Considered one of the best adventure memoirists of his generation, #1 New York Times best-selling author Cork Graham has made the jump from non-fiction to spy thrillers with his much anticipated The Panmunjom Protocol.
In 1983, long before Cork Graham became team leader on Discovery Channel's hit series TREASURE QUEST, he burst onto the international scene, not as an author, but as a photojournalist. As a fresh out-of-high school, 18-year-old combat photographer, he cut his teeth on the Kampuchea/Vietnam War and Hmong resistance in Laos. Intrigued by the possibility of finding Captain Kidd’s treasure and learning what happened to American servicemen and women listed as missing in action (MIA), he accepted an invitation to cover a covert treasure hunting expedition to an island off the west coast of Vietnam. While on the adventure, Graham was captured by militia of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and held on trumped up charges of spying for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Held for 11 months he was interrogated and tortured, even enduring a mock execution--to his knowledge he is still the only US Navy midshipman to have been held in a communist Vietnam political prison. Halfway through his internment, he and his fellow adventurers were put through a politburo-style propaganda trial that was the first time many in the Free World learned Graham, who had been listed as missing, and, or dead, was actually still alive. The events of that front-page, coming of age adventure became the basis for Graham’s 2004 international bestseller, The Bamboo Chest—An Adventure in healing the Trauma of War, in which he detailed not only the events of that time, but also that it was his return to Vietnam: he had lived in the Republic of South Vietnam as the son of a expat businessman from the Tet Offensive of 1968, until 1972.
A world traveler since his first American passport at the age of one, he has lived and worked around the world. In 1985, after recuperating from his time in prison, Graham went south to cover the civil wars in Central America. In response to witnessing an atrocity committed by the FMLN, and realizing this was just another proxy battle in the much larger Cold War, Graham accepted recuitment by the US government and deployed as a paramilitary operations officer. He became the second American to complete the naval special forces course at the Salvadoran Navy’s Punta Ruca, La Union Naval Special Forces base designed by the US Navy SEALs, and completed sniper training by the 7th Special Forces Group of MILGROUP at CEMFA, El Salvador’s main military training center just west of La Union.
After seeking solace from the psychological effects of combat during those four years, Graham lived alone in a cabin in the wilds of Alaska, studying the ancient skills of healing from the local Native American population and writing his Vietnam adventure memoir. Returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1991, he used his healing skills learned in Alaska to work for Native American Health Center as a substance abuse counselor specializing in helping those dealing with post-traumatic stress.
In 1994, as a staunch conservationist, he entered the outdoor writer field, writing a weekly column for The Times of San Mateo County, the last privately owned large newspaper in the Bay Area. When it was purchased by Alameda News Group in 1997, he went off on his own, writing outdoor books and for international magazines, such as Playboy, Vogue, Esquire, Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Game & Fish, and Sports Afield.
After a two-year long press junket for his just-released Vietnam memoir, Graham moved to South Korea in 2007 to follow his interest in Korean language and culture, instilled while training in Hwarang-do during his paramilitary days. Employed as an instructor for the ROK Army military intelligence school in Seoul, Cork Graham was also contracted as a consultant by the “Steven Spielberg of South Korea”, Director Kang Woo Seok; and gained notariety on Korean TV as a character actor on MBC’s hit show, Surprise.
Like contemporaries with professional experience in the covert world, John le Carré and Barry Eisler, Graham draws from his experiences, and contacts still in the Black Ops and political world, to bring a profound sense of realism to his political thrillers, begun with The Panmunjom Protocol. While also producing two online multimedia magazines (www.corksoutdoors.com and www.globalcounterterror.com), he’s presently at work on the next of his John Corbett series, and starting a new present-times mystery/horror line of novels based on the teachings, myths and histories of ancient Europe, America and Asia. Cork Graham is sincerely grateful to all his readers for helping making his books so successful.
Pub. Date: Feb. 15, 2012