Reviewed by Pennell Paugh
March 12, 2023 (San Diego) -- Sunrise in Saigon is the first book by local author Patrick Greenwood in a new series about cybersecurity, passion, and international espionage.
The main character develops a passion to travel to Vietnam as a youth. Greenwood writes:
On April 30, 1975, eleven-year-old Jack Kendall lay in his bed, listening to a radio program discussing recent events, which included President Nixon’s departure from the White House the year prior, gas shortages, and protests over the long-lasting Vietnam War. “This is WIEE 1310 AM radio—we have confirmed that Saigon has fallen. The Vietnam War has finally ended after ten years. Thank God!”
This newsflash caught Jack by complete surprise. Still, he had no idea how this event would shape the direction of his life, setting a lifelong journey in motion, driving a desire to understand what happened to the Vietnamese people before and after the war.
Jack began to dig into several media sources, including the Washington Post and NBC News. He studied images of people climbing over the US embassy wall in Saigon. Many people tried to climb the fence to get a seat on the last helicopters leaving Vietnam. The pain and distress of the Vietnamese people only fueled Jack’s doubts about the results of the war and the destruction of Vietnam as a country. Why was the US Government leaving so many supporters behind? NBC News also showed American servicemen pushing helicopters off the USS Midway, forgoing their promise to go back and get more people out of Saigon.
Jack met a couple who were introduced under the most extreme circumstances, one on the helicopters leaving Vietnam, the other stranded behind. The two found each other and married decades later. Their story intrigued Jack.
Even with a career success in cybersecurity technology, Jack’s life was not a happy one. He ailed physically and emotionally. His wife, an untreated alcoholic, was bitter, and fault-finding. She mostly wanted to party and spend money.
Jack turned a corner when he discovered the wonders of cycling. Wanting to provide a stable family for his two children, he stayed in a cold marriage while craving to be loved. Tired of being miserable, he corresponded with a Vietnamese woman on a dating site. Finally, on pretense of cycling while learning more about the people who fought in the Vietnam War, he meets with the online love interest and falls in love.
While in Vietnam, Jack sees the warmth of the people and the land, as well as its poverty, graft and human trafficking. It is through his relationship with the country and his newfound love that his life is transformed.
Jack and his lover are both married and have children. They spend years yearning for one another. How will their tale end?
The author’s story parallels Sunrise in Saigon. As a youth, he became curious about the Vietnam War and wanted to see how the country was currently fairing. As an adult, he visited Vietnam several times. He researched the occurrences mentioned in his story, such as while Saigon fell, helicopters airlifted hundreds of orphans to take them to the U.S. Patrick found the nuns who helped the orphans escape.
After military service, Greenwood followed a career in information technology. He holds a BS and MBA in Global Marketing from the University of Phoenix and has earned several certificates from MIT in information technology security, Internet of Things, and global management. He also loves to bicycle, is married and resides in Carlsbad, CA.
Proceeds from Sunrise in Saigon books and coffee sales will go to "Helmets for Kids” run by the AIP Foundation in Vietnam and Cambodia. In both countries, thousands of children receive subsidized helmets and road safety education through the AIP Foundation’s award-winning schools-based program.