The Quiet American

The Quiet American
Image source: Google

Rating: 4.2

Author: Graham Green

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publishing Date: 05 November 2002

Language: English

Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 0142001284

ISBN-13: 978-0142001387

Pages: 188

Cost: Rs 355


'The Quiet American' presents an interesting take on the Vietnam War. Through it's two main protagonists the book talks about how the British and American forces came to be involved in the war. The British citizen, correspondent Fowler is not interested in taking sides in the war. He tells himself that he is indifferent to it all and that he does not want to be involved. At this point, the reader might feel that this is the best attitude one can have while carrying out a journalistic assignment in Vietnam.

In the initial pages, the reader will be made to feel that Fowler is at peace with himself. A pretty girlfriend, a nice apartment, and a job that he is happy; basically Fowler had it all. With the arrival of the other protagonist Pyle, his life is in jeopardy. Pyle is an American CIA agent with completely opposite ideals

Pyle is a Stereotypical American whose misconceptions and the inability to acknowledge his ignorance is dangerous for society. As he stands to witness the devastating effects of his actions, there is no sign of guilt. The very purpose of his visit to Vietnam was to impose his western viewpoint on a country that was in turmoil. In the book, this character represents a very dangerous person because of his inability to see the beauty of other cultures.

The interesting take in the story is the fact that despite having a conflicting opinion on life, they loved each other. This was frustrating for both parties. Pyle's questionable presence in Vietnam and his ideas of creating a third force was not something that he could discuss with Fowler. The nature of Fowler's job would lead him to give away the secrets. The book beautifully talks about the dilemma of the human mind while ensuring that every single detail mentioned in the book is factually correct.

As the story progresses from its initial pages, the reader will realize that one has to choose a side at some point or the other. For people who are unaware of the Vietnam War, the book presents a detailed informative account of the same. It is a must-read for readers of all maturity and age groups. Irrespective of what depth you read 'The Quiet American', it will find it's way to your chamber of most treasured books.


This is a book that caters to the interests of a diverse set of people. If you are someone who is generally not much into books, the indigenous pace of the book will ensure that you are enthralled by the book. The lucid language flow will ensure that you do not have to run to your dictionary every minute. For people who have read more than a thousand books in their lifetime, the tone of this book and elegant delivery of words will get you impressed. The reading will be an effortless experience and you will make the most of the research that went into penning the book. Green proves that learning about various historical and sociological facts can be a relaxing activity.

‘The Quiet American’ is not just historically accurate but also prophetic in nature. The non-linear way in which the plot unravels is a signature style of Greene. The peculiar yet interesting storytelling methods adopted by him have been a source of envy for many writers.

Going beyond the basic storytelling, the book explores hidden intentions and the emotions of star-crossed lovers in an interesting way. A meaty novella, this one is difficult to put down. The way it describes the war of the different classes goes on to prove that an interesting read can also be an informative one. All in all, this book will give a jarring punch to the gut and is a must-read for bibliophiles.


It was adapted as two different movies, one in 1958 and another in 2002 with the same title as book.

  • The original 1958 Hollywood film inverted the theme of the novel by turning it into an anti-communist tale instead of a cautionary story about American interventionism.
  • The 2002 film version was true to the book.

Milestones of the Book:

  • On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed 'The Quiet American' on its list of the 100 most influential novels.

About the Author:

One of the top novelists of the 20th century Henry Graham Greene was born on 2nd October 1904. His writings included both serious novels centering around Catholic themes, as well as thrillers that were meant to simply entertain the reader. Greene was not someone who would shy from commenting on the happenings of the political scene of the day. Many of his most famous writings dealt with political situations as seen through the Catholic lens.

In his career spanning more than 6 decades, Greene wrote 25 novels. For two consecutive years (1966 and 1967) he was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize for Literature. 'The Quiet American' is one of his most notable pieces of work.