My Books

This is the post excerpt.

I have been writing since I was six years old. I now have six novels and seventeen stories in print.

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. Originally published as an ebook, Adelaide will be publishing a hard copy version in June 2022.

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, out in August 2020, is a new collection of short stories about people trying to work through the downturns in their lives.

My Background (2)

Over the next thirteen years, 1962 to 1975, I spent more time in Vietnam than I did in the U.S. My primary job was providing signals intelligence support to troops in combat. Because I spent so much time on the battlefield, I developed a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) from which I still suffer and always will. In 1974, I was assigned to head the clandestine National Security Agency (NSA) operation in Vietnam. And in April 1975, after managing the evacuation of my 43 subordinates and their families, I escaped under fire when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese invaders.

Because I was competent in seven foreign languages, I spent a number of years after the fall of Vietnam offering signals intelligence support to U.S. and friendly forces all over the world, though where, what I did, and who I worked with are still classified. Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, because of my PTSI affliction, I needed to focus my attention and avoid dwelling on my hideous memories. So I volunteered to care for dying AIDS patients. Over a period of five years, I helped seven gay men find a peaceful death. Then, when science found a way to prevent AIDS from being fatal, I spent a couple of years working with the homeless, then volunteered to work with the dying in the Gilchrist Hospice.

Meanwhile, I found out that the George Washington University in D.C. offered graduate degrees to part-time evening students. I enrolled and eventually took a masters in government and then a doctorate in public administration. NSA promoted me to the top levels of the Senior Executive Service (SES). I retired as early as I could with a handsome annuity that allowed me to write full-time.

I had been writing fiction since I was six years old. But now, free of money problems, I devoted myself to finishing and polishing my books. Six of them are in print. You can learn more about them (and me) at https://p-nt-www-amazon-in-kalias.amazon.in/Tom-Glenn/e/B009GGNYUM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_16&sr=1-16 Critics note that my writing is fiction in name only—all the events I describe really did happen.

Hence my wild life thus far. But I’m not finished yet. The best is surely yet to come.

My Background

A question from a reader of this blog prompts me to risk repeating myself and review for you my background and history. Suffice it to say that I have had a wild life, and my experiences have permitted me to write wide-ranging fiction.

Growing up in Oakland, California, I became fiercely independent and self-reliant as a child because my parents cared for me so poorly. My father was repeatedly sentenced to prison, and my mother was drunk much of the time. Despite our poverty, after high school, I was able to attend the University of California, Berkeley, just a bus ride away, because the tuition was so cheap to a California resident. I worked twenty hours a week to support myself and put myself through school and ended up in the university hospital suffering from exhaustion listening to the graduation ceremony I was supposed to be participating in not far away.

Meanwhile, fascinated with languages as a child, I taught myself French and Italian. In high school I had four years of Latin, and I took German classes in college. When I graduated, I wanted to study Chinese—living in the San Francisco bay area, I was surrounded by people from China and was intrigued by the tonal language. So I enlisted in the army to go to the Army Language School (now called the Defense Language Institute) to study Chinese. But when I arrived at the school, the army told me I was not to study Chinese but a language I had never heard of, Vietnamese—back then, we didn’t call that part of the world Vietnam; we called it French Indochina. I was disappointed, but because I was in the army I had to follow orders, so I studied this unknown language in the most intensive training I have ever experienced: six hours a day in the classroom, two hours of private study every night, five days a week, for fifty-two weeks.

When I graduated first in my class, I asked the army to send me to Vietnam. They said no. This was 1960 and they had nothing going on in Vietnam. Instead they assigned me to an organization I had never heard of, the National Security Agency (NSA), at Fort Meade, Maryland. I found out that Georgetown University in Washington D.C. offered night classes in Chinese, so I enrolled as a part-time graduate student. Thus, by the time I finished my army enlistment, I was proficient in the three languages of Vietnam, Vietnamese, Chinese, and French. NSA immediately hired me as a GS-11, six steps above the usual entry level grade of GS-5, and in 1962 sent me to Vietnam.

More next time.

The Seventies

Weather within the next few days is expected to reach the seventies every day. Halleluiah! At last I won’t have to put on multiple levels of clothing just to get by. Summer will begin next month, and I can start dressing normally again.

Yeah, I know. I’m a hopeless misfit. But ever since my years in the tropics, I haven’t adjusted back to the U.S. climate and dislike cool weather. Winter for me is a time of shuddering. I’m not worried about being too warm. I don’t even remember the last time that happened. So I stay bundled up until everyone else is complaining about the heat.

All that means that my heating bills in the fall, winter, and spring are way above those of others. But my air conditioning costs in the summer are far lower than anyone else’s.

My time is coming. I can hardly wait.

Bad Lungs

I’ve now gone through two days of treatment at an urgent care center for my severe lung congestion following a bout of pneumonia. I was diagnosed with that disease last December and have been trying to recover ever since. But now, thanks to the treatment and medication provided me several days ago, I am actually better.

In addition to pills and several different inhalants prescribed for me, the center had me inhale for two different fifteen-minute sessions from a machine that projected a mist into my lungs. I found the treatment—sitting there inhaling and doing nothing else—something of a trial, but it apparently did the trick. My breathing’s easier.

I have a long history of lung problems. I was a heavy smoker in my early years and came down with lung cancer. I underwent chemotherapy and radiology for the better part of a year to reduce the size of the tumor, then had the upper lobe of my right lung removed surgically. It took me close to a year to completely recover. But I’m a stubborn son-of-a-gun and refused to let a little thing like cancer stop me.

I was healthy as a horse until my pneumonia attack at the end of last year. I’ve now put up with the better part of five months of lung problems. But it looks like, at last, that I’m finally healing.

Again: Leadership

As regular readers of my blog know, I’m a devoted advocate of leadership as opposed to management. Leading is positive. It requires the lifting up of followers and helping them to be the best they can be. Management is negative. It means keeping people in control, assuring that they don’t do something the manager doesn’t want.

That understanding of leadership shows that a leader is humble. He’s not trying to get ahead. He’s trying to enable his followers.

The finest leader I ever encountered was a Marine named Al Gray. I knew him from time he was a captain of combat troops in Vietnam through his time as Commandant of the Marine Corps to his position today as a retired wiseman. We reconnect every April 29, the anniversary of the 1975 fall of Saigon, when he, as a colonel and commander of the Marine evacuation force aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet, rescued me under fire as Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. It is partly out of respect for General Gray that I always capitalize “Marine.”

What I haven’t emphasized in my earlier discussions of leadership is that the leader must incentivize and inspire his followers to achieve the mission of the unit or group. That requires, first and foremost, that the leader himself finds his mission worthy of all his efforts. And he must know how to arouse the desire to fulfill that mission in his followers. That ability requires the communication of not only facts but also passion.

My guess is that the reason we have so few able leaders is that so few people these days are capable of humility. It is a virtue to be treasured.


I’ve talked at length here before about love and work (e.g., Freud) and life’s fulfillments. I’ve described my life complete with love (for my children and grandchildren) and work (writing, presentations). What I haven’t addressed is being alone.

Yes, I have lots of male friends who happily enjoy my company. I cherish their commitment. And, yes, I have plenty of readers who give me feedback. And, yes, yet again, I’m old enough that sex is not a driving force anymore.

All that said, I’m lonely. For female companionship. All my life, I’ve had a female partner, until my most recent, Su, died a couple of years ago. In my grieving, I haven’t been able to motivate myself to seek a new partnership. In short, I crave a female partner without being willing to go seek one.

Now I have learned that an earlier partner, Ann, has also died. I genuinely loved her and grieved at our separation. One more loss to mourn.

I’m weary of sleeping alone. I want to find a female body lying next to me in bed, not for sex, but for closeness. I want to know that I matter to someone of the opposite sex, that she would care if something happened to me. I want a woman to be there for me.

Despite all that, I can’t bring myself to date. I tried it for a while but was severely disappointed in the dull women who were willing to spend time with me. I admit it: my standards are unrealistic. I want a woman with achievements that reflect mine. Not likely, especially given my books, my PhD, and my combat experience.

So it looks like I’m condemned to loneliness in old age. That makes me far from unique. Maybe what I need to do is train myself to accept the inevitable.

Impatiens and Begonias

Across much of the full breadth at the back of my house in Columbia, Maryland, is a deck one story up above the ground. During the warm weather, I spend as much time as I can there, enjoying the view looking north across the pond into the many trees that surround me. All around the edge of the deck is a fence topped by open flower boxes. As early as the weather permits, I fill those boxes with blooming plants. This year it will be a mix of pink-blooming impatiens and begonias. I also have flowerpots, some hanging, some resting on the deck, that will be planted. I’ll need between 60 and 70 plants to do the job.

Most nurseries near me don’t have on hand enough plants on hand to fill my needs, so I go to the Sun Nurseries, close to half an hour away from my house. And if I don’t get there early enough, they’ll have sold most of their plants so that I won’t be able to buy enough.

So far this year, it’s been cool enough that the plants haven’t been ready for sale. To be on the safe side, I regularly call Sun Nurseries to see when I should come by to pick them up. Thus far, it’s been too soon. But the plants will be ready as soon as it warms up.

So once again this year, until the first fall frost, I’ll live in the glory of a festival of color on my deck.


As I look north from the back of my house across the pond surrounded by every variety of mature trees, green leaves are in abundance. It seems like only yesterday that the trees were bare, devoid of all leaves. Now all I see is green, green, green.

My guess is that we’ve had more rain than usual this year, although I can’t find any statistics to support that assumption. And I know that global warming has caused our winters to be shorter and warmer. But I don’t know any other way to explain the thickness of leaf growth everywhere. The pond itself, perhaps a hundred feet in diameter, is now mostly filled with water reeds. There are even saplings growing in what used to be solid water, and they, too, are covered with fresh green leaves. I used to have an open body of water behind my house. Then it became a field of reeds. Now it’s turning into a young forest.

I know that things change over time. God knows, I’ve seen plenty of change during my long life. But the transformation of the pond to tree field is happening so fast that it takes my beath away.

Soon I’ll be surrounded by thick forest. I guess that’s okay. I can think of worse fates.

Do You Sleep in the Nude?

I remember well back in 1969 when Rex Reed brought out his book, Do You Sleep in the Nude? It was a collection of interviews he’d done with celebrities. I was intrigued not by the content but by the title because I always sleep in the nude.

I got started in Vietnam during the war. I was there as a civilian under cover as military providing signals intelligence support to army and Marine units in combat. Between 1962 and 1975, I spent more time in Vietnam than I did in the U.S. Due to the heat of the tropical climate, we Americans wore as little as possible, perennially running around in nothing but shorts. And when we slept at night, we wore nothing at all in hopes of being able to get some rest despite the heat. I got so good at it that the hot weather seemed normal to me. When I got back to the states, I was uncomfortably cool, even at the height of the summer weather. Nevertheless, I went on sleeping in the nude, piling on covers to keep me warm.

The wild life I have lived has blessed—or cursed—me with strange habits, everything from keeping a daily blog to becoming a semi-vegetarian eating only two meals a day stressing various combinations of beans and split peas. I am a health nut, going out of my way to extend my life—my goal is to live well past a hundred. In the midst of all that, sleeping naked seems normal.

I see no reason to change.

PTSI: The Honorable Disease

My blog post of yesterday left no doubt that I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) as a consequence of my time in combat. I am distressed to come across people who consider PTSI as a form of weakness or cowardice. They believe that the brave among us could live through the horrors of combat unaffected.

My belief, based on my experience and that of others, is the opposite. I believe that PTSI is not only honorable but a healthy response to observing and participating in combat. Anyone who does not respond with shock to the savage killing of a battle buddy is sick. Reacting with revulsion is healthy.

More than that, combat PTSI sufferers deserve our respect and honor. These are men (and a few women) who risked their lives for the good of their country. Most of them would do it again if asked. And while they may have learned from their experience, they certainly didn’t enjoy it.

So all of us should honor combat PTSI sufferers. We should tip our hats and bow before them. Saying “thank you for your service” doesn’t cost much, but it can comfort those who were willing to give their all for their country.