PUNJI TRAP: The Spy Who Didn’t Love Us

Pham Xuan An was a Communist agent whose espionage adventures – under the cover story of a celebrated war correspondent in the Western media — were as brilliant for Hanoi as they were shattering for Washington during the tumultuous days of the Vietnam War. He has been dubbed “the perfect spy” and affectionately referred to by some as “the spy who loved us”. Not quite. Journalist and Southeast Asian specialist Luke Hunt prises this story open. He knew and interviewed An for many years, along with the many friends and colleagues in journalism who knew him best in war, on the journalistic beat and amid the collapse of South Vietnam.The Punji Trap has been distributed across Asia and in the United Kingdom by Talisman Publishing Pte Ltd. It will shortly be available in Australia and can be purchased in paperback and  on Kindle  through Amazon, Select Books in Singapore, Asia Books in Thailand, Bokus in Scandinavia and at Kinokuniya Books in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia. First editions are also available through Pay Pal and in specialty book shops, including the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Thailand and the Writer’s Club in Chiang Mai. In Cambodia, it can be found at Monument Books across the country, and at the Back Street Bar and Wang Dang Doodle in Phnom Penh, and at Bookish Bazaar and Keppler’s Books in Kampot.

 



“Hunt divulges in his book the very person who was instrumental in setting the stage for the greatest hijacking of a victory ever seen. Hunt makes it clear as to how the American people and leadership were taken for a ride that cost many more lives and the loss of South Vietnam,” Ronnie Monroe, Vietnam Veterans News.

 

Latest Review

From Angkor John: “I’ve read this magnificent book (got it at Monument think its available elsewhere in PP as well) , the Punji Trap by the Australian journalist Luke Hunt.

“A great read backed with a solid historical narrative as to how the Vietnam war came to be alongside a great true story. I can highly recommend for those interested in the genre.”

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Little did they know that their self-deprecating colleague was a top espionage agent for the Communist regime in North Vietnam. An was first recruited as a spy in 1952. Five years later, his intelligence unit sent him to study journalism in California, believing that masquerading as a reporter would be the perfect cover. During his two years in America, he worked for his campus paper at Orange Coast College and interned at The Sacramento Bee. With journalism as his cover, he was ordered to return to Vietnam in 1960 on a mission to infiltrate the American press.

“An made a lot of friends, but he was ultimately committed to ensuring that the Americans lost the war,” says Luke Hunt, author of Punji Trap — Pham Xuan An: The Spy Who Didn’t Love Us, a book about An’s life.

 

Read more from Mat Nashed at Ozy magazine:

Pham Xuan An: The Spy Who tricked America

Latest Review

Traitor, Patriot, Sympathiser?

“… it is the story of a man who, his book suggests, could qualify as the most significant figure of the Vietnam War that you have never heard of. And not just any man, for An was a figure around which many of the pivotal events and personalities of the conflict osculated. And what a story it is: taking in An’s childhood in the lower Mekong, including his years as a teenage guerrilla fighting the French, college years in California, his experiences in Saigon during the Vietnam War and, later, through the years that followed unification, Hunt unpacks a life lived on the edge but at the centre of history.”

Wayne McCallum – Howl

 

Churchill, Victoria

“Luke Hunt has produced an excellent piece of journalism that is a must read for anyone interested in Asia.”

Michael Parer — Churchill, Victoria, Australia.