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The rough-and-tumble life of Special Forces vet and Sixties pop star Barry SadlerThe top Billboard Hot 100 single of 1966 wasn't The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" or the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine"--it was "The Ballad of the Green Berets," a hyper-patriotic tribute to the men of the Special Forces by Vietnam veteran, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler. But Sadler's clean-cut, all-American image hid a darker side, a Hunter Thompson-esque life of booze, girls, and guns. Unable to score another hit song, he wrote a string of popular pulp fiction paperbacks that made "Rambo look like a stroll through Disneyland." He killed a lover's ex-boyfriend in Tennessee. Settling in Central America, Sadler ran guns, allegedly trained guerrillas, provided medical care to residents, and caroused at his villa.

About the Author

Marc Leepson

I am a journalist and historian and the author of eight books. The most recent is What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life (June 2014) , the first biography of the author of "The Star Spangled Banner" in more than seventy-five years.

My other books include Lafayette: Idealist General (2011) , a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette; Desperate Engagement (2007) , a history of the Civil War Battle of Monocacy; Flag: An American Biography (2005) , a history of the Stars and Stripes from the beginnings to the 21st century; and Saving Monticello (2001) , a history of Thomas Jefferson's house that concentrates at what happened after Jefferson died. I also edited The Webster's New World Dictionary of the Vietnam War.

I am a former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, and have been a full-time free-lance writer since 1986. I have written for many publications, including the Washington Post, New York Times, New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Smithsonian, Military History, Civil War Times, and Preservation Magazines, the Encyclopedia Americana, and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.

I am senior writer, arts editor and columnist for The Veteran, the magazine published by Vietnam Veterans of America.

I have been a guest on many television and radio news programs, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, On the Media, Talk of the Nation, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, The History Detectives (PBS) , The History Channel, Discovery Channel, CBC (Canada) , The BBC NewsHour, RTV-1 (Russian television) and Irish Radio.

I have given talks at many colleges and universities, including the University of Maryland, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Miami, Mary Washington University, Sweet Brian College, Longwood University, Appalachian State University, the College of Southern Maryland and Georgetown University.

I tought U.S. history at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton, Virginia, from 2007-2015.

After graduating from George Washington University in 1967, I was then drafted into the U.S. Army and served for two years, including a year in the Vietnam War. After my military service, I earned an MA in history from GWU in 1971.

If you would like to know more about my writing career, I invite you to go to my website: www.marcleepson.com

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