Covers number 1, 3 and 6 seem to characterize three ways of “selling” The Quiet American.  Number 1, juxtaposing a pair of seductive stereotypically Asian eyes with a presumably Vietnamese landscape, highlights what we might call the exotic nature of the novel.  Such a presentation necessarily sells the novel as escapism—literally, it beckons the reader (or listener) to escape to the Orient—and relies on a dubious pathos appeal of titillation.  I say “dubious” because anyone who has read The Quiet American knows the novel is not escapist.  It is, rather, psychologically, politically and morally dense, presenting a Vietnamese landscape imbued with charm, yes, but also self- and Western-wrought terror.

Cover #6, also, sells the novel somewhat spuriously.  The image of a revolver evokes suspense and violence, implying the genre of “thriller.”  The Quiet American may contain elements of the thriller, but to call it a thriller shortchanges the novel’s complexity; equally important as the “thrilling” plot points are the characters’ psychology and the consuming issues of politics and morality.  Cover #6, like #1, makes one succinct pathos appeal, selling a brand of escapism that The Quiet American is not.  The reader expecting a mere thriller will likely find more intellectual complexity than he/she bargained for.

In contrast with the other two, I would argue that cover #3 accurately represents the spirit of the novel.  The image of a Westerner, presumably Pyle, walking through Vietnamese streets offers more to contemplate than an Orientalist collage, or a gun.  The air of uncertainty in the man’s posture reflects the cultural/moral ambiguity that plays out in the novel, and the simple, eloquent artistry of the illustration even mimic’s the style of Greene’s prose.  The cover does not sensationalize, and there seems to be a distinct element of logos connecting its imagery with the text.  This cover, in short, seems to sell The Quiet American as literature rather than escapism.