Praise for NO PEACE NO HONOR “Carefully researched, authoritative, and highly readable.”
Praise for NO PEACE NO HONOR “A marvelous piece of work.”
Praise for LYNDON JOHNSON’S WAR “A masterful job.”
Praise for LYNDON JOHNSON’S WAR “Highly readable, full of telling quoted from newly opened sources.”
“Larry Berman in his book—insightful, overdue, an authentic ‘Shock and Awe’ story—deftly humanizes the contradictions in An’s life”
Praise for LYNDON JOHNSON’S WAR “Berman has delivered the coup de grace.”
Berman is no literary stylist. John le Carre could have turned this story into something Smiley would have envied; Berman tells it in Joe Friday fashion. Nor did An ever relinquish control, and Berman readily acknowledges that An held back some of his secrets. An also put events in the best possible light. That said, this is an extraordinary story, one that offers new explanations of several key events of the war…Berman's book appears 32 years after the war, yet, amazingly, adds significantly to our understanding of what happened. Students of American failureswho have had so much new material to ponderwill be richly rewarded by reading this book. So will le Carre fansnot for its style but for its remarkable substance.
The Washington Post
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 Beeand 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 Timein 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.
The morally ambiguous life of a respected journalist for Time who turned out to be a spy for the North Vietnamese. Viet Minh soldier Pham Xuan An was inducted into the Communist Party in 1953. The party subsequently funded his journalism education at California's Orange Coast College, where he became fluent in English and thoroughly versed in all things American. Returning to Vietnam in 1959, working for Reuters and Time for more than 20 years as correspondent, translator and "all purpose go-to guy," he earned the esteem of brilliant reporters, including Robert Shaplen of the New Yorker, Frank McCullough and Robert Sam Anson from Time and New York Times correspondents Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam. All the while, from this ideal cover, he was funneling valuable information and analysis to Hanoi. After the war, Vietnam made him a People's Army Hero for his many intelligence coups, which had enabled Hanoi to understand American tactics and battle plans. Berman (Political Science/Univ. of California-Davis; No Peace, No Honor, 2001, etc.) traveled to Saigon to get this story and appears to have had almost complete access to An, his family, friends and files. The author attributes An's remarkable clandestine success to his perfect impersonation of a reporter: There's no evidence to suggest he engaged in disinformation or biased the coverage of the newsmen he aided. Though he never knowingly hurt any of his friends, An's spying doubtlessly resulted in many American deaths. Yet An's American circle expresses almost no feelings of outrage or betrayal, but rather echoes his own view that he fought not against the Americans, but rather for his own country as a nationalist patriot. Afair-minded, consistently interesting attempt to unpack the "boxes within boxes in An's life" and a fascinating contribution to our understanding of America's defeat in Vietnam. Agent: John W. Wright/John W. Wright Literary Agency