Featuring "The A.S.A. Trilogy"
The ASA Trilogy, a threesome of novels written by former U.S. Army intelligence officer-operative Robert Flanagan, tells now, for the first time, a riveting and entertaining tale long suppressed for reasons of national security.
Involuntary Tour, Dragon Bait, and Falloff, the three linked and contiguous novels comprising The ASA Trilogy, follow the fractious "tours" of a group of American soldiers serving in a clandestine military intelligence organization during the Cold War and the Viet Nam War. Darkly comic, richly and expansively encompassing a broad canvas of personalities, this clique of characters invests all three books over a story life of some twenty years, moving in chaotic and colorful hazard throughout the landscapes of Viet Nam, Germany, Eritrea (Ethiopia), Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, Thailand, and the U.S. In their collective and ultimate roles, these are players on a stage greater than any single venue.
Books Available from Connemara Press:
The ASA Trilogy
Bits & Pieces collected newspaper columns (2001)
Peripheral Visions collection of short fiction (2003)
Lesser Bits, Greater Pieces collected newspaper columns (2012)
The ASA Trilogy is written by Robert Flanagan, a retired career Army Security Agency (ASA) chief warrant officer who labels the books “memoivels,” melding the art of the memoir with that of the novel, a not-so-subtle product of fictionalized fact: events he experienced, soldiers he knew, places he served. Fiction provides a light, playful coat of wash over a dark ediface of reality.
When the actual events of this tale took place, the characters’ (soldiers’) military activities were highly classified, wherever they served, but in Viet Nam proscription of their intelligence association was so rigidly enforced that the units in which they served were never in Viet Nam! Instead, euphemisms, misdirection and subtly-crafted mythologies served to link them to the quasi-real world. This wartime disconnect created a bizarre world of suspicion, comedy, mistrust, paranoia, life-through-metaphor and tragedy.
Because of that highly secretive environment and federal law restricting revelation of those classified operations, those soldiers’ tales could not be told for many years—not until information about those times was declassified (after the Wall came down and our “enemies list” changed), technology advanced beyond that employed at the time, and of most significance, the principals were mostly dead or suffering memory loss. Then segueing back through Alice’s mirror, the story could be told.
Despite the serious atmosphere implied above, the three books are rife with humor on many levels; the author favors irony, satire and black humor. The characters guarantee a lighter element through their high jinks, clever repartee and an ingenuous proclivity, under the zaniest of circumstances, for mildly mad acceptance of life at the hands of fools and the criminally inept. And the story is not merely “G.I. Joe-in-Hell: What I did on my summer vacation in Viet Nam,” but treats the myriad characters with compassion and understanding across the vast gulf of any gathering of young men in overwhelming circumstances, a factor agonizingly familiar to all thrown into harm’s way.