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Thomas E. Ricks

Photo of Thomas E. Ricks

Photo: © Foreign Policy

About the Author

Thomas E. Ricks is an adviser on national security at the New America Foundation, where he participates in its “Future of War” project. He was previously a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the prizewinning blog The Best Defense. Ricks covered the US military for The Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. Until the end of 1999 he had the same beat at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for seventeen years. A member of two Pulitzer Prize–winning teams, he covered US military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of several books, including The GeneralsThe Gamble, and the number one New York Times bestseller Fiasco, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Author Essay

"The military is a foreign country for most Americans today, a country fewer Americans visit nowadays, with its own language and culture," says Thomas E. Ricks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post, a man who is often called the "dean" of America’s military correspondents. Ricks knows foreign lands: He spent part of his childhood in Afghanistan and, after graduating from Yale, won a fellowship to travel and study in the Far East. As a reporter, he has covered U.S. military operations in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, and the Middle East. When Ricks told his editor at Random House that he’d decided to write a novel, he at first heard silence at the other end of the line. "I’d just enjoyed a pretty solid success with my first book, and I think he was hoping for a big nonfiction idea. But I found I couldn’t not write this novel. I did it not so much to give vent to my feelings about the state of today’s military and its growing estrangement from the rest of the country. It’s more that I got possessed by these characters, and this story, which begins with a group of dissidents within the United States Army who view the President as a traitor. I know some people like this, and it wasn’t such a stretch to set this novel in the near future and let things get a bit out of control." The result is A Soldier’s Duty, and now Ricks’s editor pretends that he never, ever paused on the other end of the phone.

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