Retired Gen. Tony Zinni, a former top U.S. commander in the Middle East, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the war in Iraq.

Zinni, who stepped down as the head of the Central Command in 2000, will be releasing next month a new book, “Before the First Shots Are Fired: How America Can Win or Lose off the Battlefield.” The retired Marine is expected to discuss U.S. foreign policy and the book, which he co-wrote with Tony Koltz, on Sept. 19 in Sonoma.

The talk — led by retired U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Jody Breckenridge, who was one of a handful of female flag officers in that branch — kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall, 126 First St. W. Wine will be sold by the glass starting at 6 p.m.

It’s part of the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance’s new speaker series, aimed at bringing to the area individuals with “interesting perspectives on current issues,” according to the nonprofit’s executive director Kathy Witkowicki. The alliance works with at-risk schoolchildren throughout Sonoma Valley.

Event tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for seniors, veterans and children ages 13 to 18. They can be purchased at or by calling 938-1990.