A Dangerous Friend is the title of a book written by Ward Just about the Vietnam Conflict.

The Vietnam conflict had a searing effect on the American psyche - an effect so intense that today, after nearly a generation after the withdrawal of American troops from Saigon, literature on the subject of the war keeps growing. One of the most influential authors of this experience is Tim O'Brien, who writes from the point of view of infantry men in the midst of battle, not knowing why they are there. Ward Just is also a very influential author, but he writes from a unique point of view. Ward Just is well known for his political fiction, including this novel, A Dangerous Friend, which is not written from the point of view of an Army grunt in battle, but instead from the viewpoint of a civilian, member of a fictional group called the Lewellyn Group, whose purpose is to research Vietnam and attempt to reform Vietnam.

The main character, Sydney Parade, is sent to Vietnam by the Lewellyn Group, where he meets a French planter named Claude Armand, and his American wife, Dede. He is to exploit the family's connections and use them to gather insider information from the enemy. However, Claude and Dede are determined to stay neutral. A turning point occurs in the story when an American pilot, the son of a congressman, is kidnapped by the Viet Cong and Parade is pressured by the Lewellyn Group, who want to increase their position in the White House, by finding out important information relating to this incident, before the United States military gets into the matter. So Parade is in an internal struggle between his loyalties and honors, of whether he can get information from Claude and Dede, who want to stay neutral through this issue, making him a "dangerous friend" to Claude and Dede.

This book, though it lacks in plot, is incredibly beautiful and artistic. Just's characters are very compelling and precise, especially Parade. The real show of Just's artistic writing style is his ability to write about an ambivalent character such as Parade, whose intellect, in this book, is detached from his heart. Such a theme is prevalent in contemporary American literature, emphasizing the divergence as well as the convergence between the spiritual world and the intellectual world. The plot, in this book, is second to Just's detail, to literature, to art.

The bottom line is that this book contains profound insight into not only political machinations before and during the Vietnam conflict but insight as well into emotional conflicts, and should be considered one of the best novels on Vietnam ever written.

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