Theodore M. Hammett, Entwined with Vietnam: A Reluctant Marine's Tour and Return (McFarland &co., 2022)

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Theodore M. Hammett, Entwined with Vietnam: A Reluctant Marine's Tour and Return (McFarland &co., 2022)
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Book launch event
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Monday, November 7, 2022 - 7:00pm to 8:45pm
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Theodore M. Hammett, Entwined with Vietnam: A Reluctant Marine’s Tour and Return (Foreword by W.D. Ehrhart). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., July 2022.

In 1968, Theodore M. Hammett went to a war he believed was wrong. He had succumbed to his father’s threat to disown him if he withdrew from a Marine Corps officer candidate program. Hammett was a supply officer at a field hospital near the DMZ where he saw plenty of the bloody wages of this tragic war. He employed thievery, bargaining, and lies to secure supplies for his unit and (barely) retained his sanity with the help of alcohol, music, and the promise of returning home to his girlfriend. He hated the war but also hated the Vietnamese people.

Later, Hammett felt guilty for his country’s devastation of Vietnam and his own mistreatment of Vietnamese people. He had the chance to go back, live in Hanoi for five years and work with the Vietnamese government and civil society organizations to improve policies and programs for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. He got to know many Vietnamese people as colleagues, friends, and neighbors. He came to love the country, its scenic beauty, its food, and its culture. This is the first Vietnam memoir by someone who served in the war and later returned to live and work in Vietnam. In recounting his “two tours,” Hammett shows how he struggled with his feelings and doubts about himself and the war and how Vietnam ultimately became his second home.

Theodore M. Hammett graduated from Harvard College in 1967 and served as a Marine Corps officer from 1967 to 1970. After obtaining a Ph.D. in American History from Brandeis University in 1976, he had an almost forty-year career in criminal justice and public health with Abt Associates, a Cambridge-based policy research and consulting firm. Hammett’s related work has appeared in the New York Times (“My Father’s War and Mine,” June 30, 2017) and The New Republic (with Erik Edstrom, “How Biden Can Transform America’s Foreign Policy,” March 16, 2021). He also published almost 50 papers in peer-reviewed public health journals. Hammett lives in a Vietnamese-style three-generation family household in Watertown, Massachusetts.

From the Foreword by W.D. Ehrhart -- memoirist, poet and editor, a major presence in the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary “The Vietnam War,” and author of Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems, among many other books:

“Theodore Hammett’s Entwined with Vietnam: A Reluctant Marine’s Tour and Return is the most unusual war memoir I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a whole lot of them over the years…”

From Win McCormack – Editor in Chief, The New Republic:

“Ted Hammett, at his Marine father’s command, joined the Corps and, although he thought the war was wrong, went to Vietnam soon after his Harvard graduation—as the very height of America’s military disaster there was approaching. Loafing off, boozing it up, and learning to despise the Vietnamese, he was a less than stellar supply officer and a quintessential version of the Ugly American. Years later, he returned to this scene of youthful disillusion, first as a tourist and then as an idealist bent on halting the spread of AIDS/HIV in the country. His success in this endeavor, his burgeoning stature among Vietnamese officials, and his increasing love for the country and its people provide a stellar example of the dictum one character cites that ‘Bad things can lead to good.’ To borrow a phrase from Bob Marley, this book is a ‘redemption song,’ not only for its author but for America itself.”

From Raymond Arsenault -- historian and author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice and Arthur Ashe: A Life:

“Theodore Hammett’s poignant, bittersweet memoir, Entwined with Vietnam, is a story about two nations, two cultures, and one man who devoted a significant part of his life trying to understand the conflicts and commonalities that characterized the relationship between them. A gifted, truth-telling writer, Hammett explores the complexities of personal identity, family, war, tragedy, reconciliation, and redemption with consummate clarity and engaging wit. Written more than 50 years after his initial encounter with Vietnam as a young Marine, this unforgettable book joins the short list of indispensable literature on the war that changed America—and Southeast Asia—forever.”

From Edward Hallowell, M.D. -- psychiatrist and New York Times bestselling author of 20 books on multiple psychological topics:

"Engaging right off the bat, compelling, astonishing for its honesty as well as the author's breadth of knowledge about the war and the country and culture of Vietnam. Both a page-turner and a thought-provoker, Ted Hammett's memoir, which is as much a love story as a war story, is suffused with both knowledge and joy. Never heavy but always true, this book is an eye-opener as well as a delight."

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