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Review: Jack Murphy's 'Murphy's Law'

Full disclosure: I've known Jack Murphy for a number of years. I've edited his novels, worked for him as a copy-editor on a special operations news site he founded, and enjoyed an enduring friendship with him. He's an especially modest guy, which belies his storied career as an Army Ranger, Green Beret, successful entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, and foreign correspondent. And perhaps that's why I never expected him to write an autobiography. It's not that his life doesn't warrant one, it's just that he's not the sort who enjoys talking about himself or reveling in personal achievements, though his would be the envy of even the most worldly and experienced among us.

In "Murphy's Law" (a self-effacing title that speaks to his perspective on his life and career—anything that can go wrong, will), Jack addresses that point upfront. In the prologue, he notes, "I had rejected the notion of writing a book about myself for a long time. It seemed like kind of a douchey thing to do. I mean, who am I, really?" Ultimately, though, he came to realize that, as a journalist, "I've told everyone's story but mine," and he had perhaps been using that as a mechanism for avoiding confronting his personal experiences.

And that's understandable. Although the pages of "Murphy's Law" are packed with many extraordinary scenes that would be right at home in an action film or thriller novel, those experiences would have been distressing by any measure. If this book is the means by which he hopes to explore and evaluate those exploits and ordeals, he does so deftly, putting the reader directly in his combat boots and leaving little out—good or bad.

We follow Jack from his early days, through his enlistment and training, to his military career during the height of the Global War on Terror. Following his time on active duty, Jack went on to embed with the Kurds in Iraq; infiltrate Syria and interview one of the world's most wanted men, dictator Bashar al-Assad; and travel the world to report on numerous special operations units, from the Philippines to Switzerland. Even his most staunch critics must grudgingly admit Jack's lived an extraordinary life—particularly for a guy who's only in his thirties.

"Murphy's Law" isn't merely a memoir, though. It also reveals Jack's perspective on complex and timely topics ranging from the challenges faced by veterans transitioning to civilian life, the sociopolitical ramifications of our nation's longest war, and even the more strategic elements of conducting asymmetrical warfare. Often grimly humorous, the writing reflects Jack's typically sardonic nature and inveterate pragmatism.

Reading these memoirs has revealed a great deal about my friend's history and his outlook on life. It's left me with a renewed admiration for him and his innumerable accomplishments. I can't recommend this book—and his other works—strongly enough.

You can find "Murphy's Law" on Amazon in ebook, paperback, and audiobook formats.

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