James N. Mattis was the first Trump presidential cabinet nominee and received nearly unanimous, bipartisan support for his nomination, with only one disapproval. He received a rare waiver of the guidelines that exclude recently active military leaders from the position of Secretary of Defense. What could create such unprecedented unity, even enthusiasm, in the hyper-partisan political rancor of 2017?
No doubt, the urgency of having a quick, smooth transition of military leadership was in play, but this easy consensus clearly has other dimensions. Beyond Mattis’ obvious military competence for the position, he evidently also possesses a personal integrity that fosters such universal confidence. Who is this man – underneath his General’s stars? It is this writer’s opinion that Mattis has lived at such an extraordinary level of self discipline and exhibited such selfless service to American ideals, that he commands a unique place of respect in modern America.
This humble and deeply thoughtful man chose a path in life that brought him into mortal combat with the most barbaric evil of our time – Islamist terrorism. Yet he continues to defeat it with insight, humor, fighting courage and fierce compassion – not only for his fellow Marines who volunteer to follow him through hell’s front door, but for the innocent victims of war. He encouraged his beloved Marines in Iraq, “Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit.” He spoke plainly, from his heart, a warning to civilian tribal leaders of the Sunni Awakening in Iraq’s Anbar province, “I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for the next 10,000 years.”
The martial and personal values examined here, have elevated James Mattis to the highest levels of personal success. They have earned him the trust of his Marines and many fellow Americans. We profit both from his service and his example.
|Tell me a little bit about No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy
I was inspired by Gen. Mattis’ famous quotes like, “Be polite, be professional, but be prepared to kill everyone you meet.” Secondly, his widespread admiration among all, often bitterly divided, sectors of the population. Third, his wisdom and ability to see warfare holistically including most importantly, his goal for his Marines to remember that “…the people are the prize,” meaning the necessity of winning hearts and minds. My challenge in the book was to find the man behind the myth and examine the building blocks of his character.
Was there an experience that caused you to see a need for your book?
The general breakdown of civility that has turned now to actual violence has caused me to consider the core values that are exemplified by General Mattis. I believe they are vital to the continued health and prosperity of our republic.
How has writing No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy made you a better thinker and a better person?
I see the values inherent in Gen. Mattis’ life and use them as guideposts for my own behavior. I also see the mistakes and missed opportunities of my youth as a hippie that I hope to help young people avoid.
Is there one short story from your book you would like to share?
I suppose the story of the redemption of the Saudi Arabian Marines who rescued trapped US Marines from an Iraqi breakthrough of Saudi lines by Iraqi forces seeking “American body bags on the evening news,” for Saddam Hussein.
Was there one thing that surprised you about General James Mattis that you learned while writing the book?
His heartbreak in losing his fiancee’ because of his commitment to the Marine Corps
What is the biggest takeaway that you hope a reader will take from your book?
That they are capable of improving themselves at every point in their life and in all areas, by following the example of Gen. Mattis.
What are you reading now?
Tucker Carlson, “Ship of Fools”
What books had the most impact on you and your development?
The Old Man and the Sea, Moby Dick, The Independent Scholar, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Writing a book is tough, were there any surprises as you set out on that journey?
My friend from my previous book about Marine Sgt. John Basilone, Col. Ken Jordan, was Mattis’ commanding officer as Mattis came up through the ranks.
Can you provide a specific example or story where reading has helped you learn from others experience? Was there a specific challenge where you were able to rely on others experience to make your decision?
Reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life helped me eliminate lying in all forms. The Bible has helped me resolve bitter conflicts by adopting an approach of love thy enemy.
Can you tell me about a failure, and how you learned through that failure and became better individual.
I failed to pass the Minnesota Personality Profile test to enter the Director’s (Film) Guild of America. It forced me to become an independent producer of films and eventually a screenwriter and novelist.
What is one of the best investments you’ve ever made in your career?
The book “The Independent Scholar” taught me that learning is a vital and easily achievable life-long habit. It saved me tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition fees. Meditation taught me to calm myself and clear my mind. My late wife’s companies that failed until one succeeded and gave us many happy years of achievement and experience.
What’s next for you?
I am searching for a topic that will inspire Americans to stand up and be counted in the fight for the traditional values of Western Civilization. I have proposed the biography of journalist Tucker Carlson to editors and awaiting response.
Jim began his professional writing career at age 15 as a city reporter for the Lambertville (NJ) Beacon newspaper and went on as a journalist to write for the Bucks County Courier Times, Investor’s Business Daily and National Review Online. He has written screenplays for film and television producers including 20th Century Fox Television, Showtime Networks and numerous independent producers.
His first book, “Mr. Copacabana; An American History by Night” has begun filming as a multi-hour television documentary series, is in negotiations as an extended dramatic television series and is the inspiration for an authentic re-creation of the original Copacabana nightclub in Tampa, Florida. The book reveals the outrageous life story of Jim’s father, Monte Proser, creator and operator of the iconic nightclub, and his involuntary business partnership with Frank Costello, the infamous “Prime Minister” of the mafia.
His second book, “I’m Staying with My Boys; The Heroic Life of Sgt. John Basilone, USMC” was published by St. Martin’s Press and awarded the United States Marine Corps Commandant’s Recommendation in 2011. It was the source material for the subsequent documentary film written and directed by Mr. Proser. The book and documentary have also served as the source material for speaking engagements to the United States Naval Institute in Washington DC, the University of Northern Idaho Writer’s Symposium, Bowdoin College Advanced Literature Studies, the Coeur D’Alene Charter Academy and numberous civic organizations and secondary schools.
His third book, “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy; The Life of General James Mattis” was published by HarperCollins publishers and released on August 7, 2018. The book has achieved the rank of #1 in its category and #17 overall on amazon.com. He has been interviewed about the book on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” and “Fox and Friends” on the Fox News Network.