campus wide alert

College News

Catawba College Professor Publishes Part I of Four-Volume Book

May 05, 2006

Category: Academics, Faculty, Mathematics


A Shadowy PassageA second volume of Catawba College Mathematics Professor Dr. Paul Baker's autobiographical fiction work, "A Shadowy Passage," is now available. Part I, "Vietnam: The Initiation," covers the first month or so Baker spent as an intelligence officer in Vietnam.

It follows the late 2005 publication of Part II of the book, "A Shadowy Passage / Cambodia: The Subversion."   Baker says he felt some urgency to publish Part II first because of the ill health of the former King of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk (1941-2005). Sihanouk read Baker's three-volume work and wrote a foreword for it. Since the second volume featured activities concerning Sihanouk, Baker decided to publish that volume first.

In the 1960s, Baker attended undergraduate school on a U.S. Navy Scholarship, and he enrolled in graduate school while still serving in the Navy. His two year-long tours of duty were almost compressed into one continuous deployment  — in 1967-68 he was in Vietnam aboard a destroyer, and then in 1969-70, he was in Saigon as a Cambodian analyst for covert Naval Intelligence.

The main character of Baker's work is Lawrence Becker who bears a striking resemblance to the author  — mild-mannered, unassuming, unerringly polite, intelligent, analytical, and much more comfortable using his brain than a gun. Becker finds himself as a fledgling intelligence officer vying for accurate intelligence in very uncertain times when it is difficult to determine who to trust. Because of his naiveté, he breaks rules that a career intelligence officer would not dare to alter.

Becker, as the real-life Baker, speaks French, Vietnamese, and some Khmer, has a penchant for numbers, a knack for memorization and recall, and an uncanny ability to work through and around the bureaucracy of the time to get his job done.

Copies of the newly published Part I and also Part II of Baker's book, printed by Charlotte-based Catawba Publishing Company, are now available at www.catawbapublishing.com. The multi-volume book provides readers with a historically accurate, detailed account of intelligence activities and concerns during the Vietnam War.