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Extended Audio Sample A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam Audiobook, by Neil Sheehan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.99892037786775 out of 53.99892037786775 out of 53.99892037786775 out of 53.99892037786775 out of 53.99892037786775 out of 5 4.00 (3,705 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Neil Sheehan Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2009 ISBN: 9780307578013
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25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION. One of the most acclaimed books of our time—the definitive Vietnam War exposé.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

When he came to Vietnam in 1962, Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann was the one clear-sighted participant in an enterprise riddled with arrogance and self-deception, a charismatic soldier who put his life and career on the line in an attempt to convince his superiors that the war should be fought another way. By the time he died in 1972, Vann had embraced the follies he once decried. He died believing that the war had been won.

In this magisterial book, a monument of history and biography that was awarded the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, a renowned journalist tells the story of John Vann"the one irreplaceable American in Vietnam"and of the tragedy that destroyed a country and squandered so much of America's young manhood and resources.

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Quotes & Awards

  • "A brilliant work of enormous substance and ambition. In telling one man's story [A Bright Shining Lie] sets out to define the fatal contradictions that lost America the war in Vietnam. It belongs to the same order of merit as Dispatches, The Best and the Brightest, and Fire in the Lake. Robert Stone, Washington Post Book World
  • A compelling, graphic, and deeply sensitive biography [and] one of the few brilliant histories of the American enthanglement in Vietnam. . . . Sheehan's skillful weaving of anecdote and history, of personal memoir and psychological profile, give the book the sense of having been written by a novelist, journalist, and scholar all rolled up into one. David Shipler, The New York Times
  • "If there is one book that catpures the Vietnam War in the sheer Homeric scale of its passion and folly, this book is it. Neil Sheehan orchestrates a great fugue evoking all the elements of the war. Ronald Steel, The New York Times Book Review
  • "An unforgettable narrative, a chronicle grand enough to suit the crash and clangors of whole armies. A Bright Shining Lie is a very great piece of work; its rewards are aesthetic and . . . almost spiritual. The New York Review of Books
  • "Enormous power . . . full of great accomplishments . . . Neil Sheehan has written not only the best book ever about Vietnam, but the timeliest. Newsweek
  • "Masterly. . . . One of the few brilliant histories of the American entanglement in Vietnam. The New York Times

  • It is difficult to believe that anyone will write a more gripping or important book on America's war in Vietnam than A Bright Shining Lie, a towering book that has been 16 years in the making. . . . Sheehan shows, perhaps more convincingly than anyone else who has written on the subject, that our intervention in Vietnam was in fact a terrible blunder, damaging to America and devastating to the Vietnamese and the other people of Indochina--a mistake as tragic as it was unnecessary. Detroit News
  • [A Bright Shining Lie] is more than a biography. It is also a compelling and clear hstiroy of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Mr. Sheehan's book . . . is the best answer to any American who asks: 'How could this have happened?' Wall Street Journal
  • "Using the life of one man as his framework, Neil Sheehan has written the best book on America's involvement in Vietnam since Frances FitzGerald's Fire in the Lake. Kirkus Reviews
  • One of the milestones in the literature about the war. . . . In these times, a readable book about the Vietnam war, like any other clear warning, is worth its weight in life. Christian Science Monitor

  • Winner of the 1988 National Book Award for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 1989 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
  • Winner of the 1989 Ambassador Book Award for American Studies

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah Harkness | 2/18/2014

    " i read this book many years ago, and I still think it must be one of the best researched, most passionate accounts of what went wrong in Vietnam for the Americans. Vann is certainly no hero - and yet for all the lying, betrayal and womanising, you can't help but think that the writer admires his passion and commitment, however misguided and blind it may be. Perhaps that in itself is a metaphore for the US? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 2/9/2014

    " Best history of the War...better than Fire on the Lake "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hugh Carson | 2/6/2014

    " A companion book to "The Unquiet American" with regard to Vann and Holbrooke being in Vietnam before the big run-up of the war. Basically the same conclusions. True American heroes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katrina | 1/18/2014

    " Read this for research in a class "The Vietnam Experience". The book was a vivid history and compelling read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Pardieck | 1/3/2014

    " If you're going to read about Vietnam, don't skip this one. The author(s) have the unique quality of being able to see both forest and trees and the book delivers with incredible perspective and fearless opinion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jody | 12/26/2013

    " This book shows you how the US messed up in Vietnam. It will really open your eyes up to how the government works behind the scenes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brianbyrne | 11/18/2013

    " Great Read if your interested in a political/military history of the conflict from an interesting and exciting perspective. I am usually bored by political/military histories but this book added in the personal first person perspective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevan | 10/9/2013

    " One very good and scary book. A biography of a brilliant but deeply flawed Vietnam era American military leader "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Craig Meads | 10/5/2013

    " If you only read one book about the Vietnam War, this is the one. I've read this book twice, several years between the two readings. The book was much better the second time. I can't reccommend this book enough, it's a definite must read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 9/3/2013

    " This is a multi-book vol which not only details the life of a very difficult man but is the best explanation of how the US engaged in a 15 year long impossible war, that I have yet read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dsknott | 7/2/2013

    " A great book. Must read for politicians who choose war. We seem to think that the decision to wage war is so profound it must be infallible. We make mistakes and those mistakes are monumental. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jack | 6/28/2013

    " A great history about Vietnam especially from the pacification viewpoint. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Todd Carlson | 12/17/2012

    " Every American should be reading this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kamal Sawyer | 10/23/2012

    " An interesting take on the vietnam war on john paul vann. Took me a long time to finish the bk but it was worth every page. Very few books win two awards & this is one bk you should take your time with. The telling of the story is compellingly engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirsten | 6/24/2012

    " No surprise here: It took me 11 months to get through this 800-page monster. That said, it was good to learn more about Vietnam and read a book that was so meticulously researched. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martha Johnson | 12/17/2011

    " I read this soon after it came out and it changed everything I thought and knew about Vietnam. Brilliant book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 12/1/2011

    " This book turned me a Vietnam veteran, from a Vietnam hawk into an anti-war activist "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jay | 9/21/2011

    " An amazing chronicle of the Vietnam debacle with some amazing reporting from the groung. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Harrison | 8/31/2011

    " The amount of detailed, inside information is staggering. The story of John Paul Vann was used as a jumping off point to understand the ultimate lie: the true story of Vietnam. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 AC | 8/26/2011

    " This book is powerful, intelligent, poignant -- in listening to it I found myself more than once shaking within. The tragedy described in the brilliant narrative lives with us still. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 4/25/2011

    " This is one of the best books I think I'll ever read. Gorgeous prose, an utterly fascinating story, and a nuanced yet strikingly profound critique of the U.S. war in Vietnam and the hubris of great powers. It's long but it is worth every second. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 1/10/2011

    " Excellent biography and history of the Vietnam War to boot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rockyslack | 12/17/2010

    " A great book, probably the best book ever writtten about Vietnam. Mr. Sheehan,s knowledge of the subject and his writing style made this book easy to read. A definite must-read for military history, war or biographies. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Johnbh46 | 11/27/2010

    " The absolute best and most informative analysis of the events and history leading up to the Viet Nam war and most revealing portrayal of the mistakes that led to a disastrous outcome. For a student of these times, a mandatory read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katrina | 8/27/2010

    " Read this for research in a class "The Vietnam Experience". The book was a vivid history and compelling read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bruce | 8/3/2010

    " Eye opening to a Vietnam Vet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 7/8/2010

    " It was bad enough to go through it to know who sent us there and why just makes it harder still! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 6/19/2010

    " Bought this book in a hotel in Bangkok and read it on the beach on Phuket. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 6/11/2010

    " Best history of the War...better than Fire on the Lake "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 William | 6/11/2010

    " A great history of the Vietnam war that focuses on the poor tactics vs. morality. A lengthy and well researched book.

    Some of the tactical errors described sound similar to some current military endeavors. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caterina | 3/21/2010

    " Another excellent history of war (got me on a history of 20th century wars post WWII kick, which is pretty depressing) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joel | 3/4/2010

    " A really tough book that explains why the Americans went terribly wrong. "

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About the Author

Neil Sheehan is the author of A Fiery Peace in a Cold War and A Bright Shining Lie, which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1989. He spent three years in Vietnam as a war correspondent for United Press International and the New York Times and won numerous awards for his reporting. In 1971, he obtained the Pentagon Papers, which brought the Times the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for meritorious public service. Sheehan lives in Washington, DC with his wife, the writer Susan Sheehan.

About the Narrator

Robertson Dean has played leading roles on and off Broadway and at dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. He has a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from Yale. His audiobook narration has garnered ten AudioFile Earphones Awards. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television in addition to narrating.