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A Dangerous Friend
WARD JUST

A Dangerous Friend by Ward Just
22 reviews (1999) (256p)
TIME Magazine Best Fiction Books
ALA Notable Books - Fiction Finalist

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Book Description
Ward Just's twelfth novel penetrates deeply into America's role in the world. Set in Indochina in 1965, A DANGEROUS FRIEND tells a story of "the devolution of an innocent American crusading for democracy" (VANITY FAIR), a man living the conflict of so many Americans caught in a political and spiritual crossfire. 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 people who reveal to him the unsettling depths of a conflict he thought he understood, and in Saigon the Vietnamese add yet another dimension. This "fabulous, tense and dramatic" (LOS ANGELES TIMES) narrative needs neither combat nor bloodshed to tell its tale. A DANGEROUS FRIEND is the beautifully constructed story of civilians who want to reform Vietnam -- but the Vietnam they see isn't the Vietnam that is.


Amazon.com Review
Ward Just, a former war correspondent, uses his intimate knowledge of Vietnam to advantage in this exploration of America's tangled relations with that small Southeast Asian country. Set in 1965, the last year that civilians were in control of foreign intervention, A Dangerous Friend chronicles the lives of a small band of aid workers who purport to administer financial and technical assistance to the Vietnamese; unknown to most, however, the Llewellyn Group is actually covertly linked to the Pentagon. Though told by a nameless narrator, the protagonist of this story is Sydney Parade, an idealistic American who abandons wife and child in order to help bring democracy to the third world:
We worked harder than we had ever worked in our lives, or would ever work again. We were drunk on work. Work was passion. We were in it for the long haul, and from the beginning we swam upstream.
Sydney arrives in Vietnam filled with altruistic purpose, but all too soon he finds himself up to his neck in dangerous intrigue. The head of the Llewellyn Group, Dicky Rostok, is trolling for information, and he uses Sydney's connections with a French planter and his American-born wife to further his own agenda. Despite the best of intentions, Sydney unwittingly becomes the source of information that will eventually lead to death, betrayal, and ruin. In A Dangerous Friend Ward Just conveys the depth of America's misunderstanding of the situation in Vietnam even as he illustrates how idealism unleavened by knowledge can be a perilous thing, indeed. --Alix Wilber


Other Award Winning Books by Ward Just
An Unfinished Season by Ward Just
23 reviews (2004) (256p) (PP)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Echo House by Ward Just
18 reviews (1997) (336p) (NBA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Ward Just Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 3  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 3  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 1 An Unfinished Season ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 1 Echo House ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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