Interview with Author and Navy SEAL Jack Carr
CCW Safe’s Interview with Author and Navy Seal Jack Carr
Jack Carr spent 20 years as a Navy SEAL. He worked in various capacities as a SEAL Sniper, Team Leader, Platoon Commander, Troop Commander and Task Unit Commander.
Carr deployed to some of the most dangerous parts of the world, including Ramadi, Baghdad, Mosul, Afghanistan and the Philippines.
Unlike many authors who write action thrillers, Jack had to do zero research on military operator skillsets, as he not only had these skills, but also had multiple opportunities to test them out in real-life situations dealing with terrorists and insurgents.
The Terminal List
The Terminal List is Carr’s debut novel. This action-packed book is a genuinely well-written piece of art, with a quality of writing one would expect from a far more experienced author.
Often, debut novels written by authors lacking a strong literary background feature many awkward dialogue scenes. These fictional conversations can leave readers wondering if anyone on the planet talks like that. But that’s not the case for The Terminal List. I had no problem maintaining interest throughout the book – even to the point where I kept on reading long past my bedtime.
The Premise of The Terminal List
The plot of this thriller is very original. Commander James Reece spent 15 years in the field as a Navy SEAL. For reasons not immediately understood, his team, along with a Quick Response Force, plus their flight crews are ambushed in Afghanistan’s Khost Province.
Reece, after receiving the initial orders, is concerned that there are problems with the intelligence and tactical planning. His concerns are proven correct when his team’s fighting position is nearly destroyed by an explosion, just before contact. Reece and his teammate, Boozer, survive the ambush. Everyone else on his team, as well as the 60-Ranger Quick Response Force, plus their respective flight crews are killed.
After returning to the United States, Reece is blamed for the failure of the entire mission. The plot thickens when an Army doctor tells him two now-deceased members of his team had a rare malignant brain tumor. A similar mass is detected in Reece’s CT scan.
Reece’s world comes apart. Little remains for him except his friend Boozer, Reece’s loving wife Lauren, and their daughter Lucy. The people behind the ambush eventually take these comforts away from him as well. Unfortunately for the bad guys, Reece is an apex predator. He understands how insurgents operate better than the actual insurgents.
Reece plans his revenge. He targets an admiral, a Judge Advocate General, gangbangers, a sociopathic businessman, a business consultant in over his head, a crooked Congressman, a DOD employee, as well as the Secretary of Defense. All of these players are connected by a scheme to make billions from a new drug for the military.
I was impressed with Carr’s descriptions of how Reece planned each mission, conducted intelligence operations, selected and assembled his equipment, then executed his plans. I had no idea how loud a Winkler RnD Tomahawk Axe would be when striking a human skull – but I think I have a good feel for it now.
The Reasons Behind this Interview and Review
Why did I write this article? Jack is an American hero, a good friend of the Firearm Trainers Association and a friend of combat veteran and firearms consultant Larry Vickers. I had the good fortune of meeting Jack during the 2019 SHOT Show. I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Here are his answers:
Carr grew up in Northern California and decided he wanted to be a SEAL when he was seven years old. His motivation came from stories he’d been told about his grandfather, another American hero, killed in World War II. Jack said he was inspired by the medals, photos and aviator maps, which were his only connection to a grandfather he never knew. He vowed to someday follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Jack’s mother was a librarian. He grew up with a love for reading and wanted to write political thrillers. When asked to name an author who made a big impression, he cited Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire, The Afghan Campaign, as well as other outstanding works of historical fiction.
Carr penned his first book about a man who believed he was basically already “dead,” motivated to avenge his family and team members before being killed. Jack thought this story had a good chance of being published. During his time on the Seal Teams, he had also personally experienced almost every single emotion Reece goes through. Those feelings helped him develop Reece into a person that readers could relate to, while still keeping his central character compelling.
Many books similar to The Terminal List are written by ghostwriters. I asked Jack if this was his case. He said “no,” but he did give substantial credit to his friend Keith Wood, referenced as his writing partner.
When it came to American politics, Jack contacted an expert who understood how evil actors can take advantage of our political system and inflict serious harm. Carr spoke in glowing terms about the support he received from authors like David Morrell, Stephen Hunter, Brad Thor, Brad Taylor and Lee Child.
Jack jokingly plead the Fifth when asked if any of the characters in his book were based on real-life characters.
“Did you force yourself to write every single day you were able?” I asked him toward the end of our time together.
“Absolutely,” he answered. It’s no surprise Jack’s rigorous SEAL discipline transferred to his writing career. The Terminal List might become a major motion picture soon. Carr’s second book is finished, awaiting approval from the DOD. A third book is in the works as well.
Jack (not his fictional characters) relies on several different everyday carry tools. These tools include a Glock 19 or Sig P365, a Winkler-Dynamis fixed-blade knife, a tourniquet, and an inexpensive folding knife and flashlight (so he doesn’t have a heart attack if he loses them).
He also keeps a Sig P226 and AR easily accessible in his bedroom.
The Terminal List is one of the best works of fiction I’ve read for some time. I was engrossed in and impressed by Carr’s descriptions of places, military bases, equipment rooms, precision rifles, ammunition, long-range ballistics and close-quarters battle – all based upon his real-life experiences.
Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (www.ptgtrainingllc.com).