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.
“Punji Trap is a cracking read that paints a vivid picture of colourful characters on a murky canvas,” David Fox, former Reuters correspondent.
“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.
‘Hunt does his utmost to avoid Vietnam War cliches: he neither spends too much time dissecting and deconstructing U.S involvement in the conflict nor panders lazily to the interests of Hanoi. And while it might be tempting to take An’s “both trues are true” line more seriously than, say, Kellyanne Conway’s claim off “alternative facts,” postmodern philosophy is not Hunt’s objective here. He is focussed less on what An’s duplicity meant, and more on what it was – for that in itself was significant enough.’ Shane Worrell, The Diplomat.
‘Mata Hari, Kim Philby… Luke Hunt’s magnificent Punji Trap adds the Vietnamese War’s most effective double agent, Phạm Xuân Ẩn, to the short list of master spies who changed the course of 20th century history.‘ Dan Boylan, The Washington Times.
‘The West’s highest-rated reporter, and Hanoi’s greatest spy. Pham Xuan An at first glance seems like a walking contradiction. However, veteran Southeast Asia correspondent Luke Hunt shows the reader that An did have a code after all. On the heels of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s epic film “The Vietnam War,” Hunt gives us an intriguing book to help fill in the gaps.’ Michael Philips, The Phnom Penh Post.
‘Hunt is the journalists journalist. This book is a rollicking tale of history and intrigue. Economical and expansive. Hunt reports the truth of history under the guise of a cracking read.’ Ross Mueller, Freelance Writer and Playwright, Geelong Advertiser.