Millbrook Book Festival

Heading to beautiful Millbrook, NY today to take part in the Millbrook Literary Festival, where I'll sign books and talk about some of my recent efforts, including Taya Kyle's heroic story in American Wife as well as American Sniper and the latest Dreamland. But most of all I'll be there to support my favorite independent bookseller, Scott Myer, who has boosted my career and that of many, many authors, from day one.
More information on the day here.
The newest Dreamland...

... now available at your favorite bookstore.

Finally, the truth . . .

. . .  on ISIS and Iraq. Item:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Sunday that Iraqi forces had demonstrated “no will to fight” against the Islamic State, blaming them for a retreat that led to the terrorist group’s victory in capturing the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

When has the Iraqi army shown the will to fight? Not under Saddam in both Gulf Wars, not with a lot of American help during the occupation, and not now.

There have been and are exceptions, but for the most part, calling the army an army is like calling salamanders fearsome reptiles. (And yes, I know they're amphibians.)

So now that the truth is out - and recognized at the highest levels of American government - what happens next?

Pac nostalgia

It's funny the things that become cultural landmarks - Pac Man turns 35 today.

I still remember "discovering" the game at a dumpy diner near Newburgh, N.Y. a millennium ago. It was an absurdly effective if entertaining way to waste time.

More recently, I had the privilege of working with Namco-Bandai (currently Bandai Namco), Pac Man's parent. That work often took me to their Santa Clara studios, where between sessions on Ace Combat  we discovered a vintage Pac Man game tucked into a corner of the building. The machine became almost a member of the team; I wouldn't be surprised if it's included in the credits.

To this day, I have nightmares about being chased by angry blobs of eyeball-blinking mush men.

At least I think that's because of the game; it could be an old landlord my subconscious is fixated on.

Wired story:
Pac-Man, the biggest arcade game of all time, turns 35 today. Here’s a look back at the era when Pac-Manfever ruled the world.
Released by the Japanese company Namco on May 22, 1980, Pac-Man was like nothing else at the time. At a time when Space Invaders and Asteroids and other games with abstracted, monochrome graphics ruled the arcade, Pac-Man offered a colorful cartoonish design with an appealing central character. It revolved around eating, not shooting; and it was designed to appeal to young women and couples, not dudes in sketchy bowling-alley bars (although they all played it too).
Rest of the story here.

(Search Pac Man on Google for a playable version of the game.)

Reality follows fiction . . .

BEIJING — The Chinese navy repeatedly warned a U.S. surveillance plane to leave airspace around disputed islands in the South China Sea, a sign that Beijing may seek to create a military exclusion zone in a move that could heighten regional tensions.
The warnings, delivered eight times to a P-8A Poseidon over the Spratly Islands on Wednesday, were reported by a CNN team aboard the plane.

Sounds a lot like the plot of Red Dragon Rising, though I have to admit I hadn't thought of filling in atolls with concrete to create islands . . . maybe if we do more.

Thank you!

We are truly humbled and grateful for the overwhelming response to American Wife.

Thank you everyone. Thank you.


The capture of Ramadi in Iraq by ISIS not only demonstrated the utter incompetence of the Iraqi government and its laughable army, but is a sad and tragic footnote to the story promulgated during the American occupation about the great peaceful awakening of the local Iraqi tribes.
The story, featured in books and new articles, claimed that peace had come to Ramadi mostly because of the cooperation of local tribes, who got together and kicked the bad guys out of town. Nearly all of those stories emphasized the supposed actions of local Iraqis, seeing their “cooperation” as signs of a new way for Iraq.

That was bullshit. Most of them were as inept then as they are now.

Peace came to the city because U.S. forces killed so many of the insurgents that they were too decimated to mount effective attacks; that was far, far more important than anything the local tribal leaders did. The corruption and general ineptness that had existed before America’s actions in Ramadi remained, just as they remain to this day.

When the war started, many people suggested that Iraq would be best off as three separate countries, one dominated by Shia in the south and east, one by Sunni in the west, and one by Kurds in the north. The U.S. insisted on keeping the country together as one. That hasn’t worked, and we now have the worst version of the separation: an Iranian-dominated Shia province, a terrorist-dominated Sunni west, and an uneasy and besieged Kurdish north.

The ineptness of the Iraqi government and its so-called Army make ISIS look as if it’s a powerhouse. It’s not. But in the calculus of Iraq – and the Middle East – brute force and violence is a lot more important than sharing tea around a campfire. Not admitting that makes you cannon fodder, and worse.

The nuclear Middle East

Saudi Arabia today declared that they will match Iran's nuclear capability - whatever that may be.

It's not exactly a surprise, especially in the context of both Iran's clear intentions to dominate the region and what amounts to an ongoing civil war between the major branches of Islam.

(A NY Times story on the latest developments here.)

The immediate practical effects of the declaration are highly debatable, given the difficulties involved in ramping up a program and the fact that Saudi Arabia is widely believed to already have a deal with Pakistan to "borrow" some of its nukes in the time of a crisis. But it's not a good day for anyone who opposes nuclear proliferation.

Logically, the possibility of a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia might be the best incentive Iran would have to forgo its own weapons development. But logic rarely seems to prevail in the world, least of all in the Middle East.

You snooze, you lose . . .

. . . your life, in North Korea.

TOKYO — North Korea’s equivalent of a defense minister has been executed by antiaircraft gun for insubordination and treason — including for sleeping during a meeting in which Kim Jong Un was speaking, South Korea’s intelligence agency said Wednesday.

Admit it, though - how many times have you wished you could do this yourself? Especially when it was the person who called the meeting who's snoring?

Me: I need an appointment. I chipped a tooth. [Two, actually.]
Receptionist: Does it just need to be filed down, or filled?
Me: If I knew that, I could probably do it myself, no?
Receptionist: Well . . .
Me: I do have some sandpaper here. Which grit should I use?
Receptionist: Let me get you an appointment.
A great launch

The response to American Wife, which "launched" last week, has been overwhelming. It's an emotional story, one of tragedy but also hope. It's amazing how many people are connecting with the book, and with Taya.

For me, the most telling moment came last Monday while I was backstage at the View, standing with Whoopie Goldberg as Taya was interviewed on camera. Tears were streaming from Ms. Goldberg's eyes. You can't get a better endorsement than that.

RIP, Chris Farlekas

I’ve struggled all day to come up with the right words to sum up the life of our friend, Chris Farlekas, who passed away this morning at the age of 86.

I can’t.

I met Chris when he was a reporter on the local newspaper. This was many years ago, but he was already a legend. He seemed to know just about everyone in the three counties the newspaper covered. More importantly, he knew every organization and every event that was being held to raise money or help someone, be it a veteran or a kid in need of a scholarship to attend college. He wrote about them all, always in the most positive way. To say that Chris was deeply involved in the community is like saying the heart pumps blood. Literally thousands of people had their lives enriched by him. People were important to him, and he made sure they knew it.

What made him that way? His small-town roots? His service in the Army? His time as a combat medic? His reporting in Vietnam? His years as a journalist, first in hard news and then, much longer, as a feature reporter?

I’m sure it was all of those, and much more. I do believe that he was born with a great heart, and went on from there.

There won’t be a monument to him, or a movie, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if his name is memorialized in a field or a hospital wing somewhere, it will never really be familiar to the masses. But it will live on in every life he touched. He was not a wealthy man by any means, but he lived such a rich life that it’s impossible to be sad when I think about him. I can only smile, even as it hurts to think of him gone.

(Here is a link to a story on him, in the paper he worked at for over forty years.)

Jersey boy . . .

Visiting Ridgewood in New Jersey with Taya Kyle Monday. We'll be at the Y in Ridgewood at 7 p.m. -  more info here. (You almost certainly will need advance tickets; the number to call is 201-445-0726.)

American Wife

Publishers Weekly had some questions:

Did you learn anything in cowriting this new book that shed light on American Sniper?Taya had been such an integral part of American Sniper that this book really just felt like an extension of that. Of course, I was there for some of what we write about. But what has always amazed me was the depth of love that Chris and Taya felt toward each other, and how they both fought so hard to keep that love alive. I still remember the first time they talked with me about their marriage, tears rolling down their eyes. And I remember watching them walk out of the airport the first time they landed in New York, before they spotted me – you could see the unconscious understanding between them, comfort and assurance in each stride.