Duffel Blog founder and Editor-in-Chief Paul Szoldra loves writing, almost equally as much as he loves humor. Officially launched in March 2012, Duffel Blog, which is likened to “The Onion” for the military, is filled with timeless satirical articles geared towards the armed forces and veteran community. While Duffel Blog continues to grow, it has managed to stay true to its roots by maintaining a small operation internally.
“It’s a one man show,” Szoldra says. “We have close to one hundred contributors, but I still do all the editing and website maintenance myself.”
Now, nearly five years to the day of its launch and over two thousand articles later, Duffel Blog is launching their first book featuring a compilation of satirical news articles found on the site. American Military News sat down with the Marine veteran and entrepreneur to chat about journalism, Duffel Blog, and his new book: “Mission Accomplished: The Very Best of Duffel Blog, Volume One.”
The book features a forward from renowned Marine artist Maximilian Uriarte, and is available for purchase on Amazon. You can also follow the weekly national-security newsletter Szoldra publishes each week here.
AMN: How did you get your start in writing and what led you to create the Duffel Blog?
Szoldra: Writing is something I kind of just fell into. I’ve always loved it, and I’m still very passionate about it today. I was studying at the University Of Tampa, and while I was enrolled at an entrepreneurship program, I wrote a business plan for my capstone which would help veterans in their transition to college. I loved reading The Onion, but I was dissatisfied by the way they represented the military in their articles. It was all small stuff, like the way a civilian would describe military operations, or confuses a Marine and a Soldier. I knew there was a niche, and created Duffel Blog by myself to bring those satirical articles to a Military audience.
AMN: I know you do most of the work at Duffel Blog yourself, do you have a steady stream of people signing up to contribute articles to your website?
Szoldra: We have a healthy amount of contributors. I think people continue to line up and submit content because I have always been very protective of my contributors, and I have even gone as far as to tell NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigation Service) to pound sand in an effort to protect their privacy. So I think people realize that and feel comfortable contributing material, because they know they have a platform to speak without worrying about getting into trouble with the military.
AMN: Getting your first compilation out there is a big milestone. In your words, what’s a good selling point for your new book?
Szoldra: We carefully selected 100 of our best articles from the 2,000 we have posted over the last five years. So, if you’re brand new to Duffel Blog, it’s a great place to start and catch up on all of our best stories. And if you’re not a new fan or you’ve been following us for five years, it’s a great book to toss onto the coffee table or in the bathroom, and will feature plenty of new stuff for our faithful readers like commentaries. It’s a compilation we’ve worked hard on and I think there is something in there that everyone can relate to!