Sales Manager By Day…
…Dad, husband & author by nights and weekends.
So it doesn’t come out until near the end of the conversation, but it goes something like this:
“After meeting Henry Kissinger, who had read my paper on the North Vietnamese strategy during the Paris Peace talks, he offered to help get this book published. Then, after he read the final draft of Black April, he said it was the best thing he’s ever read on Vietnam…”
For Jay Veith, Manager of Global Sales for Intellectual Property Portfolio Management, his focus is on his day job, and being an author is just a part-time gig.
Jay is also known as former U.S. Army Captain George J. Veith, author of Code-Name Bright Light: The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War (1998), Leave No Man Behind: Bill Bell and the Search for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War (2004), and Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-75 (released earlier this month).
He has never been to Vietnam and doesn’t speak Vietnamese, but says he is fascinated by the events of the Vietnam War and has devoted more than 15 years to researching it.
“Ever since I was a child, I was deeply interested in two aspects of history: military events and historical whodunits. Consequently, I became fascinated by the Vietnamese POW/MIA issue, which combines both,” said Veith.
It took him nearly ten years of writing, and an additional year of editing and publication, for Black April to be published – a commitment he calls a labor of love.
“Since I have a day job, I could only write on nights and weekends. Even then, I had to find a way to balance that time with family time.”
Veith first joined Thomson Scientific in 1993, now he leads part of the IP Solutions Asset Management sales team, with representatives stretching from Seattle to Germany.
“This process has been very challenging and exhausting. Being a sales person consumes you, and it’s tough to do extracurricular activities – especially since writing a non-fiction book can be so difficult. Even now, I’ve had some great reviews on the book but it’s hard to enjoy it because I’m still devoted to my colleagues and customers.”
To say the book has received “great reviews” is an understatement. Because of his knowledge about Vietnam, Veith has been asked to testify before Congress on POW/MIA issues…twice. The Wall Street Journal published a review of Black April that stated Veith “tapped deeply into previously neglected Vietnamese sources, including North Vietnamese histories, and he has interviewed commanders of numerous South Vietnamese units. In a blow-by-blow account, he presents mountains of new details that enable him to answer the principal historical questions.”
Veith reviewed thousands of U.S. government documents, and he interviewed about 45 South Vietnamese officers as part of his research, most of whom now live in the United States after their release from North Vietnamese prison camps. He says writing about such a delicate topic has helped him be a better sales person.
“When you’re writing military history, you have to be very careful with the facts and how you describe things. Writing this book and interviewing these men has taught me to be more cautious, to caveat statement when I don’t definitively know, and to be diligent about the words I use in conversation and email,” he said.
Black April is set to be part of a two-volume set, with the second book describing the political, diplomatic and economic aspects of the fall of South Vietnam.
“There is a diplomatic story concerning the last days of South Vietnam that is perhaps the last great secret of the Vietnam War. As for when it will be published, give me a couple years. The research is done; I just have to find time to write it.”
If you are interested in hearing more about Jay’s experience while writing this book, read former intelligence operative and author Tom Glenn’s review of Black April.