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US professor to talk untold stories of Vietnam’s legendary spy

Saturday, January 23, 2016, 10:19 GMT+7

Untold stories of Pham Xuan An will be brought to life for the first time in a event chaired by an American historian, who authored a book on the famed Vietnamese spy, in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday.

Prof. Larry Berman will disclose several pieces of information about An, which the late spy had specified in his will should only be made public after his death.

Berman is the author of the “Perfect spy X6 - the incredible double life of Pham Xuan An, Reuters, Time, New York Herald Tribune reporter & Vietnamese strategic intelligence general” book, which features the dangerous double life of  revered Vietnamese intelligence general An.

The talk show will take place at the booth run by Tri Viet (First News) Publishing House on Nguyen Van Binh, known as the Ho Chi Minh City’s Book Street, in the city’s downtown area at 4:30 pm.

Prof. Berman hopes to be able to put more details, regarding An’s reports about China in 1972, in the next reprint of his book, he told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Friday morning.

In 1972, after the then President Richard Nixon’s visit to China, everything became a little tougher for An as there were many Chinese spies in Vietnam, according to the professor.

But Berman said he could not give more details when An’s reports on this period have yet to be approved by local authorities.

A Vietnamese screenwriter has adapted Berman’s book into a script for a 30-episode TV film, which is pending approval from the Vietnam Television before the filming process could start.

The U.S. professor is the film’s advisor and his visit to Ho Chi Minh City this time was therefore dedicated to read and revise the adapted screenplay.

Berman said he will have to discuss the screenplay with Cat Tien Sa, the film producer, and will provide details of the discussion during the talk show on Saturday.

But the professor said he is happy with the adapted screenplay as it is a full and detailed reflection of his book.

The movie tells the story of An in the same angle as the author did with his book, he said, adding that he hopes the film will soon be approved and broadcast.

Besides the TV series, the U.S. historian also plans to produce a widescreen movie about the Vietnamese spy.

Berman said he hopes that TV film will be approved and broadcast to give him a considerable amount of funding to invest in the widescreen movie.

The life of An is so great that it should be featured on the silver screen, the professor said.

The Hollywood movie should be shot in Vietnam, and it will be a film about war, peace, friendship and the love An had with both countries, he elaborated.

Berman asserted that the movie will be up to international standard and qualified for attending international film festivals.

He also revealed that he has dreamed of winning the “Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film” with his brainchild.

Pham Xuan An (1927 – 2006), also known by ‘X6’, ‘Hai Trung’ or ‘Tran Van Trung’, worked in South Vietnam as a reporter for Reuters, TIME magazine and the New York Herald Tribune during the Vietnam War, while at the same time spying for North Vietnam.

An lived this dangerous double life for more than twenty years. After the war, he was conferred with the title ‘Hero of the People's Army’ and promoted to general - one of the country’s only two intelligence officers to achieve that rank.

His eventful spy life has inspired several locally and foreign produced books and documentaries including Jean-Claude Pomonti’s “Un Vietnamien bien tranquille” (A tranquil Vietnamese) and Thomas A. Bass’s “Pham Xuan An's Dangerous Game”.

Prof. Berman, founding dean of the Georgia State Honors College and winner of the Bernath Lecture Prize, has written several books on the Vietnam War including “Planning a Tragedy: The Americanization of the War in Vietnam” and “Lyndon Johnson's War: The Road To Stalemate in Vietnam”.

Berman first wrote and published his book in 2007, after recording the eventful, thrilling spy life recounted by An himself.

Six years later, Berman made significant additions to his publication, including astoundingly intriguing facts and details on An’s life, which he recorded but did not include in his first edition.

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