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Old Mission Peninsula resident and author Brad Graft was recently notified that the first novel in his Brotherhood of the Mamluks trilogy, Chains of Nobility, is a finalist for the prestigious Colby Award.

The prize “recognizes a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs.” The award winner will be announced in September 2019 in Vermont.

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Brad Graft’s novel Chains of Nobility

Graft resides off of Bluff Road on the Peninsula, runs a number of businesses based in Traverse City and other states, and is a former Marine Officer who served in Somalia.

An avid reader and researcher, Graft developed a curiosity about the ceremonial Mamluk Sword he carried while in the Marines. His research led him to an exhaustive study of the sword’s namesake: Nomadic youth from the Russian steppe who were enslaved and then trained to be elite Islamic knights.

Graft contacted his favorite historical author, Steven Pressfield, suggesting that the Mamluks and their interactions with the Mongols would be a great topic for Pressfield to explore. Pressfield turned the tables on Graft, replying, “That book would take me five years to write. Why don’t you do it?”

Authors often throw suggestions back into their fans’ laps, but it’s rare for a fan to accept the challenge. Graft proved to be the exception.

Calling on his Marine discipline, Graft ushered forward on the project while maintaining his business career. His casual reading on the subject transformed into stacks of academic papers written by scholars.

It was imperative to see the places described in his research, so he traveled to the Middle East for a horseback trek through the steppe lands of Mongolia, living with nomads whose lives were largely unchanged from the time period about which Graft was writing.

Old Mission Author Brad Graft is Finalist for Colby Award with "Brotherhood of the Mamluks"
Old Mission author Brad Graft researching his “Brotherhood of the Mamluks” trilogy in Jerusalem | Graft Photo
Old Mission Author Brad Graft is Finalist for Colby Award with "Brotherhood of the Mamluks"
Old Mission author Brad Graft researching his “Brotherhood of the Mamluks” trilogy in Israel | Graft Photo
Old Mission Author Brad Graft is Finalist for Colby Award with "Brotherhood of the Mamluks"
Old Mission author Brad Graft researching his “Brotherhood of the Mamluks” trilogy in Israel | Graft Photo

In May of 2018 – ten years after starting the project – Graft’s first novel, Chains of Nobility, was published and two more stories were outlined to complete a trilogy on the subject. TV 9&10 produced a short news feature about Graft.

Graft’s second book in the series, A Lion’s Share, will be released early this summer. More information about Graft and his work can be found at his website.

Graft is donating 100 percent of his profits from the first book to charities dedicated to veterans. Information about those benefitting from his generosity can be found on this page on Graft’s website.

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