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Frederick Forsyth: Thriller Icon
Frederick Forsyth (born 1938 in Ashford, Kent, England) was one of the youngest pilots in the RAF at the age of 19, and served there from 1956 to 1958. For the next three and a half years he worked as a reporter for the Eastern Daily Press in Norfolk. He then became a correspondent for Reuters in 1961, first in Paris, at the age of 23, and then later in East Germany and Czechoslovakia.
Returning to London in 1965, he worked as a radio and television reporter for the BBC. He left the BBC following allegations of biases in his reporting of the Biafran War (towards the Biafran cause). There were rumors that he had falsified elements of his reports. However, he returned to Biafra as a freelancer., and In 1969 he wrote a book about the Biafran War called The Biafra Story: Making of an African Legend (NB: Not a thriller). This book reports on the attempts of the Biafrans to achieve nationhood.
After writing this book, he started to write the extremely successful thrillers that has built his fame and popularity as a writer worldwide.
Reviews on Frederick Forsyh page 2: The Cobra, The Afghan, The Avenger.
Frederick Forsyth's books:
The Day of the Jackal (1971), by Frederick Forsyth
The Day of the Jackal (Sjakalen) is a novel about main character is the Jackal, a highly feared and infamous terrorist at the time when this novel was written. The plot of the book is a (fictional) account of an attempt by this terrorist to assassinate the French president Charles de Gaulle.
The Day of the Jackal is very well written and very exciting. The intense style and suspense that sets Forsyth apart as a writer and master of the thriller genre is visible already here in this early book. An extremely worthwhile read! And, yes, the movie with the same name is based on this book!
See also the French TV mini series about the "real" Carlos! Excellent!
The Shepherd (1976), by Frederick Forsyth
The Shepherd is a story seemingly based upon Forsyth's own experiences as a RAF pilot. It is the story of a De Havilland Vampire pilot, going home on Christmas Eve 1957, whose aircraft suffers a complete electrical failure over the North Sea en route from Celle in northern Germany to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. Lost in fog and very low on fuel, he is shepherded to a disused RAF dispersal field by the pilot of a De Havilland Mosquito fighter/bomber of World War II vintage, who has apparently been sent up to guide him in. However, the pilot of the Mosquito, it later turns out, has been missed for 14 years. He too disappeared on Christmas Eve!
The Shepherd is a very short story, a booklet rather than a full book. It is different from the other books by Forsyth, and really a rather delighting, amazing, and interesting little story.
The Devil's Alternative (1979), by Frederick Forsyth
The Devil's Alternative is a spy thriller from the end of the 1970's - from the Era of the Cold War. The Russian leader and the American President face off in a crisis situation. Spies and intelligence play a crucial role: The British happen to have a spy with access to the Russian Politburo meetings. This may provide the key to gaining advantage for the West.
"The story is very exciting, although somewhat unrealistic. As usual, the good guys are trying to prevent World War III while the "hawks" in both the Kremlin and the White House can hardly wait to get going. The ending is somewhat contrived but on the whole the book is a very good read", says Rennie Petersen at the amazon.co.uk web site in his review of the book.
However, The Devil's Alternative is a book written in a political context long gone. But given that most readers will be somewhat familiar with the Cold War, this is probably not a factor that will prevent most readers from enjoying the book even today.
The Devil's Alternative is a classic thriller - politicians, spies, terrorists, and huge decisions that needs to be made in a situation where information is scarce. Highly recommended!
No Comebacks (1982), by Frederick Forsyth
No Comebacks is a great collection of ten short stories. Many are set in the Irish Republic where Forsyth lived at the time. One of them, There Are No Snakes In Ireland, won him a second Edgar Allan Poe Award, this time for best short story.
This collection shows Forsyth's considerable talent as a storyteller from a somewhat different perspective.
The Deceiver (1991), by Frederick Forsyth
This book includes four separate short storiesreviewing the career of British secret agent Sam McCready. McCready is a old hand in the intelligence community, known as "the Deceiver". Now the Permanent Under-Secretary (PUS) of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office requires the Chief of the SIS to push Sam into early retirement.
The four stories of the book are presented to a grievance committee in an attempt to allow Sam to stay on active duty with the SIS. They show how useful his competence has been, and what role he has played. What will the verdict be?
The Deceiver is a great, and quite interesting book. Its descriptions of how the game is played, correct or not, are detailed and fascinating. A great read!
The Fist of God (1994), by Frederick Forsyth
When Iraq invades Kuwait, both the British and Americans need top level intelligence on the ground. Major Mike Martin of the Special Air Service is seconded to SIS to work with the Kuwaiti resistance. Major Martin speaks fluent Arabic. He also looks like an Arab, and speaks the language fluently. His brother, Terry Martin, an academic and expert in Arab military studies, is at the same time asked to advise a joint Anglo-American committee on possible Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Thus the two brothers Martin become the key players in this book.
The Fist of God is one of Forsyth's best books. The action is fast, the suspense is there most of the time, and the plots are thick. It's a real page-turner, and a must for thriller fans!
Icon (1996), by Frederick ForsythThe context for Icon is post-Glasnost Russia. The country is in crisis, and a new post-Fascist political party emerges, with a new, strong presidential candidate. A highly popular and charismatic politician, victory was all but guaranteed for Komarov.
Then a secret document surfaces in the West. The document contains extremely very sensitive information regarding Komarov's future policies as president, indicating some relatively problematic tactics: restoration of slave camps, creation of a one-party state, destruction of political opponents, invasion of neighboring republics, and genocide of Russia's ethnic and religious minorities.
The West must do something. But what? And how? A game with high stakes, espionage, and intrigue is started. And the snowball turns and twists. Icon is a wonderful read!
Icon is among Forsyth's best. Definitely!
The Phantom of Manhattan (1999), by Frederick Forsyth
This is not a thriller. This is a Forsyth experiment. An attempt to write something which is far outside what he usually writes. It is meant as a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. (not the book, but the play!).
It is Forsyth, in that it is well researched and well thought out, and all of that. On the other hand, it is not, in our opinion, a good book, which is what Forsyth is all about. This book misfired. It didn't work. It may become a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera on the stage, who knows, but as it is, it doesn't work as a book.
And Forsyth? Well, he has since returned to his more normal venues, and not writes the stuff he knows best how to write.
The Veteran (2001), by Frederick Forsyth
The Veteran is another collection of short stories. The book has five short stories, all set in very different settings. The settings are, in some ways, almost as interesting as the stories themselves.
The stories read, in a sense, more like five short novels than as short stories. The plots are generally great, though with some variation. We liked three of the stories a lot, and two of them (the thrd and fourth) now quite so much.
As always, Forsyth is a master of detail, and he recreates with superb accuracy the world of his characters. The Veteran is an interesting read, but not quite at the level of his best thrillers.
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