Annamese: Bookend to The Quiet American?

I was surprised and flattered by Steven Phillips’ endorsement of Last of the Annamese in which he said, “Tom Glenn’s novel is a proverbial bookend companion to Graham Greene’s The Quiet American,” I have always admired Greene’s work. For many years I was troubled by his unflattering view of Americans and their actions in Vietnam. But since the fall of Vietnam, I’ve come to understand his insights more. And I see for the first time that Last of the Annamese could be understood as a critical portrait of U.S. policy. That wasn’t my intent when I wrote the book—I simply wanted to tell the protagonist’s story and record for posterity what really happened during the fall of Saigon now that the details are finally declassified.

I’m disturbed by the implication that my protagonist, Chuck Griffin, is analogous to Greene’s Alden Pyle, but I see the resemblances. Griffin is indeed innocent and even in error about how his son died in Vietnam. Unlike Pyle, though, he becomes more cynical and saddened as he sees the end coming. In those respects, he’s very much like me. As disturbing as it is, maybe I need to reflect on my own attitude during my 13 years on and off in Vietnam. Maybe I was more like Alden Pyle than I’d like to admit.

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