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Our Man in Havana

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Overview

Mr. Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman in a city of powercuts, becomes a spy to earn extra income.
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Overview

Mr. Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman in a city of powercuts, becomes a spy to earn extra income.
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Editorial Reviews

Daily Telegraph (London)
As comical, satirical, atmospherical an 'entertainment' as he has given us.
Publishers Weekly
Actor Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park, Tristram Shandy) has himself a ball with Greene's comic suspense novel, its Cuban setting and panoply of international characters. He downplays the religious and political undertones of the book in favor of Greene's comedy of a vacuum-cleaner salesman turned secret agent. Greene's array of Germans, Brits and native Cubans allows Northam to trot out some of the choicest examples from his stable of voices, all cleverly done. The brief bits of salsa music that punctuate the breaks between chapters underscore Northam's jaunty reading. This is one classic novel meant to be enjoyed for entertainment, not self-improvement. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780783897578
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Series: Perennial Bestseller Series
  • Edition description: LARGE PRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Graham Greene (1904-1991), whose long life nearly spanned the length of the twentieth century, was one of its greatest novelists. Educated at Berkhamsted School and Balliol College, Oxford, he started his career as a sub-editor of the London TimesHe began to attract notice as a novelist with his fourth book, Orient Expressin 1932. In 1935, he trekked across northern Liberia, his first experience in Africa, told in A Journey Without Maps (1936). He converted to Catholicism in 1926, an edifying decision, and reported on religious persecution in Mexico in 1938 in The Lawless Roadswhich served as a background for his famous The Power and the Glory, one of several “Catholic” novels (Brighton RockThe Heart of the MatterThe End of the Affair). During the war he worked for the British secret service in Sierra Leone; afterward, he began wide-ranging travels as a journalist, which were reflected in novels such as The Quiet AmericanOur Man in HavanaThe ComediansTravels with My AuntThe Honorary ConsulThe Human FactorMonsignor Quixoteand The Captain and the EnemyAs well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, two books of autobiography, A Sort of Life and Ways of Escape, two biographies, and four books for children. He also contributed hundreds of essays and film and book reviews to The Spectator and other journals, many of which appear in the late collection ReflectionsMost of his novels have been filmed, including The Third Man, which the author first wrote as a film treatment. Graham Greene was named Companion of Honour and received the Order of Merit among numerous other awards.

Christopher Hitchens is a widely published polemicist and frequent radio and TV commentator.  He is the author of many books, including Why Orwell Matters, Letters to a Young Contrarian, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, as well as books on Cyprus, Kurdistan and Palestine, including Blaming the Victims coedited with Edward Said.  He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and writes for, among others, Slate, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Book Review, and The Washington Post.  He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

Biography

Known for his espionage thrillers set in exotic locales, Graham Greene is the writer who launched a thousand travel journalists. But although Greene produced some unabashedly commercial works -- he called them "entertainments," to distinguish them from his novels -- even his escapist fiction is rooted in the gritty realities he encountered around the globe. "Greeneland" is a place of seedy bars and strained loyalties, of moral dissolution and physical decay.

Greene spent his university years at Oxford "drunk and debt-ridden," and claimed to have played Russian roulette as an antidote to boredom. At age 21 he converted to Roman Catholicism, later saying, "I had to find a religion...to measure my evil against." His first published novel, The Man Within, did well enough to earn him an advance from his publishers, but though Greene quit his job as a Times subeditor to write full-time, his next two novels were unsuccessful. Finally, pressed for money, he set out to write a work of popular fiction. Stamboul Train (also published as The Orient Express) was the first of many commercial successes.

Throughout the 1930s, Greene wrote novels, reviewed books and movies for the Spectator, and traveled through eastern Europe, Liberia, and Mexico. One of his best-known works, Brighton Rock, was published during this time; The Power and the Glory, generally considered Greene's masterpiece, appeared in 1940. Along with The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair, they cemented Greene's reputation as a serious novelist -- though George Orwell complained about Greene's idea "that there is something rather distingué in being damned; Hell is a sort of high-class nightclub, entry to which is reserved for Catholics only."

During World War II, Greene was stationed in Sierra Leone, where he worked in an intelligence capacity for the British Foreign Office under Kim Philby, who later defected to the Soviet Union. After the war, Greene continued to write stories, plays, and novels, including The Quiet American, Travels with My Aunt, The Honorary Consul, and The Captain and the Enemy. For a time, he worked as a screenwriter for MGM, producing both original screenplays and scripts adapted from his fiction.

He also continued to travel, reporting from Vietnam, Haiti, and Panama, among other places, and he became a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy in Central America. Some biographers have suggested that his friendships with Communist leaders were a ploy, and that he was secretly gathering intelligence for the British government. The more common view is that Greene's leftist leanings were part of his lifelong sympathy with the world's underdogs -- what John Updike called his "will to compassion, an ideal communism even more Christian than Communist. Its unit is the individual, not any class."

But if Greene's politics were sometimes difficult to decipher, his stature as a novelist has seldom been in doubt, in spite of the light fiction he produced. Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh, and R. K. Narayan paid tribute to his work, and William Golding prophesied: "He will be read and remembered as the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety."

Good To Know

Greene's philandering ways were legendary; he frequently visited prostitutes and had several mistresses, including Catherine Walston, who converted to Catholicism after reading The Power and the Glory and wrote to Greene asking him to be her godfather. After a brief period of correspondence, the two met, and their relationship inspired Greene's novel The End of the Affair.

Greene was a film critic, screenwriter, and avid moviegoer, and critics have sometimes praised the cinematic quality of his style. His most famous screenplay was The Third Man, which he cowrote with director Carol Reed. Recently, new film adaptations have been made of Greene's novels The End of the Affair and The Quiet American. Greene's work has also formed the basis for an opera: Our Man in Havana, composed by Malcolm Williamson.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Henry Graham Greene (birth name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 2, 1904
    2. Place of Birth:
      Berkhamsted, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 3, 1991
    2. Place of Death:
      Vevey, Switzerland

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