A fair-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.
Without glossing over An's responsibility for American deaths, Berman portrays an attractive, sometimes tragic figure.
A remarkable blend of biography, history, and personal experience... 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.
During the Vietnam War, Time reporter
Pham Xuan An befriended everyone who was anyone in Saigon,
including American journalists such as David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan, the CIA's William Colby, and the legendary
Colonel Edward Lansdale not to
mention the most influential members
of the South Vietnamese government
and army. None of them ever guessed
that he was also providing strategic intelligence
to Hanoi, smuggling invisible ink
messages to the jungle inside egg rolls.
His early reports were so accurate that
General Giap joked, "We are now in the
U.S. war room." For more than twenty
years, An lived a dangerous lie and no
one knew it because he was a master of
both his jobs.
After the war, An was named a "Hero
of the People's Army" and promoted to
general - one of only two intelligence
officers to ever achieve that rank.
In Perfect Spy, Larry Berman, who An considered his official American biographer, chronicles the extraordinary life of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating spies.