John Jakes has gone up the trail.
Jakes was a journeyman writer when he hit HUGE with The Kent Family Chronicles in the mid-1970s, timed fortuitously to take advantage of a spike in interest in heritage around the 1976 Bicentennial. The runaway bestseller status of the chunky, pulpy novels created a 20-year vogue for multi-generational historical family sagas. He followed that up with an equally successful Civil War yarn, North & South.
I was in junior high school when I read The Bastard and watched the miniseries on TV.
I was already a history nerd — I was reading and re-reading Allan W. Eckert at the same time — but Jakes certainly strummed the right chords for a young feller primed to experience history as a lusty adventure. And there was plenty of “lusty” in The Kent Family Chronicles… the avatar of which was the lovely, and ultimately tragic Alicia, played by Olivia Hussey in the miniseries…
The novels presented a very “adult” view of history. When I read The Rebels, I had not conceived of the idea that a Founding Father could be an alcoholic mess like Judson Fletcher — who redeemed a spiral of debauchery in a selfless act on behalf of the great Frontier Partisan Captain George Rogers Clark (himself a raging alcoholic). Bracing stuff for a mid-teens kid — and it obviously stuck with me, cuz I remember the poignancy of it even though I read The Rebels more than 40 years ago.
Jakes represented a moment in time in the publishing world that we’ll never see again. What a fun ride it was…
Jack Carr has announced that he’s launching a series of non-fiction books on major terrorist events. He’s been a student of terrorism and counter-terrorism since he was a kid, a study which became professional development for a Navy SEASL and thriller writer.
Here’s the caper:
Carr will be teaming up with Pulitzer Prize finalist James M. Scott for a series of nonfiction books that explore seminal terrorist events.
The first, Targeted: The 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing, is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2024 by Atria Books/Emily Bestler Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.
The nonfiction series will investigate terrorist attacks that changed the course of history.
“Those who have read my James Reece ‘Terminal List’ series or who follow me on social media know the importance I place on history, particularly the history of warfare, terrorism, insurgencies, counterinsurgencies and special operations,” Carr told Fox News Digital in emailed comments.
“My upcoming book, ‘Targeted: The 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing,’ explores this seminal terrorist attack — the effects of which still reverberate through U.S. foreign policy decisions today.”
In that attack, terrorists drove a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 U.S. service members — 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers — and badly wounding many others.
He said it’s based on thousands of pages “of military and political records, personal letters, and more than 50 hours of interviews with survivors.”
I will be very interested to see if the book includes information on the 2008 masterpiece hit that the CIA/Mossad put on Imad Mughniyeh, the exceptionally capable Hezbollah operator who was deeply involved in all of the action in Lebanon in the 1980s and ’90s, and who facilitated training for Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq after the U.S. invasion. He was directly implicated in the development of IEDs that killed American forces there, which is why the CIA targeted him. Well, that and some long-deferred payback for the torture and murder of CIA officer Bill Buckley, abducted in Beirut in 1984. Mossad, of course, had their own reasons.
I’m in on this one.