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Alum Pens Vietnam War-era Novel

Story depicts challenges of elite college student who leaves school to join Army.


In his new novel, War College, BC Law Adjunct Professor Thomas Barnico ’80 calls attention to the conflict between war and education through the perspective of a student attending an elite American institution who leaves campus to serve in the Vietnam War.

The story brings light to the various personal and political challenges the character Jack Dunne faces as he balances his duties as an Army intelligence officer at war with the anti-war sentiments of his many friends back home. War College highlights this tension in the context of the very few men who graduated from elite universities who served during the same period.

At 15 years old, Barnico was too young to be drafted in 1970, but was old enough to comprehend the devastating toll the war had on the country. He began his studies at Dartmouth College at the same time most American troops returned from Vietnam in 1973.

War College, he said, was inspired by the questions he asked himself during the Vietnam era. “I admired the students ahead of me in college who served in Vietnam. I often wondered: Who were they? Why did they leave their campuses for war? And how did their friends and teachers—some violently anti-war—react to their choice and treat them upon their return? What role did the college alumni of the WWII generation play in all of this? My research led me to think that a novel might be the best vehicle to try to address some of these questions.”

After law school, Barnico served as an assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1981 to 2010, where he represented the state and its officers in civil cases involving constitutional law, administrative law, and business regulation. He has argued three cases in the United States Supreme Court, 18 cases in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and 72 cases in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

At BC Law, he teaches the Attorney General Civil Litigation Program and Seminar and the Administrative Law Externship Seminar. He has directed the AG Program since 1989.