Neil Sheehan

Cornelius Mahoney "Neil" Sheehan (born October 27, 1936) is an American journalist. As a reporter for The New York Times in 1971, Sheehan obtained the classified Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg. His series of articles revealed a secret United States Department of Defense history of the Vietnam War and led to a US Supreme Court case, New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), when the United States government unsuccessfully attempted to halt publication.[1]

He received a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for his 1988 book A Bright Shining Lie, about the life of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann and the United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

Life and career

Sheehan was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the son of Mary (O'Shea) and Cornelius Joseph Sheehan, who were Irish immigrants.[2] He was raised on a dairy farm near Holyoke. Sheehan graduated from Mount Hermon School (later Northfield Mount Hermon) and Harvard University with a B.A. in history (cum laude) in 1958. He served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962, when he was assigned to Korea, and then transferred to Tokyo, where he did work moonlighting in the Tokyo bureau of United Press International (UPI).

Following his discharge, he spent two years covering the war in Vietnam as UPI's Saigon bureau chief. In 1963, during the Buddhist crisis, Sheehan and David Halberstam debunked the claim by the Ngô Đình Diệm regime that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam regular forces had perpetrated the Xá Lợi Pagoda raids, which U.S. authorities initially accepted. They showed instead that the raiders were Special Forces loyal to Diệm's brother, Nhu, and motivated to frame the army generals. In 1964, he joined The New York Times and worked the city desk for a while before returning to the Far East, first to Indonesia and then to spend another year in Vietnam.[3] Sheehan was one of numerous US and international journalists who received valuable information from Pham Xuan An, who was not only a 20-year veteran correspondent for Time Magazine and Reuters, but was later revealed to also be a spy for the [[National Liberation Front for South Vietnam.[4]

In the fall of 1966, he became the newspaper's Pentagon correspondent. Two years later, he began reporting on the White House. He was a correspondent on political, diplomatic and military affairs. He obtained the Pentagon Papers for the Times in 1971.[5] The U.S. government tried to halt publication. The case, New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713), saw the Supreme Court reject the government's position, and establish a landmark First Amendment decision. The exposé would earn The New York Times the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

In 1970, Sheehan reviewed Conversations With Americans by Mark Lane in the New York Times Book Review. He called the work a collection of Vietnam War crime stories with some obvious flaws which the author had not verified. Sheehan called for a more thorough and scholarly work to be done on the war crimes being committed in Vietnam.[6]

In November 1974, Sheehan was badly injured in a two-car accident on a snowy mountain road in western Maryland caused by an uninsured motorist whose driving behavior was arguably criminal in nature. Sheehan's wife, longtime New Yorker staff writer Susan Sheehan, chronicled details of the accident and its emotional, legal and financial impact in a 1978 article for the magazine.[7] In addition to time and effort spent fighting three libel suits in connection with a previous book that endured until 1979, Sheehan's lengthy recovery from his injuries significantly delayed work on his book, begun in 1972, about John Paul Vann, a dramatic figure among American leaders in the early stages of the war in Vietnam. After the Times ended a four-year unpaid leave in 1976, he formally resigned from the newspaper to continue work on the book.[8]

Although he received an initial advance of $67,500 (of which he was entitled to $45,000 prior to publication) from Random House in 1972, Sheehan—a "dreadfully slow" writer who "[chased after] the last fact"[9]—mainly subsisted on lecture fees and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1973-1974), the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Studies at the University of Chicago (1973-1975), the Lehrman Institute (1975-1976), the Rockefeller Foundation (1976-1977) and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (1979-1980) for the remainder of the 1970s. According to William Prochnau, the latter fellowship marked a significant "turning point" for the book, as Sheehan "talked about Vietnam all day long every day" with Peter Braestrup after abandoning several hundred manuscript pages characterized by Susan Sheehan as a "false start."[8][9][10] When Sheehan finished "three-fifths of the manuscript" in the summer of 1981, the initial advance was renegotiated and raised to $200,000 with a projected delivery date of 1983, while William Shawn of The New Yorker agreed to excerpt the finished manuscript and advance funds as needed.[8]

Still beleaguered by health problems (including a pinched nerve and osteoarthritis),[8] he eventually completed the book, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, in 1986. Edited by Robert Loomis and published in 1988, it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prizes in Biography and History and received the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.[11] It also won the National Book Award for Nonfiction.[12]


Susan Sheehan also won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in 1983 for Is There No Place on Earth for Me?[11]

He also has two daughters, Catherine and Maria, and two grandsons.


  • The Pentagon Papers as published by the New York Times (1971)
  • The Arnheiter Affair (1972) — about Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter, a U.S. Navy officer relieved of command in 1966
  • A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1988)
  • After the War Was Over (1992)
  • A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon (2009)

In popular culture

Sheehan was portrayed by Jonas Chernick in The Pentagon Papers (2003) and Justin Swain in The Post (2017). He appears as himself in Ken Burns' 2017 documentary series, The Vietnam War.


  1. ^ "New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971)". Retrieved 2005-12-05.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Neil Sheehan Biography". Academy of Achievement. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  4. ^ The Spy of Saigon; Forbes December 11,2007
  5. ^ Author Profile Archived 2012-10-12 at the Wayback Machine; C-SPAN; October 22, 1988
  6. ^ Sheehan, Neil (December 27, 1970). "Conversations with Americans". The New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Sheehan, Susan (25 September 1978). "The Accident". The New Yorker. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b "General Nonfiction". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
  12. ^ "National Book Awards – 1988". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-25.

External links

1989 Pulitzer Prize

Winners of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize by Category

A Bright Shining Lie

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1988) is a book by Neil Sheehan, a former New York Times reporter, about killed in action U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann and the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War.

Sheehan was awarded the 1988 National Book Award for Nonfiction and the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for the book. It was adapted as a film of the same name released by HBO in 1998, starring Bill Paxton and Amy Madigan.

Apostrophes (talk show)

Apostrophes was a live, weekly, literary, prime-time, talk show on French television created and hosted by Bernard Pivot. It ran for fifteen years (724 episodes) from January 10, 1975 to June 22, 1990, and was one of the most watched shows on French television (around 6 million regular viewers). It was broadcast on Friday nights on the channel France 2 (which was called "Antenne 2" from 1975–1992).

The hourlong show was devoted to books, authors and literature. The format varied between one-on-one interviews with a single author and open discussions between four or five authors. Notable authors who appeared on the show included: Vladimir Nabokov, Norman Mailer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Marguerite Yourcenar, Susan Sontag, Neil Sheehan, Milan Kundera, Georges Simenon, William Styron, John Le Carré, Tom Wolfe, Umberto Eco, Marguerite Duras. Charles Bukowski's appearance on the show (22 September 1978) is famous for his being visibly drunk, insulting the host and walking off in the midst of the broadcast. The show also invited political figures (Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the Dalai Lama, Robert Badinter, François Mitterrand), intellectuals, historians, sociologists (Pierre Bourdieu, Claude Lévi-Strauss), actors and directors (Marcello Mastroianni, Roman Polanski, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard) to discuss their books and literature.

At the end of each broadcast, Bernard Pivot traditionally asked his guests to answer the Proust Questionnaire. (Inspired by Pivot, James Lipton, the host of the U.S. TV program Inside the Actors Studio, gives an adapted version of the Proust Questionnaire to some of his guests.)

An appearance on Apostrophes could bring on several thousand copies in book sales, according to book trade sources. In 1982, French writer Régis Debray accused Pivot of having "a virtual dictatorship over publishing markets."In Quebec, the show was broadcast on TVFQ 99, and later on TV5.

Apostrophes replaced, in 1975, Italiques and was replaced by the show Bouillon de culture (which debuted on 12 January 1991), produced by Bernard Pivot, who wanted to develop a show which featured more than just literary cultural topics.

Behold the Kingdom

Behold the Kingdom was an American Christian metal and Christian hardcore band, and they primarily played deathcore, metalcore, and hardcore punk. They come from Sidney, Ohio. The band started making music in 2009, and their membership was lead vocalist, Josh Moon, lead guitarists, Riley Snyder and Derrik Young, bassist, Mark Baker, and drummer, Cliff Deweese. Their first studio album, The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail, was released by Rottweiler Records, in 2011, where this was the only album from the band, who disbanded in 2013.


Booknotes is an American television series on the C-SPAN network hosted by Brian Lamb, which originally aired from 1989 to 2004. The format of the show is a one-hour, one-on-one interview with a non-fiction author. The series was broadcast at 8 p.m. Eastern Time each Sunday night, and was the longest-running author interview program in U.S. broadcast history.

Charles Chellapah

Charles Chellapah (1939 – 14 February 1966) was a Singaporean photojournalist of Indian origin who was killed on-assignment during the Vietnam War.

Charles Eggleston

Charles Richard Eggleston (November 1945 – May 6, 1968) was a photographer with United Press International who was killed in combat in Vietnam where he was covering the ongoing war.

David Halberstam

David Halberstam (April 10, 1934 – April 23, 2007) was an American journalist and historian, known for his work on the Vietnam War, politics, history, the Civil Rights Movement, business, media, American culture, and later, sports journalism. He won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1964. Halberstam was killed in a car crash in 2007, while doing research for a book.

John Paul Vann

John Paul Vann (July 2, 1924 – June 9, 1972) was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, later retired, who became well known for his role in the Vietnam War.

List of UPI reporters

This is a list of notable reporters who worked for United Press International during their careers:

Carl W. Ackerman, 1913-1914 Albany, NY and Washington, D.C. bureau reporter, 1915-1917 Berlin Correspondent

Howard Arenstein, 1978 Jerusalem bureau chief 1981 editor on UPI's foreign desk in New York and Washington.

James Baar, editor in the UPI Washington Bureau

Arnaud de Borchgrave, 1947 -1951 Brussels bureau chief, 1998 president of UPI, 2001 editor-at-large of UPI based in Washington DC

Joe Bob Briggs

David Brinkley

Lucien Carr

Pye Chamberlayne

John Chambers, son of Whittaker Chambers (UPI Radio, 1960s)Audio recap of 87th Congress (1962)

Audio recap on Presidential Election (1964)

Funeral Services for Adlai Stevenson (1965)

Civil Rights Movement in 1965 (1965)

Preview 1966 (1966)

"From the People" with Hubert Humphrey (text) (February 1968)

Audio on LBJ's signing of Civil Rights Act of 1968 (April 11, 1968)

Text of eyewitness account of RFK assassination (1968)

Charles Collingwood

Walter Cronkite, 1939-1950, covered World War II for UP.

William Boyd Dickinson

Bill Downs

Marc S. Ellenbogen

James M. Flinchum

Sylvana Foa

Oscar Fraley

Thomas Friedman

Joseph L. Galloway

Seymour Hersh

John Hoerr

Richard C. Hottelet

Michael Keon, covered the Chinese Civil War in the late 1940s

David Kirby

Eli Lake

Larry LeSueur

Eric Lyman

Eugene Lyons

Carlos Mendo

Webb Miller

Randy Minkoff

M. R. Akhtar Mukul

Ron Nessen

Richard S. Newcombe

Dan Olmsted

Bill Rosinski

Milton Richman

Eric Sevareid

Steve Sailer

Harrison Salisbury

Mac Sebree

Neil Sheehan

William Shirer

Howard K. Smith

Merriman Smith

Jeff Stein

Barry Sussman

Roger Tatarian

Helen Thomas

Morris DeHaven Tracy

Martin Walker

Kate Webb

Steve Wilstein

Lester Ziffren

Mitchell Rogovin

Mitchell Rogovin (December 3, 1930, – February 7, 1996, Washington, D.C.) was a prominent American civil liberties lawyer and U.S. government counsel. He served as chief counsel for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 1965 and 1966, and as special counsel to the Central Intelligence Agency in 1975 and 1976.

Rogovin was born in New York City to Max Seymour Rogovin and Sayde Efstein. His four grandparents were Russian Jewish emigrants. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1951. He studied law at the University of Virginia and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Rogovin authored a standard reference work on IRS pronouncements, "The Four R’s: Regulations, Rulings, Reliance, and Retroactivity: A View from Within".In private practice, he was known for his 1971 defense of New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan for his role in the publication of the Pentagon Papers, and for his 1973 suit against Richard Nixon's reelection committee on behalf of Common Cause.He was appointed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to head the agency's investigation of the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island.

Nick Moore (musician)

Nick Moore (born July 17, 1983) is an American Christian musician from Findlay, Ohio. He is best known as the lead vocalist and primary songwriter of the Billboard charting band Before Their Eyes on Rise Records.On April 18, 2010, Moore announced that he would be leaving Before Their Eyes and asked for support for his new project, later revealed to be Planet AD. However, on December 26, 2010, he announced via Facebook that he was back in Before Their Eyes.

Moore is also known for starting the record label StandBy Records in 2007, which signed the American Billboard charting band Emarosa and the international recording artist Hopes Die Last. In 2008, Moore sold the company to HM-Live's owner, Neil Sheehan. In August 2009, he started a new record label called inVogue Records. With inVogue, he signed the recording artist The Plot in You and other rock and post-hardcore bands. Notable artists on InVogue Records include pop-punk giants Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, San Diego melodic hardcore band Being As An Ocean, metalcore band Famous Last Words, and spoken-word project Hotel Books.Moore was also the vocalist and played guitar for the pop/punk band The Drama Summer.In early 2013 Nick announced he started a new band called Gentlemen Roosevelt that he does vocals and plays guitar in.

Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers, officially titled Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force, is a United States Department of Defense history of the United States' political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers were released by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study; they were first brought to the attention of the public on the front page of The New York Times in 1971. A 1996 article in The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress".More specifically, the papers revealed that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scope of its actions in the Vietnam War with the bombings of nearby Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, none of which were reported in the mainstream media.For his disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property, but the charges were later dismissed after prosecutors investigating the Watergate scandal discovered that the staff members in the Nixon White House had ordered the so-called White House Plumbers to engage in unlawful efforts to discredit Ellsberg.In June 2011, the entirety of the Pentagon Papers was declassified and publicly released.

Peter Kalischer

Peter Kalischer (1915–1991) was an American journalist best known for his reporting of the early stages of the Vietnam War in the 1960s as a television correspondent for CBS News. He won the Overseas Press Club award in 1963 for his reporting during the Buddhist crisis that led to the fall of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. In 1968, while covering the Tet Offensive, he had dinner on the rooftop restaurant of the Caravelle Hotel with Walter Cronkite who was preparing a special report on the war and helped to convince him that the war could not be won militarily, that a stalemate was inevitable. From 1966 to 1978, Kalischer was the Paris correspondent and bureau chief for CBS News. He covered the Korean War, writing multiple articles about it.Kalischer later became a professor of communications at Loyola University, a position he held until 1982.

Robert Loomis

Robert Loomis (born 1926) is a book editor; he worked at Random House from 1957 to 2011. He has been called "one of publishing's hall of fame editors."Many of Loomis' authors had worked with him for decades, including Maya Angelou, who wrote 31 books under his editorship, beginning her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). His authors' loyalty to him and him to them was almost legendary. Loomis represented "the classic mold of the editor" and according to Random House, he "embodied the ideal of an old-fashioned editor: understated, but uncanny; polite, but persistent". As Angelou said, Loomis "knows what I hope to achieve in all my work. I don't know anybody as fierce, simply fierce, but he's as tender as he's tough." He was well known as a mentor to editors and writers in all areas of the publishing industry.Other notable authors who have been edited by Loomis include Calvin Trillin, Edmund Morris (who wrote Dutch, the "controversial" biography of US President Ronald Reagan), Shelby Foote, Jonathan Harr, and anchorman Jim Lehrer. He edited the Vietnam war epic, A Bright Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan, which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and in 1998, the novel he edited for Pete Dexter, Paris Trout, earned the National Book Award, "an unprecedented feat in editing."Loomis and author William Styron had known each other since they were both students at Duke University, where Loomis was Styron's editor at Duke's student magazine. Loomis went on to edit all of Styron's books except Lie Down in Darkness, his first novel.Loomis is married to Hilary Mills, who wrote a biography about Norman Mailer. He is a certified pilot.


Sheehan is from the Irish word síocháin, meaning peace. As a surname, it may refer to:

Billy Sheehan (born 1953), American rock bassist

Bobby Sheehan (musician) (1968–1999), American rock bassist

Cindy Sheehan (born 1957), American anti-war politician and activist

D. D. Sheehan (1873–1948), Irish politician, journalist, and labour leader

Edward Sheehan (1930–2008), American journalist, diplomat and novelist

Fran Sheehan (born 1949), American rock bassist

Frank Sheehan (1933-2013), Canadian politician

Gary Sheehan (born 1964), Canadian-Swiss ice hockey coach

Harold Leeming Sheehan (1900–1988), British endocrinologist, for whom Sheehan's syndrome was named circa 1937

Helena Sheehan, American-born Irish academic and former nun

James J. Sheehan (born 1937), American historian

Jim Sheehan (1889–1967), Australian politician

John Sheehan (disambiguation), various

Michael J. Sheehan, World War II brigadier general

Mark Sheehan (born 1976), guitarist for The Script

Michael Jarboe Sheehan (born 1939), current archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe

Michael A. Sheehan (born 1955), former Ambassador at Large for Counter-terrorism and Deputy Commissioner for Terrorism, New York Police Department

Neil Sheehan (born 1936), Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, husband of Susan Sheehan

Paul Sheehan (golfer) (born 1977), Australian professional golfer

Paul Sheehan (journalist) (born 1951), Australian journalist

Patrick Augustine Sheehan (1852–1913), Irish Catholic clergyman and author

P. A. Ó Síocháin (1905–1995), Irish journalist, lawyer, author, son of D. D. Sheehan

Patty Sheehan (born 1956), American golfer

Rhian Sheehan, New Zealand music composer and producer

Robert Sheehan (born 1988), Irish actor

Ryan Sheehan (born 1987), Engineer

Samantha Sheehan (born 1986), American artistic gymnast

Susan Sheehan (born 1937), Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, wife of Neil Sheehan

Tom Sheehan (1894–1982), American pitcher, scout and manager

Tom Sheehan (politician) (1891–1955), Australian politician

Thomas Sheehan (academic) (born 1941), American philosopher

Timothy P. Sheehan (1909–2000), American Congressman

William F. Sheehan, American politician

Winfield R. Sheehan (1883–1945), American film producer and executive, Fox Studios chief of production 1927–1935

StandBy Records

Standby Records is an independent rock/metal label originally from Cleveland, Ohio. Its roster of artists include Emarosa and Black Veil Brides. The company’s CEO and Owner is Neil Sheehan.

Susan Sheehan

Susan Sheehan (née Sachsel; born August 24, 1937) is an Austrian-born American writer.

Political or

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