Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
The Operators Saved My Life

“What was the lesson here? Simple. Don’t quit. Never quit no matter what. Keep going until someone tells you to sit down. Keep going as long as you’re able to move, no matter how poorly you think you may be doing. Just don’t quit.”
- Eric L. Haney,
Inside Delta Force

Yesterday I wrote about how • the ability to operate effectively under conditions of adversity might actually be the secret to life; and • I had no ability whatsoever to do so until quite recently.

It turns out there are many formulations of this principle. (*) But where I personally finally got it from, actually, was from reading and writing obsessively about the military world’s special operators – for whom resilience and RESOLVE are their universal guiding principles. For whom resilience and resolve are absolutely everything.

Never quit; never give in; never give up. And never whine or complain. Just get it done. No matter the difficulty or danger or setbacks – or injuries suffered or friends fallen.

The defining feature, in fact, of almost all special-operations selection processes, where they decide who gets in – and this is particularly true for the really elite units – is that they systematically make the candidates so completely miserable, exhausted, physically drained, and mentally crushed, that only those with superhuman resilience and resolve stick around (never mind are still able to perform at the stratospheric level required). Basically, by the end, because it has been so monumentally hard and sucky, virtually anyone remotely willing to quit anything under any circumstances has by then already thrown in the towel. And what’s left at the end is: only the people who “have no quit in them.” And that – in addition to being pro-level athletes with high intelligence and staggeringly large and diverse skill sets – is why they are unstoppable. (*)

Anyway, funnily enough, and to my great good fortune, it turned out just not to be possible for me to read the great piles of military special operations books and memoirs I do, without in some measure – however small, and however fumblingly – eventually becoming infected with these guys’ amazing spirit of resilience and resolve. I would read about them overcoming such utterly daunting and dangerous obstacles, both in training and operationally – and going out and doing so time and time and time again. And it took no particular genius on my part to begin to consider: Hmm – maybe my problems aren’t so insurmountable. Maybe they can be overcome. Maybe all I really need is just the right ATTITUDE.

What I needed was resilience – and resolve.

It may be no great exaggeration to say that the operators saved my life. They certainly saved my writing career. How could I give up on writing about these guys, or on my ambition to make it as a writer, when faced with nothing more than a little publishing industry adversity… when these guys never once gave up on their training or mission tasks – not even when facing daunting complexity and difficulty, horrendous danger, absurdly overwhelming odds, high risk of death or disabling injury, pain and struggle and soul-crushing exertion and endurance, the likes of which I can scarcely imagine?

So here’s an overdue thank-you to the operators – not only for going out and saving the world and battling for freedom and decency every day; not only for training like professional athletes and performing like minor gods; not only for their enormous sacrifice and commitment; but for providing such an amazing and priceless example of how to make it through life successfully: with resilience to all difficulties, and with resolve to never quit.

If you’d like to get some of that spec-ops mindset and attitude, here are a few titles (roughly in favourite order) to get you started.

(Mini-reviews of first three here. Heartbreaking trailer for 4th →)

(Mini-reviews of first two here and here.)

(Reviews of first two here and third here.)

(Reviews of first two here and here.)

While I'm at it, and if you're interested, here are trailers for the film versions of Lone Survivor and Black Hawk Down, both thrilling films – and both substantially LESS thrilling than the books, and the real events they're based on.

  attitude     books     spec-ops     writing  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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