Henry Graham Greene was born on 2 October 1904 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England and was one of six children. At the age of eight he attended the Berkhamsted school. In 1922 he was enrolled on the Balliol College, Oxford and in 1926 after graduation he started to work for the London Times as sub-editor and for the Nottingham Journal as journalist, where he met his later wife Vivien Dayrell-Browning. ). In 1929 his first novel The Man Within was published, so he became a freelance writer in 1930. In 1941 - World War Two - he began to spy voluntarily for the British Foreign Office in Sierra Leone, western Africa and resigned in 1943 because of being accused of collusion and traitorous activities that never substantiated. In 1950 The Third Man was published which was written as a film treatment. So the book became famous after the movie had been released in 1949 and Greene states: "The Third Man was never to be read but only to be seen". In 1975 he separated from his wife and on 3 April 1991 he died in Vevey, Switzerland.
Rollo Martins alias Buck Dexter: He is the main person. An English author of cheap westerns.
Harry Lime: He is an old friend of Martins from his school time
Colonel Calloway: He is an English police officer and the narrator of the story
Anna Schmidt: She is an actress and Harry's (ex)girl-friend. She is Hungarian but plays the Austrian role.
Dr. Winkler: He is Harry's doctor and was at the accident.
Colonel Cooler + Herr Kurtz: They are friends of Harry Lime who were at the accident too.
Herr Koch: He is the neighbour of Harry and has seen the accident, but nobody knows.
Mr. Crabbin: He is a representative of the British Cultural Relations Society and he is the porter of Martins in the Sacher's.
Joseph Harbin: He is also a friend of Lime, who takes the place under the earth instead of him.
Calloway is the narrator of the story. He is a police officer who works in that crime trough the whole book.
Rollo Martins, a famous writer comes to Vienna to meet his old schoolfriend Harry Lime. Rollo is a very special person, because in his body he has 2 different types of characters. The one is Rollo, who is the better side of Rollo Martins and the other is Martins who drinks too much and who likes to live his life deeply.
After the second World War, when Rollo came to Vienna, it was quartered by the Americans, Britains, French and the Russian, but the English zone was the most secure one. Rollo waits for someone at the Airport who takes him to Harry but there wasn't anyone. He makes his way to Harry's apartment where he meets Mr. Koch who told him, that Harry Lime had been run over by a car and died. He drives to his funeral, where he sees Harry's girl for the first time but he stays in the back because he doesn't want to arouse curiosity. There she also sees Cooler, Winkler, Kurtz and Calloway who wants to talk to him. They go in a bar for some drinks but after a quarrel (because Calloway wants to accuse Lime of a racket) they separated them and Rollo was driven to the Sacher's hotel by Paine where he meets Mr. Crabbin who tells him that they have a room for a week for him reserved. The problem is, that Crabbin thinks that Rollo Martins is the famous writer "Benjamin (Buck) Dexter", but that's only Martins synonym. Now he had enough money to prove Harry's innocence. He starts his own inquiry at first with Kurtz who explains the accident but Martins is not satisfied because he thinks that Lime was murdered by someone. Then he visits Anna Schmidt but she tells the same as Kurtz did, but says that even the driver was a friend of Lime. After that, he visits Mr. Winkler, the doctor, to question him, but he gets no useful information. When he drove back to Harry's flat he meets Koch who mentioned that he is a witness. He claims that there was a third man but he could not identify him. Martins wants Koch to give evidence but he refuses to do. After that Rollo decides to ask Cooler about a third man, but he hasn't seen one like Kurtz. Then he visits Harry's girl again and tells her about the latest news in this case. When he wants to secure Koch's testimony he found him murdered. He tells Anna to run away and he self goes back to the Sacher's. But Colonel Calloway was waiting there for him and suddenly he is taken away by Crabbin to a discussion with a few book fans of him who are expecting Benjamin Dexter and not Rollo Martins, but he plays his role perfect and escapes to Calloway. The Colonel shows him a few pictures of dead children. He proofs him that Harry Lime is involved in a big racket, where penicillin is stolen and sold diluted again for high prizes. Martins lost his thrust in Harry and meets Anna to tell her, and to tell her that he loves her. After that he sees the third man and tries to persuade him, but he escapes mysteriously in an advertisement kiosk. Then the Russians try to arrest Anna Schmidt because of her false papers (she claims to be Austrian instead of Hungarian), but the Americans and the Britains save her. Rollo discovers that the kiosk has an manhole to the sewer system where Harry must had gone. He wants to meet him at the Great Wheel in the Prater and Harry comes. He sees that he had changed completely from good and honest to bad and greedy for money. Back at Anna he sees that she still loves him and that's why he plays the bait for the police to catch Harry in the sewers. But Harry smells the trap and escapes trough another manhole. In the sewer system Harry Lime is shot by his old friend Rollo Martins and dies. After the lonely second funeral Rollo walks with Anna, the woman he loved, away.
The story takes place in the old Vienna which was divided into 4 pieces. The second district and so the Great Wheel in the Prater was under the force of the Russians. In the Russian zone the Austrians were safety and not underpressed by the Russians, thus Harry prefered it. Rollo Martins came from England and was an old school friend of Harry, who was an idol for Rollo all the time. Colonel Calloway was from England too and he worked like an English police officer. The final chapter describes the big fight between the two friends in the sewer system, which plays an important role trough the whole story. The good one survives till the end and he gets the girl who was loved by both.
I think the most important thing in this book was the real friendship. The story showed how a person can change within two years. Before that years Rollo and Harry had been real friends, but then Harry Lime went away and left Rollo back. Rollo hadn't such a serious life but he stayed honest to the world, but Harry who went to the "peaceful" Vienna changed from good to bad and got a criminal. He self said that the other people aren't important for him and that his life and his money were the most important things. For him, the topic "Altruism" was a foreign one and that stamped his life really.
My own opinion:
I was very interested in the title of the book, because I've heard a lot about it and the famous film. But I never thought that it would describe the old situation in Vienna so good. It was also very exciting and thrilling, especially the scenes in the sewer system at the end, because it was never really clear if Harry could escape again or which one of the two main persons would die in the next second.
After that book I've decided to watch the film to see the small details too and to make some kind of picture of the atmosphere which covered the old and bombed Vienna with it's Great Wheel.