The Story Behind The Story

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As a retired senior Army Special Forces Officer (Green Beret) and author of three acclaimed novels, John Fenzel often shares his experiences from the West Wing of the White House and the E-Ring of the Pentagon, to the many war zones he has operated in around the world. One story he is often asked to tell is the story behind his debut novel, The Lazarus Covenant….

The Lazarus Covenant didn’t start as a novel. It began as a memoir of all of the war and crisis zones I had operated in as a young Special Forces officer around the world, from the Middle East to the Balkans. We were in some pretty remote places, with fascinating people who seemed not only to work in these trouble spots, but actually thrive in them.

So often, after returning from these places, I’d be asked by strangers, family and friends, “What was it like over there?” I failed pretty miserably each time in giving even a faintly satisfactory account. How, for instance, do you describe the smell of a mass grave being exhumed in 100 degree heat? Or how it feels to see the remains of a young boy being lifted out from it? How can you effectively convey the chaos of a battle raging around you, without knowing precisely where, or who, your enemy is? How can you relate the personalities and enduring relationships you make with so many people—extraordinary men and women from all over the world who make a real difference, every day? Or the intelligence processes that allow you and your team to effectively target an enemy leader or organization?

Eventually, I stopped trying to explain any of it.

Instead, I kept a journal for about a decade and a half—and I’d write in it while crisscrossing oceans and continents, wherever I found myself. At one point, I thought I’d publish the journal as a memoir, but I was told that it would all need to undergo a Department of Defense security review. A friend of mine read what I’d written, and when he was done, he asked, “John, do you really believe DoD will let you publish this?”

He was right, of course. Some of those places we deployed to, as well as the missions we were assigned, were veiled in secrecy. Why not turn it into a novel, I asked?

So, that’s what I did. And The Lazarus Covenant, originally published in 2009, is the result of that rather long and twisting odyssey. While it’s set in the Balkans, it mashes together a whole cast of characters, places, situations and events that I’ve encountered through the years, and around the world.

I’m really proud of the story, and very excited to bring it back to you a decade after it was first published, as a Commemorative 10th Anniversary 2nd Edition, releasing on March 1st! Pre-order your author signed, copy of The Lazarus Covenant, Commemorative 10th Anniversary, 2nd edition today.

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