The Tenth Man by Graham Greene (Review)

The Tenth Man by Graham Greene


In a prison in Occupied France one in every ten men is to be shot. The prisoners draw lots among themselves—and for rich lawyer Louis Chavel it seems that his whole life has been leading up to an agonising and crucial failure of nerve. Graham Greene wrote The Tenth Man in 1944, when he was under a two-year contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the manuscript lay forgotten in MGM’s archives until 1983. It was published two years later. 


This book originated from a lost manuscript of Greene’s that turned up in an MGM sale. The person who purchased the manuscript returned it to Greene and he turned it into a novel which was published in 1985. 

This is a short book but one that really packs a punch. The book begins with a prison in occupied France and the news that every tenth man is to be shot. The prisoners are left to decide amongst themselves who will be shot, so they decide to draw lots. The rich lawyer Louis Chavel’s nerve leaves him and he gives up everything to the man who will take his place. 

Janvier is the man who takes Chavel’s place so he leaves all his new wealth to his sister and mother. When Chavel finally leaves the prison he has nothing to his name but he is still drawn to life he once had and so makes his way to his old home where he finds Janvier’s sister and mother. 

The book looks at the final years of the Second World War and how even the best of men can change in dire times. It is a story of cowardice, guilt, courage, romance and much more. Those who lie are trusted and those who tell the truth are not believed, everything is turned on its head in this book. 

I must admit the ending of the book was not what I expected and came as a big shock but it did show that miracles do happen. I will be honest as much as I love Greene’s books this book did not really enthral me that much as I just did not like the character of Chavel very much so I only give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 


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About the author

Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) was an English writer and journalist regarded as one of the leading English novelists of the20th century.

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