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While In Darkness There Is Light

Publication Date: September 2008


A tale of stunningly wealthy young men searching for a moral compass in a world that seems to have gone mad, While In Darkness There Is Light rivals Jon Krackauer at his best. Bryant chronicles the events leading up to the 1974 disappearance and execution of Charlie Dean, brother of the Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.  Although several articles have been published about the recovery of Charlie’s remains in 2004, none has investigated in any depth what Charlie was doing in Southeast Asia when he was taken prisoner by the communist Pathet Lao.  The author’s husband, Harry Reynolds, knew Charlie and Howard in boarding school and spent six months with Charlie in Australia just before he went to Laos.  Charlie and Harry were visiting three American friends who went to Australia during the Vietnam era and established an agrarian commune called Rosebud Farm.  All the young men were from privileged families and full of optimism about the future until the war brought disillusionment crashing down on them.  Charlie’s death marks the full tragedy of that disillusionment. The research and writing are based on journals, letters, and interviews with the Rosebud farmers and with Dean family members.


“A bittersweet coming-of-age story that wanders from Harvard Yard to the Australian outback to the jungles of Laos, While in Darkness There is Light recaptures some of what was most inspiring and some of what was most heartbreaking about America in the early 1970s. This book is both a celebration and an elegy; it filled me with an enduring sense of wonder and of loss.”

-George Howe Colt

A well-researched, straightforward recounting of the adventures and misadventures of a group of privileged young expatriates during the Vietnam era. The book explores how-with idealism, a deeply engrained sense of entitlement, and, in the case of Charlie Dean, tragic results-they tested themselves against the world.”

-Laurie Alberts

About the Author

Louella Bryant

Louella Bryant is the author of While in Darkness There is Light, winner of the Southwest Writers Award for nonfiction, which chronicles the events leading up to the death of Charlie Dean in 1974. She is also the author of the story collection Full Bloom, which won the Premier Award for Fiction. Her young adult novel The Black Bonnet was a finalist for the Vermont Book Award, and Father By Blood won the Silver Bay Children’s Literature Award. Louella has been awarded numerous prizes for her short stories and poems, which have appeared in the magazines WomenArts Quarterly Journal, Hunger Mountain, The Adirondack Review, Fine Print, Vermont Life, The Teacher’s Voice, Farmhouse, and Mobius, and the anthologies High Horse, Tartts 2—Incisive Fiction from Emerging Writers, and A Cadence of Horses. Her essays are included in the anthologies Far From Home, Lessons From Our Parents, and Southern Sin as well as the magazines Atrium, Sacred Fire, and Vermont Quarterly. Formerly on the faculty of the Spalding University MFA in Writing Program, Louella now mentors writing students at the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf. Visit her at

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