It’s a best seller!

“Guy, why don’t you write a book about your army service?  Nobody else has ever written a book about Unit 669.”

A crazy idea!  Even crazier because this conversation took place even before our firstborn began his service.  He would have no time to breathe or eat—how would he write a book?

But for almost 5 years, Guy took his father’s crazy idea seriously.  From his very first day at the new recruits intake base, he jotted down in his little notebook stories and anecdotes.  These stories and anecdotes became chapters, chapters became a manuscript, and thus a book was born.

“Fine, Abba.  At least I’ll have something to show my children, because nobody else will be interested.”

“Guy – it’ll be a best-seller!”

“Oh, like you’re objective…”

“True, I’m not objective, but I’m right.  But first finish your training.  Without your combat pin, there’s no point.”

After 18 exhausting and dramatic months, Guy was awarded his pin and the book enterprise became a reality.  The writing itself gained momentum and soon writing became a way of life.

Guy’s discharge from the air force neared when we met Dovi Eichenwald, CEO of Yedioth Books.  Nobody knows better than Dovi what the Israeli public is reading and what makes a best-seller.  We showed him the manuscript, he asked a few questions and promised to contact Guy in a few weeks regarding an answer about moving forward.

As we left Yedioth Books I said, “A few weeks?!  Usually it takes months for publishers to review a manuscript.  Be patient, let’s wait and see.”

Five days later Guy called to tell us his good news.  “Dovi Eichenwald phoned. He said that they want to publish my book.  But truthfully, I’m not sure that this really happened. After such an exhausting day, perhaps I just dreamed it. I was dozing off when he called…”

We confirmed it wasn’t all a dream – Guy’s book really was going to be published by Israel’s leading publishing house!

One of our family’s sayings is “The Journey is the Goal.”  The process of Guy writing the book had several distinct added benefits:

When your son comes home once every two weeks from the army, dropping from fatigue, you cannot expect to get much information out of him.  Parents listen closely to every bit of what their sons reveal, hoping to learn something, anything of what is going on in their life.  Guy’s stories were the window through which we could peep into his world.

Secondly, as modern therapy methods reveal, it is quite well-known, that writing is a unique tool for coping with stress and anxiety.   During the writing of the book, we specifically learned about some of the most difficult and emotional rescue operations, including national tragedies, while knowing that many other operations he was not permitted to discuss.  Unloading his feelings via the keyboard, following the unloading of the equipment from the helicopter, was his newfound way to debrief and confront his feelings, allowing him to continue.

The first book of its kind, written in real time, the writing of From Zero to One Hundred: The Story of a Special Forces Rescue Team took almost 6 years. Now positioned on the “power shelves” in Israeli bookstores, From Zero to One Hundred is leading Israel’s bestsellers list for non-fiction.  Thus, a crazy idea, falling on attentive ears, has become a reality.

Shana Tova!

About the Author
Sagi Melamed is Vice President of External Relations and Development at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, President of the Harvard Club of Israel and author of "Son of My Land" and "Fundraising" - the 1st Hebrew book about Resource Development. Sagi can be reached at melamed.sagi@gmail.com.
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