Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Written for the Road...

by Graham Greene, is a novel written and set in the early 1950's, when Vietnam was still Indo-China and there was a war waging between the French and the Vietnamese. The story is narrated by Thomas Fowler, a washed up British war correspondent, who is content smoking his opium pipes and having a relationship with Phuong, his Vietnamese mistress. All of the sudden, a young idealistic American named Alden Pyle arrives on the scene. Pyle, who is supposedly in Vietnam as an aid worker, falls for Phuong and declares his love for her. Fowler becomes increasingly suspect of the brash, egotistical Pyle, who seems to have come to Vietnam with an arrogance and a lack of respect for any culture of his own. Before long Thomas Fowler and Alden Pyle find themselves in a war within a war, Phuong the battlefield. The Quiet American is a tale that works on many levels. On one level, it is a story about wartime adventure, love, murder, and romance. But on a much deeper level, The Quiet American is a birds-eye look into American politics. Graham Greene's book, written in the 50's, well before Americas "involvement" in Vietnam, is a glimpse into the future and is quite relevant today for America's new quagmires, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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