Our Man in Havana

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He also begins to hire imaginary agents to support him in his growing spy network. But what really drew me into Greene's novel were the well-drawn characters. Wormold himself; his best friend and drinking buddy, Dr. Hasselbacher; his daughter Milly who flips back and forth between religious fervency and a dangerous dalliance with police Captain Segura nicknamed the Red Vulture ; the dangerous Captain Segura, who has a reputation for torture and who carries a wallet made of human flesh; Beatrice, Wormold's sharp new MI6 secretary; along with a host of other supporting characters.

If you enjoy a well-written novel with interesting characters, humorous situations, a touch of romance, and even a few thrilling moments toward its end, then you might give Our Man in Havana a look-see. I certainly recommend it. Jun 22, Grace Tjan rated it it was amazing Shelves: british-literature , greeneland , ebook , , latin-america-caribbean. Paul Anderson, in the Chair Mr. Jonathan Blakeley Mr. Q1 Chairman: Mr. Wormold, may I welcome you to this hearing, which purpose is to examine the veracity of spoilers! Wormold, may I welcome you to this hearing, which purpose is to examine the veracity of the contents of Dossier No.

This Committee hopes that both of you will be able to shed light on certain events described in the Dossier, which have been challenged by other sources. Everything that transpires in this hearing shall be treated as a matter of national security and be held in the strictest confidence. Let me start with the first question: Mr.

Wormold, is it true that you were recruited by an SIS agent, who went under the name of Hawthorne, in Havana during the winter of ? Wormold: It is true, sir. Q2 Chairman: Please describe the recruitment process.

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Wormold: I was drinking with my old friend Dr. Agent Hawthorne was there. He corralled me into the Gents and suggested to me that I should join the Secret Service. Q3 Chairman: Any particular reason why the deed was done in the Gents? He kept the tap running while speaking to me, to confuse the mike, he said. Then he shoved me into a closet and walked away. Q4 Mr.

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Cunningham: Did he give you any reason for your recruitment? Wormold: Yes, sir.

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He said that I was a patriotic Englishman who had been living in Havana for years, besides being a respected member of the European Traders Association. He also said that they must have their man in Havana, and that submarines need fuel and dictators drift together.

Q5 Mr. Cunningham: What kind of business did you run in Havana, Mr. Wormold: I ran a vacuum cleaner shop, sir. Q6 Mr. Wormold: One, sir. It was just a small store. Blakeley: Interesting. Wormold: snickers Chairman: Mrs. Wormold, we respectfully ask you not to speak until requested to do so. Cunningham: Mr. Wormold, you initially refused the job, why did you change your mind? Wormold: It was because of my daughter, Milly.

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She was just sixteen at that time. Convent schoolgirl, very good girl. She wanted to buy a horse and rode in the Country Club. The horse alone costed pounds, sir, and the Country Club was even more expensive. Not to say of the bridles, saddles and riding lessons. And I wanted to have enough money to retire in England and take her with me. There was this native person called Capt. Segura who had designs on her. Q7 Mr. Wormold: The one and the same.

Do you know what people in Havana call him, sir? The Red Vulture. He tortured prisoners. He had a wallet made of human skin. This person wanted to marry my daughter. You see, I had to get her out of Cuba. Wormold: He is such a good father! Chairman: : Mrs. Wormold Mrs. Wormold: Not to speak until spoken to. Q8 Mr. Cunningham: The Dossier records that you received a lump sum payment of 1, pounds in April Could you confirm what the funds were used for?

Wormold: To join the Country Club and recruit several sub-agents. Q9 Mr. Wormold: My employee at the store. He wanted an additional 25 pesos per month. I had to justify the payments. Q 10 Mr. Cunningham: I see. And the transfer of 1, dollars in June was for what purpose? Wormold: To procure intelligence reports and drawings of the secret military installations in the mountains of Oriente Province.

Chairman: These are the drawings, gentlemen. According to the Dossier, these depict the parts of a massive weapon of mass destruction, very possibly nuclear. Wormold: Actually, those were the drawings of the parts of the Atomic Pile Suction vacuum cleaner. Q11 Chairman: Is that true, Mr.

Wormold: Uh yes, sir. Q12 Chairman: Who made them, Mr. Wormold: I did, sir. I took the Atomic Pile apart and drew the parts. Then I altered the scale to make them seem gigantic. Blakeley: He had even drew a little man with a bowler hat next to the drawings see? Chairman: How did these absurd drawings got through the experts at the SIS?

Blakeley: To be fair, this particular drawing here does look like some kind of a massive cannon bore. I love it that Jim could be so devious! Q13 Chairman: Since you seem to be exceedingly eager to speak, Mrs. Who sent you to Havana? Wormold: Miss Jenkinson, sir.

Agent Hawthorne specifically requested a Spanish-speaking secretary for the assignment. Q14 Chairman: Did you speak Spanish? Did you have any other abilities that might have been useful there? At the SIS, they think that all Latin tongues are the same anyway. I could encode and do microphotography. I also have a good knowledge of electrodynamics. Q15 Mr.

Our Man In Havana (Blu-ray)

Blakeley: Er all right. Q16 Mr. Cunningham: What happened when you arrived in Havana? Did Mr. Wormold: We first met at the Copacabana it was so romantic all those palm trees, the Parisian songs, the cabaret… Chairman: Please answer Mr. Wormold: Where were we? Oh yes, I was not suspicious at first. I thought that he was kind of bumbling, but what a sweet man! And then someone shot at Cifuentes and everything started to unravel.

He took me to the Shanghai Theater to warn Teresa Mr. Blakeley: Is this the incident described in the police report attached to the Dossier, in which Mr. Wormold: Yes. It was quite funny, actually. It was a total farce. I wished that he had just told me, though. No need for all that merry go round right, darling?

Our Man Down in Havana

But at the end Mr. Wormold successfully eliminated several suspected enemy operatives while providing us with an invaluable list of foreign agents. Cunningham: May I point out that Mr. He invented secrets, and such an act is not covered by the OSA. Chairman: I think that I can speak for this Committee on the balance, Mr.

But such is the nature of intelligence work. Wormold deserves his O. Wormold does not deserve to be sent to Jakarta. Blakeley and Mr. Cunningham: We agree.

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Wormold: May I say something, sir? Chairman: Certainly, Mr. The cruel come and go like cities and thrones and powers. They have no permanence.

Graham Greene

But the clown whom I had seen last year with my daughter at the circus that clown is permanent, for his act never change. That is the way to live: the clown is unaffected by the vagaries of public and the enormous discoveries of the great. Chairman: Umm, yes. Quite an interesting sentiment. Is that all? Wormold: One more: thou shalt not invent a weapon of mass destruction where there is none. Chairman: I agree. May I thank you on behalf of the Committee? You both have been most helpful. End of Transcript View all 13 comments. Graham Greene always amazed me as he wrote about topical subjects before they became topical.

It's a funny thing. I read this book several decades ago along with all the other Graham Greene books the Paul Hogarth illustrated covers series by Penguin. Then last week a local theatre company put on this play so I couldn't resist. To be honest I vaguely remembered this story. At times I thought it seemed a little dated now it's a period piece but the mixture of black humour and Greene's plot line Graham Greene always amazed me as he wrote about topical subjects before they became topical. At times I thought it seemed a little dated now it's a period piece but the mixture of black humour and Greene's plot line lived up to its category - an entertainment.

The funny thing is that it is all about fake news. Set in Havana, a vacuum salesman is offered to work as an MI6 spy for the British. Wormold needs the money - his daughter is turning 17 and the expenses are growing. The British wanted to keep tabs on the communist rebels and establish a spy base in the Caribbean. Throw in Wormold's German friend Dr. Hasselbacher which side is he on, East or West? To create the scam, Dr. Hasselbacher suggests that he just make up the stories to get payment from MI6. No one gets hurt and you get some extra cash.

This sounds easy except when one of his fictitious characters actually dies, the scam begins to unravel and Wormold digs himself deeper. Graham Greene is all about timing. Our Man in Havana came out just months before the Cuban Revolution started. The political intrigue is always there. Greene plays down the middle, not choosing sides. It is an entertainment, so it doesn't get too deep, too dark at times and you won't walk away enlightened.

The play was fun; the book was enjoyable. Kudos to the playwright, because he lifted the script to a tee.

One of the most memorable scenes is the checkers game between Captain Segura and Wormold, played with mini bottles of Scotch and Bourbon. Winner gets to drink the other's. And we know where this is going! Just pure pandemonium. So good to read once again. Originally read May The humor in the dialogue and elsewhere is dry and funny in a-wink-and-a-nod kind of way. I had disliked the similes in the otherwise-wonderful The Human Factor , which I'd found awkward, but here they are perfect.

The only criticism I have is of the ending, which seemed just a bit too 'twee. Despite that critique, though, one of the strengths of this story is the heart that's behind it. Jan 19, Irene rated it really liked it. This story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman recruited to be a spy in Cuba at the height of the Cold War was clever, smart, funny and totally entertaining. Apr 09, Elaine rated it it was amazing Shelves: I first read this book 30 years ago and was charmed by Greene's sardonic sendup of the spy genre I didn't fully appreciate at the time that OMIH pre-dated most of what I thought of as the spy genre.

Re-reading it again this year after a visit to Cuba, I loved along with the wit, which sparkles as brightly as ever the deft way Greene conveys the atmosphere of Havana more the same than you might think, after 60 years in very few words. In particular, understanding the history better this tim I first read this book 30 years ago and was charmed by Greene's sardonic sendup of the spy genre I didn't fully appreciate at the time that OMIH pre-dated most of what I thought of as the spy genre.

In particular, understanding the history better this time around, murderous Captain Segura, with his torturable and non-torturable classes and his nest egg in Miami, comes through with his full menace. In book after book from this era, Greene seems eerily prescient of which way the winds of history are blowing. His clear-eyed view in OMIH of the absurdity and horror of "statecraft" is as timely now as it was then. And it only takes a few hours to read! British influence over the rest of the world is on the wane. An alcoholic British expatriate Jim Wormold - who owns a shop that sells vacuum cleaners is hired by a British intelligence agency as their man spy in Havana.

He is a middle aged man who does not know what he is to do with the rest of his life. How will he go on? How will he fund the exorbitant lifestyle of his Catholic daughter Milly? He drifts through life, drinking daiquiris with another dejected British expatriate Dr. Hasselbacher at Havana's numerous bars. But when he is assigned the job of a spy by Hawthorne the British intelligence agent who arrives as a customer at Wormold's shop , there is something to do. He begins to make money. He makes up fake events and people in his dispatches to the intelligence agency.

But then his dispatches begin to come true. I think Wormold and Hasselbacher represent post-war Britain - tired and without any motive or passion to go on, conceding hegemony to America. But I doubt whether Greene was a patriot. But one setpiece where a rival agent tried to poison Wormold at a trade meeting does not really work. The book's second half does not really measure upto its first half. The sheer absurdity of the intelligence agencies activities is captured perfectly by Greene especially in the scenes towards the end where Wormold is bestowed with a teaching post at the agency despite him running circles around them.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1, titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. Graham Greene was born in While at Balliol College, Oxford, he published his first book of verse.

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