BILLINGS – U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., has partnered with “American Sniper” author Scott McEwen on a book that will arrive in bookstores in September, 49 days before the general election.
“American Commander: Serving a Country Worth Fighting For and Training the Brave Soldiers Who Lead the Way,” is a book Zinke said he’s been planning with McEwen for some time.
The two met through Chris Kyle, whose book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” was a bestselling collaboration with McEwen. The book later became a major motion picture that ended with Kyle’s tragic shooting death by a troubled veteran.
“The book is not about me personally,” Zinke said “It’s about American exceptionalism, and it’s about how we get guys to do what they do.”
Zinke was a SEAL Team Six commander, who earned two bronze stars as the acting commander of Joint Special Forces in Iraq. He mentored Chris Kyle, as well as SEALs who rescued Capt. Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama, whose cargo ship was taken by Somali pirates in 2009. The Maersk rescue was the subject of the movie “Captain Phillips.” Zinke is also credited with mentoring SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the subject of the movie and book “Lone Survivor.”
Zinke said the timing of the book’s release was more determined by getting the House Rules Committee to vet his contract with publisher Thomas Nelson. The U.S. Navy also received a copy of the final draft to make sure the contents didn’t reveal sensitive information about operations.
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The book does cover subjects like advanced interrogation methods, which Zinke said will be part of the political discussion about President Barack Obama’s proposed closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Specifically, the book discusses sleep deprivation of terrorist suspects.
McEwen said Zinke was a good subject to tell the SEALs story through a different perspective, but one with a common thread to McEwen’s other collaborations with SEALs. The story is Zinke’s, he said. The editing was McEwen’s.
“The common thread is that they’re all patriots. All of them believe in this country, believe in the United States and that it’s an exceptional nation,” McEwen said. “They have an attitude of never quit, and that’s refreshing. You see a lot of quitting in society nowadays, and everybody gets a trophy and that’s not what makes SEALs who they are.”
Zinke isn’t the first Montana incumbent to have a book published during an election year. In 2008 Greg Lemon, a former Independent Record editor and current spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, authored a book about Brian Schweitzer – “Blue Man in a Red State: Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer and the New Western Populism.”
Schweitzer’s book was released shortly after the 2008 June primary election.