A Dangerous Friend by Ward Just

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In this, his twelfth novel, Ward Just penetrates more deeply into America's role in the world than he has ever done before. This beautifully constructed large-canvas novel of Saigon in 1965 can be justly compared to Joseph Conrad's NOSTROMO or Graham Greene's THE QUIET AMERICAN. A DANGEROUS FRIEND is a thrilling narrative roiling with intrigue, mayhem, and betrayal. Here is the story of conscience and its consequences among those for whom Vietnam was neither the right fight nor the wrong fight but the only fight. The exotic tropical surroundings, the coarsening and corrupting effects of a colonial regime, the visionary delusions of the American democratizers, all play their part. In A DANGEROUS FRIEND, a few civilians with bright minds and sunny intentions want to reform Vietnam -- but the Vietnam they see isn't the Vietnam that is. Sydney Parade, a political scientist, has left home and family in an effort to become part of something larger than himself, a foreign-aid operation in Saigon. Even before he arrives, he encounters French and Americans who reveal to him the unsettling depths of a conflict he thought he understood -- and in Saigon, the Vietnamese add yet another dimension. Before long, the rampant missteps and misplaced ideals trap Parade and others in a moral crossfire.

About Ward Just

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WARD JUST's seventeen previous novels include Exiles in the Garden, Forgetfulness, the National Book Award finalist Echo House, A Dangerous Friend, winner of the Cooper Prize for fiction from the Society of American Historians, and An Unfinished Season, winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award and a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
Published May 3, 1999 by Mariner Books. 269 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, War, Literature & Fiction, Horror, Action & Adventure, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Arts & Photography. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Just offers an ironic portrayal of American innocents undertaking “nation-building” in a land they don’t understand: Saigon and environs in1965, when US presence is comparatively new, and when nonmilitary “Llewellyn Group” operative Sydney Parade arrives buoyed by visions of fruitful solidarity w...

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Publishers Weekly

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Sydney is unaware of his vast ignorance of Vietnamese culture and political reality, but after he becomes involved with French expatriate and rubber plantation owner Claude Armand and his wife, Dede, a native Chicagoan, Sydney gradually loses his hubris.

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Entertainment Weekly

The war in Vietnam is merely a backdrop in A Dangerous Friend, a convenient way of dramatizing political novelist Ward Just's two themes: the complicated, compromise-centered existence of men and women who ''live between the lines'' and the explosions that occur when you put ''the twentieth centu...

May 14 1999 | Read Full Review of A Dangerous Friend

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