A dozen years ago when I worked in Saudi Arabia, the government had a habit of referring to domestic terrorists as 'deranged' and calling them 'mental deviants.' We mocked the Saudis mercilessly for it. The Royals were denying reality. They failed to acknowledge and confront the extremist forces at loose in the Kingdom, extremist views … Continue reading Mental Deviants & Gun Nuts
Of all the artists --- musicians, painters, actors & stand-up comedians, even poets --- I put my own kind at the very bottom. Novelists ask too much of their audience. These others thrive on immediacy, accessibility, and entertainment. Musicians bang it out live in short bursts or cast long, sweeping arcs; the audience has only to … Continue reading Cake Talk
In an effort to prove why writing is easy and speaking is hard, I decided to do live stand-up at the library in Oakton, VA. Drop by to find out why I write instead of preach, and what's behind that title---Two Pumps for the Body Man. Register here.
The morning of December 6, 2004, five heavily armed terrorists stormed the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I remember loud pops from the AK-47s and the muffled thud of improvised explosive devices; I remember hours hunkered under a desk and a scramble for protection when the Marine called “Gas!; I remember crouching through our … Continue reading Diplomatic Casualties
Last month American Diplomacy included my review of Ambassador James R. Bullington's Foreign Service Memoir, The Road Less Traveled. The book recounts a career that began with the U.S. military build-up in Vietnam and took the author to Burma, Chad, Benin, and Burundi, where he served as Ambassador, and Niger, where he served from 2001-2006 as Country Director … Continue reading Diplomats and Terrorists
I want loyalty, I need loyalty No writing has influenced my work more than Joseph Heller's Catch-22. Not the Bible. Not the Constitution. Not even The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which is a pretty great book and should be thrown full force at anyone who tries to ban it. I wrote my first novel, Two … Continue reading The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade
What are Trump & Co. reading as they wing their way to Saudi Arabia tonight? Two Pumps for the Body Man! This black comedy set in Saudi Arabia does for American diplomacy what Catch 22 did for military logic: The enemy in the War on Terror can't kill us if our own institutions kill us … Continue reading In Flight Entertainment for POTUS
A year ago this week I put Jeff Mutton on the beat. Assigned to keep America’s diplomats safe in Saudi Arabia, he proved a tough match for tyrants as well as terrorists. He endured vacuous conversations during diplomatic soirees and survived quack psychiatry at the hands of State Department shrinks. He introduced us to a … Continue reading One Year on the Beat
You may attend this author reading in your PJs. That is all.