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Former Navy SEALs take on new mission: Writing

Feb. 20, 2013 - 12:51PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 20, 2013 - 12:51PM  |  
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Popular novelists including Tom Clancy ("Against All Enemies"), Brad Thor ("Black List") and Christine Feehan ("Predatory Game") have imagined former Navy SEALs as fictional heroes.

But propelled by news events, nonfiction books by real-life former SEALs are joining special-ops fiction as best sellers:

Chris Kyle's "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" has soared to No. 2 on USA Today's Best-Selling Books list after Kyle was shot and killed Feb. 2 at a Texas shooting range. It first landed on the list at No. 10 in January 2012 and stayed in the top 25 for eight weeks.

Mark Owen's "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden" landed at No. 1 on the list last September and spent 20 weeks in the top 50. It was the best-selling nonfiction book of 2012 on USA Today's list and is currently No. 94.

More firsthand accounts are here or coming soon:

• "Damn Few: The Modern SEAL Warrior" by Rorke Denver, on sale Feb. 19, is by a former SEALs platoon commander who appeared in the 2012 film "Act of Valor." The movie used active-duty Navy SEALs on a fictional mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent.

• "Navy SEAL Sniper: An Intimate Look at the Sniper of the 21st Century" by Glen Doherty and Brandon Webb, to be published March 6, is co-written by two former SEALs. Shortly after the book was finished in September, Doherty was killed in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The foreword was written by Kyle.

Webb, 37, a former chief petty officer who managed the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Course, says he's still "grappling with the loss of two best friends. It's left a gaping hole."

Webb — who also wrote a memoir, "The Red Circle," which landed on the list at No. 196 last April — says that "Americans are looking for real-life heroes … and the military produces them."

He says he became a writer after "noticing a whole shelf of books about SEALs, but very few had been written by anyone who had actually been a SEAL and knew what it was really like."

Katie Stover, director of reader services at the Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library, says lots of readers are interested in the impact the war "has on these young men," noting that these "real-life heroes become the inspiration for many hard-boiled detectives and operatives in mysteries and thrillers … Now readers get the true back story of men who might have the faces of their favorite fictional characters."

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