Burke, after finishing college, paid his own way over to the war in Vietnam. Since returning he has traveled above the Arctic Circle in Russia and in the tributaries of the Amazon. He has made undercover documentaries on the Mafia and the KGB and gone inside Afghanistan with rebels attacking a Soviet garrison. He has won numerous awards for his films. He is a native of Canada and divides his time between Toronto and Santa Monica.
Thomas E. Barden’s Steinbeck in Vietnam offers for the first time a complete collection of the dispatches Steinbeck wrote as a war correspondent for Newsday. Rejected by the military because of his reputation as a subversive, and reticent to document the war officially for the Johnson administration, Steinbeck saw in Newsday a unique opportunity to put his skills to use. Between December 1966 and May 1967, the sixty-four-year-old Steinbeck toured the major combat areas of South Vietnam and traveled to the north of Thailand and into Laos, documenting his experiences in a series of columns titled Letters to Alicia, in reference to Newsday publisher Harry F. Guggenheim’s deceased wife. His columns were controversial, coming at a time when opposition to the conflict was growing and even ardent supporters were beginning to question its course. As he dared to go into the field, rode in helicopter gunships, and even fired artillery pieces, many detractors called him a warmonger and worse. Readers today might be surprised that the celebrated author would risk his literary reputation to document such a divisive war, particularly at the end of his career.
Drawing on four primary-source archives—the Steinbeck collection at Princeton, the Papers of Harry F. Guggenheim at the Library of Congress, the Pierpont Morgan Library’s Steinbeck holdings, and the archives of Newsday—Barden’s collection brings together the last published writings of this American author of enduring national and international stature. In addition to offering a definitive edition of these essays, Barden includes extensive notes as well as an introduction that provides background on the essays themselves, the military situation, the social context of the 1960s, and Steinbeck’s personal and political attitudes at the time.
Lawson is well along in satisfying these objectives when he is asked to fly to Saigon to assist the United States Embassys Defense Attach Office in fixing problems with their intelligence systems. In a matter of days, he finds himself drawn into the dark world of CIA operations by a cultured and attractive French-speaking Vietnamese woman, Lan Le Ninh. Finding both her and the nature of the work compelling, Lawson voluntarily abandons his life of leisure in Thailand.
From this point on, its a race to correct the aberrant systems before the North Vietnamese communists launch their long-feared final offensive. In the process, Lawson learns a great deal about Americas long-running secret war in Southeast Asiaand how many Americans died anonymously in carrying it out.
Christy has arrived in Beverly Hills, a world where annihilation is usually accomplished by legal documents. From the depths of the mansion territory north of Sunset Boulevard, her sister Ruthie lives a life hilariously untouched by reality as it is understood in the rest of the world.
Especially the world that begins to intrude when the old Clark Gable mansion goes up in smoke.
But then as Ruthie says, 'It was a teardown anyway.'
PRAISE FOR MARTYN BURKE S IVORY JOE
'A funny wonderfully affecting novel,' Publisher s Weekly
'IVORY JOE is a real pleasure' New York Times
' a vast unruly, quintessentially American landscape. Prepare to get carried away. Burke is a storyteller of lavish generosity.' Washington Post