John Lewallen will give an author talk at Gallery Bookshop on Friday June 10th at 6:30 p.m.
Complimentary nori snacks provided!
Excerpted from The Mendocino Beacon, Zoe Yudice:
Lewallen, who most people in the community might know from his seaweed business, Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company, has released a book, ‘Land of Frozen Laughter,’ documenting his time in Vietnam between 1967 to 1969 as a community development volunteer for the International Voluntary Service.
In 1966, Lewallen was studying at Stanford to become a lawyer, but he had an intense desire to go to Vietnam to see what was really going on in the war. According to Lewallen, his time there converted him to a lifetime of peace activism.
Lewallen’s intentions with the publishing of this book are very similar to his previous efforts.
“I think that it is quite relevant to today, and that is one of the reasons that I am pulling it out. Telling the truth about war, it starts to look at the cause and how to live in a more peaceful way,” said Lewallen.
Lewallen finished writing the book right after he returned from Vietnam in 1969, and it has been circulating among his family and friends until now.
“I could see the environment I had described had metastasized like cancer, and the patterns I had seen in Vietnam were very similar. I saw the U.S. financing different ethnic groups, who were fighting each other. It is the same way if you go to Syria or Iraq — exacerbating communal tensions and arming all the different sides of the communal war. The bureaucracy grows, the armament grows, the entire land of frozen laughter grows,” said Lewallen.
Lewallen has faith that by putting out his account of the war it will help make strides towards global peace.
“One thing that I am going to talk about with the book is the healing power of true war stories,” said Lewallen. “As I go around with it, I am advocating for a worldwide peace conversion network to convert the entire economy and culture of people from war to peace.”
John Lewallen, author of Ecology of Devastation: Indochina (Penguin Books, 1972), offers an intense two-year immersion in Vietnam during the era of the 1968 Tet Offensive. War historians will be interested in the ground-level reports of military strategy and battles, told through intimate portraits of soldiers and civilians, Vietnamese, Chams, and Raglai Montagnards.