RATING: 5 STARS
Frederick Forsyth, author of several successful spy thrillers, such as The Day of The Jackal and The Odessa File had a feeling of authenticity- simply because his real life was as exciting and filled with danger as the characters in his thrillers.
In his autobiography, The Outsider, Forsyth decides against attending college and sets his sights on joining the Royal Air Force (RAF), a career he dreamed of since he was a young boy where he explored a cockpit of a Spitfire warplane at the base in Kent where his father served during World War II. England was in the midst of fighting World War II, and Frederick was in awe of the uniformed men and yearned to be a pilot. As a teenager, he spent summers in France and Germany quickly picking up French and German. His knack for languages worked in his favor when he wrote for a local paper, leading to a position as a foreign correspondent with Reuters.
Forsyth shares his adventures with as much energy as his legendary thrillers. His knowledge of French allowed him to eavesdrop in cafes in Northern Africa and France in the dangerous years when France was on the verge of a coup d’état to overthrow President Charles de Gaulle. This distressing experience gave him the idea for his first novel, The Day of The Jackal. He created a fictional insider assassin -the Jackal – and learned much later he was closer to the truth of his fictional account than he realized.
He believed that the detachment he developed as a journalist carried over into his writing. His success with his first three books and their adaptation into blockbuster movies led to worldwide fame and wealth. After entrusting all of his savings to an investment firm, the firm collapsed and he lost all of his savings. Although it was a tremendous blow, it strengthened his belief that one shouldn’t trust The Establishment and he continued to write several more successful novels.
The Outsider is an in-depth look at Forsyth’s life. I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of Forsyth or spy novels.