Graham Greene -- angry Yank-hater, or must-read for the Bush White House? And by the way, God does matter in "The Quiet American." Readers respond to Laura Miller's "'God Save Us From the Innocent and the Good.'"

By Salon Staff
Published October 26, 2004 8:00PM (EDT)

[Read the story.]

Graham Greene was a typically anti-American British expatriate. British expatriates often have the arrogance to vilify any American foray overseas. The British were after all the world's master colonizers, subjugating more peoples around the globe than any other nation in history, imposing their system of government and lifestyle by force. The world is their oyster, not ours. The cynical British struck out overseas to stay put in the countries they invaded. Americans have struck out with the naive notion of wanting to make the world a better place, then to get back home in one piece. Whatever the case, Graham Greene is an irrelevant dinosaur. Rather, read the American Paul Theroux.

Jack Kennedy really got the war in Vietnam going, and he wasn't a neocon. It's folly to try to simplify and dismiss millions of people with the terms "neocon" or "liberal." Even we dumb Americans are more complex than this.

-- Van Souther

After reading this remarkably lucid piece I wanted to send a copy of "The Quiet American" to George W. Bush, but of course he doesn't read. I then considered sending him a copy of Miller's essay, perhaps to pique some latent vestige of curiosity. But then it occurred to me: Neither does he think. How, precisely, does one communicate with "the innocent and the good"?

-- Tom Liston

Laura Miller's wrong. Religion is essential to the plot of "The Quiet American." It is Fowler's wife's religious scruples which prevent her from giving him a divorce. This means that Pyle can offer Phuong marriage, which she -- and her family -- want more than anything else.

In a modern story it would be Pyle's youth and wealth which allow him to seduce Phuong away from Fowler; but in the book Greene wrote, it is the respectability he can grant.

One might of course take this as one more example of Greene's anti-Americanism.

-- Andrew Brown

Salon Staff

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