THE PUNJI TRAP – PHAM XUAN AN: THE SPY WHO DIDN’T LOVE US
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.
LUKE HUNT began his career as a journalist on outback newspapers. He was editor of the student newspaper Planet while studying at Deakin University before undertaking a cadetship with Australian Associated Press. He then covered wars, international politics and economics for Agence France- Presse where he served as bureau chief for Afghanistan and then Cambodia and held roving reporting duties from his home in Hong Kong. Hunt has written for The Age in his native Melbourne, The New York Times, The Times of London, The Economist and writes a weekly column on Southeast Asia for The Diplomat. His broadcasts have appeared regularly on ABC in Australia and on Voice of America.
He has been honored with several awards, including a shared World Association of Newspapers, an Amnesty Human Rights Press Award and been personally commended by the U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, for his bureau-coverage of the Afghan conflict, prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
He is a senior lecturer at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh where he wrote the course War, Media and International Relations.
"Mata Hari, Kim Philby… Luke Hunt’s magnificent Punji Trap adds the Vietnamese War’s most effective double agent, Phạm Xuân Ẩn, to the short list of master spies who changed the course of 20th century history." Dan Boylan, The Washington Times.
"Luke Hunt’s incisive portrayal of a fascinating character explores a murky underbelly of espionage in the Vietnam War. This painstakingly researched work is compelling and thought provoking." Lindsay Murdoch, South-East Asia correspondent, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.