top of page

Good Reads Review: The Quiet American by Graham Greene

**mild spoilers ahead**

A fascinating examination of character, right and wrong, and the consequences of seeing things in black and white.

Getting into this book, I was a little underwhelmed at first, having heard much about Greene's literary style and how dated this book initially felt. While the book starts slowly, it builds and builds with a creeping unease.

Greene really finds his strength in the characters, and wisely chooses to focus on the moral conflict of the two main characters. Pyle, the eponymous character, starts as a very innocent, well meaning individual. But as his means of trying to bring democracy to Vietnam become more extreme, his inability to see the consequences of his actions and his seeming obliviousness to the damage he causes really adds to sense of uncertainty at the books climax.

Contrasting that is the protagonist, Fowler. This is a very distant, cold character, which while necessary for his role as a journalist looking to keep out of harms way, does make initially very difficult to sympathise with, especially with his contempt for Pyle. However, as the emotional complications arise between the two men and a woman named Phuong emerge in the books climax, Fowler is challenged a lot more and becomes a much more unsettled character.

The ending of the book is filled with unease and filled with moral ambiguity, but this I will leave for the reader to discover.

Though a product very much of its time, this a book that touches on broader themes about the consequences of inaction and action without consideration, a theme that is not explored remotely enough in today's world.


A Little Idea
Recent Posts
Follow Me
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
  • Instagram App Icon
bottom of page