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A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam Hardcover – September 12, 1988

4.7 out of 5 stars 360 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam in 1972, controversial Lt. Col. John Paul Vann was perhaps the most outspoken army field adviser to criticize the way the war was being waged. Appalled by the South Vietnamese troops' unwillingness to fight and their random slaughter of civilians, he flouted his supervisors and leaked his sharply pessimistic (and, as it turned out, accurate) assessments to the U.S. press corps in Saigon. Among them was Sheehan, a reporter for UPI and later the New York Times (for whom he obtained the Pentagon Papers). Sixteen years in the making, writing and re search, this compelling 768-page biography is an extraordinary feat of reportage: an eloquent, disturbing portrait of a man who in many ways personified the U.S. war effort. Blunt, idealistic, patronizing to the Vietnamese, Vann firmly believed the U.S. could win; as Sheehan limns him, he was ultimately caught up in his own illusions. The author weaves into one unified chronicle an account of the Korean War (in which Vann also fought), the story of U.S. support for French colonialism, descriptions of military battles, a critique of our foreign policy and a history of this all-American boy's secret personal liehe was illegitimate, his mother a "white trash" prostitutethat led him to recklessly gamble away his career. 100,000 first printing; first serial to the New Yorker; BOMC main selection ; a uthor tour.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Vann was a figure of legends, first as a military advisor and later as a civilian official, renowned for his bravery and special insight into and openness about the developing failure in Vietnam. He appeared to sacrifice his military career in 1963, demonstrating uncommon integrity, and died in 1972 after leading the successful defense of Kontum. Sheehan, the New York Times reporter who obtained the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg, reveals a flawed herocapable of deceit in furthering his reputation and his cause and of insatiable sexual exploits that had already ended hopes of promotionbut still a remarkable man. More importantly, Vann serves as the anchor of a detailed, well-researched, very respectable, and readable attempt to explain the Vietnam experience. Excerpted in The New Yorker. Highly recommended. BMOC main selection.Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 862 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (September 12, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394484479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394484471
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Customer Reviews:
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
360 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on September 28, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on September 5, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2019
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Top international reviews

Paul J
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book you are ever likely to read about American ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2018
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Theodore
5.0 out of 5 stars Vietnam - The US's Policy Disaster
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 12, 2019
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pip
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary tour de force
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 14, 2015
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Magri
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting, important story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 19, 2015
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Olav
5.0 out of 5 stars THE book on USA's war in Vietnam.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 13, 2012
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Hugh Quinn
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight to an enigma John Paul Vann
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 2, 2018
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Seoulprovider
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the book's size and scale daunt you
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 17, 2013
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Paul Streets
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragically Gripping Insight into what happened in Vietnam
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2014
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Mexile
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 17, 2014
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Portlander
5.0 out of 5 stars Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and where next?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2013
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Schofieldma
5.0 out of 5 stars Opens your eyes to what really happened.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2017
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A. R. B. Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting book about John Paul Vann - a ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 20, 2015
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2018
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Julio
5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2019
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Rolski.
4.0 out of 5 stars An extremely compelling account of how the "modern" part of ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 16, 2015
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