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The Quiet American / Bright Shining Lie

Books Compared

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Feb 8, 2008, 4:03pm Top

Although Graham Greene's The Quiet American is fiction and Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie is non-fiction they share a major theme: the innocence with which America inserted itself into the affairs of Vietnam in the late forties and early fifties, well before the French disaster at Dien Bien Phu.

Is it possible that John Paul Vann was the original, the archetypal "Quiet American" in Vietnam?

It's been nearly twenty years since I read A Bright Shining Lie and I don't remember many details so I would be interested in what others of you think about this comparison.

Feb 14, 2008, 1:34pm Top

Its been so many years since I read these books but the comparison is well taken. I am sure there were several well-meaning civil servants who began the tragic odyssey of Nam with good intentions. But the imperial overstepping of the US and other major powers are doomed to failure in the long run.

What is so ironic is how today Vietnam is a sucessful emerging market reaching economic and social stability in the world marketplace of goods and ideas.

There are several good books that came out of Vietnam. Among my favorites is the sarcasm and folly depicted in Going After Cacciato
by Tim O'Brien.

Feb 14, 2008, 3:59pm Top

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is also classic -- particularly the title story (it's a collection). Like you two, it's been many years since I read these books.

Feb 14, 2008, 7:01pm Top

I agree regarding The THings THey Carried- O'Brien lived through the Vietnam War as a grunt himself.

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