With the publication of my memoir, I was again looking through some old photographs today from trips to Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Europe, and elsewhere while recalling one mind boggling story after another. What a wild and weird ride it has been. When it came time to write my own book, I sifted through these experiences and cherry picked the best ones to write about.
In the Army served in 3rd Ranger Battalion and then in 5th Special Forces Group where I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan three times. As a journalist, I’ve reported from Iraq, Syria, South Korea, Switzerland, Italy, and the Philippines. Then there were the curious interludes, going to Columbia University, backpacking around Central America, running a news website, and so much more.
Rather than write a Moby Dick sized book in which I wax poetic about every thought and feeling I’ve had in 35 years, I chose to focus on the highlights, the zanny adventures, the dicey combat missions, and the bizarre moments. All in all, I’m very proud of the book and how it turned out.
I had been reluctant to write this book for many years, but several close friends finally persuaded me. Now that advanced copies have gone around, I’ve had family members tell me that they had no idea that I had some of these experiences, surprised that I never talked about them. I guess that was partly why I resisted writing the book: avoiding the past.
Sure, I could have written a book about how great I am. Most military memoirs are either some soldier turned anti-war activist whining about American imperialism or a former Special Operations soldier bragging about all the brown people he claims to have killed in the Middle East. But that just isn’t me and wasn’t my experience. Besides, writing a puff piece just wouldn’t be any fun to read. Murphy’s Law is a warts and all account, to the point that some reviewers are surprised that I actually put so many of my mistakes into print. The book is pro-military while being deeply skeptical about American foreign policy and the last 17-years of the Global War on Terror.
That was important for me because I want the book to have some actual content, I wanted the young man or woman thinking about leading the same type of life I have to be able to learn something, to take away some practical lessons. That doesn’t happen by writing a 300-page book consisting of little but boasting and flag waving. But what is in the book you ask?
- I detail a never before revealed friendly fire incident that I was involved in during the winter of 2004, in which a small recce team and I were deployed to recon the location of the terrorist who planned the Pat Tillman ambush.
- I go in-depth writing about the Special Operations Task Force in Iraq, a industrial-grade counter-terrorism killing machine that I was a part of as a Ranger. We executed well over a hundred High Value Target strikes in Mosul that summer alone. This also covers the ambush I was present for when terrorists dropped hand grenades on top of us from a overpass, as well as numerous other firefights
- My experiences in RASP, SFAS, Ranger School, and the Q-Course are covered in brief, highlighting some funny or interesting stories but mostly I focus on the hairy adventures overseas as others have written about SOF training.
- My deployment with ODA 5414 to Tal Afar in 2009, training an Iraqi SWAT team and leading them on combat missions in Iraq. At one point, the JSOC task force gets shut down for political reasons and my ODA becomes the go-to direct action element for all of northern Iraq.
- What it was like for me to get out of the Army and attend a Ivy League university in New York City. The highs, the lows, the weird moments!
- My experiences starting a news website and I give a lot of “behind the scenes” type information about important stories I’ve worked on, including articles I wrote about military sexual assault.
- The entire story of my 2014 jaunt into Syria, how I was smuggled into the country by the PKK early on in the war and did boots on the ground reporting, before having to make an illegal border run to get out and then getting detained by the secret police…
- Rolling into combat with the Peshmerga in 2015 during the Kirkuk offensive, almost getting blown up a few times, seeing villages waving white flags defecting from ISIS bad guy land and surrendering to the Pesh.
- Going back to Syria, but this time under the auspices of the regime and interviewing President Assad.
- Cruising around the Philippines and interviewing operators from their Special Operations units, chronicling their history and missions as they battle ISIS off-shoot organizations.
That’s the broad overview, but there is a lot more packed in there as well. Having heard back from readers who had the chance to look at the book, it is interesting to see how different people connect with different aspects of the book. Some people enjoy the combat stories, others like the stuff about being a journalist reporting on conflicts, some liked the commentary about being a veteran and transitioning back to civilian life, others found the last two chapters of the book (which are a bit more personal in nature) to be the most compelling.
Over the next week I’ll be doing media appearances for the book and will try to keep everyone updated on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There will also be a book signing at Books & Greetings in New Jersey from 7-9PM on February 25th. If you are in the area please stop by to say hello.
In the meantime, the book can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. Of course, you can also get it as a ebook or as an audio book. The audio book is narrated by me and includes a few updates as the audio was recorded well after the manuscript was finalized. If you decide to give Murphy’s Law a chance, it would mean a lot to me if you leave a review on Amazon as it really helps the book gain some traction.