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Don Westenhaver planned to become a Catholic priest, but left the seminary and joined the Marine Corps. The Marines trained him to be a Vietnamese interpreter, but then assigned him to be a platoon radioman near the DMZ. Returning home in one piece, he used the GI Bill to buy a home and finish college. As a finance executive in the oil industry, Don traveled frequently to Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa. His military and oil business experiences inspired him to write his first novel, an international thriller titled The Whiplash Hypothesis.
Moving from the oil business to the car business, Don became a finance director for a Japanese auto company, gaining more inside knowledge of international business. During the 1990s, he became fascinated by the Asian Tigers, a group of former Third World countries such as Korea that were emerging into First World status. Inhabitants of very poor nations were suddenly enjoying huge improvements in their standard of living. He speculated that a relatively small amount of money could propel Vietnam into the same growth, because the culture prizes education and hard work. It only required an intelligent plan encouraged by a Communist minister who was secretly a capitalist. The result of this was Don’s second international thriller, The Red Turtle Project.
During a vacation in Italy Don toured the ruins of Pompeii, which display in such vivid detail the lives of ordinary people 2,000 years ago, and how the Romans were so similar to us and so technologically advanced. For the next four years, he studied ancient Rome and created characters and a plot that begins with the Great Fire of Rome. Emperor Nero, usually portrayed as a psychotic monster, actually began his reign as an enlightened teenager guided by moral principles. The plot of Nero’s Concert illustrates Nero’s descent into madness as told by his best friend. The backdrop is the Fire, the search for who caused it, and the collision of the new Christian religion with Roman culture.
Don has been married to his wife Ellie for over 37 years and they live in Southern California. They have two grown daughters and two grandchildren. Don and Ellie are recently retired, and plan to continue traveling, assisting four different charities, golfing, and of course playing with the grandkids. He is working on a fourth novel and is a member of the Southern California Writers Association and the Military Writers Society of America.