On Hong Kong Heritage this weekend… As a student, longtime Hongkonger and Australian veteran journalist Luke Hunt first learned about Pham Xuan An, a South Vietnamese who spied for the Communist north during the Vietnam War. An worked as a journalist for Time and Reuters and through propaganda this spy for north Vietnam helped convince the Americans that it was time for their troops to go home. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Pham Xuan An became disenchanted with the Communist government but continued to live in Vietnam until his death in 2006. He told Luke that he could write a book about his life, once he was dead. On Hong Kong Heritage this weekend, Luke tells me about his book Punji Trap, Pham Xuan An: The Spy Who Didn’t Love Us. Listen here.
Pub intellectuals and a chat in Melbourne. From left to Right; Rod McKinnon, Bernie Esser, John Dooley and Rodney Riley with copies of the Punji Trap.
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.