In this May 12, 1959, Ernest Hemingway, left, speaks with actor Alec Guinness, center, and Noel Coward during the making of Carol Reed’s film version of “Our Man in Havana,” based on Graham Greene’s best seller, in Havana, Cuba.
I don’t care a damn about men who are loyal to the people who pay them, to organizations…I don’t think even my country means all that much. There are many countries in our blood, aren’t there, but only one person. Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?
Inauspicious vacuum cleaner retailer, Mr Wormold, agrees to enlist in the British Secret Service, mainly in order to pay for his beautiful and willful daughter Milly’s increasingly expensive tastes, and soon finds himself caught in the centre of a deadly conspiracy entirely of his own devising.
In this black comedy that predates the Cuban Missile Crisis, Greene presents a world of espionage: where men are not as they exist in reality; but as they are created through the power of another man’s imagination, and where the only thing that makes a man real: is not loyalty to country, government or institution; but the love and empathy he elicits from a fellow human being.
The photograph is of the First Edition, published by William Heinmann in 1958, with a wrapper design by Donald Green.
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My dad brought this on vacation and couldn’t stop laughing out loud. He constantly told me how funny and relatable the book was. So even though I brought a ton of books from my own to-read shelf, I’ve put them on hold to satiate his desire for me to give him my opinion. I’m a huge fan of Graham Greene so I have no problem obliging him. From the back cover:
“M16’s man in Havana is Wormold, a former vacuum-clearner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job he flies bogus reports based on Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start becoming disturbingly true …
First published in 1959, Our Man in Havana is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire that still resonates today. It remains one of Graham Greene’s most widely read novels.”