Robert Lowell "Robin" Moore, Jr. (October 31, 1925 – February 21, 2008) was an American writer who is most known for his books The Green Berets, The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy and, with Xaviera Hollander and Yvonne Dunleavy, The Happy Hooker: My Own Story.
Moore also co-authored the lyrics for the "Ballad of the Green Berets", which was one of the major hit songs of 1966. The song was also featured in the 1968 film The Green Berets based on Moore's book which starred John Wayne. A new edition of The Green Berets was published in April 2007 and his last book, Wars of the Green Berets, co-authored with Col. Mike 'Doc' Lennon, was released in June 2007.
At the time of his death, Moore was residing in Hopkinsville, Kentucky (home to Fort Campbell and the 5th Special Forces Group) where he was working on his memoirs as well as three other books.
Early life and career
Born in Boston, Moore was raised in Concord, Massachusetts, where he attended Middlesex School. He also attended Belmont Hill School.
During World War II he served as a nose gunner in the U.S. Army Air Corps, flying combat missions in the European Theater. For his service, he was awarded the Air Medal. Moore graduated from Harvard College in 1949, and one of his first jobs was working in television production and then at the Sheraton Hotel Company co-founded by his father, Robert Lowell Moore. While working in the hotel business in the Caribbean, he recorded the early days of Fidel Castro in the non-fiction book The Devil To Pay.
Training with Special Forces
Thanks to connections with Harvard classmate Robert F. Kennedy, Moore was allowed access to the U.S. Army Special Forces to write about this elite unit of the United States Army. It was General William P. Yarborough who insisted that Moore go through special forces training in order to better understand "what makes Special Forces soldiers 'special'." He trained for nearly a year, first at "jump school" for airborne training before completing the Special Forces Qualification Course or "Q Course", becoming the first civilian to participate in such an intensive program. Afterward, Moore was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group on deployment to Vietnam. His experiences in-country formed the basis for The Green Berets, a bestseller that helped secure him international acclaim (see United States Army Special Forces in popular culture).
During the 1970s and 1980s Moore travelled widely spending time in such places as Dubai, Iran, Rhodesia and Russia. Having gathered the information needed he wrote The Crippled Eagles (later published as The White Tribe) and The Moscow Connection. Due to political controversy, The Crippled Eagles was rejected by publishers and did not appear until the early 1990s. (Rumor has it that the printing was quietly but firmly discouraged by U.S. State Department). He also wrote non-fiction books Rhodesia and Major Mike (with U.S. Army Major Mike Williams).
Moore travelled to Uzbekistan in December 2001 to research the CIA-Northern Alliance war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, publishing the account in the bestseller The Hunt for Bin Laden.
In 2003, continuing his interest in writing about the war on terror, Moore traveled to Iraq to research Operation Iraqi Freedom and the downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime for his book, Hunting Down Saddam. Before his death, he completed The Singleton: Target Cuba with Ret. USASF Major General Geoffrey Lambert, a novel about Fidel Castro and biological warfare.
Afghanistan and book controversy
Shortly after the publication of The Hunt for Bin Laden, controversy arose over the veracity of the book, particularly regarding the involvement of Jack Idema. Idema, who was one of Moore's major sources, provided what later proved to be fabricated accounts of his exploits. In order to portray himself as having a greater role in the operation, Idema apparently went as far as to rewrite much of Moore's and Chris Thompson's text prior to publication under the direct authorization of Random House editor Bob Loomis. Special Forces soldiers who were on the mission (including those whom Moore interviewed) disputed Idema's claims.
With Idema thus discredited, Moore eventually disavowed The Hunt for Bin Laden and the book remains out of print. Despite the unfortunate fate of the book, Moore continued to enjoy the respect of the Special Forces community.
The Green Berets is a 1968 film based on Moore's 1965 book. Parts of the screenplay bear little relation to the novel, although the portion in which a woman seduces a Vietnamese communist leader and sets him up to be kidnapped by Americans is from the book. John Wayne requested and obtained full military co-operation and materiel from President Johnson. To please the Pentagon, who were attempting to prosecute Robin Moore for revealing classified information, Wayne bought Moore out for $35,000 and 5 percent of undefined profits of the film.
- Creator of the comic strip Tales of the Green Beret and the book The Man with the Silver Oar
- Co-screenwriter for the film Inchon about the Inchon landing during the Korean War.
- Co-founder, "The Crippled Eagles" club in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for expatriate Americans serving with the Rhodesian Security Forces.
At the 2007 5th Special Forces Group reunion banquet Col. Chris Conner confirmed Moore as a lifelong member of 5th SFG. At the same banquet Moore was made a Kentucky colonel.
Robin Moore died in Hopkinsville, Kentucky on February 21, 2008 after a long illness. Eulogies were given by Rudi Gresham, General Victor Hugo, Major General Thomas R. Csrnko, Alexander N. Rossolimo and Moore's brother John. A Presidential citation was presented to Helen Moore by General Hugo. Full military honors were rendered immediately after the service.
Major General Gary L. Harrell, deputy commanding general of the United States Special Operations Command, issued this statement in praise of Moore:
All Special Forces Soldiers, past and present, mourn the passing of Robin Moore; he was a valued and trusted member of the Special Operations family. Robin was a devoted advocate and a true Ambassador for the "Green Beret" and all they stand for.
His writings on Special Forces are textbooks for our modern Unconventional Warriors; they were both educational and inspirational and introduced the world to the "Green Berets." He will be missed.