It was a cool late spring night nearly two years ago when Brad Taylor was sitting on his sofa in his Mount Pleasant home watching Geraldo Rivera going nuts on television.
If you go
What: Book signing for “Enemy of Mine”When: 7 p.m. TuesdayWhere: The Blind Tiger Pub, 36-38 Broad St.Cost: FreeWhat: Book signing for “Enemy of Mine”When: 7 p.m. Jan. 24Where: Barnes & Noble bookstore, 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., West AshleyCost: Free
The fact that Rivera was excited certainly wasn’t newsworthy, but what the Fox News personality was talking about caught Taylor’s interest almost immediately.
President Barack Obama had called a late-night news conference and Rivera was speculating on its subject. At first, Rivera believed that it might involve the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, but Taylor, The New York Times best-selling author of “One Rough Man” and “All Necessary Force,” quickly dismissed that as mere conjecture.
“If Gadhafi was dead, the president wouldn’t make the announcement that late at night. It would have gone through NATO,” Taylor said. “Everyone would want in on that kind of announcement.”
Then Rivera mentioned that it possibly could be the death or capture of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. That clicked into place for Taylor, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.
“I thought about it and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I think he’s right,’ ” Taylor said. “It dawned on me that it couldn’t be anything else.”
Having served in the Army for more than two decades, including eight years as a commander in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (better known as Delta Force), Taylor had been intimately involved in the initial hunt for bin Laden.
After almost a decade, the search for the world’s most wanted terrorist had finally come to its conclusion.
“I think, like a lot of Americans, I was elated,” Taylor said. “It’s about time we got that guy. It was a long hunt. That guy got everything he deserved.”
The only disappointing thing for Taylor about bin Laden’s death that night was that his former comrades in Delta Force were not involved in the mission. That honor fell to their counterparts in the Navy, SEAL Team Six.
Taylor’s third book, “Enemy of Mine” (Dutton) is set for release Tuesday. Taylor will hold a book-signing party at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Blind Tiger Pub in downtown Charleston and another Jan. 24. at the Barnes & Noble store in West Ashley.
The death of bin Laden is back in the news with the national release of Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” which depicts the decades-long quest by the U.S. intelligence community and military to bring down the terrorist.
Taylor, a former professor at The Citadel from 2007-10, said he has no plans to see the movie, having already gone through much of it in real life.
He wasn’t so dismissive of “No Easy Day,” Matt Bissonnette’s first-hand account of the mission that took out bin Laden. The release of the book in September caused a storm of controversy for the former SEAL and didn’t sit well with Taylor.
“You sign a nondisclosure statement when you join the special forces, so you can’t write about classified material,” said Taylor, 45. “There’s a clear distinction. He clearly stepped over the line. He didn’t get the book reviewed by the Pentagon and it’s clear there was classified material in the book.”
Taylor also doesn’t understand the motivation behind the book. He doesn’t buy the argument that Bissonnette did it for reasons of clarification.
“It would be one thing if something controversial had happened during the mission like the death of a bunch of civilians,” Taylor said. “Then I could understand why he’d want to set the record straight. But that’s not the case. No one is saying anything about him and his team other than they are the biggest heroes in the universe, so what is he setting straight?
However, some news sources after the raid mischaracterized it and reported erroneous information, such as false physical and mental descriptions of the Navy SEALs team and mistaken details about the confrontation with bin Laden.
“The emphasis of his ‘No Easy Day,’ written with Kevin Maurer, is not on spilling secrets,” wrote New York Times critic Janet Maslin. “It is on explaining a SEAL’s rigorous mind-set and showing how that toughness is created.”
‘Enemy of Mine’
Taylor takes great pains to keep his plotlines for his books as cutting-edge and current as possible in the hopes of making his novels as realistic as he can without giving away classified material. About 50,000 words into “Enemy of Mine,” however, Taylor had to scramble to rewrite the first half of the book.
Originally much of the opening part of the book centered around his central character, clandestine operative Pike Logan, and Syria’s involvement with Hezbollah. His former college roommate was a defense attache for the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and gave Taylor the lay of the land.
But as things began to unravel for Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad last summer in the midst of the country’s civil war, Taylor had to dump the entire section about the Mideast country.
“It wasn’t a very pleasant experience,” said Taylor, who spent most of his summers in Charleston during his youth. “I did all this research and wrote a good bit of the novel based around the dynamic between Syria and Hezbollah and when everything fell apart, I just had to kill it. It was just so unpredictable we had to take it out.”
Taylor has taken great care in making Logan a three-dimensional character over his three novels. Having worked alongside the world’s most elite soldiers, Taylor didn’t want Logan to be a Rambo caricature, a stoic killer with big muscles and bigger guns. Logan also isn’t based on one particular person but a collection of men he served with during his time in the special forces.
“To get into Delta, you’ve got to be a problem solver,” Taylor said. “Sure, you’ve got to be able to do what they demand physically, but you have to be able to think quickly on your feet. They don’t want mindless killers. There’s got to be a moral code. You just can’t kill someone and forget about it and act like it didn’t happen. There are consequences that every soldier has to deal with,” he said.
“There are times when Pike struggles with that and it shows up in his character. I wanted that to be as realistic as possible because everyone who has served in the special forces goes through it.”
Taylor is working on his fourth novel, “The Widow’s Strike,” set for release in July about a terrorist attack using the H5N1 virus or “bird flu.”
“I saw a story about the bird flu virus on television one night and thought if the wrong people got their hands on that, it would be a disaster,” Taylor said.
Reach Andrew Miller at 937-5599.