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
Photo from James Burke in Bangkok. Meanwhile, Shirley Shackleton in Melbourne writes: “It’s fascinating especially since I’m addicted to the Great War and 2nd World War.”
The Punji Trap is now on sale at the Est Bar on Street 214 in Phnom Penh as part of a fund raiser for charity.
Brilliant to see Punji Trap on sale at the recent International genocide conference in Phnom Penh.
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
Indonesian-based security analyst Keith Loveard reads his copy of the Punji Trap at his home in Keramas, Indonesia. ©Toby Loveard
Thida Keo, manager of the Back Street Bar in Phnom Penh, where the Punji Trap, now on its second print run, is available. It’s also a great place for a beer and chat!
“Luke Hunt has produced an excellent piece of journalism that is a must read for anyone interested in Asia.”
Michael Parer — Churchill, Victoria, Australia.
It’s excellent — gripping and beautiful researched — and well paced.
James Fountain — London, England
Author Luke Hunt with cameraman Terry Thiva at the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.