Frederick Forsyth (born August 25, 1938) is a British author and occasional political commentator.
He is best known for thrillers such as The Day Of the Jackal, The Dogs Of War, The Odessa File, Icon and The Fist Of God.
Born in Ashford, Kent, Forsyth was educated at Tonbridge School. He later attended Granada University in Spain. At the age of 19, he became one of the youngest pilots ever in the Royal Air Force, where he served until 1958.
He then became a reporter, and spent three and a half years working at a small newspaper before joining Reuters in 1961. In 1965, he joined the BBC and was assistant diplomatic correspondent. From July to September 1967, he covered the Biafran War between Biafra and Nigeria.
In 1968, he left the BBC and returned to Biafra as a freelancer. In 1969, he wrote a book about the Biafran War called The Biafra Story.
In 1970, he decided to write a novel, but to write it using similar research techniques as were used in journalism. His first full length novel, The Day of the Jackal, was an international bestseller, and was later made into a movie with the same name. In this novel, the Organisation de l'Arm�e Secr�te hires an assassin to kill Charles de Gaulle.
In 1972, Forsyth wrote The Odessa File, in which a reporter attempts to track down a network of ex-Nazis in modern Germany. In 1974, he wrote The Dogs of War, in which a 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 its substantial mineral wealth.
In 1979, he wrote The Devil's Alternative, which was set in 1982 Russia. In this book, the Soviet Union faces a disastrous grain harvest and Ukrainian freedom fighters. In the end, a Norwegian oil tanker built in Japan, a Russian airliner hijacked to West Berlin and countless governments find themselves involved.
In 1982, No Comebacks was published, which was a collection of approximately 10 short stories. Some of these stories had been written earlier.
The Fourth Protocol was published in 1984. It involves renegade elements within the Soviet Union attempting to plant a nuclear bomb near an American airbase in the UK. The result would be peace protesters demanding an end to the US airbases. In 1989, he wrote The Negotiator, in which the President's son is kidnapped and one man's job is to negotiate the release.
In 1991, The Deceiver was published. It involved four separate short stories to review Agent Sam McCready's career.
In 1994, Forsyth published The Fist of God. This is a historical novel about the first Gulf War. In 1996, he published Icon, about the rise of the fascists in Russia. In 2001, The Veteran was published, another collection of short stories. His latest book, Avenger, was published in September 2003 , it is about a Canadian millionaire hiring an ex-vietnam veteran to bring his grandson's killer to the US.
Forsyth eschews psychological complexity in favour of meticulous plotting, based on detailed factual research. His books are full of information about the technical details of such subjects as money laundering, gun running and identity theft. His novels can read like investigative journalism in fictional guise. His moral vision is a harsh one: the world is made up of predators and prey, and only the strong survive. The Novels he wrote in the 1970s are usually regarded as his best work.
His research has caused headaches for governments. In the Day of the Jackal, he describes how the would-be assassin is able to get a new identity card. He visits a church, and looks for a tombstone of someone who was born nearly the same time he was, but died in infancy. He then obtains a birth certificate, and obtains the identity card. In the story, the government didn't cross check requests with a death registry. Unfortunately, this was actually government practice at the time, and Forsyth revealed this in his writings. In the Deceiver, he describes how British agent bug the corpse of an IRA member, so that when other IRA members whisper to the corpse (e.g., "We did great bombing that school five years ago"), the British secret service was getting it all down. Journalists pressed the British government to ask if this had ever been done, and the British government was forced to admit that indeed it had.
Forsyth is a Eurosceptic (i.e., he is critical of the EU), and is regarded by some as a political conservative, although he declared in an interview "you can call me a right Labourite or a left Tory" and may be more accurately described an an ideoskeptic centrist. He is an occasional radio broadcaster on political issues, and has also written several op-ed pieces for newspapers throughout his career