Home » author interviews » Interview with William ‘Bertie’ MacFarland, author of ‘Back Channel: The Kennedy Years’

Interview with William ‘Bertie’ MacFarland, author of ‘Back Channel: The Kennedy Years’

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William Bertram MacFarland – Bertie Mac -never sought – or even imagined – a role as a Special Assistant to President John F. Kennedy. Even less did he imagine continuing in the role of Special Assistant to the President in eight subsequent administrations. His degrees from Duke University were in Mathematics and Physics (Quantum Mechanics) but fate and the U.S. government extinguished any hope of a career in those fields.

Eager for adventure and travel, immediately after graduation from university he entered the intelligence arm of the government, did extensive military training, became a U.S. Army Ranger, trained in Special Operations, hand to hand combat techniques, did rigorous advanced parachute training, and went through intensive training in Russian language and culture at the language school in Monterrey, California. Subsequently assigned as a “diplomatic courier” to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, he was callously betrayed by his own government – the government of the United States of America – and turned over to the Soviet Union where he was brutally tortured in Lubyanka Prison at KGB Headquarters in Moscow. He was rescued near the point of death in a clandestine operation carried out by two high ranking Soviet Generals and was entrusted by them with information which became vital to the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. His unique value to both sides was his profound distrust of both governments.

He slowly came to be a friend and confidant of President Kennedy in his (unsought) role as Special Assistant to the President and he tried in vain (and disgust) to resign his position when President Kennedy was assassinated but President Johnson would not accept it. The knowledge and “back channel” contacts that he had accumulated – and continued to accumulate as his career progressed – made him uniquely valuable to a long succession of U.S. Presidents. His 50 year access to the highest levels of nine Administrations and the highly classified materials that they generated make him uniquely qualified to relate these riveting and spellbinding memoirs. His reputation as being totally incorruptible is not necessarily a good thing in the halls of power and the only thing that has saved him from assassination by officials in his own government is a vast collection of documents accumulated over the entirety of his career which resides in a safe deposit box in a western European country – the key to which is held by a well known law firm in that country. Should he die under suspicious circumstances, those documents will be released to the public – at a horrific cost to hundreds of individuals and indeed, to the nation as a whole.

He describes himself as “a patriot, a soldier, a spy, and an assassin.” The description does not do him full justice. He was involved in intergovernmental intrigues at the highest levels and as a superbly trained and conditioned special operative he was an amalgam of James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Ryan. He is surely one of the American “cousins” described by John Le Carré. Bertie never sought glory or recognition for his contributions. He did what he did purely from love of country. He is a true American hero – who will forever remain anonymous and in the shadows.

His story can be found in his latest book, Back Channel: The Kennedy Years.

You can visit his impressive website at www.bertiemac.com.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Bertie.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

BACK CHANNEL: The Kennedy Years is the first in the Back Channel series and is the first book I have published

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I self-published because traditional publishers felt the book was too controversial.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It made me realize how much more work I have to do to finish the series.  I’ll hold off celebrating until I’m satisfied with sales.

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I interviewed a lot of publicists until I found one I really liked.  I also created a web site www.BertieMac.com so that people could find out more about the book.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’m hoping that ‘practice makes perfect’ but am all too aware that if so, I have a lot more practicing to do.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I think that traditional publishers are only now beginning to realize the implications of an author’s ability to easily self-publish and create an e-book edition at the same time.  Publishers are structured for competition with a limited group of other publishers – not a mass of determined authors.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Your only limitations are the limitations you place upon yourself.

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Thanks for visiting Beyond the Books! Beyond the Books is a mufti-genred book blog that is syndicated into such publications as USA Today, Forbes, Chicago Times and many others. Our blog posts are picked up by journalists and reporters looking for content for their publications. Beyond the Books is one of Pump Up Your Book's in house blogs and hosts authors touring with us; however we are open to hosting other authors here as well. Click on the "Author Interviews" tab in the top navigation bar to find out how you can send us an interview. Click on the "Guest Bloggers" tab in the top navigation bar to find out how you can write a guest blog for us. You are welcome to email Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife (at) gmail.com with any questions. Beyond the Books is strictly a book blog and is not hosting product reviews. Book reviews are on hiatus until further notice.

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