What a rollicking great read this has been! The author of Day of the Jackal, The Odessa Files and The Dogs of War, probably his most well known and widely read books, has now written his own story. And it is fabulously entertaining, full of real life stories every bit as good as those he as written about. A New York Times reviewer had this to say: "Reading “The Outsider” is like finding yourself trapped in a pub with an insistent storyteller. You know you have better, worthier things to do, but your host is so genial and so quick to refill your glass that before you know it, you’ve whiled away a very pleasant evening." And I can't actually think of a better way saying it!

From his earliest memories, Forsyth wanted a life of adventure. Born just before the war, his early years growing up in Kent on England's east coast, the area was full of war machinery, air force bases with Sptifires, planes taking off and landing all the time. Terribly exciting. After the war, he was packed off to boarding school for a not-very-enjoyable- time, but his parents, especially his father, had the foresight to send him off in his school holidays to the continent for immersion in French, then German. He also learnt Russian, and in his late teens with a friend debunked to Spain for some months where he also picked up Spanish. And a host of adventures! You will have to read to find out more.

His adventurous path in life was set. Exciting times in the RAF, were followed by becoming a foreign correspondent for Reuters, firstly in Paris, then East Berlin. He then signed up with the BBC which resulted in him being the BBC's man in Nigeria during the civil war of the late 1960s. Completely unexpectedly he found himself in an activist role, bringing to the attention of the British public the terrible plight of the Biafran population, basically starving to death. He has nothing nice to say about the British government in its conduct during this time, this perhaps being a defining experience in Forsyth's life.

The three novels mentioned above were the direct result of his experiences in Paris during the leadership of De Gaulle, in the post-Nazi world of East Germany, and knowing mercenaries in African politics. Forsyth's life itself reads like one of these novels. Fact is stranger than fiction so the saying goes, and this is certainly a life well lived! It is possible that some of these tales have got a little taller in the telling, and with the passing of the years, but who cares! I expect almost all the people mentioned are now dead or nearly there, and I doubt if it would be possible now to have a life quite like this. So you will be entertained, you will definitely learn a thing or two, and I bet you will also slink off to your bookshelves, and hunt out any or all of these three novels.

No comments:

Post a Comment