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Publisher's Summary

Sheehan's tragic biography of John Paul Vann is also a sweeping history of America's seduction, entrapment and disillusionment in Vietnam.
©1989 Neil Sheehan (P)2009 Random House
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Critic Reviews

"If there is one book that captures the Vietnam war in the sheer Homeric scale of its passion and folly, this is it." ( The New York Times Book Review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Kyle on 11-11-09

Good inside view of the making of the Vietnam War

Loved this account of both the ugly and the heroic men and decisions that shaped the policy in Vietnam, and what led to its final doom. I very much enjoyed how Sheehan showed Vann as an imperfect man with good intentions. A little long in parts, but well worth it.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By RoosterCogburn on 06-03-13

Worthy of the Pulitzer Prize, Great Listen

If you desire to know more about what really happened in Vietnam before and during the war, I give this book the highest recommendation. I doubt you'll find more than a handful of other Vietnam War-related works that are as brutally honest and well-written while showing the human side of the conflict so clearly.

It is clear why Sheehan won the Pulitzer Prize for this book in 1989. He illuminates the complex, flawed and heroic character of John Vann in a manner that will make you sad about his childhood and angry his emotional/physical vacancy as a husband and father. At the same time, Sheehan is masterful in creating an overview of important events, policy positions, battles, etc. without getting mired down in too many details or verbose explanations.

Many people nowadays aren't familiar with John Vann, but he spent many years in Vietnam as a military advisor, officer and high-level civilian official. He understood how the US could possibly "win the war," and sacrificed his meteoric military career trying to persuade the military and executive leadership to listen to reason and prosecute the war differently.

While listening to this book, I found myself laughing out loud from incredulity at all of the foolhardy actions America took before and during the Vietnam War. For example, the US supplied nearly 100% of the arms and ammunition used by the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army up to the time the Chinese/Soviets got involved. No conspiracy here, people; just tragic stupidity.

"A Bright, Shining Lie" delivers a masterful summary of how the United States ended up in Vietnam, allowed American hubris to guide a vicious cycle of poor decision-making and cost America so dearly during and after the war despite one man's attempts to do the right thing for the people of Vietnam and the US.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Roger on 05-07-13

Very interesting.

This is an important audiobook to listen to if you have any interest in the Vietnam War. Robertson Dean read it excellently, as usual, with only a couple of mispronunciations (primmer instead of primer and other trivial errors).
John Vann was THE Vietnam expert, and the book also exposes what drove him and his difficult childhood.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Simon Gibson on 07-14-15

Not Americas Finest Hour

A real eye opener to the incompetence of the American military machine, its leaders, men and President. The lies told to justify the war, the collusion of the media in the lie and peoples blind acceptance of the lie. The war crimes committed by Americans and the use of chemical weapons on civilians.. A disgrace from start to the humiliation for America at the end. A must read to understand Americas military mind set, even now.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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