Thomas Bass

Professor Thomas Bass's new book The Spy Who Loved Us: The Vietnam War and Pham Xuan An’s Dangerous Game is set for release in February 2009.

Pham Xuan An was a brilliant journalist and an even better spy. A long-time correspondent for Time and friendly with all the legendary reporters covering Vietnam, he was an invaluable source of news and font of wisdom on all things Vietnamese. At the same time, he was a masterful double agent, a North Vietnamese operative whose secret reports were so admired by Ho Chi Minh that he clapped his hands with glee on receiving them and exclaimed, “We are now in the United States’ war room!” An inspired shape-shifter who kept his cover in place until the day he died, Pham Xuan An ranks as one of the preeminent spies of the twentieth century.

Professor Bass began his conversations with Pham Xuan An in 1992 and set out to write the story of An’s remarkable career for The New Yorker. It was not until An’s death in 2006 that Bass was able to lift the veil from his carefully guarded story and provide this fascinating portrait of a hidden life.

The book has received rave reviews. Daniel Ellsberg calls it “a brilliant book about a man and his times.” According to Ted Koppel, it is "an object lesson in why human intelligence and a great spy will always trump the most sophisticated espionage and surveillance technology.” Publishers Weekly calls the book “an evocation of a murky Saigon during war, where truth was a rare commodity and virtually everyone had an ulterior motive.”

Thomas Bass is a professor of Journalism and English at the University at Albany. He is the author of The Eudaemonic Pie, The Predictors, and Vietnamerica. Professor Bass is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Wired, Smithsonian, The New York Times, and other publications.


1-8-2009