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Perfect Spy


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About the Author

Larry Berman has written four previous books on the war in Vietnam: Planning a Tragedy: The Americanization of the War in Vietnam; Lyndon Johnson's War: The Road To Stalemate in Vietnam; No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam and Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent. He has been featured on C-SPAN Book TV, Bill Moyers' The Public Mind and David McCullough's American Experience. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow in residence at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He received the Bernath Lecture Prize for contributions to our understanding of foreign relations and the Department of the Navy Vice Admiral Edwin B. Hooper Research Grant. Berman is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis and Founding Dean of the Honors College at Georgia State University. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


Historian Berman (Lyndon Johnson's War) draws on several years of interviews with Pham Xuan An before his death in 2006 for this engaging biography of the Time reporter who spied for North Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War. Pham Xuan An's deep cover began in 1957, when the Vietnamese Communist Party sent him to study journalism in California. After an internship at the Sacramento Bee and traveling around the U.S., he returned to South Vietnam in 1959. As a reporter for Reuters and Time, he was privy to classified information that made him a hero in Hanoi after the war. Amiable, fluent in English and adept at explaining Vietnam to Americans and vice versa, he was popular with reporters and officials of both nations. Readers may suspect some of An's recollections are self-serving, but the evidence in his favor is that almost everyone he befriended continued to admire him after learning his role. It's also clear An liked Americans, so much so that superiors suspected his loyalty and confined him to Vietnam after relations thawed. Without glossing over An's responsibility for American deaths, Berman portrays an attractive, sometimes tragic character. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Berman (political science, Univ. of California, Davis) here offers a remarkable blend of biography, history, and personal experience. Pham Xuan An was educated in the United States on orders of his Communist superiors and became a respected stringer for Time in 1960s Saigon, using American contacts like David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan to help shape Communist responses to overall American strategy. (He never betrayed any specific American friend.) Even when his dual role was discovered, Vietnam's Communist government having trumpeted the fact, many of the American reporters he knew still respected his journalistic skill. Drawing on extensive interviews with An and a number of his Vietnamese and American friends, Berman recounts a remarkable story. Perhaps he could have emphasized more strongly the deadly results of An's intelligence assistance to the Communists. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating account of a complex man who loved his homeland, as well as the United States and the profession of journalism. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.--A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A remarkable blend of biography, history, and personal experience... Highly recommended." ---A.O. Edmonds--Library Journal

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