Breakfast with a CIA director. (And #TheFirstHostage climbs to #9 on Publishers Weekly bestseller list.)

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(Washington, D.C.) — On Thursday morning, I had breakfast here in D.C. with Jim Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I gave him a copy of The First Hostage and had a chance to get Jim’s latest take on the twin threats of Iran and the Islamic State and the meltdown of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

We discussed the differences between Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam, and I asked him specifically about his take on the Iran nuclear deal, given that it was arguably the biggest development in the Mideast in 2015. He told me he’d read the entire nuclear deal carefully and that as an arms control agreement, “It would be fine if it was a deal that had been made with Denmark.”

I love that line.

In other words, in Woolsey’s assessment, it’s not the language of the agreement, per se, that is so bad. It’s the fact that the deal was made not with a peaceful, benign, cooperative nation like Denmark, but with the fanatical regime in Tehran that openly calls for, “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.” It gives Iran both the ability to cheat — and thus build nuclear warheads — or to keep the deal and wait for another 10 to 15 years before breaking out to nuclear weapons capacity. Well put.

Woolsey also is deeply concerned the political correctness is causing many in the U.S. and the West to be unwilling to have an honest conversation about the threat posed not by the vast majority of Muslims, but by the small but significant subset of Radical Muslims who embrace violent jihad. If we cannot even have an honest conversation about the religious ideology driving our enemies, he notes, how can we fully protect ourselves and defeat these enemies?

Jim was very helpful to me in the early stages of my research for this novel series, and I’m very grateful for his insights. It was good to see him again.

Meanwhile, with threat of Islamic State terrorism dominating headlines, the polls, the State of the Union address, and the presidential campaign, The First Hostage is rising on the Publishers Weekly best-seller list. This week, the political thriller about ISIS climbed to #9 on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction best-seller list, up from #13 last week.

The First Hostage is the second novel in a new series about a New York Times foreign correspondent who finds himself caught in the middle of an unfolding plot by the Islamic State to launch a genocidal attack with chemical weapons, overthrow the Kingdom of Jordan, and capture and behead the President of the United States. The first novel in the series, The Third Target, released in January of 2015.

Thank you so much to all of my readers, young and old, loyalists and newcomers to my work. I’m deeply grateful for the very kind notes you’ve been sending me and the encouraging reviews of these two books. Thanks, too, for all you’re doing to write about and review the novels on Facebook, Twitter and other social media and let your friends know about the book.

This weekend, I’ll begin several weeks of traveling the country to talk about the novels, how they relate to fast-moving current events, and the difference between Islamic eschatology and Biblical eschatology. That begins this weekend when I’ll be preaching at Pastor Greg Laurie’s congregations in Southern California. For more details, please follow us on Twitter and on our Epicenter Team page on Facebook.

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