February 28, 2021

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Last of the Annamese by Tom Glenn

2 min read

Overview

A novel that transcends the limitations of “war fiction,” Tom Glenn’s Last of the Annamese is a book that examines the choices forced upon those who fight wars, those who flee them, and those who survive them. The rare novel that eloquently describes the burden of loss, Last of the Annamese evokes a haunting portrait of the lives of those trapped in Saigon in April 1975 as the city, and surrounding country, fell to North Vietnamese forces. Drawing on his own experiences in the war, Tom Glenn tells the tale of Chuck Griffin, a retired Marine doing intelligence work for the United States in Vietnam; his friend, Thanh, an incorruptible South Vietnamese Marine colonel; and Tuyet, the regal woman whom both men love. As the grim fate of South Vietnam becomes more apparent, and the flight from Saigon begins, Tuyet must make a somber choice to determine the fate of her son Thu, herself, and those she loves. During the fall of Saigon as the North Vietnamese overwhelm the South, Tom Glenn paints a vivid portrait of the high drama surrounding the end of a war, end of a city, and end of a people. Reaching its harrowing conclusion during the real Operation Frequent Wind, a refugee rescue effort approved by President Gerald Ford, Last of the Annamese offers a glimpse at a handful of people caught in an epic conflagration that was one of modern history’s darkest chapters.

Tom Glenn’s prize-winning seventeen short stories and four novels draw upon the thirteen years he shuttled between the United States and Vietnam on covert intelligence assignments before escaping under fire when Saigon fell. Comfortable in Vietnamese, Chinese, and French, he writes and speaks frequently on war and Vietnam. He lives in Ellicott City, Maryland.

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2 thoughts on “Last of the Annamese by Tom Glenn

  1. Tom Glenn is a close friend of mine who I respect immensely for both his services to our nation and as an excellent writer. My father served in Viet Nam and was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions during TET in 1968 in the Mekong. I was a teenaged Army brat watching the news every night and pinpointing actions on my huge military map of Viet Nam. While emotionally strongly supporting the troops I was also hoping that my draft number would not come up. Forty-eight years later, I found myself working in the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Viet Nam assisting the Vietnamese government in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS and heroin addiction. As a result of our experiences in Viet Nam, Tom and I have had many intense and enlightening discussions about the war and the aftermath in both the southern and northern parts of the country. Of all his books and short stories, The Last of the Annamese is my favorite and I believe his finest work to date. This book brings home all the conflicting emotions about that war and the American withdrawal which was far from an “honorable exit”, save many of the characters in this book. His characters reflect the range of ethics from honorable to cowardly behavior to betrayal from many different sides of the equation. Tom writes in such a way that you are right there with the main characters living a “novel” that you know is real not fiction. He lived this story and has the captured the heroism, the denial of reality, the betrayal, the suffering and loss, the heartbreak and elation of men and women from differing walks of live caught up in this maelstrom of madness during the war and its ending. I highly recommend The Last of the Annamese to all readers. Be prepared for a wide range of emotions that this book may bring to the surface for many who also lived the madness.

    1. Kenneth, thanks for posting this. How odd; I was reading your comment and Tom Glenn just emailed me and wrote that he’d love to come on our YouTube channel to discuss his book! Great timing.

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