Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy are back, in the book Vince Flynn’s Red War. But this time they have a new adversary and a new setting, pivoting to the dangers Russia imposes. They race to prevent Russia’s gravely ill leader from starting a full-scale war with NATO. With this novel, it is obvious that Mills, who has taken over the writing of the Mitch Rapp/Irene Kennedy stories, has nailed the personalities and reactions of the characters.
To understand this the following is an interview with Dr. Irene Kennedy.
Thank you for doing this. You are so greatly respected and admired, the first female CIA Director. Our adversaries consider you a formidable foe. But it has to be tough on your family with you spending long hours combating America’s adversaries with Mitch Rapp.
Elise Cooper: How is your son Tommy and your adopted dog Shirley?
Dr. Irene Kennedy: Both are wonderful. It’s hard to believe that Tommy is already looking into colleges. He’s grown into an intelligent and thoughtful young man despite the fact that I haven’t had as much time for him as I would have liked. Shirley is slowing down a bit, but still digging up my backyard and chewing my sofa.
EC: Do you think your ex-husband should have suffered more consequences after he emotionally abused you, especially since the MeToo Movement?
IK: I tend not to think about the past in those terms. What’s done is done and those experiences, as horrific as they were, are part of what made me who I am today.
EC: When you became CIA Director do you think you broke the glass ceiling?
IK: Broke? No.
IK: I like to think I put a nice crack in it. There are so many incredibly gifted women out there who still aren’t getting what they deserve in their careers. That’s changing, but reshuffling the way society has worked for thousands of years is going to take time. As Martin Luther King said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
EC: Do you consider yourself a role model?
IK: Yes, but with the acknowledgement that not everyone has the same goals. I think it’s important not to homogenize women. All of us should pursue and be respected for whatever career choices we make—from the presidency to motherhood. While I’ve enjoyed a great deal of success in my job, that success has come with a lot of painful sacrifices.
EC: How can you remain so unemotional when some Senators seem to worry more about a terrorists’ screams than the 911 victims screams?
IK: I’ve come to understand that most people have an extremely emotional reaction to the situations I deal with. It’s just the way they’re wired. My job is to try to hold back that tide with logic and facts.
EC: I bet that becomes more difficult with today’s politicians?
IK: Yes, a task that becomes harder every day. De-escalation is my goal in every situation, though, it’s not always achievable.
EC: Are you like Queen Elizabeth I, married to your profession?
IK: That’s a very flattering comparison! The truth is that there’s no choice but to give the job my full focus. The day I feel that I can’t is the day I’ll resign.
EC: Is the CIA your extended family?
IK: Absolutely. I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with brilliant, loyal, patriotic people. And we’ve been through so much together.
EC: Is Mitch Rapp like a brother to you?
IK: A very difficult and belligerent one! J
EC: How would you describe Mitch?
IK: Single minded. It’s what’s made him so effective during his career, but it’s also something I worry about. After his wife Anna died, he felt he’d lost everything. I think he’s just now realizing that wasn’t true.
EC: How did Thomas Stansfield, the former CIA Director, influence you?
IK: In so many ways. My admiration for him continues to grow every day I sit in his chair. His poise, his reason, and his love of country are the bar I set for myself.
EC: What do you think about on the 911 anniversary, considering it just passed?
IK: That making sure it doesn’t happen again is a day-by-day, hour-by-hour process that will never end. As time moves on, we can’t allow ourselves to let our guards down. The threat is still out there.
EC: You lost your father to a terrorist attack. How has that affected you?
IK: Much the same way Mitch’s loss of his young love affected him—though with fewer fireworks. We’ve both dedicated our lives to trying to save others from feeling the same devastation we did.
EC: Besides terrorism what other threats face Americans?
IK: Certainly, Russia is looming large on the international scene—it’s a country that has the ability to punch far above its weight when it comes to sabotaging the world order.
Currently, though, the most dire threat to America is internal. We as a people are turning on each other for no apparent reason.
EC: Can you explain?
IK: Government is not a weapon to use against those you don’t like or don’t agree with. It’s an instrument that should be used to strengthen the country and improve the lives of all its citizens.
EC: What advice would you give the US President when faced with an adversary who feels they have nothing to lose?
IK: Find a way not to play the game.
EC: What do you do to relax?
IK: My dirty little secret. I knit. But nothing useful. Just a monochromatic strip about six inches wide that I throw away when it becomes too long for my home office. It’s how I turn my mind off.
EC: Any regrets?
IK: More than I know what to do with.
EC: Is there anything you want to add, if so please do?
IK: Never say any more than you have to…
EC: Actually, thank you. Many of us consider you the shield that has kept Americans safe.