WCSU professor publishes Vietnam memoir
DANBURY, CONN. —It may be 46 years since Dr. Edward Hagan, Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor of Writing at Western Connecticut State University, served as an intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, but the memories never fade.
Hagan said that the events that took place were, in many ways, so enduring that he wanted to get them down on paper. Late last year, Hagan completed his first memoir “To Vietnam in Vain: Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Advisor.” Published by McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, the book is available at www.amazon.com and most bookstores.
“It’s a story that hasn’t been told about Vietnam. I think Vietnam remains an important part of contemporary consciousness,” said Hagan, who lives in Brewster, New York. “It’s still a subject that gets people worked up. Vietnam is a lot like the wars we’ve gotten ourselves into since. We seem to think that if we just fling divisions and air power wherever the battle is we can get people to do what we want.”
In Hagan’s own words, the memoir does not follow a conventional narrative, as he says that reflect an experience that didn’t have a clear beginning or a definitive end. For example, Hagan’s recollections of postwar movies like “The Deer Hunter” and “Full Metal Jacket” precede his recollection of being inducted into the local politics of South Vietnam. Although history often appears as a cohesive narrative, Hagan noted, it is usually more complex.
“World War II is the conventional war in the minds of many,” Hagan said. While most people define Pearl Harbor as the U.S. entre into World War II, “major events had already taken place.”
Instead, Hagan contends that people want to tell the story that the boys fought at D-Day, one day got to Berlin, Hitler was dead, the Japanese surrendered and the war was over – the conventional narrative.
“It’s a lie. People continued to be killed after that and prior to that,” he said. “Americans tend to think about Vietnam in that narrative and it doesn’t fit at all.”
Since Hagan was delegated to one of 44 provinces, he and other military advisers became close with their allies in South Vietnam, very familiar with their ways. Hagan spent his year in Vietnam, from 1969 to 1970, as a U.S. adviser to the South Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces in the Mekong Delta. The son of Irish immigrants, Hagan is a prolific writer, having authored and co-authored many books and written numerous articles on war literature and on Irish literature.For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
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