Written based on Graham Greene’s experiences as a war correspondent, The Quiet American is one of the author’s most famous works, due at least in part perhaps to the successful 2002 film adaptation starring Michael Caine. Whilst this novel was written before the Vietnam War, the story alludes heavily to the escalating likelihood of conflict in the region, and addresses the issues of war in Greene’s typically profound way.
The “Quiet American” in the title is Alden Pyle, a naïve young man who finds himself acquainted with Thomas Fowler, a British journalist based in Vietnam. The two have opposing viewpoints on a range of socio-political and ideological issues, yet despite this manage to develop a good friendship. However when the two men find that they are both in love with the same woman, they are forced to confront each other, ultimately discovering secrets that they perhaps wished they hadn’t.
This fascinating story set against the terrible backdrop of human conflict, and with a foreboding sense of inevitability about a war that would go on to permanently scar the region, is widely regarded as one of Greene’s best works. Read by Simon Cadell, The Quiet American is available to buy as a CD audiobook.