A Dangerous Friend: A Novel

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HMH, May 3, 1999 - Fiction - 272 pages
5 Reviews
Well-meaning American civilians make an attempt at nation-building during the Vietnam War, in this “powerful” novel by a National Book Award finalist (Newsweek).

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Time and the Los Angeles Times
In this “extraordinary,” beautifully constructed large-canvas novel of Saigon in 1965, Ward Just takes a penetrating look into America’s role in the world (The New York Times).
Sydney Parade, a political scientist, has left his home and family in an effort to become part of something larger than himself, a foreign aid operation in the South Vietnamese capital. 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.
“Emotionally wrenching and always beautifully observant,” this is a story of conscience and its consequences among those for whom Vietnam was neither the right fight nor the wrong fight but the only fight (Entertainment Weekly). The exotic tropical surroundings, coarsening and corrupting effects of a colonial regime, and visionary delusions of the American democratizers all play their part. “A literary triumph that transcends its war story” and a New York Times Notable Book, A Dangerous Friend can be justly compared to Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo or Graham Greene’s The Quiet American—a thrilling narrative roiling with intrigue, mayhem, and betrayal (San Francisco Chronicle).
“Makes you want to run screaming into the street to protest retrospectively the war he has so movingly recreated.” —The New York Times

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TimBazzett - LibraryThing

Another winner from Ward Just, who has become one of my favorite authors. A DANGEROUS FRIEND is the eighth (I just checked) Just novel I have read in the past several years, and I have yet to find a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Schmerguls - LibraryThing

this novel shows that its aurhor, who was a war correspondent in Vitetnam, has a perceptive and sure grasp of life druring the war. . An American goes to Vietnam as a civilian to help win "hearts and ... Read full review

Selected pages


The Family Armand
A Child in Such a Milieu
Getting Used to It
A Shooting in the Market
Assimilate or Disperse
Big Dumb Blond
Plantation Louvet
The Life of the Mind
Pablos Hat
The Arsenal of Democracy
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About the author (1999)

Ward Just’s novels include Exiles in the Garden; Forgetfulness; National Book Award finalist Echo House; A Dangerous Friend, winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for fiction from the Society of American Historians; and An Unfinished Season, winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize and a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer.

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