Patrick's Reviews > A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam

A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan
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it was amazing

An amazing, incredible, overwhelming book. Ostensibly a biography of John Paul Vann, it is many, many things. For me, the experience of reading it was like reading a massive 19th century novel (and I want to be clear, it is not a novel--it is non-fiction, biography and history). There are significant reversals; your understanding of the earlier sections deepens and evolves the further you go into it; there are overlapping family sagas; complicated psychologies; tons of unfamiliar names; tons of unfamiliar technical terms and acronyms; national histories--military, technological, cultural, political; brief glimpses into interesting personalities that exit the story too soon; digressions that seem random but aren't; difficult psycho-sexual dynamics. It's a massive, immersive literary experience. Also, it's history...actual, factual history. Sheehan has done a brilliant job in writing and structuring this.

To be clear--it is all about the Vietnam war and, as such, is profoundly disturbing and depressing.
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Reading Progress

October, 2017 – Started Reading
August 18, 2018 – Shelved
August 18, 2018 – Finished Reading

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