My Books

I originally started this blog three years ago to promote my then-newest novel, Last of the Annamese. Over time, I wrote blog posts about all my books, including two published this year, Secretocracy and Coming to Terms.

As readers have noted, Vietnam has shaped my life—and therefore my books. Between 1962 and 1975, I spent more time there than I did in the U.S. I spoke Vietnamese, Chinese, and French, the three languages of Vietnam, and my job was to exploit intercepted North Vietnamese radio communications in support of U.S. forces, both army and Marine, in combat. After the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973, I stayed on as the head of the covert National Security Agency (NSA) operation in Vietnam. At the end, on 29 April 1975, I escaped under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon.

As a result, all of my novels, with the sole exception of Secretocracy, are in one way or another derived from my Vietnam experience. And the rest of my life reeks with Vietnam influences. My house is filled with Vietnamese art, knick-knacks, and memorabilia. All four of my children have memories of living in Vietnam and escaping from Saigon twenty days before the city fell to the North Vietnamese. I still occasionally dream in Vietnamese, a language I spoke constantly for thirteen years.

One of the two books I’m working on now will be about Vietnam. The story takes place during the battle of Dak To in 1967. There’s no escape from the past.

So the stories I tell in my books really do reflect the life I have lived. And if I weren’t such a fastidious writer (all my books went through at least ten drafts), there’d be more. All that said, I have no complaints. I was born to write, and I have fulfilled my destiny.

I’ve found that feedback from readers is the most valuable tool for a writer to improve. I invite all who read my work to give me their reaction. And if you want to know what I’ve written, go to https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Glenn/e/B009GGNYUM%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Election Results: Be Patient

I’m worried that the initial results of the election that will be reported on the night of 3 November may be misleading. For reasons I don’t understand, more Democrats than Republicans are planning to vote by mail which could produce deceptive early counts favoring Trump. If that happens, Trump will declare himself the winner. Even if later results make it unmistakably clear that he lost, he may refuse to give up the presidency. America would be faced, for the first time in its history, with a coup d’etat.

I think it is more likely that, from the beginning, the vote count will make it clear that Biden has won by a landslide. If that happens, Trump will have no grounds for holding the presidency. Granted, he may anyway, claiming without evidence that the election was rigged. I suspect that the chances are high that we will need to remove Trump by force when it is clear he has lost the election.

Meanwhile, if the results of the vote count are delayed on the night of 3 November, I ask that all citizens be patient and wait for the final outcome. The results will be worth waiting for.

These Times of Leadership Lost (2)

Beyond the personal aspect of Jim’s comment (cited in yesterday’s post), the words he used to describe our current days are haunting: these times of leadership lost. Yes, that does describe the U.S. in October 2020. Those in power, Trump and the Republicans, don’t lead, they exploit. Witness forcing another conservative judge onto the Supreme Court on the eve of a national election. And it’s likely to get worse as Trump resists defeat in the election.

Yes, Americans now know what it is like to be without leaders at a time of great peril, a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of us. We know what it means to live through a recession with brief financial assistance that favored the wealthy then ran out. We know what it feels like when those in power refuse to act in our behalf while acting in their own.

We can only hope that next month’s election will change the status of our country. But we still have to face the possibility that Trump will refuse to vacate the White House and give up the presidency if he is defeated in the election. And we will have to live through the lame-duck days of November, December, and January before Trump is replaced.

What kind of chicanery might we be facing?

These Times of Leadership Lost

A reader named Jim commented on my blog post of several days ago about the weird time we are living in. His words:

“You may not being seen or think you are seeing anyone. Make no doubt of it though, you are being read and heard just fine. You speak for many that cannot come to express theirselves so eloquently to be published.

“Thank you Mr. Glenn for being a true and believable patriot in these times of leaderships lost.”

Jim’s comment humbled me and fulfilled me at the same time. I sometimes feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, unheard and unheralded. When readers respond, I feel less isolated.

I will write again about the odd time we are in and my fears for the way the next election will go. Thanks to Jim and other readers who have reacted to my writing, I’m encouraged and will keep on trying.

Trump Damage to Intelligence

Nothing appears in the press these days about the 16 or 17 (depending on which count you accept) U.S. intelligence agencies. That’s not surprising. Their work and their status are classified. But we know that President Trump is furious with them because they reported on Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election on his behalf. According to the press, the Russians are at it again, trying to sway the 2020 election in Trump’s favor. When the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire allowed Congress to be briefed on Russian efforts on Trump’s behalf last February, Trump fired him.

I have to note, in passing, Trump’s refusal to ever say a bad word about Russia or Vladimir Putin. Even when we learned that Russia was offering to pay bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American in Afghanistan, Trump said nothing. One has to ask: Why is Trump so pro-Russian?

And what he has done to punish those agencies for reporting is unknown to the general public. My guess is that after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election and the Democrats take control of Congress, we will learn a great deal about Trump’s illegal and even criminal actions the Republicans have so far concealed. Even then we may not know the full extent of damage he inflicted on intelligence because, again, intelligence is classified.

We must work to repair the sabotage Trump has inflicted on the intelligence agencies. They are our eyes and ears. Without them, we have no way of knowing what our enemies are up to.

I urge members of Congress to investigate the damage Trump has done to the intelligence agencies and begin repairs.

A Time of Weirdness: 2020

As becomes clear to me daily, I’m living in the strangest period of my life. For six months, I’ve gone nowhere and seen no one. Day after day, for weeks and weeks, I spend my time alone. I hear no human voice, I see no human face.

A series of events have combined to create this time. The first and most important was the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. government under Trump ignored it, then downplayed it, did nothing to thwart its damage, and actually encouraged dangerous behavior such as not wearing masks and attending crowded gatherings. As I write, the number of deaths in the U.S. is approaching 220,000. That’s almost four times the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam war. After the better part of a year facing the rapidly spreading and fatal disease, the Trump administration has still done nothing to combat covid-19. I find myself asking, what country do I live in? Is this the U.S.?

The second event was the inevitable collapse of the U.S. economy as people were forced avoid contact with others. The federal government under Trump encouraged people to reopen their businesses, causing the numbers of sick and dying to spike.

The third event was the national outcry over racism and police killings of black people. I learned for the first time how widespread prejudice is in the U.S. The Black Lives Matter movement opened my eyes.

The fourth event was personal, not national. My partner of many years died at the end of March. Nothing will ever replace her. My grieving has effectively brought my work to a halt. I haven’t been able to write since her death.

The year 2020 will go down in history as the time when the U.S failed to cope with disaster. It has been the worst year in my memory.

Trump Desperate

The press and other media are overflowing with reports on Trump’s growing frenzy as the election nears. His campaign hopes to recruit an “army for Trump,” 50,000 volunteers to act as poll watchers and ask voters if they can legally vote—to discourage people from voting. Trump through his supporters has called on armed groups to be at the ready when election results start flowing in, presumably to hold the White House by force if necessary. Finally this morning’s Washington Post features a lead article on Trump pressing the Justice Department to move against his political adversaries, the Democrats. Trump’s behavior is becoming more and more erratic.

I am forced to ask just how wild Trump will become as election day approaches. Think of the power this man holds. He can start World War III at any time. He can order a nuclear attack without the concurrence of any other individual or group. He can order the armed forces to do his bidding.

As Trump flails more wildly each day, the rest of the government should be preparing to intervene if he becomes totally irrational. The Republicans who have supported Trump through all his madness are complicit in his guilt for, among other things, failing to combat the pandemic that has now killed more than 218,000 people in the U.S. The Republicans control the Senate. Can they be depended upon to step in?

Be prepared, America: the worst is yet to come.

Alcohol and Me (4)

One of the sixteen excellent communicators who served me so well in Saigon before it fell in 1975 reminded me, after reading my blog posts about alcohol, that I served him and others martinis during those final days. It’s true that back then I hadn’t graduated to gimlets and still favored martinis.

In 1974 and 1975, I was the chief of the clandestine National Security Agency (NSA) operation in South Vietnam following the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 1973. Since I had my family with me and lived in a beautiful villa, I made it my business to entertain members of my crew at every opportunity. Most of them were there without their families; all of us were given hazardous duty pay in recognition of the danger we lived with daily.

For Americans still in Saigon in 1975, alcoholic beverages were plentiful and cheap, and heavy drinking was common. I probably drank more during those frightening days than at other times in my life, but I was careful to be sure that I could be effective at all times. I was responsible for the lives of my 43 men.

At the end, as Saigon was falling, I managed get all my guys and their families safely evacuated even through the ambassador had forbidden me to do so. To get my people out of the country, I had to stay until the end. I was evacuated under fire on the night of 29 April 1975 after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon.

So, yes, all of us did drink more during that tragedy, but my guess is that my ability to drink but stay sober was probably much greater back then than it is now. What I remember from those days is not drinking but the stress of long hours without sleep or food as the final cataclysm came closer. I am justifiably proud than none of my people were killed or wounded. All escaped.

Alcohol and me (3)

Along the way, in my thirties, I discovered wine. Its unique and wonderful taste captured my imagination. Before long, I learned that my favorites were red wines and champagnes. Over the years, I narrowed my focus to cabernet sauvignon and only the most expensive champagnes. As a result, I rarely drink champagne, but I have unearthed many excellent cabernets at reasonable prices.

As my experience as an oenophile grew, I took pleasure in the paraphernalia of oenophilia. I paid a cabinet maker to create for me a grand wine chest. It’s over four feet wide and three feet high and perhaps two feet deep, constructed from medium-light maple, with sliding doors on the front. On the right side are six drawers large enough to hold two magnums each; on the left are seven drawers, each sized to hold three regular (750 milliliter) bottles. In the middle are two side-by-side sets of three shelves cut so as to allow me to hang 18 goblet-size stemmed glasses.

The glasses are the best crystal I could afford. They all ring beautifully when rubbed around the top rim. And I have a collection of corkscrews that make opening even the most recalcitrant bottle easy.

So these days in my retirement and working full time as an author, I have come to terms with my fear of alcohol. I allow myself a small grass of cabernet sauvignon when I’m eating food complemented by it. And I enjoy a gimlet (vodka and sweetened lime juice) before dinner. I no longer worry about becoming addicted to alcohol. I’ve passed the test of time.