chapter
18 Pages

Introduction: Hiding in Plain Sight: Locating the Spy in the British Cultural Imaginary

The British Empire became the Commonwealth in February of 1952, bringing over 400 years of imperial endeavour to a close, and supposedly precipitating a reappraisal of the British relationship with its now former colonies and subjects. Graham Greene was particularly fond of fictionalising the experiences of British subjects abroad. His novel illustrates how the exercise of force only serves to weaken rather than empower empire in the post-war world. British policy was essentially trying to fulfil the nation's new role as part of the anti-communist NATO alliance while maintaining the fiction of the civilising empire in simultaneity. As British presence in the East contracted after the war, encouraged by the pro-decolonisation policies of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, American commitment grew stronger; guided by the principles of the Truman Doctrine, those of euro-containment applied to Asia, and the fears of the Domino Theory, American investment grew to approximately 500,000 men engaged in Vietnam at its largest point of mobilisation.