Tom Glenn has worked as an intelligence operative, a musician, a linguist (seven languages), a cryptologist, a government executive, a caregiver for the dying, a leadership coach, and, always, a writer. Many of his prize-winning short stories (seventeen in print) came from the better part of thirteen years he shuttled between the U.S. and Vietnam as an undercover NSA operative supporting army and Marine units in combat before escaping under fire when Saigon fell.
With a BA in Music, a master’s in Government, and a doctorate in Public Administration, he toured the country lecturing on leadership and management, trained federal executives, and was the Dean of the Management Department at the National Cryptologic School.
Maryland Public Television interviewed him and 15 others in its salute to Vietnam vets aired in May 2016, and his memoir article on the fall of Saigon has been published by Studies in Intelligence and reprinted in the Atticus Review. In late 2017, the New York Times published his story on his role in the 1967 battle of Dak To in Vietnam’s central highlands. His writing is haunted by his five years of work with AIDS patients, two years of helping the homeless, seven years of caring for the dying in the hospice system, and Post-Traumatic Stress Injury, a consequence of his time in Vietnam. These days he is a reviewer for The Washington Independent Review of Books and the Internet Review of Books. Adelaide Books of New York will bring out his latest novel, Secretocracy, and his short-story collection, Coming to Terms, in early 2020.
Last of the Annamese
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. No one escaped whole from the fall of Saigon. We Americans were all damaged. The Last of the Annamese is about the Vietnamese and Americans who escaped from Vietnam in April 1975, those who decided to stay, and those who chose death rather than life under the Communists.
Peter, a gay dancer dying of AIDS, thirsts for forgiveness for fatally infecting a young musician. Martin, a straight college professor, grieves over the loss of his favorite student, dead of AIDS. He volunteers to act as a buddy to an AIDS patient and is assigned Peter. When they discover that Peter infected Martin’s student, both are forced to rethink their life views. No-Accounts is a story of two men, one gay, one straight, who learn from one another how to become men by accepting loss, including, in the end, life itself.
The Trion Syndrome
The Trion Syndrome came from my own struggle to come to terms with the unspeakable things I went through and participated in during the years I served as a clandestine signals intelligence operative working under cover with soldiers and Marines in Vietnam. I began to wonder if men who had demonstrated that kind of ferocity were even capable of love. I returned from Vietnam an emotional wreck, after living through the fall of Saigon and escaping under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city. I had all the classic symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury—panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, irrational rage. My marriage crumbled, and I was afraid I was going to lose my children who were my reason for staying alive. I turned to helping others—AIDS patients, the homeless, the dying in the hospice system, and now sick and dying soldiers in a VA medical center—and writing. I resumed my study of German and sought the wisdom in Greek mythology to heal me. In the process I rediscovered my most cherished author, Thomas Mann. Then Dave Bell, the protagonist of Trion, took me over. To find peace, I had to tell his story. Hence Trion.
Secretocracy – released May 2020
Washington, D.C., Spring, 2018. When senior federal budget reviewer Gene Westmoreland refuses to approve funds for Operation Firefang—building clandestine nuclear missile sites world-wide—on the grounds that it is illegal and violates treaty agreements, the Trump administration attacks him. A general and a senator rebuke him, his phone is tapped, his car is tailed, and his adult son is trapped into a dangerous relationship. After his boss, Clem, who supports Gene in opposing Firefang, is blackmailed by the administration and takes his own life, Gene is stripped of his security clearances and exiled to a warehouse to await termination. If he discloses what he knows, he will be prosecuted for revealing classified information. The woman he loves and his son pull back from him as the threat against him grows and his reputation is tainted with stories of debauchery, circulated by the administration.
Read an interview with author Tom Glenn on the inspiration behind Secretocracy here.
Coming to Terms – released August 2020
Coming to Terms is a collection of ten short stories. As the “Foreword” explains, the stories are of men and women confronted with pain as a consequence of love and hate, goodness and evil. Each finds a way to go on living, however imperfectly. None is left unscathed. All these tales come from the life of the author, Tom Glenn, as a husband, father, soldier, and caregiver to the dying. Each major character is drawn from people he’s known. His hope is that both he and the reader can learn from the choices these people made.