Our Man In Havana – Graham Greene (1958)


Our Man In Havana (1958) is a novel set in Cuba by the British author Graham Greene. He makes fun of intelligence services, especially the British MI6, and their willingness to believe reports from their local informants. The book predates the Cuban Missile Crisis, but certain aspects of the plot, notably the role of missile installations, appear to anticipate the events of 1962. It was adapted into a film of the same name in 1959, directed by Carol Reed and starring Alec Guinness. In 1963 it was adapted into an opera by Malcolm Williamson, to a libretto by Sidney Gilliat, who had worked on the film. In 2007, it was adapted into a play by Clive Francis, which has since toured the UK several times and been performed in various parts of the world. Greene joined MI6 in August 1941. In London, Greene had been appointed to the subsection dealing with counter-espionage in the Iberian Peninsula, where he had learned about German agents in Portugal sending the Germans fictitious reports, which garnered them expenses and bonuses to add to their basic salary. One of the agents was ‘Garbo‘, a Spanish double agent in Lisbon, who gave his German handlers disinformation, by pretending to control a ring of agents all over England. In fact, he invented armed forces movements and operations from maps, guides and standard military references. Garbo was the main inspiration for Wormold, the protagonist of Our Man In Havana.  Remembering the German agents in Portugal, Greene wrote the first version of the story in 1946, as an outline for a film script, with the story set in Estonia in 1938. The film was never made, and Greene soon realised that Havana, which he had visited several times in the early 1950s, would be a much better setting, with the absurdities of the Cold War being more appropriate for a comedy. The novel, a black comedy, is set in Havana during the Fulgencio Batista regime. James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner retailer, is approached by Hawthorne, who tries to recruit him for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Wormold’s wife had left him and now, he lives with his 16-year-old beautiful, devoutly Catholic but materialistic and manipulative daughter Milly. Since Wormold does not make enough money to pay for Milly’s extravagances, he accepts the offer of a side job in espionage. Because he has no information to send to London, Wormold fabricates his reports using information found in newspapers and invents a fictitious network of agents. …”
Wikipedia
W – Our Man in Havana (film)
Exploring Cuba, Guided by Graham Greene
NY Times: Out of a Need for Money By JAMES M. CAIN (October 26, 1958)
Drinking and Drink in “Our Man in Havana”
amazon
YouTube: Our Man in Havana trailer

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