Shades Of Words

The Quiet American – By Graham Greene


Quietamerican-full;init_‘Brighton Rock ‘ was my first exposure to Graham Greene and it was not pleasant. I found it quite morbid. I chanced upon ‘The Quiet American’ while staying at a friend’s place and picked it up because it was a slim book and I could get through it in a few days.

‘The Quiet American’ is the story of two men in love with  one women, set against the background of the Franco-Vietminh war.

Fowler a British Journalist, hardened by war and believes the only way to be sane is not to take sides – just watch and report. He  does not aspire ambition or fame, his only fear is being left alone.

The other man is Alden Pyle, a fresh-faced American , young and idealistic , filled with bookish ideas of bringing about a new revolution. He does not see the reality of war and is absorbed with his own agenda. Everything about him is matter-of-fact, and his distance from reality  is chilling. His innocence is a danger to himself and others.

The story starts with the discovery of Pyle’s body, dumped in the river, leading to Fowler’s interrogation. We go back to the time they first met and their growing friendship, more situational than voluntary. Fowler does not have any real affection for Pyle and resents him both for stealing his mistress and being involved in underhand terrorist activities.

The dark humor employed at times in the book is reminiscent of ‘Catch 22’. One of the most moving section of the book is when Pyle & Fowler as stranded on a checkpost in the middle of the night with two teenage soldiers of the Vietnam National Army anticipating the Vietminh attack. Like many other books written on wartime, this scene reinforces the wastefulness of war.

Greene creates an engaging and exotic picture of Vietnam. As you read along, you realize the futility of the war, how it’s about basic personal agendas and how civilians are caught in the crossfire. And how getting involved is about getting your hands red.

Verdict: Highly recommended. Buy it.


Author: Vipula

Before talking about who we are, we’d like to tell you a bit about how and why Shades of Words came into being. It all started with the idea of “A place where we could share with likeminded people about things we enjoy. From books to music to movies to travel; Shades of Words was to be a place about the best of our experiences” We thought about why should anyone read us? The answer was that whatever we review would be a mix of our experience of the thing along with interesting and useful information about it. So in case you are reading us regularly or even checking us out once in a while then we have succeeded in our efforts someway somewhere. Who are we? Known as Kapil Sood and Vipula Gupta, we thought of Shades of Words on one fine Sunday afternoon. Tired of writing interesting RFP’s and project documentation; we decided to give this a shot. Yes! We work in Indian IT industry. Cupid struck us while were innocently slogging together on the highly intricate job of formatting and beautifying documents! And since then, we have been working together to establish Shades of Words as a place that we can claim as ours. (Because buying a house is still years away!) What else? Kapil also writes some blogs which you can read here and here.

2 thoughts on “The Quiet American – By Graham Greene

  1. I love Graham Greene but haven’t read this. Thanks for the prompt.

  2. Thanks for dropping by. Yes do read this – its engaging and very well written. The characters are well defined and thats one of the things I always like in a book.

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