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American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Dec 22, 2020

It's not often that Colin has a poet warrior on the podcast.

It's been twenty years since Dr. Farrell taught at Hampden-Sydney College, where he was a professor of modern languages. He spent 27 years at HSC before moving on to VMI, where he was fired from being a dean after he said the wrong thing to a "fat guy in an expensive suit." Nevertheless, he enjoyed a long tenure as a teacher at VMI before his retirement to Unlucky Mountain near Lexington, where he lives and rides motorcycles.

Alan grew up in New Hampshire, went to prep school in Connecticut, graduated with a bachelor's from Trinity College (where Colin went, too) before earning his Ph.D. from Tufts. But perhaps his most formative experience was serving in the Special Forces during the Vietnam War, where he stomped through the jungle with a copy of The Iliad in his trouser pocket. In Vietnam, he employed his knowledge of French with the local Hmong, who were engaged in counterinsurgency operations.

America's counterinsurgency strategy in Vietnam was formulated earlier in the decade in large part by General Sam Wilson, with whom Alan worked at Hampden-Sydney. The two were friends and fellow combat veterans. Alan still speaks highly of "General Sam."

Alan also talks with Colin about parachuting at 30,000 feet, his love of poetry, the hell that is college administrative work, and the pleasures of reading Greek epics in the original.