Lively and informative...Hull wraps his literary, cinematic, and political history in a pocket-biography of Greene, tailored to set the author's espionage story in context.-- "Wall Street Journal"
Graham Green's life was a gift to biographers. They-and the author himself-have amply chronicled his adventurous stints in exotic locations, his work as a secret agent, his love affairs, and his Catholicism. Christopher Hull touches on all of these themes in his focused and entertaining account of the making of Greene's novel of espionage, Our Man in Havana.-- "Economist (London)"
Hull's access to Greene's journals and papers provided him with unique insight into how the author worked his knowledge of Havana and espionage into a major literary achievement.-- "Library Journal (starred review)"
Hull's Our Man Down in Havana dissects Graham Greene's classic satire on spies with forensic skill, exposing the rotten heart of the CIA's 'wilderness of mirrors.' An excellent book for intelligence professionals and the general reader alike. Read it and ponder-sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.-- " Colonel John Hughes-Wilson, author of The Secret State"
A completely fascinating book, immaculately researched, full of insight and telling detail. A revelation and a delight.-- "William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart"
A biography notable for its deep research.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Richly detailed and packed with insight not just into the historical context of the novel and film but also into the creative process itself.-- "Matthew Parker, author of Goldeneye"
Exploring the backstory that led to the writing of Graham Greene's beloved satirical spy novel, Our Man Down in Havana evokes this pivotal time and place in the author's life.
When U.S. immigration authorities deported Graham Greene from Puerto Rico in 1954, the British author made an unplanned visit to Havana and discovered that “every vice was permissible and every trade possible” in a Caribbean fleshpot of mafia-run casinos and nude revues. The former MI6 officer had stumbled upon the ideal setting for a comic espionage story. Three years later, he returned in the midst of Fidel Castro’s guerrilla insurgency against a U.S.-backed dictator to begin writing his iconic novel Our Man in Havana. Twelve weeks after its publication, the Cuban Revolution triumphed in January 1959, soon transforming a capitalist playground into a communist stronghold.
Combining biography, history, and politics, Our Man Down in Havana investigates the real story behind Greene’s fictional one. This includes his many visits to a pleasure island that became a revolutionary island, turning his chance involvement into a political commitment. His Cuban novel describes an amateur agent who dupes his intelligence chiefs with invented reports about “concrete platforms and unidentifiable pieces of giant machinery.” With eerie prescience, Greene’s satirical tale had foretold the Cold War’s most perilous episode, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Exploiting a wealth of archival material and interviews with key protagonists, Our Man Down in Havana delves into the story behind and beyond the author’s prophetic Cuban tale, focusing on one slice of Greene’s manic life: a single novel and its complex history.