Book Report

Author: Graham Greene
Titles of some other works by the same author:
a.o.: A Burnt-Out Case, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the

Title: The Quiet American

Date of Publication: 1965 Edition: Penguin
First published : 1955

Genre: Novel of character

List of (main) characters and description of them:
1) Fowler, a British reporter, who has left his wife, living in
Vietnam with a Chinese woman, trying to report about the war
without too much personal involvement.
2) Phuong, an obedient Chinese woman, searching the security of
marriage and the happiness of bearing children
3) Pyle, a US-diplomat, getting involved in the French-Chinese
war without enough understanding what he is doing.

Narrative Technique:
The author is permanently present near Fowler and tells about the
mans feelings, thoughts and the events occurring to Fowler or he
writes as though he is Fowler himself.

In what part of what century does the story take place?
In the early fifties, during the French colonial war.
How much time is covered?
A few months.

The turning point in the story is, when Fowler decides to kill Pyle.
He thinks Pyle is getting to dangerous for the society. Pyle supports a ‘third force’,
which is very radical in its actions. Innocent people are the victims of their demonstrations, and Fowler says the third force must be stopped.
This turning point was expectable, because the book starts with the murder of Pyle.

The themes of the book are:
-War in Vietnam of French army against Vietminh.
-Relation between British reporter, Chinese woman and American diplomat.
-Personal involvement in acts of war.

Explain the title:
One of the main characters in the book, the American diplomat Pyle, is a quiet person.

I think, a very important incident is, when Pyle and Fowler first met, right after Pyles arrival. They discuss the work of the diplomatic correspondent York Harding, who has a great influence on Pyles way of thinking. York Hardings book"The advance of red China" suggests that Vietnam needs a "third force".Fowler is rather critical about Pyles innocent ideas and behaviour.

I enjoyed reading this book, while it is a very good mixture of war events and the excellent description of the relationship between the main characters in the book: Pyle, Fowler and Phuong. So many years after the French-Vietnamese war, it is still an interesting story.

It was, sometimes, a bit difficult to read, with a lot of words I’ve never heard of.

I certainly would recommend it to a friend, if he likes the historic background of the book. If he doesn’t, it’s still very exciting to read it.

martijn adelaar.