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10 Best Graham Greene Books (2024)

Best Graham Greene BooksCulturally Rich Childhood

Graham Greene was among the prolific English novelists of the past century and his works went on to affect the course of English literature. It is also worth mentioning that countless Graham Greene books were, and are still being, made into movies with the latest one having been released in 2011 which does tell us something when we consider the fact that the author passed away twenty years beforehand.

The writer was born in 1904 at the boarding house in Hertfordshire where his father served as the housemaster. Both his parents came from well-off and prestigious families and most of his five siblings went on to achieve great things like the author himself. He was also allowed the opportunity to live out his childhood in all kinds of culturally rich environments thanks to his extended family.

Tragic Events

However, the writer’s younger days were not all that easy despite his apparent advantages. He was bullied severely after he started attending the school he was born in and he was heavily depressed as a result of this. He had tragically attempted suicide multiple times before he even reached adulthood. He also suffered from periodic episodes of depression further in his life but could deal with it in better ways.

Best Graham Greene Books

The Power and the Glory


The Whiskey Priest

As is usual, the first piece we are going to be talking about in this article will be one of the best selling Graham Greene books that is The Power and the Glory. It is a historical fiction story that earned its right to be regarded as a classic of its time. It is among the earlier works of the author and it is also one of his few works that put heavy emphasis on religious themes.

The story is set in a remote part of southern Mexico which is ruled by a paramilitary group called Red Shirts. Due to the radical views of this group, all kinds of religion were outlawed in the region. This was such a serious matter that all priests were hunted down and killed. That is, except for the humble and nameless “whiskey priest” who serves as the narrator of this story.

Just the Right Person

Funnily enough, the whiskey priest neither drinks that much whiskey nor does the work of a prayer. I would actually go as far as to say he could barely be considered a priest before he even went on the run but you will have to figure out why that is for yourselves. Still, he is just the right person for the world and the people of this one of the best Graham Greene books needs.

The Quiet American


The Political Side of War

We will now be continuing on with our second piece The Quiet American which stands as one of the most popular Graham Greene books out there. It is a politically charged historical fiction piece that takes us to a time of great moral conflict and death. Contrary to what you would probably expect from that statement, the author does not really take a hard stance on the subject.

The story of this piece takes place during, and in, the Vietnam War and it is narrated by a cynical reporter who is an expert in his field called Fowler. However, Fowler is not necessarily the center of attention in this book. It instead revolves around the idealist and way too innocent Alden Pyle who was sent there by Washington to conduct a secret mission.

Caught in the Chaos

A big part of the book is made up of Pyle trying to conduct his business in the most humane way possible but being caught up in the chaos and cruelty of the war for the majority. The book also includes a personal conflict between Pyle and Fowler concerning multiple issues which provides us with some relief from the war and gets us to invest in the story further.

The End of the Affair


Love and Hate

We are carrying on with our article and the third one of the Graham Greene books that I have in order for you is The End of the Affair. It is a book that stands out with its thorough philosophical ponderings and its observant commentary on the matters of love and hate. So, get ready for a thought-provoking piece that just might leave you with a broken heart.

A year has passed since the death of Sarah and her ex-lover Maurice wants to come to terms with all the things that happened between them. But before we get into this further, let’s take a look at these two key characters. Maurice is an author who is kind of the polar opposite of Pollyanna and Sarah was a gorgeous woman married to a guy as boring as a rock.

Four Years of Wild Feelings

The two lovers were entangled with each as soon as they met and they spent four years mingling around behind the back of Sarah’s husband. However, Sarah let go of Maurice after a confusing and a bit silly chain of events. Now, Maurice writes about her in order to feel love for her once again instead of the hatred that lasted since then. One of the best Graham Greene books is thus created.

Our Man in Havana


Vacuum Cleaner Turned Agent

Next up in our search for the best novels by Graham Greene, I am going to be introducing you to Our Man in Havana. This piece is a particularly exciting one in the author’s portfolio as it is an espionage story with a lot of comedic elements. It is a political satire that also does not hold itself back from being a kick-ass mystery thriller.

The story of this piece revolves around an M16 operative who is currently serving in Havana. The name of this agent is Wormold who was once a vacuum cleaner salesman but had to change fields because of her constantly overspending sixteen-year-old daughter. Not too excited about his current job, Wormold spends his time writing made-up reports and all other kinds of mischiefs.

Dreams Come True

However, the life of the agent is given a sprinkle of excitement when his so-called “findings” start to come true. Even the military projects that he drew by taking inspiration from vacuum cleaner designs. What is curious about all of this is that in the end, some of our agent’s absurd ideas did come to be true in the real world. So we might be smart to read this one over and over again.

The Heart of the Matter


A Story in West Africa

We are about halfway done with our Graham Greene book reviews article and the fourth piece that I am going to be introducing to you will be The Heart of the Matter. It is another historical fiction piece by the author that allows us to open a window into the past. It is also uniquely set in Africa and deals with some of the most serious issues of both then and today.

At the heart of this story stands Henry Scobie who is a police officer working to secure the borders of a British colony located in West Africa. The most eye-catching quality of our cop is his complete submission to his Catholic religion and the moral compass of his which brings him the feeling of guilt more than salvation. Especially in times like this.

Two Sides of the Coin

However, there are always two sides to a coin. Scobie is also a man with a terrible problem. There is not a single person in his life that he does not feel pity for. He even goes as far as to feel that way about God for getting the good side of the creator-created deal. Overall, he makes for a complex character who compliments every bad thing happening in his world perfectly.

Brighton Rock


Personal Responsibility and Moral States

We are moving on with our Graham Greene book list and Brighton Rock will be the sixth piece that we are going to check out. It is one of the most well renowned works of the author and it is also one of his very few religious works which we talked about above. He also tackles the themes of personal responsibility and moral states which are without a doubt among his favorite topics of discussion.

As for its story, Brighton Rock tells us a tale of murder and crime. It follows the curious seventeen years old Pinkie who has recently found himself sitting in the highest chair of a mob following the brutal murder of the previous leader. As young as Pinkie is, he is definitely not a rookie by any means. He knows the streets, he walks with his shoulders erect, and he is as ruthless as it is required.

Just in Case

What we learn next is that Pinkie’s seat is not as solid as he wants it to be. There is a young girl named Rose who knows a tiny teeny secret that could bring down Pinkie at any instant. The good news is, she is not aware of it. Pinkie decides to keep her close just in case and his relationship with her gives us this contestant for the title of the best Graham Greene novel.

The Third Man


His Best Mystery Piece

Carrying on with our article, the next piece we are going to be talking about will be one that is among the best rated Graham Greene books that is The Third Man. Although this is one of the lesser known works of the author, I would say it is the best mystery piece he has ever written. It is also written in the style of noir which I could definitely tolerate seeing more of.

The story starts off with introducing us to Rollo Martins who makes a living for himself by publishing poorly written Western paperbacks under a pen name. Then, our writer gets an invitation to Vienna from an old friend named Harry Lime. Happy to take a vacation and fully confident with his fortune of five pounds, he makes it to Vienna just to find his friend dead.

Worst Racketeer to Make a Living

As it turns out, Mr. Lime had been the victim of a boring old street accident. To make matters even more complicated, he had apparently also been the focus of a massive criminal investigation for quite some time and was talked about as the “worst racketeer who ever made a living in this city.”. Martins, however, is not convinced and goes on to search for the truth himself.

The Human Factor


Well Rounded Espionage

We are continuing on with our search for the best Graham Greene novels and the eighth piece we are going to be taking a look at will be The Human Factor. It is another spycraft piece but this time around, it takes itself a little more seriously and gives us a much more well rounded espionage story. It is also filled to the brim with psychological insight which as we all know, is a hallmark of the author.

The story of this piece starts off by telling us about an informative leak that was traced to an SIS sub-section which understandably creates a lot of tension. This is not really that serious of a situation for Maurice Castle who wants to retire with his wife anyways but the tense atmosphere in the organization does allow for a lot of mistakes. More so, the souls of the characters also seem to be affected by the darkness that surrounds them.

Not on the Lighter Side 

One thing to say about this piece is that it is definitely not on the lighter side of the author’s portfolio. It is a heavy book that does not hold back from showing humanity’s cruelty, untruthfulness, and treachery without censoring anything. This heavy atmosphere along with the author’s very smart narrative make this piece a great contender for the best Graham Greene book title.

Travels with My Aunt


Reunited After Half a Century

We are nearing the end of our Graham Greene books ranked article and the second from last piece we will be going over is going to be Travels with My Aunt. It is a contemporary fiction piece from the late seventies and it gives us a very light hearted tale that is written with quality humor. It also includes philosophical talks about human nature but from a much less grim perspective compared to the author’s other works.

Our main characters in this book are the retired bank manager Henry Pulling and his Aunt Augusta who is in her seventies. The duo has not seen each other for over fifty years at the start of the story and the only reason they meet once again is the funeral of Henry’s mother. They get talking and it does not take too much time for Augusta to convince her nephew to let go of his boring life and travel the world with her.

New Cities and New Friends

Together, the two retirees take in the best of what the World has to offer. They make their way to dream cities such as Istanbul, Paris, and Paraguay. Another thing about traveling that Henry seems to like is how it allows one to get to know all kinds of people and he does not hold back from doing so. Among his new friends are hippies, CIA agents, and even some war criminals.

The Comedians


A World Weary Drifter

We have finally come to the end of our article and the last piece we will take a look at is going to be another one of the top rated Graham Greene books, The Comedians. Whatever the title of the piece may lead you to believe, this is not actually one of the author’s comedic works. Instead, it is a very serious book that juggles both fictional and real-life political issues.

The protagonist of our story is Mr. Brown, “a world weary drifter”. We learn that Brown had left Haiti and his courtesan mother who lived there to immigrate to Europe where he mostly worked in the food industry and sold forged paintings that are of questionable quality. However, he has been worn out over the years and his mother has passed away, leaving him a hotel as inheritance.

Interesting Chain of Events

The narrator is thus set on course for Haiti once again. He makes some interesting friends in his travel by ship, tries his best to keep his mother’s hotel in order, and has steamy encounters with people he probably should not do so. In the background, though, the Haitian dictatorship stands with all of its horror and glory.

Final Thoughts


It is so hard for me to name one of these books as the best Graham Greene book because they are all works of brilliance in their own ways. There are mountains of differences between some of Greene’s works but you can not see even a minuscule drop in quality in any of them. It seems that he is such a skilled and talented writer that he can conjure up a masterful story from any angle.

Michael Englert

Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.