Desert Winds
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Devon sometimes wished he were back in the Carolina swamps puffing his grandpa's pipe instead of tromping the Iraqi deserts and mountains with the French woman. But his Grandma told him to follow the eagle and watch out for the crow, and the mountains of Iraq are where the hawk led. But why was the crow cawing so loud, Devon wondered, as the Iraqi sighted down the barrel of the AK?

US Army Major Nash Devon, a Carolinian claiming ancestry back to the Croatan Indians and Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, was a hero and a murderer in the Gulf War, but haunted over the years by his actions. Assigned back to Saudi in enroute to the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq after the first Gulf War, Devon is shanghaied by US military intelligence and sent to the Northern Iraq Sanctuary Zone for duty with the UN High Commission for Refugees.

Dispatched to Iraq before the launch of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Devon's real mission is to locate a hidden Iraqi nuclear research facility. In his search Devon discovers more than he bargained for: a nuclear conspiracy and an opportunity to have the family he thought he had lost forever. What he really finds will make your faith soar as he follows Renee Granwin behind the green water and together they solve the mystery of the Image of Christ.

Like Brown's fictional Da Vince Code and Starbird's Lady with the Alabaster Jar, Desert Winds' secrets lead to a startling presumption about Christ and his family. Desert Winds is a military thriller, a story of a man's search for his soul, a romance and a story of survival. The curious reader can discover the biblical history of the fictitious tablet in  "The Image of Christ," now included in both the print and eBook editions of Desert Winds.

This novel was set before the 2003 coalition invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam's regime, but the tragedy of the country and, more importantly, of its peoples, is being played out again in 2014. Persecution of the Kurdish, Yazidi, Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious minorities and sects, and the devastation of property by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in what was once called the Northern Iraq Sanctuary Zone across Irble (spelled Arble on many maps), Mosel and the Sinjar mountains as described in the novel is heartbreaking. The locations are familiar to many of our service members who served across Iraq, and can be traced on the Iraq maps. Too many of our men and women were, and may continue to be casualties in the conflict,

REVIEW:  J. M. Taylor’s novel, Desert Winds may surprise you. Taylor’s rich imagery of desert battles will not only paint a vivid picture but will actually leave you tasting the sand and feeling the heat of the desert as you read and connect with the soldiers and people in this far away land.

The story of US Army soldier, Nash Devon, adds unique interest as you read about his Croatan Indians ancestry’s impact on his life. This is not just another war story. The author interlaces Devon’s, here-and-now days in the Middle East, with family, faith and duty.

Desert Winds is well-written, not just for men but for women to enjoy, too. This novel is filled with mystery, conspiracy, love, and action. Guaranteed to entertain you.

Chris Coad Taylor, author of Secrets of Havenridge (and not related to J.M. Taylor)

From a reader:  "...In pursuit of their individual agendas they experience a belligerent military, aerial bombings, dangerous hidden land mines, and a nuclear explosion. The author has presented a narrative  which the reader can identify with present day events. The portrayal of the plight of the people and the appalling conditions in which they live  is vivid. The barren stark land is made very real.  The plot is filled with action, treachery, suspense and conspiracy. There is enough adventure and daring-do to satisfy the most demanding reader.  Devon could join the ranks of Dirk Pitt and Indiana Jones."

Some of the stories behind researching and writing Desert Winds:

bulletFollow Nash Devon across Iraq and Syria to his final destination. A 101st Airborne Screaming Eagle who served in northern Iraq commented that he had driven Sinjar Mountain looking for the monastery described in Desert Winds.  Then a helicopter pilot reported that he had flow over the Sinjar monastery - two of them, in fact - one in ruins and one in use. Track the real action in Iraq on the unmarked maps, and follow the fictional action in Desert Winds on the marked maps.
bulletLumbees, Croatan, and the Lost Colony - North Carolina's Native America mystery - part of Devon's heritage - and religion.
bullet 173rd Airborne Brigade, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force (Airborne), paratroopers parachuted into northern Iraq on the cloudy, moonless night of March 26, 2003 to seize the airfield at Bashur in support of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Commander (CFSOCC). Bashur is the airfield fictitiously used in Desert Winds to resupply the Irbil refugee camp, then used in real life to support the Kurds in northern Iraq.
bulletColonel T. E. Lawrence of His Majesty's Royal Intelligence Service...Private Lawrence of the Royal Armoured Corps and Corporal Shaw of the Royal Air Corps... a true enigma, but a wonderful source of material about the Middle East lands and people.
bullet The Riddle of the Image - discusses cryptology and how it was used during the time of Christ, and how it is used in Desert Winds
bulletThe UN High Commission for Refugees is the sole support for thousands of homeless refugees displaced by conflict. The UNHCR operates in many different countries, and a refugee camp outside Irbil, similar to the one described in Desert Winds, once existed. The conflict between the ethnic Kurds (Kurdistan - a country that want to be) and the national governments of Turkey, Iraq and Iran - and opposing factions within the Kurds - still continues, as does the strange mixture of Christianity and Islam found in the Yezidis tribe where the members believe the Devil is a fallen angel. This brings an interesting legend to the surface, the story that the Kurds  are descended from 400 virgins who were raped by the Devil.
bulletCanadian Peacekeepers are the unsung heroes of international freedom, alongside American, Japanese, Austrians, Fijis, Swiss, Filipinos and others, but overwhelmingly the Canadians, in every theater of conflict, or so-called peace. In Desert Winds their presence in the Golan Heights was inspired by the excellent description of their operations on the Peacekeepers own web site and helpful emails from members of the force. 
bulletOperation Northern Watch was established by UN mandate to defend the Kurdish population north of the thirty-sixth parallel (the Northern Iraq Sanctuary Zone). One of the units supporting Operation Northern Watch is the 333rd Fighter Wing, a F-15 unit home based in Seymore Johnson AFB located in Goldsboro, NC, very close to the Manteo home of the Lost Colony legend and the Lumbee Nations home in Robeson County.
bulletThe Slave Medallion, a Wedgwood cameo discovered on display in Charlotte, North Carolina's Mint Museum and described in Desert Winds, is a very real part of history, reminding us that many influential Americans, in particular Benjamin Franklin, joined with many British such as the parliamentary leader William Wilberforce in opposing slavery. Behind the Green Water uses the medallion and the motto "Am I not a man and a Brother" as a key element in the relationship of Nash Devon, Rene Granwin and Wilbert Baker. The referenced article, courtesy of the Wedgwood Museum located in Barlaston Stoke-on-Trent, England, appeared in a 1982 issue of the Wedgwood Review.
bullet My hand carved pipe was the inspiration for Devon's grandpa's pipe, the one Devon used as a deadly weapon in a lonely mountain pass in Iraq.

Desert Winds is available from Amazon.com in paper and Kindle editions.

 

Desert Winds is a significant revision of Behind the Green Water, originally published by Hard Shell Word Factory. Desert Winds is now available at  Amazon.com in paper and Kindle editions.

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