New Oliver North novel combines intrigue, unrest in Mid-East
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Tensions boil among top Middle Eastern powers in former National Security Council staffer Oliver North's new novel, "The Jericho Sanction."
Set in Iraq and Israel, the new release is the second in a trilogy written by North and published by Broadman & Holman, the trade publishing division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
North, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who became famous during the Iran-Contra affair in the mid-1980s, hits the book market with plot lines on the cutting edge of international politics and a host of hair-raising modern issues -- terrorists, renegades and government-sponsored assassinations.
"The Jericho Sanction," which builds on North's first novel, "Mission Compromised," follows Lt. Col. Peter Newman, who is hiding with his wife, Rachel, and infant son in Israel under assumed names following a severe blow by a political enemy. As evidence of Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons stash mounts, a friend from Washington taps Newman for a dangerous, top-secret assignment -- to find three hidden nuclear weapons Hussein plans to use against Israel and the West. When Rachel is kidnapped at gunpoint, Newman must decide if he is willing to reveal his true identity and risk crucial minutes to save her -- or keep his cover and stop a nuclear meltdown.
"The ultimate catastrophe in the Middle East is going to be a nuclear exchange," North said of current issues that threaten to flare at any moment. "The capabilities of the equipment and weaponry described in The Jericho Sanction -- the tracking devices, satellite downlinks and communications equipment -- are all dead-on accurate."
The Jericho Sanction takes its name from Israeli Jericho nuclear missiles and the real-life code term Israelis use for a preemptive strike against any nation attacking them with weapons of mass destruction -- part of the Israeli "survival plan," North said.
For Americans, the constant threat of terror touches a nerve.
"America is in a long-haul fight against terrorism, most of which comes from that part of the world," North said.
North, an embedded war correspondent for FOX News during Operation Iraqi Freedom, saw firsthand the interaction between Middle Eastern countries that could turn deadly.
"The Jericho Sanction is based on something we saw out there that's very real: the role of Syria, Iran and third parties like Russia in all of what's happening now," North said. "We still don't know where Saddam Hussein may or may not be. And it's amply evident from this book why he would have capability of literally disappearing."
North's first two books, "Under Fire" and "One More Mission," were international best-sellers. His first novel with Broadman & Holman, Mission Compromised, made The New York Times best-seller list and won a 2003 Gold Medallion Award for fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
North said he hopes Americans will see themselves in "The Jericho Sanction."
"We saw that after 9/11 that there are all kinds of people who have the kind of courage and character that Peter Newman typifies," North said. "This war on terrorism requires the kind of courage under fire during operations undertaken by 'real' people like Peter Newman. The Jericho Sanction doesn't use their real names, but those who read the book will come to know the people who are just like the people who went up against Peter Newman -- or people just like Newman himself."
North is a husband, father of four and grandfather. He currently hosts "War Stories" for FOX News.
In a question-and-answer session, North spoke about faith and expounded further on world affairs.
Q: You are well-known as a man of deep faith. How did that faith sustain you during those days?
A: I know Betsy and my kids and grandkids were praying hard for me to get home safely. Frankly, there's no explanation for why I was able to ride on helicopters that got shot at and hit day after day except the good Lord was looking out for me again.
Q: How did your most recent experiences in the Persian Gulf impact what's in this book?
A: The Iraqi facilities, Israeli and U.S. intelligence capabilities and much of the technology described in this story are all based on real experience. For example, the description of the Salman Pak area [former biological warfare facility near Baghdad] is based on what I saw on the ground at Salman Pak this past April.
Q: You've said the relationship between the U.S. and Israel in the story is very much like the real relationship that exists between the two countries. What do you mean by that?
A: When al Qaeda attacks us, we say we're going to go after them with everything we've got. But when the Israelis go after them the same way we're going after al Qaeda -- when they go after Hamas or the al Aksa Martyr's Brigade -- people in our country and many in Europe get upset and say, "No, you can't do that." Basically what we've got is a double standard.
Q: As somebody who has been both an analyst of the situation in the Gulf and a correspondent on the ground in Iraq, what do you personally see for the future of the region?
A: There's no doubt in my mind democracy will eventually prevail, but it's going to be a long, tough struggle getting there.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: THE JERICHO SANCTION.