Michael Archer


MICHAEL ARCHER grew up in Oakland, California and served in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. His books include A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh Remembered, which VIETNAM magazine called, “The best first-hand account of the battle” and The Long Goodbye: Khe Sanh Revisited, chronicling the author’s search for answers to a friend’s mysterious death at Khe Sanh.  The Long Goodbye won FOREWORD Reviews INDIES Book of the Year Award for 2016, chosen from among hundreds of submissions by independent publishers and university presses across the country. 

Michael’s third book in the trilogy, The Gunpowder Prince: How Marine Corps Captain Mirza Munir Baig Saved Khe Sanh, won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Colonel Joseph Alexander Award for “distinguished book of biographical literature.” 

Michael also enjoys writing the history of his adoptive state, and released his critically acclaimed book, A Man of His Word: The Life & Times of Nevada’s Senator William J. Raggio, in 2011.  Former US Senator and Nevada Governor Richard Bryan called A Man of his Word “carefully researched and very readable … a must read for scholars of Nevada history.” Eminent Nevada District Court Judge David Hardy wrote: “Archer’s thorough research reveals his intellectual honesty and literary balance.”  Michael’s articles and essays have appeared in The Nevada Review literary magazine and the state-published Political History of Nevada—2016

Over the last fifteen years, he has spoken about his writing at numerous universities, colleges and other venues across the country.  He lives in Reno, Nevada.


                                                The Gunpowder Prince



                           INDIES  Book of the Year 


                                      The Long Goodbye




                                     A Patch of Ground


                                     A Man of His Word

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"Mirza Munir Baig had been rehearsing his entire life to step on to a stage like Khe Sanh and influence the course of history." --- The Gunpowder Prince

Book About Marine Who Saved America From Its Worst Defeat in Vietnam Receives Distinguished Literary Award

Reno, Nevada, May 20, 2019 — On April 27, 2019, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation announced Michael Archer’s The Gunpowder Prince: How Marine Corps Captain Mirza Munir Baig Saved Khe Sanh as recipient of the 2019 Colonel Joseph Alexander Award for a distinguished book of biographical literature, adding that “eighteen honorees were selected amongst the greatest number of entries received since the awards program was created. Among the award winners are distinguished authors Michael Archer, Hampton Sides, and Elliot Ackerman; Newsweek’s James LaPorta; Military.com reporter Hope Hodge Seck; and other writers, artists and photographers from across the country.” move

 “I’m just thrilled.” Archer said. “It was an great honor serving alongside Captain Baig at the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968, and I’m now delighted  this obscure figure will finally receive the broad recognition he so richly deserves for all that he accomplished in his tragically short life.”

 In The Gunpowder Prince, Archer describes Captain Baig as a Cambridge educated, naturalized Pakistani immigrant and descendant of a celebrated, centuries-old family military tradition dating back to the Mongol conquest of the Western Himalayas.

Brilliant, witty, eccentric, with a murky past in counterintelligence work,  Baig possessed an uncanny grasp of his adversary’s historical tendencies and temperament—like a chess grand master anticipating their every move.

 His genius spared the U.S. from one of the worst military defeats in its history, saving thousands of his fellow defenders from death or captivity. “Munir Baig’s boyhood daydreams of earning glory in battle remained into adulthood.” Archer stated. “It was as if he had been rehearsing his entire life to step on to a stage like Khe Sanh and influence the course of history.”

 The Gunpowder Prince is the third in Archer’s Khe Sanh trilogy, the other books include A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh Remembered, which VIETNAM magazine called “the best first-hand account of the battle of Khe Sanh” and The Long Goodbye: Khe Sanh Revisited, chronicling the author’s search for answers to a friend’s mysterious death at Khe Sanh. The Long Goodbye earned FOREWORD Magazine’s INDIES Book of the Year Award for 2016.




                    Fantastic news to share! 

The Long Goodbye: Khe Sanh Revisited, was selected as the INDIES best book of 2016 in the category of “War and Military.”  There were many hundreds of excellent submissions in that category from small and independent publishers and university presses across the country  and so I am truly honored by this. 





UPDATE (June 22, 2016)
IN THE CLOSING HOURS of the American occupation of Khe Sanh Combat Base in July 1968, after the longest and bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War, Tom Mahoney inexplicably walked away from his platoon, unarmed, and was shot to death by enemy soldiers hiding nearby. His body was never recovered.

After decades of exhaustive research, I have been able to describe in The Long Goodbye why Tom, my high school buddy and fellow Marine, took that mysterious walk into oblivion. However, several attempts over the years by American and Vietnamese search teams to locate his remains (and even the use of a psychic) have been disappointing. As such, I’m delighted to report that another effort by a joint U.S.-Vietnamese search team last week, this time taking with them for the first time actual eyewitnesses to the events of that tragic afternoon, returned with news that this long, painful quest may soon be coming closer to fruition. 

Frank Ahearn and Tom Northrop, two members of Tom Mahoney’s platoon the day he was killed, and involved in attempts to recover the body from under an intense enemy ambush, led the searchers to the correct area of the hill (about 500 meters from where the teams had been previously looking).

According to these men, they were able to locate a convergence of two trenchlines at the location of the gate through which Mahoney had walked to his death. The team then searched the area with metal detectors, clearing away a good deal of underbrush in a square of about 100 feet on a side, and soon located several pieces of barbed wire, a button and what appeared to be some grenade parts, including pins and unexploded detonators. Also nearby in an old bomb crater they found a decaying plastic poncho, a belt of fifty-caliber machine gun ammunition, several spent bullet casings and a metal ammo box—all issued to American forces in that period. Not far away they located a sizable fragment of the tube from a Marine light anti-tank weapon (LAW), shoulder-fired rocket launcher. 

Those familiar with the details of Tom’s death from reading The Long Goodbye will be excited by how promising these initial findings are. They show extensive American habitation at that location, and Tom was lost not far from the barbed wire defenses around that gate area. The Long Goodbye also contains a photo taken a few days before Mahoney’s death of his squad leader, Ken Fernandes, standing beside the sole fifty-caliber machine gun on that hill, not far from where Tom was last seen. The hand grenade pieces are even more encouraging because the fighting that day by six Marine volunteers to retrieve his body (three of whom were wounded) was hampered by the inability of everyone involved  (including the enemy soldiers using Tom’s body as bait) to identify targets amid the thick vegetation—forcing all into a lengthy hand grenade duel.

It is now up to the U.S. Defense POW-MIA Accountability Agency to decide when to begin excavating for Tom. I’ll keep you posted as more information arrives. 

Caption: Parts of old hand grenades recently located near the surface on Hill 881 South at the site identified by Ahearn and Northrop as where Tom Mahoney was last seen.