The Sweden File: Memoir of an American Expatriate

Second Edition

Bruce Stevens Proctor & Alan Robert Proctor

What leads a top-secret war-policy insider to desert during the Vietnam War? In the case of Bruce Proctor, it was reconnaissance photos: images which showed the bombing of civilian villages in Southeast Asia, despite the administration’s claims otherwise. Appalled by his discovery, Bruce suddenly quit his job at the Defense Intelligence Agency. To avoid the draft, he joined the Air National Guard, but his unit was activated for service in Vietnam. Rather than fight in an immoral war, Bruce went AWOL, seeking refuge in Sweden.

A hybrid memoir set against a half century across two continents, The Sweden File is composed of letters to and from Bruce from 1968 to 1972, his reminiscences forty years later, and his brother Alan’s reflections in 2014. Despite his best attempts, Bruce was never able to learn Swedish, necessary for employment, and he struggled with poverty, a series of difficult jobs, drugs, and alcohol. After four years of trying to fit into a foreign culture, Bruce and his wife emigrated to Canada. At a time when the US has been in constant conflict for eighteen years—longer than the Vietnam War—Bruce’s musings on peace, war, and government deception have a vital urgency.

Listen to an interview from KCUR / New Letters on the Air with Alan Robert Proctor

  • Our Price: $17.95 + $3 S&H within continental US
  • ISBN: 978-1-941799-69-7
  • e-book ISBN: 978-1-941799-70-3
  • Publication Date: September 3, 2019
  • 224 pages – 5.5 in. x 8.5 in. matte paperback
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“Editor Proctor has obviously put great patience and care into selecting these fragments and the time was well-spent: readers are never bored, always engaged, and often charmed by the liveliness of Bruce’s prose (and Alan’s poetry scattered throughout the text) . . . . Neither brother holds his tongue in this collection, and readers are richer for it.”

Kirkus Reviews

Chosen as a “best read” for 2015, one of only 12 memoirs selected nationally.

The Kansas City Star, December 11, 2015

“. . . unblinking truth . . . It’s rare . . . no grandstanding . . . self acclamation here, only human beings striving to undo the sorrow of war the best they can . . . [and] understand [this] aspect of American history neglected and subverted by politicos . . . . No, in some beautiful way [The Sweden File] is a celebration of the heart’s love of life and truth. Bravo!”

Jimmy Santiago Baca, author, winner of an American Book Award for Poetry, recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature

“. . . This book, with its counterpointed perspectives, intimate epistolary narratives, and later commentary, bridges distances of time and place, bringing into focus years when few were spared the grief and sacrifices of a nation led into a distant war that should never have been born . . . .”

David Ray, poet essayist and memorist and winner, of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and the William Carlos Williams Award

“Most of us will never find ourselves in a situation in which doing what’s morally right is a serious threat to our well-being. [In] The Sweden File, [Bruce Proctor] . . . faced such a situation and made the life-rending choice. It’s an account of a quiet, sustained heroism.”

William Trowbridge, Missouri Poet Laureate from 2012–2016 and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Northwestern Missouri State University

About the Authors

Alan Proctor (left) and his brother, the late Bruce Proctor (right).

About the Compiler

Alan Robert Proctor has published fiction, essays, humor, and poetry in literary journals such as New Letters, The Laurel Review, Chatauqua, I-70 Review, Hanging Loose, Loon, Crosstimbers, The Rockhurst Review, and The Poeming Pidgeon. He was twice a Writer’s Digest national poetry finalist, a finalist in the Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest, and a winner in the 2012 Rex Rogers Formal Poetry Contest (Whispering Prairie Press). The Sweden File: Memoir of an American Expatriate was first published in 2015 and received a featured review in Kirkus Reviews. It was also selected as a 2015 “literary star” by the Kansas City Star newspaper. Mr. Proctor is delighted to have Open Books Press re-release the memoir. Adirondack Summer, 1969, his debut novel, was published by Westphalia Press in the summer of 2018. Mr. Proctor lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with his wife, Dr. Susan Proctor, and their cat, Beans.

About the Author

Bruce Stevens Proctor received a bachelor’s degree from American University in international relations in 1965, and soon after graduation joined the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) where he worked with colleagues in the Pentagon. In 1968 he joined the Air National Guard and pursued a PhD but left the United States and moved to Stockholm as a war resister. After four years in Sweden, he immigrated to Canada in 1972. As a new Canadian in Winnipeg, he involved himself in community organizing, and then joined the public service. Bruce was a thirty-year veteran of the Manitoba Department of Advanced Education, managing Aboriginal access to post-secondary education, and was one of several Under Secretaries of Education. He died at his home in Winnipeg surrounded by family and friends in 2011.