Books that Changed Humanity: The Quiet American

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The world may yearn for a ‘quiet’ American in 2020, but 65 years ago, the English novelist, Graham Greene presaged its dangers in The Quiet American (1955).

In an age where US leadership has all but flamed out, its remnant pyre illuminating mostly failure, Greene’s perfectly structured novel warned of the harm to be done in the name of doing good, of getting involved, of bringing salvation. In the journalistic patois of today, Greene skewered the blithe weaponisation of innocence.

Mark Kenny is Professor at the Australian Studies Institute at ANU, an appointment following a high-profile journalistic career culminating in six years as chief political correspondent and national affairs editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Canberra Times. He is a frequent columnist, and a regular on the ABC's Insiders program, Sky News Agenda, and radio programs across the country.