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Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  323 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
During the Vietnam War, Time reporter Pham Xuan An befriended everyone who was anyone in Saigon, including American journalists such as David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan, the CIA's William Colby, and the legendary Colonel Edward Lansdale—not to mention the most influential members of the South Vietnamese government and army. None of them ever guessed that he was also provi ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published May 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 705)
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Khánh Trình
Tôi mua cuốn sách này để tặng cho ba tôi ngay vừa dịp sách tái bản lại với thông tin đầy đủ hơn (theo lời tác giả). Tôi không định đọc những sách thuộc thể loại chiến tranh nhưng khi đọc xong cuốn này, tôi biết suy nghĩ trước đó của mình là sai lầm. Một người Việt Nam, đặc biệt là thế hệ sinh ra trong hòa bình, cần phải tìm hiểu về lịch sử của dân tộc, đặc biệt là về cuộc chiến tranh gần nhất mà thế hệ trước đã trải qua.

Cuốn sách thực sự đã giúp tôi hiểu rõ hơn về công việc của một điệp viên và
Michael Connolly
When Vichy France surrendered to the Nazis during World War II, this had implications for French colonies. Japan took over Vietnam from the French. After America defeated Japan in 1945, Japan lost Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh moved into Hanoi. There followed several years of the Communist Viet Minh and the French fighting for control of Vietnam, culminating in partition in 1956. The Viet Minh presented themselves as nationalists, not as Communists, in 1954 when they were fighting the French. Forces in t ...more
Christopher Rex
Jan 08, 2013 Christopher Rex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a great find. Though, once again, I imagine it falls in the "not for everyone" category. I knew nothing about Pham Xuan An at all and came across this book in Ho Chi Minh City. Somebody once said "sometimes the books find you." That certainly turned out to be true in this case. What an interesting character and an amazing "little told" story of the Vietnam War.

Pham worked for "Time" magazine (after attending school in the US) during the Vietnam War and all-the-while he was an under
Pham Xuan An was a Communist spy during the Vietnam war, going undetected and undiscovered until after the Americans had pulled out, and he was awarded several medals for deeds. The events, and Pham himself, were fascinating - examining how a man became a U.S. news reporter with access to secret documents whose information he filtered directly to Hanoi. He was close friends with many American reporters, and astonishingly remained closed friends with them after his status as a spy was revealed.

Jun 17, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author's descriptions of Mr Ẩn was highly biased and unconvincing. The writing was not clear enough - sometimes I did not know whether the sentence was from the author or Mr Ẩn's point of view. The author talked about many things and yet surprisingly, I still did not know much about Mr Ẩn or understand why his job was that important. Finally, being a good friend and working hard as a journalist does not make the definition of a "perfect spy" - the book's main argument is a bit ridiculous.

Oct 24, 2007 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I know very little about the Vietnam War so at times this book was a little confusing with the names and battles. Nonetheless, it was a really interesting story of a Time reporter who turned out to be a spy for the North Vietnamese. What he did, how he did it, and the fact that he is still very respected are amazing.
Viet Hung Nguyen
Apr 22, 2012 Viet Hung Nguyen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vietnamese
This is a great story about General Pham who is a great soldier. Above all, he is a human-being. Being stuck in the war, brutal, he was still able to live up to the core of humanity. I'm proud of him for that. At the end, while there were winners in the war, there were many lives lost on both sides.
Jun 21, 2008 Eli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A compelling biography and an excellent introduction to the diverse issues and questions presented by War in Vietnam and its aftermath. The author succesfully offers a sense of personal experience and broader context from a Vietnamese perspective.
Feb 23, 2011 Justin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was happy to get to read this book because it was for research for a chapter about famous spies I got to ghostwrite for a book my uncle is working on. I would never have read it otherwise and, due to my general ignorance about history in general, probably would have died never having even known who Pham Xuan An was.

I don't think An is really all that "famous" in actuality, but this is only because, as far as spies go, he was pretty discreet. He was spying for the communists/North Vietnam durin
Van Vo
Feb 18, 2016 Van Vo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful story of an incredible man. It's sad how such a national hero is so distrusted by leaders of his own nation, yet so loved by the "enemies". Every now and then when I closed my eyes, I often pictured his thin form surrounded by so many high ranking officials but still felt so utterly lonely, the words then came rushing back. "They don't know me."

He deserved so much better than this!

Berman has done a very good job in making Pham Xuan An's life an incredible journey for the soul. I found
Larry Mccartney
Jul 05, 2014 Larry Mccartney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you want to know why the United States lost Viet Nam—the country, not the war? Then read Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent by Larry S. Berman, Ph.D. That the ill-conceived, poorly executed U. S. foreign policy in Viet Nam has long been a highly controversial subject, particularly for those Americans who bore the brunt of enforcing it, is a given. Now thanks to Dr. Berman the truth is finally documented and the blame ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1957 after the French left Vietnam, Pham Xuan An was sent to the US to study journalism at a college in California. An had fought with the Viet Minh, first against the Japanese and then the French. He was a nationalist rather than a Communist. The Vietnamese government was sure the US would become increasingly involved with their country, and wanted someone who could learn the American character and use that knowledge in the future.

Upon his return to Saigon, An began to work as a journalist,
Aug 01, 2007 Tory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lara and Danny
Amazing book. This guy was a spy for North Vietnam during the war and was a writer for the NY Times. None of the other journalists or his friends had ANY idea, yet most of them understood his motivations and forgave him. It's an amazing story and you learn a lot about the Vietnam war in the process of reading it. (We went to a booksigning and met the author).
Anh-Tuan Nguyen
Mar 09, 2015 Anh-Tuan Nguyen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the electronic book not less than 3 times before so definitely, so accidently and so luckily figured out a hard-copy one in hard cover while there were many times not noticing about it. Perhaps people often would like to forget their dark past, they never have right to forget the history.
Nguyen Hoang
Feb 10, 2016 Nguyen Hoang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The life of a spy: You either get killed for not good enough or get doubted from your allies for being too good. Definitely a good book, even though there are still many questions that An chose not to answer.
Đại Phạm Văn
Viết về một huyền thoại khác của tình báo Việt Nam – Phạm Xuân Ẩn. Một điệp viên hoàn hảo, chưa bao giờ bị lộ, nhận được sự tin tưởng của rất nhiều người cung cấp tin – phóng viên nước ngoài, giới chức chính trị và quân đội của VNCH, các bạn bè nước ngoài. Là một người cộng sản, phản đối Mỹ can thiệp vào VN nhưng lại yêu tha thiết nước Mỹ và con người Mỹ, một con người bị xé đôi giữa lòng yêu nước và sự tin tưởng của bạn bè. Và như ông nói, ông luôn nói sự thật cho bất kể bên nào, không lừa dối ...more
Brian Sway
May 06, 2012 Brian Sway rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fabulous real life tale that is unimaginable. Larry Berman turns a complex tale into a fascinating page turner.
Jul 02, 2009 Hulananni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned that not everything we were told (or believed) about the war was true. Interesting story.
Apr 30, 2013 Jessie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so interesting! Learned so much! I especially loved reading it while in Vietnam.
Cuong Nguyen
Oct 03, 2015 Cuong Nguyen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The very first non-business book that I've ever read. I knew nothing about Pham Xuan An at all (well, rather just the name is familiar) and came across this book when reading a book of Luong Hoai Nam. Besides those well-known facts about the bravery of the soldiers or the genius mind of the commanders/general, the book revealed another perspective of the Vietnam War: the power of information. It chronicles the extraordinary life of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating spies, an almost ...more
Dec 26, 2014 James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Poor book, the author has an agenda,
Make An look like a really nice guy, and how he forgives Americans
and how we should forgive him.

Tons of name dropping,
but almost nothing about what intel An send to Hanoi
or what effect it had.
How many thousands of US men died because of this man?

The most telling account occurred in 1963 when there were few
Americans in Viet Nam.
And the intel he leaked then was deadly for our side.

How much worse his later spying must have been for us.

All con men are charming an
Kim Fay
Jul 08, 2012 Kim Fay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Pham Xuan An, a Time magazine reporter living in Saigon (South Vietnam) who served as a spy for North Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War, this amazing book shows the human side of the country's nationalist movement. People like An were not blindly following ideology. They loved their country and did not believe the Americans wanted what was best for the Vietnamese people. There are lots of interesting spy facts, like the way An uses rice and water to create a disappearing ink, but t ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Edgar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is well worth reading, though apparently Berman's treatment is not as exciting as 'The Spy who loved me' - book on same subject. Berman's academic background perhaps explains a more sober approach. The book provides sufficient historic background for those readers who didn't grow up during the Vietnamese war or who for whatever reason are unfamiliar with the conflict.
This book,above all else, shows An to be first and foremost a Vietnamese nationalist. Like so many others,he believed th
Tim Owens
Mar 15, 2016 Tim Owens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect Spy is the account of Pham Xuan An 19s role in providing vital information to the Vietcong and his subsequent recognition by North Vietnam as a war hero. As a testament to how effective he was, most if not all the Americans and South Vietnam officials still considered him a friend after the revelation of his espionage against their cause. Like most books about this ill-conceived war it is sad to revisit.
Nhat Minh
The book bought to me the royal of a incredible spy who served for Vietnam communist in South Vietnam government.The truth of Vietnamese war, the corruption of South Vietnam and the reality of communist ideology after the war make the readers open their mind about the life of a Communist who fought for two sides.
Quân Khuê
Điệp viên hoàn hảo của Larry Berman viết về cuộc đời của nhà tình báo chiến lược Phạm Xuân Ẩn, bản dịch tiếng Việt của Nguyễn Đại Phượng. Ấn tượng của tôi về ông Ẩn, theo những gì đã đọc ở đây, là một người hết lòng vì bạn bè. Như cách ông tìm cách cứu một người ạn phóng viên Mỹ rơi vào tay Việt Cộng, mặc dù điều đó có thể gây ảnh hưởng đến vỏ bọc của ông. Hay như cách ông lo cho Trần Kim Tuyến lên trực thăng di tản. Có lẽ do hết lòng với bạn bè, mà hầu hết nhửng người bạn Mỹ và bạn Việt phía bê ...more
Gary McCluskey
Really interesting story, but I was not a fan of the style of writing at all. Seemed to gloss over major story points and at times assume an in depth knowledge of the Vietnam War.
Loc Huynh duy
Jul 10, 2013 Loc Huynh duy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had reread this biography of Pham Xuan An many times to have a summary view of the history of Vietnam from French colonialism to the period we usually called "the Vietnam War". Pham Xuan An had disclosed many details of his spy work to his biographer, but his life still had mysteries and when the time has come to declassify documents, we will know his true identity: Was he a North Vietnamese spy and an American spy at the same time? When a Vietnamese colonel saw him surrounded by many high-ran ...more
May 05, 2015 Travis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pham Xuan An's double-life as foreign correspondent and North Vietnamese spy is certainly a worthy topic for a book. The research and presentation of the material here, however, come off like more of a fanboy's paean--perhaps an apologia?--than actual scholarly work. A severely disappointing treatment of a fascinating character.
Phùng Dũng
Feb 06, 2015 Phùng Dũng rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greatest book I have ever read in my life
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