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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Tradecraft – The Art Of Espionage’
A Guest Post By Michael Shusko

This week I am playing host to Michael Shusko, author of the new thriller series Tradecraft. Books one and two, of a proposed six part series, are already on the shelves, with book three on schedule for release later in 2017.

Details of the published books are featured during Michael’s intriguing and informative post and you can read the opening lines of both stories by hopping across to my ‘Book Beginnings On Friday‘ pages. Clicking on either book image will take you straight to its Amazon ‘buy’ page.

Hi There! my name is MICHAEL SHUSKO

Thank you very much for having me on your blog, Yvonne! I’m honored to have the opportunity to write this guest post about the inspiration behind Tradecraft, my new thriller series.

First of all, allow me to tell you a little about myself..

Image Of Author Michael ShuskoMichael Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM, is my full title.

I am an author, medical doctor and decorated Marine and Naval officer who has worked on intelligence and medical missions across the globe. Fluent in Arabic, I hold a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers University.

Post-undergrad, I transferred from the Marines to the Navy Medical Corps and attended medical school at Wake Forest University, obtaining my medical degree in 2002. I also studied at Harvard University, earning my Master’s of Public Health degree in 2013.

My Middle Eastern experience and language skills coupled with my background in special operations and intelligence keeps me busy deploying around the world. I have travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.

I was awarded the Bronze Star twice for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I currently live in Japan with my wife and triplet sons.

Catch up with all the latest news at my Website 

Connect with me on  Facebook

Image Of Author Michael Shusko


Tradecraft, by definition, is the way things are done in the world of espionage — the skills you use to gather intelligence and extract information from the world around you to gain a solid knowledge and understanding of what’s going on beneath the surface. My Tradecraft series, which will include six titles, follows the intertwining lives of modern day heroes and villains as they try to outwit each other on the international stage. The first two books in the series, Vector and Shifting Sands, are available now, and the third title in the series, Evil Winds, is scheduled to release in the fall of 2017.

Within the framework of the main story which plunges the reader into the murky world of terrorism, international intrigue, espionage and clandestine operations, the books also explore social injustices and other contemporary issues occurring in the world. The core of Vector, the first book in the series, is the good and the bad of genetic research and how it can be used or misused depending on whose hands wield its power.

VECTOR‘ – Tradecraft: Phase Zero
When researcher Jawad Khattib gasps his last breath on the Massachusetts General Hospital floor, the Department of Homeland Security answers—especially after a preliminary autopsy suggests he died of radiation poisoning. What exactly was Khattib working on? And who was he working for?
DHS Agent Lee Jansen is rushed to Boston and paired with expert toxicologist Dr. Emma Hess to crack the case. All evidence points to the creation of a dirty bomb, but the clues seem too clean, too obvious. During the course of their investigation, they discover the horrible truth.
This new weapon is far more deadly than anyone had expected. It isn’t just capable of killing hundreds—it’s capable of killing hundreds of thousands. Can they stop what’s been set in motion by a madman with a dangerous secret before it’s too late?

In Shifting Sands, the second title in the series, I highlight how international struggles can affect individuals and families, and how propaganda released to the population of some nations can demonize the population of another, resulting in deeply instilled prejudices that are very difficult to overcome — even when it’s necessary that two individuals from those respective populations work together to resolve an international crisis.

SHIFTING SANDS‘ – Tradecraft: Phase One

Iranian physicist Dr. Sara Qaderi has been leaking intelligence to the UN detailing her deadly work at a nuclear facility in Iran for months—but her time is running out. Colonel Mostafa Sabri is on the hunt for the traitors who have been compromising Iran’s national security. And he always finds his prey. 

Since birth, Sara has been taught that Americans aren’t to be trusted. Now her life is in the hands of Nick Shane, an American Marine whose mission is to get her and the vital information she carries to Afghanistan before Israel drops the first bombs of the next world war. He has his own reservations about this Iranian physicist and her motives. But he also has his orders, and will carry out his mission at all costs. 

Will they make it in time to save the world from erupting into a violent global conflict—or die in the unforgiving Iranian desert?

I am working on Evil Winds, the third title in the series, which will cover the horrific situation in Darfur, Sudan, the atrocities of human trafficking and child soldiers, the nearly impossible hurdles faced by humanitarian relief response teams who arrive on the scene to help — and how big hearts and brave souls can make a difference in the darkest of times.

The books are numbered Phase Zero to Phase Five in reference to the standard phases of a military mission or operation, be it combat, humanitarian or other. Here are those phases explained in the simplest, most bare-boned terms for quick reference:

  • Phase Zero is the preparation phase, when you can anticipate something foreboding is coming and you put your military and/or humanitarian relief operations in place, ready to move in.
  • Phase One is the deterrent phase, when you take what you’ve learned in the preparation phase and activate your people on the ground. At this stage, the crisis is just brewing. Combat or full-blown humanitarian operations are not yet initiated, but you may be taking preventative measures to stop the crisis from growing, such as shutting down poultry trade if it becomes apparent that that’s spreading a deadly disease.
  • Phase Two is the phase in which you seize the initiative and strike at a target of opportunity. In this phase, you are attempting to stop a crisis from exploding by taking quick, decisive action. This might be diplomatic talks to stop combat in its tracks, or a powerful show of force to prevent additional skirmishes from evolving.
  • Phase Three is when the operation is set in motion. At this stage, you are in a humanitarian crisis or at war.
  • Phase Four is stability; the battle is over and it’s time to rebuild the infrastructure that was destroyed in the conflict.
  • Phase Five is enabling civil authorities. This is when the situation is controlled and you hand over operations back to the host government officials.

Not every operation involves conflict nor does each include all phases — in fact most don’t. But my Tradecraft series includes a title representative of each. A revolving cast of characters, good and bad, is interwoven throughout the series. They disappear and reappear in turn — and both have traits and attributes which will surprise readers.

Unbeknownst to most of the characters, their individual stories in each book are a small part of something much larger. As the protagonists move through the six phases of a military operation, just how much is at stake is revealed. Over the course of the series, their tradecraft skills are tested to the penultimate limit — and their roles in resolving the crises become magnified to a greater extent than any of them could have ever imagined.

Image Of Author Michael ShuskoThe one thing I hope people take away from my books is that the world is not nearly as bad as it seems on the news. There are so many differences on the surface between people from other nations and cultures. It’s good to have those differences — there’s a lot of power in having those different cultures — but deep inside I believe people are the same



Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • Thanks, Yvonne, for hosting Micheal Shusko with this excellent and informative guest post! It sounds quite exciting and timely. I’m fascinated with the way the series is structured and I feel certain my husband would enjoy it. Actually, it sounds quite good to me, too!

    My husband doesn’t really like to begin a series (with a definite conclusion) until all the titles have been released. I’ll place the first on my wish list so that I don’t forget to check back periodically for the status on the others.

    Thanks again to both of you.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I must admit that I have never come across an author before, who has structured a series in advance, with such precision and clarity of thought.

      It sounds as though your husband would really appreciate Michael’s approach to writing a series, as I am not too sure that many authors, even if they had a firm idea about where they wanted the story line of a series to go, would have had the foresight to have thought about all the titles of all the individual episodes.

      Given the conversations we keep having about our differing approaches to series reading, you will be pleased to know that I really like the sound of ‘Vector’, which is great as it is the opening book of the series, so I shall probably read that one and see how I go from there 🙂

  • These sound like excellent recommendations – I’m looking for books that deal intelligently with current affairs, so I’ll check them out.

    Recently, I read The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. It deals with anarchists in the late 1800s in London. Some of the issues it explores – politically motivated arrests, people claiming that they care for mankind while treating others terribly on an individual basis – are timeless.

    • Hi Hila,

      I am trying to persuade my husband to check out this author post, as I think he would also find it intelligently written and being ex-military himself, he would also appreciate the unbiased arguments which Michael makes and which, by their very nature, would lead to some excellent debate and conversation!

      ‘The Secret Agent’ sounds like one of those classics I have promised myself I should read in the not too distant future, although I have (or rather hubbie’s family have), our own share of historical anarchists to boast. One of Hubbie’s ancestors, one James Ings, was involved in a plot known as ‘The Cato Street Conspiracy’, which was an attempt to murder all the British cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Lord Liverpool in 1820 and earned James death by hanging for this treasonous act!


      Thanks for sharing your book and for taking the time to comment, it is great to catch up with you 🙂

Written by Yvonne