Compassion International

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Gifts for the Military Thriller Lover

Got a man in your life who loves a submarine book to go with his sub sandwich, a girl who'd rather cozy up by the fire (or take hostile fire) with a Delta team than with Agatha Christie or the Notebook?  

This is the Christmas list you've been looking for. 

And don't worry. I know your thriller lover is as multidimensional as a Tom Clancy original, so this list ain't just about books. I've got a wide variety of suggestions for you ranging from a few dollars to a big chunk of the family bank account.

My agent and my editor would kill me if I didn't lead with a flagrant self-promotion. I do have to admit, though, they worked extremely hard on your behalf to make this first gift affordable. They negotiated Penguin down to a permanent price of only $2.99 (normally it would have been $9.99). 

If your military thriller fan carries his or her library on an e-reader of any kind, you can wrap up and deliver WRAITH via email from your computer or mobile phone. Go to the page, select GIVE AS A GIFT on the right side, and choose your options. It doesn't get much more convenient than that. 

Just don't send it while you're in the middle of a chase down I-45.

Not to be discriminatory against herbivores, but in my experience military thriller lovers tend to be meat-eaters.  
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Yeah. I said it. Military thriller lovers like bacon, steak, and steak wrapped in bacon. And we like to snack on summer sausage while we read about stuff getting' blown up.

That's why I went to Hickory Farms for the next one. You can get your killer any number of meat/cheese combos for prices ranging from $20-$90. If you want to get creative, make a bow out of bacon and slap it on there. 

Honey, if you're reading this, I'll take the Beef Hearty Hickory Gift Basket (or any basket of equal or greater beef-sausage content).

A lot of the mil-thrill lovers in our lives served their country longer than the heroes in the books they read.

Along the way, they have collected perhaps a dozen or more Challenge Coins (sometimes a lot more). On Amazon, you can get your hero a sweet display case for those coins. That way the coins (and maybe some patches) can finally come out of that shoebox in the closet. There are a number of options ranging from $15-$45.

Does your mil-thrill lover have a thing for drones? 

You could always send a copy of SHADOW MAKER ('cause... you know... the guy who wrote the book actually hunted bad guys with them). 

Or, if the book isn't quite what you're looking for...

How about giving your drone-o-phile a no-kidding drone! 
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Depending on how crazy you want to go, you can get a drone on Amazon for anywhere from $60-$1500.

To avoid the inevitable corrections from my squadron buddies, I must say that these drones—just like the one I flew—are not technically "drones" at all. To qualify they would have to be semi-autonomous members of a digital hive-mind (enter Skynet). They are just remote control aircraft with cameras (and in the Predator's case - laser guided missiles). However "drone" is what the kids are calling 'em these days, so what's an RPA pilot to do?

If your mil-thrill lover likes to envision himself as part of the action, why not help him out?  

You can send a photo to and tell them what you'd like your hero to be doing. They'll draw it, frame it, and send it out for you! Prints start at $99 and framed prints start at $142. Honey, for this one, have them draw me in a knife fight with a terrorist master-mind, just like in WRAITH

Ooh! speaking of knife fights...

What mil-thrill lover wouldn't want a good combat/hunting knife

Let me suggest the two that I have carried longest. 

In WRAITH Nick Baron fought Tariq al-Majid with a Buck Special
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(model 119). I chose that knife because I wore it into combat and on survival in the Black Forest and in the Rockies. I've had that thing for nearly twenty-years. It has seen sand, granite, pine, rabbit, and fish-guts and it still looks brand new. You can get a Buck Special with a nice sheath directly from Buck for about $90. Or you can buy the knife and sheath individually from Amazon for $47 and $16 respectively.

The other knife that you can't go wrong with is a Ka-Bar. Tried and true, the best Ka-Bar for the money is this one, which you can get from Amazon along with its hard sheath for only $55. I used this very same knife to make several traps and snares when our boys book club read Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain earlier this year.

Of course, if you're going to get a guy a knife (or a gal a knife—if she's into that sort of thing), you might as well throw in a knife sharpener. What action hero wants to go into a fight with a dull knife? Try this one, a great stocking stuffer from Amazon, for only $10.

For the seriously traditional mil-thrill lover, why not go with the original military thriller king? 

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On Barnes and Noble you can get the boxed set of Tom Clancy's first three Jack Ryan thrillers for only $30. The Clancy-verse is still expanding, and these old boxed sets are getting harder to find.

Another package deal that's hard to beat is the Wraith Collector's Package.

You can get it from, including a Stealth Command T-shirt, a signed-numbered hardcover of WRAITH (one of the first 50 ever printed), and a Triple Seven Chase covert ops patch inspired by the book. This package is already a steal at $52.99, and with the coupon code MERRY, it's an additional 20% off!

Now for the serious giver. 

Want to blow your mil-thrill lover's mind on Christmas morning? 

Make your hero a real black ops star 
with one or both of these two pricy gems:

How about an Apple Watch. There isn't another tech-lover's gift out there that is going to top this for the money. Sure, you can't exactly hand one over on Christmas morning (you can't even order one until "early 2015"), but you can stuff a card with the most well-appreciated IOU of your life! 

The Apple Watch will run apps like an iPhone, keep your hero fit, send messages, and basically do more than most spy heroes could ever ask of a watch. Seriously. 

They'll start at $349... when you can buy one... which will definitely not be before Christmas... but they're still extremely cool.

And, finally, if you really want your hero to look and feel like Nick Baron in SHADOW CATCHER, you can't go wrong with these Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ Night Vision Goggles. Sure, they're military-grade equipment, worth more at $1749 than you're spending on all your kids combined, but your hero is worth it, right? 
Oh, if you do happen to buy these particular NVGs, DO NOT ship them outside the United States without permission from the State Department. Just a word of caution.

So that's it.

In a nutshell: give your mil-thrill aficionado a Penguin Books black ops stealth thriller, easily ordered and sent from your phone for a sweet and budget-friendly $3, or gift them a $1750 set of NVGs that will get them arrested if they try to take them out of the country. Seems like a simple choice :-)

Merry Christmas, Everybody,

James "Santa Clause" Hannibal 

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