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Remarkable one-page typed letter signed to Abe Rosenthal of the New York Times, concerning the withdrawal from Vietnam.

Washington, D.C.: April 2, 1975 Stock Code: 141264
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"This ending may have been inevitable for South Vietnam"

On the eve of the withdrawal from Saigon, Pulitzer-winning journalist Neil Sheehan writes to legendary editor Abe Rosenthal: a letter of superb content and context, conveying disillusionment with the Vietnam "experiment" and the anger that informs Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie, the "one book that captures the Vietnam War in the sheer Homeric scale of its passion and folly" (New York Times).

"Dear Abe:

The coverage of the debacle in South Vietnam has been truly exemplary, under what has been the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances. When you next message Markham, Browne, Butterfield, Loung, Dinh, et al. please tell them how much I admire their courage.

I assume that Markham is making precautionary arrangements to evacuate the Vietnamese employees of the bureau should the need arise. Should you need individual sponsors to satisfy the immigration bureaucrats, don't hesitate to add my name to the list.

My injuries are gradually mending and I've resumed work on the book. As you can see, I can once more type.

This ending may have been inevitable for South Vietnam, given the lack of wisdom in American policy over the last few years, but that doesn't make it any the less sad and depressing. What a shameful thing it is to see so many who believed in us abandoned to jail or a firing squad.

My love to Ann,

Bestest, Neil"

This outstanding letter dates from the period shortly after North Vietnamese forces had captured the major cities of Huế and Đà Nẵng (25 and 28 March) and with the South Vietnamese army retreating in disarray. In the face of this, significant support from the United States faded. Sheehan's remark that "precautionary arrangements" should be made for evacuating Vietnamese employees of the bureau, reflects the fact that the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) was already "knocking on the door". On 30 April Saigon fell.

Sheehan refers here to Saigon bureau members James M. Markham, Malcolm W. Browne, Fox Butterfield, Nguyen Ngoc Luong, and Le Kim Dinh. The book which he had resumed writing, following a bad injury in a road accident in November 1974, was A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1988), which garnered both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. A. M. "Abe" Rosenthal (1922-2006), in the words of his own paper's obituary, went "from ink-stained days as a campus correspondent at City College through exotic years as a reporter in the capitals and byways of Europe, Asia and Africa climbing on rungs of talent, drive and ambition to the highest echelons of The Times and American journalism" (11 May 2006, retrieved 29 September 2020). In 1960 he won the Pulitzer for international reporting. "Publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 was a historic achievement for The Times. The papers, a 7,000-page secret government history of the Vietnam War, showed that every administration since World War II had enlarged America's involvement while hiding the true dimensions of the conflict. But publishing the classified documents was risky: Would there be fines or jail terms? Would readers consider it treasonous? Would it lead to financial ruin for the paper? The Nixon administration tried to suppress publication, and the case led to a landmark Supreme Court decision upholding the primacy of the press over government attempts to impose "prior restraint" on what may be printed. Major roles were played by Times staff members, among them Neil Sheehan, the correspondent who had uncovered the papers. But it was Mr. Rosenthal as editor, arguing strenuously for publication, and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the publisher, who made the crucial decisions" (ibid.).

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Single sheet of personal headed notepaper (176 x 153 mm).


A handful of minor inked corrections, staples at top left-hand corner, a few superficial creases, overall very good.


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