The Annamese Review

I reported earlier that the Online Book Club has recently published a review of my novel Last of the Annamese. It’s at https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=230842  That got me to thinking about why I wrote the book. There were two major reasons.

The first was to vent. I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) as a result of my time in combat and, especially, because of my escape under fire when Saigon fell. PTSI never weakens or goes away. It’s incurable. All one can do is to learn to cope. That means facing the unbearable memories and learning to live them. The best way I found to do that is to write down what happened. So I wrote the story of the fall of Saigon as a novel, named Last of the Annamese. I attributed to fictional characters all the calamities I lived through myself. It helped.

The other reason for the book was to tell people what really happened when the North Vietnamese completed their conquest of South Vietnam with the seizure of Saigon. The story of the fall of Vietnam was at the time largely ignored by the American public because the war was so unpopular. During the thirteen years I was involved in Vietnam, I travelled frequently between “in-country” (our term for Vietnam) and “the real world” (what we called the U.S.). On my trips home, when I landed in San Francisco with the returning troops, we were met by mobs who spit on us and called us “murderers” and “baby killers.” Those mob encounters made my PTSI worse. For years after the fall of Saigon, no one wanted to hear about the war. I didn’t even mention my years in Vietnam for decades afterwards.

More next time.

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