An American Town and the Vietnam War by Tony Pavia and Matt Pavia

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Stamford, the anchor of Connecticut’s Gold Coast, is the “American Town” of Tony Pavia and Matt Pavia’s An American Town and the Vietnam War (McFarland, 273 pp., $39.95, paper).

Tony Pavia—a retired American history teacher and the former principal of Stamford High School—and his son Matt, who teaches American Studies and English at Darien High School in Connecticut, began work on the book in the summer of 2015. They spent countless hours over the next three years conducting research and interviewing Stamford’s Vietnam War veterans and the families of those who did not come home from Vietnam.

In addition to profiling the town’s war veterans, the authors also include information about the changes that occurred in the town from 1964-75. In doing so, they show  what the veterans missed and what they came home to after their deployments in the war zone.

This is a well-researched, well-constructed, and well-edited narrative that relies heavily on the local newspaper, the Stamford Advocate, as well on as those wide-ranging, face-to-face interviews. The result is a series of readable and fact-filled profiles of the twenty-nine men who died in the war, as well as what appears to be verbatim transcriptions of interviews with the men and women who returned home.

Each of the latter includes a short paragraph on the veteran’s post-war life. Some are quite compelling.

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Having lived in the Hartford, Connecticut, area for several years, the book was a pleasant return to those times and places for this reader.

An American Town is a good read and a commendable effort—a demonstrable labor of love for a home town and its Vietnam War veterans, some who soldier on today. And some who rest in peace.

The book’s website is anamericantownatwar.wordpress.com

—Tom Werzyn