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A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and…

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam

by Neil Sheehan

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Walking through a book store one day I spotted this book and purchased it on the fly. Best that I can remember I purchased the book because: 1) It won a Pulitzer, 2) It won the National Book Award, 3) It was a National Bestseller; and 4) It's about the Vietnam War, a place and event I was told by the draft board that I could expect to visit (I didn't). This was an interesting book with lots of history. At the time I read it I had no idea who John Paul Vann was. And, maybe that was one point the author intended to make: that John Paul Vann was just like so many others who found themselves split between two worlds so far apart geographically and culturally. (Well,if the author didn't intend to make that point, I'll make it.) ( )
  trek520 | Dec 7, 2015 |
This book was engaging, thoughtful, historical, topical. I learned a lot from it. ( )
  rrbritt53 | Oct 27, 2015 |
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan

John Paul Vann believed that the US was fighting the wrong kind of war in Vietnam when he arrived in 1962. He spent countless hours and days trying to convince his superiors of a better way of fighting the war to ensure a victory for the US and her allies. When Vann died in 1972, he believed and supported the ways in which the US was fighting and was informing everybody that the US was winning the war in Vietnam.

I have always had a fascination with the American war in Southeast Asia. I am not a huge fan of contemporary history but this topic and the Falklands War in the early 1980s still captivate my military history reading. The war eventually enveloped Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and North and South Vietnam and saw military commitments from many other nations as well, with huge unknowable consequences for the people of this region.

I have kept this one book close to me since I read it so many years ago and I have read it a few times now. How the US military command viewed the fighting in SEA over the entire course of the conflict changed marginally. However, I do not think military command strategy changed enough for Vann to have changed his mind about the US conduct of the conflict. I think Vann simply was tired of beating his head against the wall and decided to join his voice with the military command and declare the fighting successful and the US victorious over the dastardly communists in SEA. Oh how very wrong they all were!

The communists quickly overran South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and caused great distress in Thailand for many years. This does not look like victory to me. The American involvement in Iraq, started because of oil interests, showed signs of becoming the same type of debacle as Vietnam was in the 60s and 70s. Thankfully, US military command seems to have learned valuable lessons from its own history.

Anybody with the remotest interest in the Vietnam Conflict needs to read this book. This book heads the list of books on this topic.

Happy Reading, ( )
2 vote jcprowe | Sep 18, 2014 |
Almost 25 years old, but this is a book to be reread,lest we forget.Vann arrived in Vietnam in 1962 with the first advisors, returned in several different roles until his death in 1972.The battle descriptions are remarkable, inserts on the changes of the country over the decade outstanding, but the most remarkable thing about the book is the way that in this one man who initially had explained to the author and other reporters such as Halberstam that the war was unwinnable from the start, then over the years changed his mind and wanted to win almost as a personal challenge. This kind of character development in a nonfiction book is remarkable. Thank goodness for the thrift shops such as Atlanta's Last Chance for rescuing books like this. ( )
2 vote carterchristian1 | Feb 9, 2013 |
A very frank and honest look at the Vietnam war. Some would say it is controversial, especially when it was written.Must read for this era. ( )
  DaleCogdell | Dec 1, 2012 |
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We had also, to all the visitors who came over their,
been one of the bright shining lies.

—John Paul Vann
to a U.S. Army historian,
July 1963

Once Again and Always for Susan
A First Time for Maria and Catherine
And for my Mother and Kitty
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It was a funeral to which they all came. They gathered in the red brick chapel beside the cemetery gate.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679724141, Paperback)

This passionate, epic account of the Vietnam War centers on Lt. Col. John Paul Vann, whose story illuminates America's failures and disillusionment in Southeast Asia. Vann was a field adviser to the army when American involvement was just beginning. He quickly became appalled at the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime, their incompetence in fighting the Communists, and their brutal alienation of their own people. Finding his superiors too blinded by political lies to understand that the war was being thrown away, he secretly briefed reporters on what was really happening. One of those reporters was Neil Sheehan. This definitive expose on why America lost the war won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1989.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:04 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Sheehan's tragic biography of John Paul Vann is also a sweeping history of America's seduction, entrapment and disillusionment in Vietnam. Annotation. Sheehan's tragic biography of John Paul Vann is also a sweeping history of America's seduction, entrapment and disillusionment in Vietnam.… (more)

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