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


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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.



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.



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