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Danbury's WCSU Professor Edward Hagan Publishes Vietnam Memoir

Edward Hagan
Edward Hagan Photo Credit: Contributed

DANBURY, Conn. -- Western Connecticut State University Professor Edward Hagan is known best for telling the stories of war history via his personal war experiences.

Although it has been 46 years since Hagan served as an intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, the memories never fade and he always likes to share a good story with his students.

Last year, Hagan completed his first memoir “To Vietnam in Vain: Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Advisor.” Published by McFarland & Company Inc., the book is available at 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, N.Y. “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.”

The memoir does not follow a conventional narrative with a clear beginning or a definitive end. For example, Hagan’s recollections of post-war 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 said, it is usually more complex.

While most people define Pearl Harbor as the United States' entry point into World War II, “major events had already taken place.” Instead, Hagan said people want to tell the story that soldiers fought at D-Day, one day got to Berlin, Hitler was dead, the Japanese surrendered and the war was over.

“It’s a lie," he said. "People continued to be killed after that and prior to that. Americans tend to think about Vietnam in that narrative and it doesn’t fit at all.”

Hagan is a prolific writer, having authored or co-authored many books and written numerous articles on war literature and Irish literature. Hagan has been a professor at WCSU for more than 35 years and has taught numerous writing classes to undergraduates.

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