America's Best-Selling Authors: Richard Pena & J. Kael Weston PDF  | Print |
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Image of Richard Pena Last Plane Out of Saigon Image of J. Kael Weston The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan Image of Jack Girardi
  J. Kael

Guest:Richard Pena
Author of “Last Plane Out of Saigon”
Website: Richard Pena's Website

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 ". 

THE BOOK: “Last Plane Out of Saigon”

In 1973, sixty-one days after the Paris Peace Accords was signed specifying that American troops must withdraw from Vietnam—one day beyond the terms of the agreement—Richard Pena, was among the final handful of Americans to leave the country. 

LAST PLANE OUT OF SAIGON is a faithful reproduction of the journal he kept as 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’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 withdraws from war and 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. The reader will feel the weight of this compelling account, as the Vietnam War continues to plague the consciousness of our country. 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. 

Guest: J. Kael Weston
Author of “The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan
Website: J. Kael Weston's Website

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.

THE BOOK: “The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan”

A powerfully written firsthand account of the human costs of conflict.

J. Kael Weston spent seven years on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan working for the U.S. State Department in some of the most dangerous frontline locations. Upon his return home, while traveling the country to pay respect to the dead and wounded, he asked himself: When will these wars end? How will they be remembered and memorialized? What lessons can we learn from them?

These are questions with no quick answers, but perhaps ones that might lead to a shared reckoning worthy of the sacrifices of those—troops and civilians alike—whose lives have been changed by more than a decade and a half of war.

Weston takes us from Twentynine Palms in California to Fallujah in Iraq, Khost and Helmand in Afghanistan, Maryland, Colorado, Wyoming, and New York City, as well as to out-of-the-way places in Iowa and Texas. We meet generals, corporals and captains, senators and ambassadors, NATO allies, Iraqi truck drivers, city councils, imams and mullahs, Afghan schoolteachers, madrassa and college students, former Taliban fighters and ex-Guantánamo prison detainees, a torture victim, SEAL and Delta Force teams, and many Marines.

The overall frame for the book, from which the title is taken, centers on soldiers who have received a grievous wound to the face. There is a moment during their recovery when they must look upon their reconstructed appearance for the first time. This is known as “the mirror test.” From an intricate tapestry of voices and stories—Iraqi, Afghan, and American—Weston delivers a larger mirror test for our nation in its global role. An unflinching and deep examination of the interplay between warfare and diplomacy, this is an essential book—a crucial look at America now, how it is viewed in the world and how the nation views itself.

Jack Girardi, Partner at Girardi Keese, is one of America's Finest Trial Lawyers and our Co-Host, as always, brings out the most important key elements to the success of today's guests. He and his firm have been dedicated to working hard and getting the best possible recovery for its clients.

Girardi Keese's mission is to provide aggressive representation of individuals and businesses who have been injured in sous way, whether by physical harm, property damage, damage to business, or damage to economic interests. Girardi & Keese has two offices in California: Downtown Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

Hosted by Steve Murphy
Steve Murphy
Brought to you by "The Law Business Insider"

Guest: Richard Pena
Author of “Last Plane Out of Saigon
Website: Richard Pena's Website

Guest:J. Kael Weston
Author of “The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan”
Website: J. Kael Weston's Website

Jack Girardi

Steve Murphy
Executive Producer and Host

Last Updated on Monday, 07 November 2016 01:29