Frederick Forsyth


Frederick Forsyth

Before becoming a journalist, he joined the RAF and was a jet fighter pilot. He joined Reuters in 1961 and later the BBC in 1965, where he served as an assistant diplomatic correspondent.

Forsyth reported on his early activities as a journalist. His early career was spent covering French affairs and the attempted assassination of Charles de Gaulle. He had never been to what he termed “black Africa” until reporting on the Nigerian Civil War between Biafra and Nigeria as a BBC correspondent. He was there for the first six months of 1967, but few expected the war to last very long considering the poor weaponry and preparation of the Biafrans when compared to the British-armed Nigerians. After his six months were over, however, Forsyth – eager to carry on reporting – approached the BBC to ask if he could have more time there. He noted their response:

I was told quite bluntly, then, ‘it is not our policy to cover this war.’ This was a period when the Vietnam War was front-page headlines almost every day, regarded broadly as an American cock-up, and this particularly British cock-up in Nigeria was not going to be covered. I smelt news management. I don’t like news management. So I made a private vow to myself: ‘you may, gentlemen, not be covering it, but I’m going to cover it.’ So I quit and flew out there, and stayed there for most of the next two years.

He thus returned to Biafra as a freelance reporter, writing his first book, The Biafra Story, in 1969.

In August 2015 Forsyth revealed that in Biafra he began work as a spy for MI6, a relationship that continued for 20 years. He claimed he wasn’t paid.

He is an occasional radio broadcaster on political issues, and has also written for newspapers throughout his career, including a weekly page in the Daily Express. In 2003, he criticised “gay-bashers in the churches” in The Guardian newspaper. He has narrated several documentaries, including Jesus Christ Airlines, Soldiers, a history of men in battle and I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life & Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal.


The Biafra Story 1969 Non-fiction. 1977 edition titled: “The Biafra Story: The Making of an African Legend”.
The Day of the Jackal 1971 Adapted into the 1973 film of the same name.
The Odessa File 1972 Adapted into the 1974 film of the same name.
The Dogs of War 1974 Adapted into the 1980 film of the same name.
The Shepherd 1975 Illustrated short story. Chris Foss illustrated the UK edition. American edition published in 1976: Lou Feck illustrated this edition.
The Devil’s Alternative 1979 American edition published in 1980.
Emeka 1982 Biography of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Revised in 1991.
No Comebacks 1982 Collection consisting of ten short stories.
The Fourth Protocol 1984 Adapted into the 1987 film of the same name.
The Negotiator 1989
The Deceiver 1991
Great Flying Stories 1991 Compiled, edited and introduced by Forsyth. Also features his 1975 story “The Shepherd”.
The Fist of God 1994
Icon 1996
The Phantom of Manhattan 1999 Partly adapted into the 2010 romantic musical Love Never Dies.
The Veteran 2001 Collection consisting of five short stories: “The Veteran”, “The Art of the Matter”, “The Miracle”, “The Citizen”, and “Whispering Wind”.
Avenger 2003
The Afghan 2006
The Cobra 2010
The Kill List 2013
The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue 2015 Autobiography. Published in September 2015.


As writer only (except for Soldiers, as presenter)


Year Title Notes
1973 The Day of the Jackal Adapted from The Day of the Jackal
1974 The Odessa File Adapted from The Odessa File
1980 The Dogs of War Adapted from The Dogs of War
1987 The Fourth Protocol Adapted from The Fourth Protocol
1997 The Jackal Based on the 1973 film





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