Veteran Scholar


SAFE RETURN: Defending Deserters During the Vietnam War, A New Left Memoir in New York of the Seventies, being posted here as it is written, is the sequel to my memoir, Vietnam Awakening. That book covers my background and war experiences, but only a bit more than a year of my early political life with the Citizens Commission of Inquiry. The sequel stretches over the ensuing decade of my collaboration with Tod Ensign in New York City, culminating in the founding of our GI and veteran advocacy group, Citizen Soldier. During that partnership, which drew to an amicable close in 1982, we fought to win amnesty for Vietnam War resisters - working specifically on behalf of military deserters; we joined a serious struggle to unionize the US armed forces; we performed national and international solidarity work in support of the mid-1970s Revolution in Portugal; and we helped launch the movements that would establish service connected disabilities for veterans exposed to radiation during the open air atomic tests, and for veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. G.I. Guinea Pigs: How the Pentagon Exposed Our Troops to Dangers More Deadly Than War ( Playboy Book, 1980) was one byproduct of this latter campaign, the first book length treatment on its subjects.

I look at this as a resume to be proud of. Of more importance than my own sense of accomplishment, however, is the contribution this new book will make to the historical record of the New Left, the broad political culture in which Tod and I operated during the Vietnam period. In that sense, SAFE RETURN is conceived as much as a case study of a larger movement as it is the story of a few representative members within that movement. Famous Long Ago, was the initial title of this work meant tongue in cheek to suggest both the transience of that moment in time and its lasting significance to my own life. The conceit still applies. In the end I am a writer with a story to tell. And, I emphasize again, this is a work-in-progress, composed on my own time table, appearing here as a draft I am comfortable with sharing.

     SAFE RETURN: Defending Deserters During the Vietnam War
     A New Left Memoir in New York of the Seventies
          Chapter 1  - Prologue
          Chapter 2  - Safe Return
          Chapter 3  - The Scene
          Chapter 4  - John David Herndon
          Chapter 5  - Tommy Michaud
          Chapter 6  - Ann
          Chapter 7  - Organizing the Exile Community
          Chapter 8  - The Paris Exile Conference
          Chapter 9  - Building FORA: And the Surrender of
                            Eddie Sowders
          Chapter 10 - My Summer of Exile
          Chapter 10 bis - The View from New York
          Chapter 11 - The Trials of Private Lewis Simon -
                            The Buildup
          Chapter 12 - The Trials of Private Lewis Simon -
                            The Outcome
          Chapter 13 - The Trials of Private Lewis Simon -
                            The Fallout
          Chapter 14 - The Next Turn
          Chapter 15 - Earned Reentry
          Chapter 16 - Breaking Old Ground... and New
          Chapter 17 - Scene
          Chapter 18 - Recharged
          Chapter 19 - The Revolutionary Promise of Portugal
          Chapter 20 - Backtracking
          Chapter 21 - Portugal 1976: At the Crossroads
          Chapter 22 - Scene: My Other Life With Kathryn
          Chapter 23 - Soldiers as Workers How We Tried to
                            Unionize the American Military
          Chapter 24 - Carter’s Pardon: Amnesty’s Final Battle

          Representative Documentation