One of the most acclaimed books of our time—the definitive Vietnam War exposé and the 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.
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.
A Significant Work
The level of detail is incredible. The amount of work that went into the story telling is awesome. The clarity provided by the authors insight makes this an important book.
I served in Vietnam in 1966. The corruption I experienced in the South Vietnamese Army turned me against the war and a military career. I'm am now retired, after a career as a CPA, researching important event in my life. This book confirms my experience but more importantly chronicles the human events and choices, and all the complexity of the real world, that go into making war. I really appreciate the honest representation of people, the imperfect strong people and the weak people who rise to the occasion.