Editor’s note: This review was written by Steve Balestrieri, a former Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer that now serves as the Editor of SpecialOperations.com
I always balk at when someone I know writes something and I’m asked to give an opinion on it. As my circle of friends has grown smaller, I have erred on the side of caution, not wanting to hurt any of my friends’ feelings. Jack Murphy has never had that problem.
Jack has been on a mission, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And when you’re blunt, do your homework and research and then write what you believe is the right thing, the truth, you’ll invariably piss some people off. Jack has done that. In fact, in the Special Forces community of which he was a member, many men of the Regiment have a case of the red-ass against him.
Murphy was a member of the Ranger Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan with them. He then moved on to Special Forces, and was on an A-Team in the 5th Special Forces Group, “The Legion”. He deployed again to Iraq with SF. He then decided to leave the military and graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science. Murphy is near a perfect fit that the OSS in World War II was looking for.
OSS was the forerunner to both CIA and the U.S. Army Special Forces. General William “Wild Bill,” Donovan said they were looking for “PhDs who can win a bar fight.” Murphy is an Ivy League graduate who was a Ranger and Green Beret.
Along the way, he co-founded the website “SOFREP” which later became “NEWSREP” and developed a ton of aspiring writers who came from military backgrounds and had the itch to write. SOFREP developed a reputation as a hard-hitting journal of military and current affairs that spoke plainly and covered it all. The great successes and the failures with equal attention. It was far from a PR firm or just a cheerleader squad for the military. That was Murphy’s doing. Which brings us to his book.
“Murphy’s Law” is basically a two-part book, the first half deals with Murphy’s military career and the second part, which is the next chapter in his life takes you on the trail with an investigative journalist. But this is one who covers the military with the trained and sometimes jaundiced eye of someone who has “been there, done that”.
This book is an absolute page turner and as with everything that Murphy writes, he covers the “who, what, where and most especially, why” of his experiences. Murphy hardly paints himself as a hero, in fact, he delves into a particularly sensitive subject of a friendly fire incident in the Ranger Bn. That could’ve easily been glossed over, but again, that wouldn’t have been the “whole truth” and Murphy hardly paints himself in glowing light there. That’s part of what makes this so intriguing.
Murphy’s experiences during the Global War on Terror (GWOT), gives his perspective on what has been the United States’ longest war in its history. And like he always does, Murphy tells it like it is. His take on al-Qaeda and their fighters is an instant classic.
“The Iraqi insurgency consisted of hardcore criminals, jihadists, and a ton of foreign fighters looking to get their kill on. These dudes were murderers, members of a death cult called al-Queda. The Nazis, the Soviets, and all the North Vietnamese Army were at least fighting for some twisted vision of a better future. By comparison, al-Queda was, and is gutter trash”.
Awesome stuff there.
After graduating from Colombia, Murphy wasn’t a sit in the office type of journalist. He traveled to the Philippines where his interview with the commanders of the Light Reaction Regiment of the PI’s SOF, while they were actively engaged with Abu Sayyaf terrorist units. He snuck into Syria to report first-hand on the brutal fighting that tore the country apart there.
Murphy wrote about the religion of the Yazidi and Peshmerga peoples of Syria, as in the Middle East religion is everything. Something that I never knew about was that the Yazidis predated both Christianity and Islam. All stuff I’ve never seen anywhere.
I can’t recommend this book more, it is a great take on one man’s life with extraordinary events and people thrown together. Murphy has already written some military novels but this book was different. He was trying to put down the events of his life, thus far and was worried about appearing “douchey”.
As with anything, I have to put an anecdote in there. Our local Veterans Council consists of vets from the VFW, American Legion and unaffiliated veterans. Every year we visit all of the schools in the area at Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day.
We were finishing up a school visit last week when one of our vets named George who was a Major in Army Intelligence who is now a retired attorney asked me, “Have you ever heard of a guy named Jack Murphy?”
“My wife and I were walking thru Barnes and Noble and I saw his book and picked it up. And after scanning thru it for a moment, had to buy it. I brought it home last night and can’t put it down. It is a fantastic read. The guy was a Ranger, a Green Beret…now he’s a globe-trotting journalist. Have you read it?”
After I explained the workings of NEWSREP and SpecialOperations.com and the relationship I have with Murphy, George said, “I think he’d be a great guy to sit down and have a beer with to just be able to pick his brain.”
Being so young, Murphy and his wife, who is also an investigative journalist should have plenty of adventures left in their lives for another book sometime in the future. I’d put that one on the reading list, but for now, head to the nearest bookstore and read “Murphy’s Law” asap. You’ll be glad you did.
Photo: Amazon, NEWSREP