A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann And America In Vietnam by Neil SheehanA Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann And America In Vietnam by Neil Sheehan

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann And America In Vietnam

byNeil Sheehan

Paperback | September 19, 1989

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25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION. One of the most acclaimed books of our time—the definitive Vietnam War exposé.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

When he came to Vietnam in 1962, Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann was the one clear-sighted participant in an enterprise riddled with arrogance and self-deception, a charismatic soldier who put his life and career on the line in an attempt to convince his superiors that the war should be fought another way. By the time he died in 1972, Vann had embraced the follies he once decried. He died believing that the war had been won.

In this magisterial book, a monument of history and biography that was awarded the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, a renowned journalist tells the story of John Vann"the one irreplaceable American in Vietnam"and of the tragedy that destroyed a country and squandered so much of America's young manhood and resources.

Neil Sheehan is the author of A Fiery Peace in a Cold War. He spent three years in Vietnam as a war correspondent for United Press International and The New York Times and won numerous awards for his reporting. In 1971 he obtained the Pentagon Papers, which brought the Times the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for meritorious public service....
Title:A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann And America In VietnamFormat:PaperbackDimensions:896 pages, 8 × 5.17 × 1.77 inPublished:September 19, 1989Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0679724141

ISBN - 13:9780679724148

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intense Read Quite the life story of Vann. Too bad once again the author takes a lot of political positions many people disagree with and draws too many conclusions that aren't always supported by fact.
Date published: 2017-02-10

Read from the Book

from "The Funeral"It was a funeral to which they all came. They gathered in the red brick chapel beside the cemetery gate. Six gray horses were hitched to a caisson that would carry the coffin to the grave. A marching band was ready. An honor guard from the Army's oldest regiment, the regiment whose rolls reached back to the Revolution, was also formed in ranks before the white Georgian portico of the chapel. The soldiers were in full dress, dark blue trimmed with gold, the colors of the Union Army, which had safeguarded the integrity of the nation. The uniform was unsuited to the warmth and humidity of this Friday morning in the early summer of Washington, but this state funeral was worthy of the discomfort. John Paul Vann, the soldier of the war in Vietnam, was being buried at Arlington on June 16, 1972.   The war had already lasted longer than any other in the nation's history and had divided America more than any conflict since the Civil War. In this war without heroes, this man had been the one compelling figure. The intensity and distinctiveness of his character and the courage and drama of his life had seemed to sum up so many of the qualities Americans admired in themselves as a people. By an obsession, by an unyielding dedication to the war, he had come to personify the American endeavor in Vietnam. He had exemplified it in his illusions, in his good intentions gone awry, in his pride, in his will to win. Where others had been defeated or discouraged over the years, or had become disenchanted and had turned against the war, he had been undeterred in his crusade to find a way to redeem the unredeemable, to lay hold of victory in this doomed enterprise. At the end of a decade of struggle to prevail, he had been killed one night a week earlier when his helicopter had Kontum, an offensive by the North Vietnamese Army which had threatened to bring the Vietnam venture down in defeat.   Those who had assembled to see John Vann to his grave reflected the divisions and the wounds that the war had inflicted on American society. At the same time they had, almost every one, been touched by this man. Some had come because they had admired him and shared his cause even now; some because they had parted with him along the way, but still thought of him as a friend; some because they had been harmed by him, but cherished him for what he might have been. Although the war was to continue for nearly another three years with no dearth of dying in Vietnam, many at Arlington on that June morning in 1972 sensed that they were burying with John Vann the war and the decade of Vietnam. With Vann dead, the rest could be no more than a postscript.   He had gone to Vietnam at the beginning of the decade, in March 1962, at the age of thirty-seven, as an Army lieutenant colonel, volunteering to serve as senior advisor to a South Vietnamese infantry division in the Mekong Delta south of Saigon. The war was still an adventure then. The previous December, President John F. Kennedy had committed the arms of the United States to the task of suppressing a Communist-led rebellion and preserving South Vietnam as a separate state governed by an American-sponsored regime in Saigon.

From Our Editors

It's a brilliant and deeply moving biography/history of the Vietnam War. In 1962, Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann came to Vietnam a young, arrogant and unaware soldier. Naively, he tried to convince his superiors that the war should be fought another way - a better way. A decade later, in 1972, Vann was a changed man; he died believing that the Vietnam War had been won by the Americans. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam is Neil Sheehan's monumental and compelling national best-seller. Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, it captures the immense folly and passion of this tragic war and of the remarkable Vann.

Editorial Reviews

"Masterly. . . . One of the few brilliant histories of the American entanglement in Vietnam." --The New York Times"A brilliant work of enormous substance and ambition. In telling one man's story [A Bright Shining Lie] sets out to define the fatal contradictions that lost America the war in Vietnam. It belongs to the same order of merit as Dispatches, The Best and the Brightest, and Fire in the Lake." --Robert Stone, Washington Post Book World"A compelling, graphic, and deeply sensitive biography [and] one of the few brilliant histories of the American enthanglement in Vietnam. . . . Sheehan's skillful weaving of anecdote and history, of personal memoir and psychological profile, give the book the sense of having been written by a novelist, journalist, and scholar all rolled up into one." --David Shipler, The New York Times"If there is one book that catpures the Vietnam War in the sheer Homeric scale of its passion and folly, this book is it. Neil Sheehan orchestrates a great fugue evoking all the elements of the war." --Ronald Steel, The New York Times Book Review"An unforgettable narrative, a chronicle grand enough to suit the crash and clangors of whole armies. A Bright Shining Lie is a very great piece of work; its rewards are aesthetic and . . . almost spiritual." --The New York Review of Books"Enormous power . . . full of great accomplishments . . . Neil Sheehan has written not only the best book ever about Vietnam, but the timeliest." --Newsweek"It is difficult to believe that anyone will write a more gripping or important book on America's war in Vietnam than A Bright Shining Lie, a towering book that has been 16 years in the making. . . . Sheehan shows, perhaps more convincingly than anyone else who has written on the subject, that our intervention in Vietnam was in fact a terrible blunder, damaging to America and devastating to the Vietnamese and the other people of Indochina--a mistake as tragic as it was unnecessary." --Detroit News"[A Bright Shining Lie] is more than a biography. It is also a compelling and clear hstiroy of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Mr. Sheehan's book . . . is the best answer to any American who asks: 'How could this have happened?'" --Wall Street Journal"Using the life of one man as his framework, Neil Sheehan has written the best book on America's involvement in Vietnam since Frances FitzGerald's Fire in the Lake." --Kirkus Reviews"One of the milestones in the literature about the war. . . . In these times, a readable book about the Vietnam war, like any other clear warning, is worth its weight in life." --Christian Science Monitor