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Book Review: Man Of War

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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Man of War by Sean Parnell is an exciting and action-packed thriller.  He is able to draw upon his past experiences as a combat veteran to create a realistic storyline. It is a warning of sorts on what could happen if a terrorist is able to get their hands on a nuclear bomb. 

Parnell is a retired Army Infantry officer who served in Afghanistan. After receiving a medical retirement, he wrote his memoir, Outlaw Platoon, recounting the battles he and his troops participated in. Now, Parnell has turned to fiction and has done a very good job with this first novel. A book quote, “In combat there is no prize for second place,” and with this debut it appears he will take on all comers with a gripping plot.

He came up with the idea, “The inspiration came from my time in the army.  We felt like we had our hands tied.  For example, we knew the location of a high value target, but could not go out and capture him.  It took three days to get approval from someone 3000 miles away in Washington DC. By that time, he was tipped off and escaped.  I thought if only there was a Special Forces unit that is clandestine, without bureaucratic red tape that could go after the enemy without any rules to tie their hands. Thus, The Program was born.”

He also uses military terminology and acronyms. It is obvious Parnell is able to use his own experiences when it comes to the military and how Special Forces operators walk, talk, and handle themselves on and off the battlefield. The battle scenes are intense and authentic.

Readers are introduced to Eric Steele, a tough as nails combat veteran who becomes part of a clandestine organization, known as “The Program” that answers only to the President of the US. Operators combine their combat experiences with actionable intelligence to root out and neutralize the enemy. This allows the commander-in-chief a third option instead of diplomacy and a lengthy war. Steele’s former mentor, Nathaniel West, has become his adversary, after going rogue and stealing a suitcase nuke to get revenge on the United States. His journey takes him all over the world, from Algiers to Europe to America.  Steele is assisted with thwarting this deadly threat by Meg Harden, a CIA analyst, his co-worker/buddy, Demo, and the Vice-President.  But he is also thwarted by a President dying of cancer and a traitor within the national security apparatus.

Parnell noted, “Steele is a selfless American warrior with of a code of honor.  He understands we are still in the fight against the terrorists. I wanted him to have the ethos of our nation’s warfighters, lethal but also compassionate. Those two traits make Eric Steele who he is. Yes, he destroys America’s enemies with extreme prejudice, but he will deviate from the mission if he thinks he can save even one innocent life. He sees America as a shining city on the hill.  A true believer who wants to protect, save, and defend his fellow citizens.”

“I wrote Nathaniel West, the antagonist, as a former Alpha who everyone thought was killed in an explosion.  He is taking the fight to America because he felt let down by his superiors and those in Washington since no one came to rescue him or his family. West is hell bent on revenge on those who left him there.  He is a guy wronged by his country.  He was betrayed and lost everything while fighting for his country.” 

This novel has it all:  conspiracies, larger than life characters, with a good dose of intrigue, deceit, power, and treason.  Anyone who wants a book where patriotism looms large will enjoy this story.

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