declares his love for Phuong, the plot thickens. But this is just one facet of the story as both men are thrust into the war, viewing the meaningless deaths around them and coming very close to death themselves. Pyle's mission to Indo-China becomes increasingly suspect, and as Fowler discovers one clue after another, the conclusion is inevitable.
I was immediately drawn into the story, which sets up a mystery and keeps the reader wondering until the very end. At the same time, the three main characters are deeply developed, not only as to their individualisms, but also as to their national character. The British correspondent takes a caustic view of the world; the American is effusive and idealistic, and the Vietnamese woman is stoic. They move around in a Vietnam where the French are fast losing their hold, and everyone knows that change is going to happen.
I loved this book. Every word reverberated with a truth that existed when it was written, and which proved to be a prophesy of things to come. It also enriched my understanding of the dark period in history that followed. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Typical Graham Green. Left me mourning his death all over again.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Thomas Fowler is an aging, cynical war correspondent covering the escalating Vietminh/France war of the early 1950's. Read morePublished 2 months ago by An admirer of Saul
Possibly the best (in my own opinion) Greene's novel; or perhaps simply the one that stood the test of time best. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Robert Zuch
A very good read. Read it years ago but better second time around.Published 3 months ago by anne grove
I described the story as 'dark' only because it's basically a war story and I find nothing 'light' about this mode of context. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Catherine E. Hamel