Frederick Forsyth has seen it all. And lived to tell the tale.
We all make mistakes, but starting the Third World War would have been a rather large one. To this day I still maintain it was not entirely my fault. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
During the course of my life, I've barely escaped the wrath of an arms dealer in Hamburg, been strafed by a MiG during the Nigerian civil war, and landed during a bloody coup in Guinea-Bissau.
The Stasi arrested me, the Israelis regaled me, the IRA prompted a quick move from Ireland to England, and a certain attractive Czech secret police agent - well, her actions were a bit more intimate. And that's just for starters. All of that I saw from the inside. But all that time I was, nonetheless, an outsider.
Trained first as a pilot then as a journalist, Frederick Forsyth finally turned to fiction and became one of the most lauded thriller writers of our time.
As exciting as his novels, Forsyth's autobiography is a candid look at an extraordinary life lived to the full - a life whose unique experiences have provided rich inspiration for 13 internationally best-selling thrillers.
©2015 Frederick Forsyth (P)2015 Random House AudioBooks (UK)
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Forsyth writes in an intimate manner and made me feel as if I was sitting in his living room over a cup of tea discussing his life. The book is well written, concise with adventure, intrigue and humor.
The first part of the book he tells of his youth and his desire to fly planes. I was impressed that his father sent him to live with a family in France each summer when he was a child to learn French; then as a teen he sent him to live with a German family to learn German. Just before he went into the RAF he spent time in Spain living with a family to learn Spanish. He also learned Russian but via an academic method. A good part of the beginning of the book he discusses the techniques and importance of research to be a good author. He points out that a writer is an outsider as he is an observer of society and then works in solitude.
The remainder of the book is about his life as a journalist for the BBC, Reuters and as a free lance reporter. He discusses various wars in Africa and events such as the attempt to assassinate Charles de Gaulle that he covered as a reporter. Forsyth reveals how his ability to speak like a native helped him as an investigative reporter. He then details how these events and his investigative reporting provided the basic information that gave him the bases for his novels. I have read most of his books over the years and could relate to events in his life that he worked into his stories.
The book provides an insight into the mind of a writer. The story shows how much Forsyth liked to travel and enjoyed his desire for adventure. Robert Powell does a good job narrating the book.
"An amazing life described with verve"
I’ve listened to and enjoyed many of Frederick Forsyth’s novels: all characterised by exciting themes given veracity by the author’s great attention to detail. What I didn’t know was that many of his exciting story-lines are based on experiences he was actually involved in. This is certainly the most-action packed biography I've ever encountered. If this autobiography had been a novel I might have thought one life could not actually have so many over-the-top experiences and repeatedly defy death. It's like a cross between James Bond and Indiana Jones! It certainly makes for an enthralling listen as the content is extraordinary, the writing well-suited to audio and the narrator is excellent.
"Curiously No Sense of Irony"
This book is very well read, and amongst the best biographical style works I own as audio.
Mr Forsyth sees himself as an outsider, and yet he clearly is not, and has not, been. His networking skills and knowledge stand out in every chapter, and outsiders, but their very nature do not have these.
This is not a work of fiction (one assumes) and so this is an odd question, but Mr. Powell does both 'serious Freddie' and "Wooster Freddie' very effectively, perhaps adding a little more to the character of the book than would reading it alone.
No, several sittings, on long train journeys and sorting tasks, proved very effective.
Mr. Forsyth makes his politics clear throughout his writings, and I quite respected him for it before listening to 'The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue', but his exposition of his own story actually left me quite angry. A man who was 'reconstructed' after a serious car accident, at a cottage hospital, by remarkable medics and nursing staff, then does not want to pay into the system that saved him: he leaves the country because the top tax bracket, after the allowances, is 'too much', is not so worthy of respect. A man who later complains that his investments adviser (due diligence is not about money management, it is about character and behaviour) is not effectively prosecuted because the state lawyer is not good enough, is also missing the point, that his taxes were not there to train the best for the CPS - is short on irony. A man who describes the Geisha tradition with such relish, and seems quite happy about the auctioning of young virgins within its framework (evidence suggests that is has continued in Japan into this century), even if he is in his seventies, should be 'an outsider', but I don't think he is. If you want a Ian Fleming style account this is not for you - but if you are happy with right-wing politics, and convenient 'patriotism' this will please you. And it is a brilliant performance by Robert Powell, of course.
"More like the "Insider""
9 out of 10. A must read book or listen to true story. Frederick Forsyth thank you, we (my wife and I) listened almost non stop to your amazing trials and tribulations.
The final success of that flight in a Spitfire and the fact that it made a dream come true after 70 years.
To be honest I thought it was the author reading the story with such conviction and feeling.
The unfolding mess of Biafra and the way in which our Government hid facts from us despite the knowledge of what was really happening. "Suffer little children to come unto me". I shudder to think that once again we are hidden from the truth and all because those in power will not admit "they got it wrong". No wonder we are loosing faith in those elected to represent us.
I am not usually smitten by Autobiography's. I am pleased that I had the pleasure of hearing Frederick Forsyths talk when he attended the Fleet Air Arms Open day at Yeovilton this year. Until then I knew little of his life, possibly like you had read his most famous books.
Frederick, you would have made a very good Hunter Pilot I am sure. My brother Frederick H. met some of the difficulties of joining the services but like you he believed and became a Test Pilot at Farnborough and later at Boscombe Down and then joined British aerospace to help promote the Hawk and the Harrier in the southern hemisphere. He is (90) on Jan 7th 2017 and if your near Haslemere he would be delighted to have you join us for lunch.
I expect you will be to busy but the offer stands. Thank you again for all your time and effort in creating "A very good read"
"The Outsider:My Life in Intrigue"
Robert Powell was great as the narrator to this autobiogrraphy of Frederick Forsyth would recommend.
This is a fascinating collection of reminiscences from an eminent Englishman! Top read, thoroughly recommended.
"a thriller in itself"
great story, strong views but very entertaining, amusing, gripping and very well read. good read
"Like a cat with none lives!"
Very interesting autobiography, and what an incredible life Frederick Forsyth has led. This is the first book of his I have read and it has whet my appetite to read the others. Fascinating man who says it like it is - no holes barred.
"Witty, entertaining and a damn good listen"
Loved this book, witty at times, very entertaining and whilst not compulsive listening, the book was finished quickly.
"Kept me interested but could have been better"
This isn't a proper autobiography, I don't think. He covers his early life in quite a lot of interesting detail but as time goes on he becomes more selective until by the end it's just a series of vignettes some of which he seems to have included for sentimental family reasons rather than because they're particularly interesting.
I was struck by the fact that he spent more time explaining how he changed a car battery to hide a secret document than he did on either of his marriages. It's also rather thin on details about the writing of most of his books after the Day of the Jackal. There is also a rather arrogant tone at times which isn't that appealing - Mr Forsyth is not one for a great deal of self-doubt I don't think.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but something slightly more detailed and candid would have been so much better.
Robert Powell's reading of it was excellent.
Couldn't believe that this wasn't read by the author. We listened to this entire recording in belief that we were listening to Fredrick reading his latest novel.
What a story, the truth really does make the author seem like one of his best characters.
Robert Powell fantastically brought Mr Forsyth's to life
What a life too, it could only have happened to form Fredrick into the writer he is now, any later and he would have missed his chance.
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