Frederick Forsyth, CBE (born 25 August 1938) is an English author and occasional political commentator. He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil's Alternative, The Fist of God, Icon, The Veteran, Avenger and recently The Afghan.
The son of a furrier, Forsyth was born in Ashford, Kent. He was educated at Tonbridge School and later attended the University of Granada in Spain. He became one of the youngest pilots in the Royal Air Force at the age of 19, where he served on National Service from 1956 to 1958. Becoming a journalist, he joined Reuters in 1961 and later the BBC in 1965, where he served as an assistant diplomatic correspondent. From July to September 1967, he served as a correspondent covering the Nigerian Civil War between the region of Biafra and Nigeria. He left the BBC in 1968 after controversy arose over his alleged bias towards the Biafran cause and accusations that he falsified segments of his reports. Returning to Biafra as a freelance reporter, Forsyth wrote his first book, The Biafra Story in 1969.
Forsyth decided to write a novel using similar research techniques to those used in journalism. His first full length novel, The Day of the Jackal, was published in 1971 and became an international bestseller and gained its author the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. In this book, the Organisation armée secrète (a real-life terrorist group) hires an assassin to kill the then-French President Charles de Gaulle. It was later made into a film of the same name.
In Forsyth's second novel, The Odessa File (1972), a reporter attempts to track down a certain ex-Nazi SS officer in modern Germany. The reporter discovers him via the diary of a Jewish Holocaust survivor who committed suicide earlier, but he is being shielded by an organization that protects ex-Nazis, called ODESSA. Later, the reporter discovers that this same SS officer murdered a German Army officer during World War II for striking him after refusing to let SS soldiers take the place of his own wounded men. The German Army Officer was the reporter's father. This book was later made into a movie with the same name, starring Jon Voight, but there were substantial adaptations.
In The Dogs of War (1974) a British mining executive hires a group of mercenaries to overthrow the government of an African country so that he can install a puppet regime that will allow him cheap access to a colossal platinum-ore reserve. This book was also adapted to film, in 1981, starring Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger.
The Shepherd was an illustrated novella published in 1975. It tells of a nightmare journey by an RAF pilot while flying home for Christmas in the late 1950s. His attempts to find a rational explanation for his eventual rescue prove as troublesome as his experience. Following this came The Devil's Alternative in 1979, which was set in 1982. In this book, the Soviet Union faces a disastrous grain harvest and Ukrainian freedom fighters. A Politburo faction fight ensues. In the end, a Norwegian oil tanker built in Japan, a Russian airliner hijacked to West Berlin and various governments find themselves involved.
In 1982, No Comebacks, a collection of ten short stories, was published. Some of these stories had been written earlier. Many were set in the Republic of Ireland where Forsyth was living 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.
The Fourth Protocol was published in 1984 and involves renegade elements within the Soviet Union attempting to plant a nuclear bomb near an American airbase in the UK, intending to influence the upcoming British elections and lead to the election of an anti-NATO, anti-American, anti-nuclear, pro-soviet Labour government. The Fourth Protocol was later filmed, starring Pierce Brosnan and Michael Caine, in 1987. All the