- My Life in Intrigue
Frederick Forsyth is one of my favorite authors. I have read some of his earliest books like The Day of the Jackal, Devil Alternative, Dogs of War, and Odessa File during the early and late 1970s, if I remember correctly. While working in New Delhi, I had lived in Karolbagh and Old Rajender Nagar. There were a couple of old books, pavement shops on the corner of Arya Samaj Road and Ajmalkhan Road. Many second-hand books by popular authors were available for throwaway prices and I was one of their regular clients. As I was on a transferable job, my biggest challenge was to transport my book collections, which took away most of the transport allowance I received from my employer.
‘The Day of the Jackal’ is about the assassination attempts on the then President De Gaulle of France. ‘Odessa File’ was about the secret files maintained by an International German organization - ODESSA, established before the defeat of Nazis in the Second World War, to protect the former officers of the SS after the War. ‘The Dogs of War’ is about the secret mission of some British, colluding with a few African mercenaries, to depose one of the African nations. I currently do not remember the theme of ‘The Devils Alternative book.’
I didn’t read any of his subsequent novels.
After nearly, thirty or so years, I stumbled upon “The Outsider – My Life in Intrigue” by Frederick Forsyth in Sunset Library, Chandler, Arizona. This book is, in fact, his own personal story – a compilation of his memoirs from childhood till writing the book. All his earlier novels are suspense crime thrillers. Many of them are inspired by the intrigues of his own personal life. This book is about those personal experiences.
Frederick became a pilot of the British Royal Air Force, when he was only nineteen. However, he couldn’t be a regular Air Force pilot. He became a correspondent for Daily Express, a British daily and then in Reuters. Even during his studies, he had developed sufficient skill in French, German, Spanish and Russian languages that helped him to get into the desks of overseas correspondents. By a stroke of luck (or ill-luck) he was posted to East Germany. He had escaped the wrath of an arms dealer in Hamburg, Germany. He had narrowly escaped being torn apart by the bullets from the machine guns from below, tearing through the small gap between his thighs as he was hitchhiking, lying down on the floor in a cargo flight during the horrendous Nigerian War. He had smuggled a package for the Firm (read: the British Secret Service Organization) from East Germany to West Germany in the middle of the night. He had landed in Guinea-Bissau, a West African country in the middle of a bloody coup. The Stasi, the State Security Service of the erstwhile East Germany had arrested him. He was saved from the turmoil in Ireland while living there for nearly five years, by some top leader of IRA. And many more perilous personal experiences, mind chilling to read about.
Frederick has a powerful story-telling talent and this book, though only a collection of several personal memoirs, reads as thrilling as his earlier thriller novels. I am happy reading his book after a long gap. He is currently aged more than seventy living in England. Many of his books have turned into successful movies too.
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