“Eighty-five percent casualty rate. Lucky to make it back…” As I interviewed Sean Parnell, former commander of a 40-man elite infantry platoon, which became known as the Outlaws, those words struck me. All who serve our military know that the experience will be life changing. Most, if not all, who deploy into combat zones, know there is a potential for not coming home but that reality doesn’t hit until you lose a brother or sister.
Sean Parnell could have gone down a path of destruction — those of us who have served know this story well — but instead he has emerged as one who I believe will be one of America’s best storytellers and writers who have mastered themes of service, sacrifice, courage and faith while captivating his audience with suspense, political intrigue and tactical action stories.
Parnell’s personal story is truly captivating — one he shares in a 2012 memoir, Outlaw Platoon. That book was intended as a testament to the code of the warrior seen through the eyes of a group of men serving under the most difficult circumstances and to show how that service shaped and changed them. This book is now required reading at the United States Military Academy at West Point, The Infantry School at Fort Benning, and in ROTC programs all across the country.
Sean’s fiction debut, Man of War (William Morrow, on sale 9/11, ISBN: 9780062668783), is a page turner from the very first page. Those who have served will relate to Eric Steele, the book’s main character. Booklist raved in a starred review that New York Times bestselling author and Purple Heart recipient Parnell’s Man of War is “A definite winner… In developing his plot and main character, Parnell writes like a veteran… The main story line here, involving friends turned mortal enemies, is a grabber and will certainly please fans of Brad Thor, Brad Taylor and Vince Flynn.”
Parnell brings the world the next “Jason Borne” with Eric Steele — the best of the best — an Alpha – an elite clandestine operative assigned to a U.S. intelligence unit known simply as the “Program.” A superbly trained Special Forces soldier who served several tours fighting radical Islamic militants in Afghanistan, Steel now operates under the radar, using a deadly combination of espionage and strength to root out his enemies and neutralize them.
Where the story gets compelling is when a man from Steele’s past attacks a military convoy and steals a nuclear weapon, Steele and his superiors at the White House are blindsided. Betrayal at the brotherhood level…and beyond. There are hints that this story could be ripped from today’s headlines.
Bottom line: If you are looking for an authentic, action-packed, is this fact or fiction Fall time read, pick up Parnell’s latest book Man of War. You won’t be disappointed.
And for those of you who want the “behind-the-scenes” interview, check out The Military Wire podcast, where Sean shares some pretty cool insight as well as advise to those who are transitioning.
— By Mike Schindler
Edmonds resident Mike Schindler is the founder and chief executive officer of Operation Military Family Cares –– a 501(c)(3) veteran service organization and technology provider that combats veteran homelessness, while working to strengthen relationships and equip communities and families for success. He is also the Program Manager of Community Engagement & Innovation for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University.