The Spy Who Loved Us

The Vietnam War and Pham Xuan An's Dangerous Game

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Pham Xuan An was one of the twentieth century’s greatest spies. While working as a correspondent for Time during the Vietnam War, he sent intelligence reports—written in invisible ink or hidden inside spring rolls in film canisters—to Ho Chi Minh and his generals in North Vietnam.

Only after Saigon fell in 1975 did An’s colleagues learn that the affable raconteur in their midst, acclaimed as “dean of the Vietnamese press corps,” was actually a general in the North Vietnamese Army. In recognition of his tradecraft and his ability to spin military losses—such as the Têt Offensive of 1968—­into psychological gains, An was awarded sixteen military medals.

After the book’s original publication, WikiLeaks revealed that Thomas A. Bass’s account of An’s career was distributed to CIA agents as a primer in espionage. Now available in paper with a new preface, An’s story remains one of the most gripping to emerge from the era.

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