Books: A Flawed Hero in a Flawed War

A BRIGHT SHINING LIE

by Neil Sheehan

Random House; 861 pages; $24.95

On a warm spring morning in 1972, while the Viet Nam War raged abroad and caused dissension at home, an unlikely assortment of public figures gathered in Arlington National Cemetery to pay their final respects to a man very few Americans had ever heard of. Secretary of State William Rogers, Senator Edward Kennedy and conservative columnist Joseph Alsop were there, as were General William Westmoreland and Daniel Ellsberg, who was about to stand trial for leaking the Pentagon papers. They had come to mourn John Paul Vann, one of...

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