Tom Clavin: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Tom Clavin

Military and Cultural Historian

Tom Clavin is the author or co-author of thirteen books, and for fifteen years he covered sports, business, and entertainment for The New York Times, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Child, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Parade, Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, Golf, Men's Journal and other publications. He was also editor-in-chief of The Independent weekly newspaper chain for ten years.

Clavin’s latest book, co-authored with Bob Drury, is Last Men Out: The True Story of America’s Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam. It tells an important story that has been overlooked for more than three decades: The heroic end to America’s involvement in Vietnam.

Last Men Out tells how a few good men salvaged a final victory—the saving of thousands of lives—out of the defeat of the Vietnam War. It is a story that has never before been fully told. Most Americans recognize the iconic photo of the fall of Saigon—people streaming up a rickety gangway to board the last helicopter out. In fact, that “last” helicopter took off 18 hours before a Marine chopper swooped in to rescue the last 11 men on the embassy roof.

Drury and Clavin, whose previous books are Halsey’s Typhoon and The Last Stand of Fox Company, based their account on original interviews with the surviving Marines and others involved in the operation, as well as official documents, many of which have only recently been declassified. Among these are actual transmissions between helicopter pilots, officers in the fleet, and officials in Saigon that were secretly being recorded by the National Security Agency.

Last Men Out has relevance for our own troubled time, opening a window on the lives and responsibilities of the MSGs, an elite, highly specialized duty within the Marine Corps. As Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia and other countries experience upheaval, the American embassies and personnel there are protected by the latest generation of MSGs. They are the only branch of the Corps that reports to the State Department rather than the Marine chain of command, and their training is so rigorous that only 3 out of 10 candidates make it through to an embassy post. They are the elite of the elite, yet little is known about them. Last Men Out sheds a fascinating new light on their world.

With U.S. troop withdrawals underway in Iraq and set to begin this summer in Afghanistan, Last Men Out serves as a reminder that such operations are complex and always carry an element of risk. Drury and Clavin’s account of the Vietnam-era Marine Corps Security Guards is resonant of their modern day counterparts in those countries and other hotspots around the globe—the MSGs who will stay behind, always the last men out.

Clavin lives in Sag Harbor, New York.

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  • Military History: WWII, Korean War, Vietnam
  • The Histories of Baseball and Golf
  • The Evolution of Journalism and International Affairs

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