The Power and the Glory
Publication Date: February 25, 2003
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In a poor, remote section of Southern Mexico, the paramilitary group, the Red Shirts, have taken control. God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest is on the run. Too human for heroism, too humble for martyrdom, the little worldly whiskey priest” is nevertheless impelled toward his squalid Calvary as much by his own compassion for humanity as by the efforts of his pursuers.
In his introduction, John Updike calls The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene’s masterpiece . The energy and grandeur of his finest novel derive from the will toward compassion, an ideal communism even more Christian than Communist.”
Graham Greene (1904-1991), whose long life nearly spanned the length of the twentieth century, was one of its greatest novelists. Educated at Berkhamsted School and Balliol College, Oxford, he started his career as a sub-editor of the London Times. He began to attract notice as a novelist with his fourth book, Orient Express, in 1932. In 1935, he trekked across northern Liberia, his first experience in Africa, told in A Journey Without Maps (1936). He converted to Catholicism in 1926, an edifying decision, and reported on religious persecution in Mexico in 1938 in The Lawless Roads, which served as a background for his famous The Power and the Glory, one of several Catholic” novels (Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Affair). During the war he worked for the British secret service in Sierra Leone; afterward, he began wide-ranging travels as a journalist, which were reflected in novels such as The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, The Comedians, Travels with My Aunt, The Honorary Consul, The Human Factor, Monsignor Quixote, and The Captain and the Enemy. As well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, two books of autobiography, A Sort of Life and Ways of Escape, two biographies, and four books for children. He also contributed hundreds of essays and film and book reviews to The Spectator and other journals, many of which appear in the late collection Reflections. Most of his novels have been filmed, including The Third Man, which the author first wrote as a film treatment. Graham Greene was named Companion of Honour and received the Order of Merit among numerous other awards.
John Updike author of Rabbit, Run and other celebrated works, is a preeminent American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet.
To kick off our summer series "Thrilled To Death," author Scott Turow recommends Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. Turow says the novel achieves the unrelenting suspense that he craved as a reader and strives for as a writer. More at NPR.org
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“Brilliant . . . a splendid achievement.” —The Atlantic Monthly