Immigrants, grandparents, & Johnny

Sometimes during interviews, people ask questions and I don't answer as well as I think I could. Usually I rebound, but one of the things I've had difficulty explaining about CODE NAME JOHNNY WALKER has been why the book was so emotional to write.

Part of the reason has to do with the circumstances - it was very connected to my friend Chris Kyle, who was murdered during the time I was working on it. But the larger reason, I think, is that in many ways Johnny's experiences as an immigrant echo the experiences of all immigrants to America, including my own grandparents'. There are certainly differences and nuances - neither of my grandfathers worked with SEALs, for example - but the underlying story of struggling to provide your family, working to make your native country better, then finally deciding that you had no future but America is absolutely the same. Talking with Johnny made me understand how they must have felt when they came to the U.S.

Books are always different for readers than they are for the people who write them. I expect that most people reading CODE NAME JOHNNY WALKER will focus on the danger and excitement of the war; it's really a page-turner in that regard. And there are plenty of other issues and emotions I hope the book will evoke. But for me, working on it reminded me that "freedom" isn't just a fancy word, but a real thing, and the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is something none of us should ever take for granted.

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