Books on Writing
The War of Art
Read this one first. It identifies the enemy—what I call Resistance with a capital “R,” i.e. fear, self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, all the forms of self-sabotage that stop us from doing our work and realizing our dreams. Start here. Everything else proceeds from this.
“Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits.” Read this book right after The War of Art. It gets deeply into the question, “Exactly how do we overcome Resistance?”
Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t
Read this one any time. It’s “lessons learned” from the trenches of the five different writing careers I’ve had—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction and self-help. NWTRYS is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.
The Authentic Swing
A short book about the writing of a first novel: for me, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here’s how I finally succeeded.
The Artist’s Journey
Our “hero’s journey” is our youth, our quest, our search for our calling. Read The Artist’s Journey when you’ve entered the next stage of your creative odyssey—the truly productive years when the challenge is no longer to find your destiny, but to fulfill it.
Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be
Can you commit unconditionally to your dream? Can you set your ego truly at the service of your highest calling, whether it’s artistic, entrepreneurial, or spiritual? This book shows you how to make that magic happen—how to change your life by making this soul-level shift.
A Man At Arms
My favorite character, the solitary mercenary Telamon of Arcadia, finally gets his own book. A Man at Arms is his story, told in the time of Paul the Apostle, with the Romans as the bad guys and the clash between empire and faith as the center of the tale.
Gates of Fire
The story of the 300 Spartans and the battle of Thermopylae, 480 BCE. Gates of Fire is required reading at West Point and Annapolis and for all officers in the U.S. Marine Corps. On the Commandant’s Reading List for all ranks since 2002. No, it is not the source material for the movie 300.
The Legend of Bagger Vance
A mystical golf novel. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Trust me, it’s not.
Tides Of War
My own favorite of everything I’ve done. Long, complex, confusing, very hard to read. It’s the story of democracies coming unpeeled and the collapse of civilized order during the 27-year “world war” between Athens and Sparta, 431 to 404 BCE.
The Virtues of War
The career of Alexander the Great from boyhood to death, told in the first person by Alexander. The ‘virtues of war’—courage, patience, selflessness, camaraderie, the willing embrace of adversity, killer instinct, etc.—are, I believe, also the indispensable virtues of the writer and the artist.
The only fictional piece I’ve ever written that has “me” as the protagonist. The story is set in New York in the 70’s, when I was driving a cab and struggling to find my voice as a writer.
The only novel I’ve written (so far) that’s set in the future. “The Profession” is the profession of arms, i.e. mercenary armies, which, in this story set in the Persian Gulf about twenty years from now, have largely replaced the forces of nation-states.
The Afghan Campaign
A novel about Alexander the Great’s three-year campaign in the Afghan kingdoms, 330-328 BCE. A dead ringer for the U.S.’s war in the same deserts and mountains, still going on today.
Last of the Amazons
The only book I’ve written (so far) in which the narrator is a woman. A story of the legendary female warriors who fought on horseback with the bow and the pelekus, the double-bladed throwing axe. Their war cry, it was said, turned men’s knees to jelly.
As soon as I heard the real-life name, the Long Range Desert Group, I knew I had to write about it. These were British commandos (mostly New Zealanders actually) who fought behind the lines against Gen. Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps during the North Africa campaign (1940-1943) of World War II.
36 Righteous Men
New York homicide detectives pursue a serial killer in this apocalyptic thriller. When James Manning and Covina “Dewey” Duwai are called in to investigate a string of murders, their investigations take them from the headquarters of the Russian mafia… Read More >
The Lion’s Gate
The Six Day War of 1967 was one of the greatest underdog victories in the history of warfare, and it was won by a people who had, less than thirty years earlier, almost been wiped off the earth in the death camps of the Third Reich.
The Warrior Ethos
A mini-book (90 pages) written for our men and women in uniform. The content is largely stories and sayings from the ancient world—from the Spartans and Romans, Athenians and Alexander’s Macedonians. In other words from eras when codes of warrior honor still were observed on the field of battle.
An American Jew
My own story about writing The Lion’s Gate. How total immersion in the world of Israel changed me as a non-observant, totally secular American Jew. The book also addresses the why’s and how-to’s of writing a daunting piece of long-form nonfiction.