NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Conspiracy. Espionage. Dangerous missions and evil men. Set in the White House, it’s a story of a Marine dedicated to his country and its honor, handpicked to hunt down terrorists before they can attack the United States.
The mystery and intrigue are part of Oliver North’s new novel, “Mission Compromised,” published by Broadman & Holman. It is the first of a three-book deal North, a retired Marine and host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show, has signed with B&H, the trade book division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
North’s first foray into the realm of fiction isn’t just about international issues, terrorists and foreign policy — it also maintains strong Christian themes and ideas.
“People still come up to me and ask how I managed to get through the Iran-Contra affair, the hearings, the media circus, the terrorist threats to my family and so on,” North said, discussing the importance of his relationship with God. “I wanted to make [lead character] Peter Newman’s experiences as realistic for him as my life has been for me. I couldn’t find a better way of doing that than to describe the process by which he and his wife reconnect to God.”
North began a 28-day, 58-city bus tour on Sept. 3 to promote the 605-page novel in a bus colorfully emblazoned with the book’s title. He plans to visit military bases, secular and Christian bookstores and other booksellers to sign his book and talk with readers. Written with the help of Chicago author Joe Musser, North’s book has made The New York Times and Amazon best-seller lists and received national media attention.
Newman, the main character of North’s novel, is a major in the Marines on temporary assignment to the White House. He takes on a top-secret National Security Council staff position, and his job is to plan, organize and execute covert operations to rid the world of individuals who threaten international order — Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein included.
“I started writing this book well before the events of Sept. 11, well before Osama bin Laden killed 3,056 Americans, yet this story, and the issues it explores, seems ripped right out of today’s headlines,” North said.
It’s those headlines and the issues they encompass that North says he wants his readers to consider. The first in a trilogy, the book presents some difficult situations and asks tough questions about the American government and society in today’s world.
“I want them to think about the risks we face as a nation because of the Osama bin Ladens of the world,” North said. “These are weighty issues to think about and serious courses of action to consider. Should we be at war with Iraq? Should we be backing Iraqi resistance movements like the ones in the book? Should we be attempting targeted killings of terrorists? If so, who makes the decisions about who lives and who dies? And if we do these kinds of things, what do we do when the best-laid plans of governments and men go astray?”
Undoubtedly influenced by North’s 22 years in the Marine Corps and more than five years in the White House, the novel retains a realistic feel by relying on North’s own experiences and his continuing contact with active duty military personnel, CIA intelligence officers and FBI field agents, among others. Important events from North’s career, such as two linked covert operations that became known as Iran-Contra, are also vital components of the Mission Compromised plot.
In the novel, North details the exploits of William P. Goode, which happens to be an alias he used when traveling overseas in the 1980s. North said Goode was an actual person who worked with him, but his identity was not revealed during the Iran-Contra hearings.
Honoring such unsung heroes is part of the reason he wanted to write the novel, he said.
“This is an homage to a certain extent to the heroes I knew well and who never got the kind of recognition I got,” North said during a recent appearance on Fox News’ Hannity and Colmes show.
The fictional approach to the story also allows North to tell his own story — or at least the essence of that story — in ways he never could in a nonfiction work.
“In order not to violate non-disclosure agreements, I’ve changed names and places and dates,” he said. “However, the essence of what really happened has been retained. I was associated with some remarkably heroic people during my years at the NSC (National Security Council) and they ought to be remembered for what they did even if their names and specific details of actions they took on behalf of our country can’t be made public.”
In the end, North, a Vietnam veteran awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, uses his debut novel to approach some of life’s toughest questions — the one’s without ready answers.
“At this point in my life I’ve come to believe it’s relatively easy to make a decision between right and wrong,” North said. “And it’s maybe a little more difficult when you have to decide between good and better. But the toughest decisions any of us have to make are those where you have to decide between bad and worse. Those are the kinds of situations Peter Newman faces in this book.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BUS TOUR.