Richard Greene. 2020. Russian Roulette. The life and times of Graham Greene. London: Little, Brown. 591 pp.

Graham Greene: troubled, driven, Catholic, womaniser, hard-working, hard traveller, always attracted to danger and to the seedy. His relentless explorations of the troubled places of the world and his drive to publish his work, and others’, seemed to put him on first name terms with every significant name in literature, arts and politics of his time, plus the likes of Kim Philby, military commanders from a variety of revolutionary causes, priests and sundry others. Yet he would call an electrician to change a light bulb. Constantly in love with strong and interesting women, often several at once.

The book: a great read, with a great reach into history and personalities of Graham Greene’s life and times, exhausting, draining and entertaining in a way that fully reflects his subject. Short chapters, each truly a chapter of a long life. It is easy to read a few novels and assume he began as a fully-formed writer so it was notable to learn how hard Graham Greene worked at writing from early in life and how many failures and rejections he had before refining his craft to succeed.