from "The Quiet Americans"

by Doug Bradley

It was August, 1971. A hot, sticky day during the middle of the monsoon. About 11 a.m. or so, Charlie, Nevin, me, and Nevin’s replacement at the First Air Cav paper, Marvin Miller, were sipping gin and tonics on the veranda of the beautiful Continental Palace in downtown Saigon.

We’d all been giddy from more than just the good booze. For the moment, we all believed that we were honest-to-goodness war correspondents, that we’d joined the ranks of Hemingway and Orwell—and even Halberstam and Sheehan.

Suddenly, Miller and Nevin launched into their Graham Greene routine, reciting passages from The Quiet American. According to them, Greene had written the book out there on that exact veranda nearly 20 years ago. A lot of the scenes in the book took place right there as well. I sipped my gin and tonic and smiled, amused by their playacting . . .

. . . Nevin and Miller stopped acting. We shared a moment of silent reflection. Graham Greene had predicted what Vietnam would be like for us. We four were living proof of that.

Nevin had ordered another round to break the silence, but our group epiphany hung in the stale Saigon air, floating in our gin and tonics.