author of "Last Plane out of Saigon"
author of "The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan"
Executive Producer & Host
Richard Pena, author of "Last Plane out of Saigon"
Richard Pena served in Vietnam and is now a practicing attorney in Austin, Texas. He is the former President of the American Bar Foundation and a leader within his field, nationally recognized among legal professionals. He has also served as President of the State Bar of Texas, President of the Travis County Bar Association, and as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association (ABA). He has received three Presidential Citations from the State Bar of Texas for his meritorious service to the profession and has been selected a member of the prestigious American Inns of Court. Richard was recently presented with the Distinguished Lawyer Award by his local bar association and is the 2010 recipient of the American Bar Association Difference Maker Award. Richard has led seventeen legal delegations abroad to various countries, including Vietnam, through the People to People Ambassador Program. While on a trip to Vietnam with People to People Ambassadors Program, Richard visited the Ho Chi Minh City War Remnants Museum where he recognized himself in a photo titled “Last Plane Out.” Seeing this photo, featured on the cover, inspired Richard to reread the journal he kept while at war, which would eventually become “Last Plane Out of Saigon “.
LAST PLANE OUT OF SAIGON is a faithful reproduction of the journal of a draftee working in the operating room of Vietnam’s largest military hospital during the final year of the war. Supporting historical and political context is provided by award-winning scholar, John Hagan. Richard Pena’s entries were written in real time and, as they chronicle the last desperate year of this tragic war, present readers with a better understanding of the complicated final year of the Vietnam War from the inside, looking out. A year that tragically remains unfamiliar to most Americans. This landmark book describes, in part, the hasty departure of American troops from Vietnam but is timely now as America again is challenged with multiple global conflicts. It is a gripping real-time account of the anger, resistance and resilience forged in one man by the horrors of Vietnam witnessed up close, in graphically human terms, touching on mistakes that were made then and which our country continues to make today. All Americans should read this important piece of history, bound to leave them with chills. Richard Pena served in Vietnam as an Operating Room Specialist for the United States Army and left on the last day of American withdrawal. He is now a nationally renowned practicing attorney in Austin, Texas. He is a former President of the American Bar Foundation and State Bar of Texas and served on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. John Hagan is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University and Co-Director of the Center of Law & Globalization at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. He has published nine books and more than 150 articles in nationally renowned magazines and journals.
Kael Weston, author of "The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan"
John Kael Weston represented the United States for more than a decade as a State Department official. Washington acknowledged his multi-year work in Fallujah with Marines by awarding him one of its highest honors, the Secretary of State’s Medal for Heroism.
A New York Times Editors’ Choice
A Military Times Best Book of the Year
J. Kael Weston spent seven years on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan working for the U.S. State Department. Upon returning home, traveling throughout the United States to pay his respects to the dead and wounded, he wondered what lessons, if any, could be learned from these wars.
In this essential book, Weston questions, interprets, and explains our wars in the Middle East through a tapestry of voices—Iraqi, Afghan, and American—taking readers across California and Fallujah, Khost and Colorado. Along the way we meet generals, corporals, and captains, former Taliban fighters, Afghan schoolteachers, SEAL teams, imams, and many Marines.
When will these wars end? How will they be remembered? Perhaps no one is better suited to tackle these important questions than Weston. The Mirror Test is an unflinching look at warfare and diplomacy, and a necessary reckoning with America’s actions abroad.