Updated ‘Perfect Spy’ book released, films in the making

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American historian Larry Berman (middle) and translator Do Hung (left) at a Hanoi press briefing February 18 to introduce the updated version of his memoir of Vietnamese legendary spy Pham Xuan An. Photo courtesy of Nguoi Lao Dong
A new updated version of a book about Vietnamese spy Pham Xuan An was released in Hanoi Tuesday as work on its movie editions also got underway.

Prof. Larry Berman, who spent five years traveling back and forth between the US and Vietnam before publishing the first print edition of “Perfect Spy” in 2007, one year after An died, said he had promised to reveal more stories and the latest version has a lot of information published for the first time.
A studied journalism in the US for two years before he came home and worked as a journalist for TIME, Reuters and the New York Herald Tribune for 16 years during the war, all the while spying for liberation forces.
X6 was his agent name and he managed to maintain his cover until the war ended.
Berman wrote in the introduction that Vietnamese readers will for the first time read stories of the extraordinary life of An in his own words.
The book was translated into Vietnamese by Ho Chi Minh City-based translator and Thanh Nien journalist Do Hung.
Berman said the new translation is almost a perfect copy, “98 percent” of the original, while the first translation in 2007 was more like a summary.
He has also provided the copyright to local publisher First News to make a two-hour movie based on the book and a drama series for around US$1 million, the latter to be filmed in both the US and Vietnam with its premier scheduled for September next year.
He said that while writing the book he became especially interested in An’s experience in the US and the impressions it left on his life, as well as the specific roles he played during the war and the challenges he faced after the war.
Berman said he wanted the book to emphasize An’s personality, not his spying talents.
He said he wanted the world to understand the complexity of An’s life, the struggle he lived through to balance his loyalty to the country and his friendships on the other side.
The book reveals that An had worked hard to reconcile the relationship between the US and Vietnam after the war.

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