WASHINGTON — Neil Sheehan, a reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who broke the story of the Pentagon Papers for The New York Times and who chronicled the deception at the heart of the Vietnam War in his epic book about the war, died Thursday. He was 84.
Sheehan died Thursday morning of complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his daughter, Catherine Sheehan Bruno.
His account of the Vietnam War, “A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam,” took him 15 years to write. The 1988 book won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.
Sheehan served as a war correspondent for United Press International and then the Times in the early days of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the 1960s. It was there that he developed a fascination with what he would call “our first war in vain” where “people were dying for nothing.”
As a national writer for the Times based in Washington, Sheehan was the