Sources for Further Study (Magill Book Reviews)
The New Republic. CXCIX, October 24, 1988, p. 32.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, September 25, 1988, p. 1.
Newsweek. CXII, October 10, 1988, p. 72.
Time. CXXXII, October 17, 1988, p. 80.
(The entire section is 23 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
A Bright Shining Lie (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
“He personified the strongest endeavor and, as it was to prove, the tragic limits, of his country’s experience in Asia.” The parallels between Joseph Stilwell (of whom Barbara Tuchman wrote these words) and John Paul Vann are haunting. Both were military men sent to Asia as advisers to help achieve global objectives—in one case, defeating the Japanese in World War II; in the other, stopping the spread of communism. Runty in appearance, yet possessing tremendous stamina and undaunting courage, both believed that the United States could be a worldwide force for positive social change. Their power and influence over events were momentous, yet, in the end, ephemeral. They failed in their respective missions because of the unmalleable bonds of the indigenous societies to which they were sent. There could be no American solution to the revolutionary whirlwind of twentieth century Asia.
Neil Sheehan covered the Vietnam War as a journalist and later obtained the so-called Pentagon Papers for The New York Times from former Defense Department official Daniel Ellsberg. In one sense, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and the National Book Award for nonfiction, is a very personal saga of the author’s loss of illusions regarding the justness of America’s containment policy in Asia. Sixteen years in the making, the book is carefully factual, but its tone is one...
(The entire section is 2164 words.)