My Life in Intrigue
By: Frederick Forsyth
Columnist: Elise Cooper
October 6th, 2015/ 9780399176074
Non-Fiction /Literary Biography / British Authors
The Outsider by Frederick Forsyth is a memoir
and not an autobiography. It is series of recollections
and not a chronological narration. Although this book
reads more like a thriller, readers get a glimpse of
those events and personalities Forsyth has come in contact
with that he based some of the stories upon. Unfortunately,
this will be his last book because he has decided to
put his pen out to pasture.
Cooper: Why did you decide to write a memoir at this
Frederick Forsyth: I had nothing to do so I
decided to write a collection of anecdotes.
Elise: You are proud of your journalistic career.
What did you see as your style?
I consider myself a journalistic writer, keeping to
the facts and making sure they are accurate. I do not
write much emotional stuff or fancy language. My books
were all contemporary current affairs based on what
I had seen. Hell, I made mistakes and have done so many
things I chose to write about them, or maybe not.
Why do you think a journalist needs the qualities of
detachment, curiosity, and skepticism?
Frederick: A journalist should never join the
Establishment, no matter how tempting the blandishments.
It is our job to hold power to account, not join it.
In a world that increasingly obsesses over the gods
of power, money, and fame, a journalist and a writer
must remain detached, like a bird on a rail, watching,
noting, probing, commenting, but never joining. In short,
an outsider. I believe a journalist’s job is to
check out something and write about it, but not get
at all involved. We live in an age where they want to
be a part of the Establishment, running with the herd,
and a member of the Brotherhood. Instead, they should
hold those they are covering to the account. They should
never interject their opinions.
You covered the actual assassination attempts of France’s
President Charles de Gaulle. Is the story the Day
of the Jackal factual?
Frederick: Yes, except for the actual character,
the Jackal. I included all the police methods and the
French security service operations. It is a twin hunt
story where the Jackal is hunting the President and
the police are searching for him. But there is no similarity
between my affair and the Jackal’s. I had an affair
with the East German defense minister’s mistress.
She was a cougar, about twenty years my senior. I remember
her singing this song to me and one day I found out
she was a Nazi singing one of their songs. I thought
it amusing that she was doing it with me, a part of
the race that conquered her.
You also included humor in the book. What was one of
the most humorous?
Frederick: I wanted to interview Ezer Weizman,
the first commander of the Israeli Air Force. I thought
he was going to take us in a limo to Tel Aviv, but he
actually meant to fly us there. As he was describing
to me the first dogfight he was in during the War for
Independence he took his hands off the controls, which
I grabbed. I got a history lesson and a flying lesson
all at once.
Who is one of the people you interviewed you most admired?
Frederick: David Ben-Gurion. I consider him
the founding father of Israel and one of the greatest
men I have ever met. I was allotted twenty minutes,
but we actually spoke for three hours. He described
the creation of Israel in a step-by-step manner. As
we talked I thought how he was a walking history lesson.
I could have filled ten notebooks, but I just sat and
listened to someone who had seen it all.
What will you do in retirment?
This was the last book. I consider it a postscript.
I hope I am going out on top. For now I will enjoy my
life by walking the dog, playing with the grandkids,
and having, in the evening, a glass of wine by the fireplace.
Thank you, Mr Forsyth.