The Quiet American book review

I read The Quiet American, by Graham Greene. The fiction novel is set during the Vietnam War. It is about an English newspaper reporter named Fowler and his relationship with the titular quiet American named Pyle. Pyle reads books by York Harding (a scholar who writes about Asia without any real-world experience) and takes Harding’s opinions as his own. Harding says neither colonialism (from France) nor Communism is ideal for Vietnam, but rather a “Third Force”, a combination of traditions that would have grassroots appeal. Pyle lends American support to a Vietnamese militant named General The to make the “Third Force”,  and as a result, scores of people die. Even though Pyle saved Fowler’s life, Fowler sees that Pyle must be stopped and leads Pyle to his death. Fowler is selfish, curmudgeonly, cynical, all the more to contrast with Pyle’s naïveté and idealism. Despite Fowler’s negative traits and Pyle’s good intentions, Pyle is clearly in the wrong. The novel is full of Fowler’s frequent and heavy-handed criticism of Pyle, and so the novel is a scathing condemnation against American intervention in the Vietnam War (and war in general).

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