When asked about his writing influences, the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin responded, “Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.” The irony is that he was purloining as he said it, paraphrasing the great Oscar Wilde, who stated, “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.”
I grew up the son of a US diplomat, living in places like Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Vietnam, La Paz, Bolivia, Bogota, Colombia, and Guatemala City. As a kid, I saw coups, kidnappings, and political assassinations. In my teenage years I became a sounding board for my father’s opinions on how to best formulate and carry out US foreign policy, conversations that would later come in handy when I wrote my first book about the role my father played as US ambassador in the Nicaraguan Revolution.
On September 11, 2001, British Special Boat Service (SBS) commando Simon Chase (this is not his real name) was in Kabul, Afghanistan with a team of eleven other contractors proving security to Agha Khan IV – the Iman of Nizari Ismailism, which is a denomination of Shia Islam – when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists.