George Scott would love to tell you about his Books to Baghdad program. Problem is, then he'd have to kill you.
"Just kidding," the Norcross resident said with a laugh. The truth is that Scott, who manages Eagle Eye Bookstore in Decatur, would not only like to tell you about Books to Baghdad, he'd like to enlist your help. And there's no danger whatsoever.
Well, not much, anyway.
The idea was born in 2001 when a man came into Scott's store and bought a stack of magazines to send to a buddy in Iraq. "That's when it hit me," Scott said. "Those guys over there have nothing to read, nothing to take their minds off the stress during their down time."
A few days later he shared his idea with another customer, who promptly wrote him a check for $500. A series of charity book signings and auctions followed, with such luminaries as Steve Barry, Oliver North and Lt. Colonel Buzz Patterson contributing.
Soon Scott had collected thousands of books. Now if he could just get them to Iraq.
At first Scott tried going through channels. He contacted the U.S. military but was eventually told no go. The military couldn't fly the books over to Iraq because they weren't official cargo.
Temporarily stymied, Scott was discussing the problem with some friends at a restaurant when a man came up and introduced himself as an army major. "I think I might be able to help," he said.
The mysterious major took Scott to a secret military base where he found, he says, "a unit that doesn't exist. They didn't wear uniforms, didn't salute. It was strictly hush-hush."
Also hush-hush was the way crateloads of books - more than 12,500, to be exact - suddenly began finding their way into Iraq. "I hate to use the word 'smuggle,'" Scott said, "but that's basically what we were doing."
Unfortunately, by 2006 the unit that didn't exist had, well, ceased to exist. "I guess they were deployed" Scott said. "They just disappeared."
With them went his pipeline, leaving Scott with more than 3,000 books still in a Duluth warehouse and no way to get them over.
Then fate intervened again, in the form of David Rucks, a Norcross barber who had been shipping care packages to soldiers for two years. He agreed to include books in all his packages, as long as he could find people to help pay postage.
And that's where you come in - regardless, Scott stresses, of where you stand on the war. "This isn't about politics," he said. "It's about helping soldiers."
So if you'd like to help, by donating books or money for postage or by including some books in an Iraq-bound shipment of your own, call George Scott at 404-486-0307 or David Rucks at 770-825-0007.
They promise never to reveal your identity.
Rob Jenkins is an associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.