This month sees the publication of Run to the Sound of the Guns
by Nicholas Moore and Mir Bahmanyar, which looks at Nicholas's service in Afghanistan and Iraq, as part of US Army's 75th Ranger Regiment during the Global War on Terrorism.
Today we welcome both Nicholas and Mir to the blog to discuss how their writing project began and Nicholas's incredible story.
How did you meet?
Mir: My great friend and Hollywood actor Tim Abell (2nd Ranger Battalion) made the introduction to Nicholas Moore on August 20, 2015 – over three years ago! Nicholas served in the 2nd Ranger Battalion, as did I. So it’s kind of like the three Rangerteers, or maybe like the three blind mice. In any event, I was looking at getting back into writing after a hiatus of about seven years. I also found out that Marcus Cowper was back at Osprey and I proposed a Campaign Series book, Zama 202 BC (2016), which helped me transition to the far more difficult writing required for Run to the Sound of the Guns.
Nicholas: Like Mir said, this whole thing came about from our friend Tim Abell over three years ago. Tim asked me if I would be willing to talk to Mir (who is a published author), saying “I think you really have a story that people will want to read,” to which I said yes, then I googled Mir. We talked a few times, but honestly, I wasn’t really sure if we could actually get anyone to bite on this.
I vacillated about doing this at all; it was with the support of my wife that I really committed to wanting to tell this story.
I did stress to Mir that although profanity was used through the course of my career, if we had to write it into the book to make it “good,” we probably shouldn’t write it, because I feel that it is overused in military books, which makes me not want to read them. We also discussed how to approach the book so as to not make me out to be the “greatest thing since sliced bread,” which I am not, but I wanted to highlight the achievements of everyone, and it takes everyone for the unit to function at the level that it does.
Battalion photo taken prior to deployment home.
© Nicholas Moore
What is the book about?
Mir: Nicholas and I talked for a while about his background and experiences on the leading edge of the Global War on Terrorism. We needed a good story – something important and different to the typical chest-thumping, back-slapping books that have inundated the marketplace and Hollywood. And I needed a good guy who honored his word. Both of these triggers were met.
Although the perspective is Nicholas’s, it is about the Rangers who helped transform the 75th Ranger Regiment from the best elite light infantry unit in the world to a unit capable of executing the same special missions as the top Army and Navy special mission units. In a nutshell, it is the story of the change from the founding doctrine of the 75th Infantry (Ranger), the Abrams Charter (1974), which required experienced Rangers to leave the unit and spread their expertise throughout the regular army, to a flexible, ever-evolving special missions unit of the 75th Ranger Regiment where Rangers could actually serve their entire career. This transition happened quickly over a few years after 9/11 and it is evident throughout the book as we see Rangers conducting strenuous training exercise, then combat deployments, and adapting to new requirements in the ever-changing fields of battle. The strength of Run to the Sound of the Guns comes from this. It is not one of those one-battle or one-deployment books that are typically packed with mostly biographical filler. For us, it was important to show the true life of Rangering from training to combat, and we therefore cut all biographical material. In fact, we probably could have or maybe even should have expounded on some of the engagements, because there is so much present in Nick’s career from private to platoon sergeant.
Nicholas: This is about my career as a US Army Ranger, and about the Rangers I had the honor to serve with. I had the privilege to serve in 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment before the events of September 11 and through to its initial deployments into Afghanistan and Iraq. To be a part of the Regiment’s transformation from its initial charter to an agile and elite Special Operations strike force. Although, at the time, during all of this transformation, we were not thinking of that, but just of how we could adapt to the fight at hand and stay relevant to the operational tempo we were faced with.
Through the years I have been a part of several missions that are now well-known operations.
I am sure there is so much more we probably could have added, but these are the highs and lows of what I experienced which I wanted to share. Not everything is great. There are exceptionally proud moments, but also moments of hurt and sorrow (the loss of friends in training and combat).
Standing on the flight line in Mosul (2006), waiting on the Black Hawks to arrive before some "in-country" Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES) rehearsals.
© Casey Davis
How did the book come about?
Mir: Once Nicholas and I had an idea about the book, like Rangers it was ever-evolving, and we diligently created a book proposal and submitted it to a couple of publishers. Marcus came back with an offer which also secured us an excellent agent, Alec Shane of Writers House, who handled difficult and stubborn Rangers like us – well, me - very well.
Nicholas: Mir and I generated an outline: mostly it was just a chronological timeline of my service and key events in the outline. I still at this point wasn’t even sure there was anyone willing to bite, as I don’t have “Navy SEAL” in my title. But once Mir sent the proposal out, I think Osprey sent a response within a few hours. I was actually shocked that someone thought we had a great story to tell.
How did you write the book?
Mir: When the contract was signed Nick and I spent way too many hours on the phone, which I recorded, while typing notes simultaneously. This was a long and drawn-out process and we would go over the material a great many times. There was truly a lot of back and forth about clarifications, operational security, and privacy concerns for the Rangers in the book and so forth. Once the manuscript was in shape Nick sent it to the Pentagon for clearance. Ten weeks was promised and passed, and finally, after eight months, at the end of February 2017, we received clearance. What a great day. There were no redactions per se, but we had to remove the names of certain units, which we did. Unfortunately, this delay had pushed the publication date back several times. But ultimately, this was great, because we were lucky to have retired Ranger Colonel Mike Kershaw review the manuscript several times and provide us with some very excellent advice, concerns and suggestions – I think we met most but not all – we are Rangers after all and have strong opinions! While we were rewriting to clarify certain passages, Mike sent the cleared manuscript to retired Ranger General Stan McChrystal for review. He was exceptionally kind in reading it very quickly. Between Mike, Stan, and other Rangers who provided us with endorsements, we felt we had done some justice to the modern Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The manuscript went through a number of editorial passes by Marcus and especially Kate Moore, and the production moved through the professional hands of Gemma Gardner, who had to pull off some minor miracles, especially when it came to finalizing the photograph section last minute. I am particularly pleased with the maps detailing operations and am well pleased by the dynamic, perhaps even haunting, cover art. In my opinion we had a great team producing an excellent and very important book in the history of modern Special Operations.
Nicholas: Mir and I spent several weeks on the phone, with him recording our conversations as I detailed the events of my career, although at first I’m sure that, for Mir, it was like pulling teeth to get me to open up. We went through several drafts and I think we were at three months to get to this point, and then we sent the manuscript to the Department of Defense for their security review, which was quoted to take no longer than 10 weeks. Eight months later they returned it with a few minor redactions. Then it was through to Marcus Cowper and his staff of great people at Osprey, Kate Moore, Gemma Gardner, and several others, to get our finished product. Even though we missed our original release date by about a year, I think what we ended up with is an outstanding product to give the reader a peek into the Ranger World.
During all of this Mir kept mentioning the “next steps” of someone to write the foreword. He kept circling back to General (Ret.) Stan McChrystal after he had sent it to Colonel (Ret.) Mike Kershaw, and we had got an overall positive from him about what we had put together, but like all things Ranger, Colonel Kershaw did offer constructive criticism, which I greatly appreciate. I was feeling better about letting it be seen by General McChrystal. After General McChrystal had given us a thumbs-up, I felt really good about what we had written. Rangers are ALWAYS the hardest critics of Rangers.
Nicholas's 2009-10 platoon photo, taken on the Range (FOB Salerno) during his first deployment as platoon sergeant.
© Nicholas Moore
Run to the Sound of the Guns is now available to pre-order. To get your copy of this gripping new book, click here