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My Books

This is the post excerpt.

I have been writing since I was six years old. I now have five novels and seventeen stories in print. Adelaide Books in New York published my latest novel, Secretocracy, in March 2020. It will bring out my newest collection of short stories, Coming to Terms, in July 2020

My first published book, Friendly Casualties, was a novel in short stories derived from experiences in the thirteen years I trundled between the U.S. and Vietnam to provide signals intelligence support to U.S. Army and Marine combat units fighting in South Vietnam. The first half of the book is a series of short stories in which characters from one story reappear in another. The second half is a novella that draws together all the preceding tales.

No-Accounts came from my years of caring for AIDS patients. It tells the story of a straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS. I got into helping men with AIDS to help me cope with the horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. When I was with my patients, men suffering more than I was, my unbearable memories went dormant.

Next came The Trion Syndrome. It begins with the Greek Trion legend about a demigod so brutal to the vanquished that the gods sent the Eucharides, three female monsters, to drown him. The protagonist, Dave Bell, is haunted by half-remembered visions of the war in Vietnam. At his lowest point, he recalls that he killed a child. Dave considers suicide, but a young man appears and helps him. It is his illegitimate son, a child he had tried to kill through abortion, who now helps him find his way home.

Last of the Annamese was published in March 2017. I used this novel to confront my memories of the fall of Saigon from which I escaped under fire. Once again, the image of the boy-child recurs, as the protagonist, Chuck Griffin, a retired Marine, grieves over the loss of his son, killed in combat in Vietnam. He returns to Vietnam as a civilian intelligence analyst after the withdrawal of U.S. troops and encounters Vietnamese boys whom he tries to save during the conflagration.

Secretocracy, published in March 2020, tells the story of an federal intelligence budgeteer persecuted by the Trump administration because he refuses to approve finds for an illegal operation. Coming to Terms, due out in July 2020, is a new collection of short stories about people trying to work through the downturns in their lives.

 

Republicans: Forget Trump

So many Republican legislators appear to be fearful of accepting publicly Donald Trump’s defeat in the November election, and they’re hesitant to condemn his call for marauders to attack the Capitol. I think they need not concern themselves. By the time Trump leaves office next week, he will be so discredited that no one will pay heed to him. And once he is no longer president, previously hidden evidence of his malfeasance will trickle out. We’ll learn of corruption we knew nothing of. In short, Republicans, feel free to speak openly of your disgust with your president. Over the next year, Trump will cease to be a powerful figure.

Those Republicans who do not speak out against Trump risk righteous condemnation from the majority of Americans. The only ones who will support them are others who lied about the outcome of the November election or who believe that the mob violence against the Capitol was acceptable. Those numbers will decrease quickly.

The Republican party is so damaged by Trump’s lies and corruption that it may not survive over time. That the Republicans have been complicit in Trump’s degeneracy will remain a stark blemish on the party. We’ll all long remember the injury that the GOP inflicted on our nation.

Leadership in a Time of Chaos (2)

So now I see that the most virtuous means of working with others—leadership—can be used to damage the followers. It should have been obvious to me all along. I now must alter my advocacy of leadership to stress its use for the good of all. I must condemn leadership that leads to evil.

I’ve been impatient with Joe Biden because he has not called for the punishment of Trump and the Republicans for their misdeeds. He has instead emphasized bringing together the divisive forces in America. Trump’s example has finally made me understand that Biden is right. We need virtuous leadership to escape the evils of the past. He pleads with us to work together for a better future. In Biden we will have a leader showing the way to an upright America. I hope we have the wisdom to follow.

Leadership, in sum, can be manipulated in the service of autocracy. Let’s never let it happen again.

Leadership in a Time of Chaos

Several times in the course of the years I’ve been posting to this blog, I’ve urged Americans to choose leadership rather than management as a way to achieve. Recent discussions with readers have made me realize that it’s time to reappraise the role of leadership in American life. I have seen for the first time in my life leadership used for destruction of democracy.

Donald Trump has rarely relied on leadership. He has instead exploited the sycophancy of his base and the Republicans who support him to attack American democracy. In the end, he tried to overturn a legitimate election and establish himself as a dictator. He failed.

But when his worst moment came, he used leadership, as I define it, to attack the underpinnings of the country and maintain his presidency. On 6 January 2021, he called upon his followers to storm the Capitol and prevent the Congress from endorsing the election he had lost. It worked, to the detriment of all involved, until members of Congress refused to follow his lead.

Trump’s call for vandalism was not management or power grabbing. He summoned his followers to be the best that they could be—as defined in his credo—and restore him to power. The result was the savagery seen at the Capitol.

It was the first time I had ever witnessed leadership being manipulated against democracy. Trump’s actions made me realize that it is possible to abuse leadership. In retrospect, it is now clear to me that Hitler and Mussolini led their followers in seizing control and becoming dictators. Not force. Leadership.

More tomorrow.

Larry Matthews Interview

Larry Matthews’ interview of me from earlier this year on the program “Matthews and Friends” is now available online. You can hear it at https://pod.co/impact-radio-usa/matthews-and-friends-1-11-21    Larry talks to two other people during the same clip. My interview starts about 25 minutes in.

In the interview, I talk about writing my most recent novel, Secretocracy, and about my experience in the U.S. intelligence system. If you take a listen, let me know your reaction.

Thanks.

Obama Top Best Seller

I’m informed by the press that a book I reviewed, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land (Crown, 2020), is currently outselling all other books on the market. That’s a first for me.

In my estimation, the book deserves its sales. It’s the best nonfiction I’ve read for many years and a book I’ll long remember. You can read my review at http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/bookreview/a-promised-land

I liked the book for all the obvious reasons—superbly written, subject matter thoroughly explored, historical accuracy meticulously respected. But my fondness was also more personal. I find Obama himself likeable. He is, like me, a disciplined researcher, intrigued as much with the history and depth of the topic he’s writing about as with the breadth of his view. I remarked in the review on his flair for similes. And his occasional forays into humor were so subtle that I often only appreciated them in retrospect.

I can’t claim that I write like Obama. His style, like his subject matter, is complex and intricate. I, as a novelist and short story writer, stress simplicity, brevity, and poetic construction. His very long sentences, while suitable to his milieu, would not work well in my prose. And I don’t see him consciously striving for musicality in his structures.

None of that is intended to be a criticism of Obama’s writing. His style and approach are ideal for subject matter. I’m delighted at his success. I continue to believe he is a great man that we all can learn from.

Corruption of Intelligence

For the safety and wellbeing of the republic, it is urgent that intelligence professionals, those who keep our leaders informed about the doings of other nations, remain independent. They must be free to report unwelcome news to the president and other top officials. They must be invested to contradict the powerful with facts. The truth, not flattery, must guide them.

I know what it is like to be the bearer of unwelcome news. As head of the covert National Security Agency (NSA) operation in Saigon in April 1975, I repeatedly warned the U.S. ambassador, the president, and other top officials that the North Vietnamese had surrounded us and were preparing to attack the city. But the U.S. ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin, was able to persuade top U.S. officials that the North Vietnamese had no intention of launching an assault against the city despite the overwhelming evidence I reported, based on the intercept of North Vietnamese radio communications, that the onslaught was imminent. When the attack came—and I escaped under fire—Washington was taken by surprise.

That was 45 years ago. Now we are faced with a grimly similar situation. President Trump has removed impartial experts from key intelligence posts and put loyal minions in their place. Unwilling to allow any criticisms of the Russians, for example, Trump presumably hears nothing untoward about a country that has, among other things, offered a bounty for Americans killed in Afghanistan.

The situation is particularly dangerous right now. With the government in upheaval over the storming of the Capitol on 6 January and Trump in his last days in office, this is an ideal time for an enemy to strike. Our government would have great difficulty pulling itself together quickly to detect preparations for a hostile probe and to respond.

When, later this month, Joe Biden is inaugurated as president, he will, I’m sure, clean house and see to it that intelligence officials are professional and independent. Biden has been at the top of the federal government for too long to be fooled into allowing yes-men to lead our intelligence effort.

But what might happen in the meantime, before Biden takes office or before he has time to weed out gofers? Thanks to Trump, the nation is in grave peril of being taken by surprise.

Why I’m Not Writing

I explained in a blog a few days ago why I write. But these days, I’m not writing, except for this blog. Why?

The answer is a series of events that arrived simultaneously. The onset of the pandemic brought with it a lockdown. I found myself threatened by a disease that might kill me (an older man with a history of lung cancer) and isolated from all human contact. The economy crashed. It was my extreme good fortune that my income is a federal government annuity that continued despite the shutdown. The Trump administration spiraled downward in competence and effectiveness. Worst of all, my partner for over twenty years, Su, died at the end of March.

So for the better part of a year, I have been living in a strange new world in which my life is at risk and I am devoid of human contact while I grieve over the loss of my mate. Nothing is the same. I can’t even spend time with my children lest we infect one another. I am more alone than I have ever been in my life.

One result of inhabiting a barren realm is that my drive to write has vanished. Worse, I can’t write even when I try. A part of me has gone silent. The creative juices have ceased to flow. I am voiceless.

I believe that over time I’ll return to a normal life where I meet with others and communicate. My voice will return. The story I most want to tell, of the death of a loved one during the pandemic, will finally find its way onto paper.

Maybe I’ll call it Love in the Time of the Coronavirus.

Beware Trump’s Next Moves

We are in the worst era I have lived through. The New York Times on 8 January, described it:

“The worst pandemic in a century is becoming more severe, with a contagious new coronavirus variant spreading and thousands of Americans dying every day. The mass vaccination program is behind schedule. Almost 10 million fewer Americans have jobs than did a year ago. The U.S. president, with the backing of dozens of members of Congress, has tried to overturn an election result and remain in power. Hundreds of his supporters overwhelmed police officers and stormed the Capitol, one of the few times in history that an U.S. government building has been violently attacked.”  

Donald Trump, our current president, deserves blame for how bad the situation has become. He made no moves against the pandemic and even dismissed it as trivial—we now have had more than 365,000 deaths. He failed to bolster the economy in the face of a lockdown. His “warp speed” vaccination effort is a dismal failure. We are in the midst of a depression that promises to get far worse. Then, claiming falsely that he had won November’s election, Trump urged his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol. Once there, they overran the building, savaged offices and the Senate chamber, and triggered the evacuation of members of Congress and their staffs. Five deaths and 82 arrests resulted from the carnage.  

Months ago, I called upon Americans to beware of what Trump might do, particularly after he lost the November election. His nefarious actions since have more than met my expectations. But as I write, Trump still has eleven days in office. He wields all the powers of the presidency. We are in real danger.  

So I call upon members of Congress and federal officials to move at once to stop Trump by taking away his power. Removing him from office through the 25th Amendment to the Constitution or by impeachment are critical to the safety of the country.  

I encourage all citizens to beseech their representatives to act.

Why I Write

My recent blog post on why I write fiction begged the question of why do I write at all. The answer: because I have to.

This is not the first time in this blog that I have tackled the question of why I write. The answer is the same every time but with new understanding. I’ve known since I was six years old that I was born to write. As a youngster, I came to understand that my mandate was to tell stories—that is, my job was to write fiction as my way of telling the truth about life. And I was to be blessed with insight about the truth.

As I have reported here before, I tried to escape my fate as a young man. I always knew I was to be an artist, but I thought perhaps I could be a dancer, an actor, or—especially—a musician. I even went so far as to take a BA in music. But my patient angels consistently brought me back to my true calling.

Writing, of course, doesn’t pay, so as a young man with a wife and children, I indulged my natural flare for foreign languages, got into intelligence, and became a spy, secretly intercepting and exploiting the radio communications of other nations. I got so good at supporting friendly troops on the battlefield that the National Security Agency (NSA), my employer, promoted me ahead of my contemporaries. I got so many assignments to combat regions that I didn’t have time to write.

As a result, I retired as early as I could, with a generous annuity, so that I could write fulltime. At last I could fulfill my God-given mission. I now have six books and 17 short stories in print. You can learn about the books at the Amazon web site devoted to me https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Glenn/e/B009GGNYUM%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Perhaps I should explain, not for the first time, that refusing to write would, for me, invite damnation. It’s so clear to me that it was to write that I was put on earth.

Sitting on my dining room table is a mug filled with pens and pencils. I’ve had it for more years than I can remember. The words on it are, “I write because it’s my purpose.”

’Nuff said.