Higgins and Rain On The Dead
Guest Columnist: Elise
Both books deal with the IRA. What point were you trying
Higgins: They were fighting for the position of Ireland
in the British Empire. They wanted independence as a
country. In the end they achieved something of the kind.
In Rain On The Dead you imply that the IRA
fights for independence while the Muslim terrorists
fight to impose their will. Do you agree?
Jack: Yes. I see what you mean. Both groups
are fighting a new type of war and do not wear a uniform.
It becomes very difficult for the authorities to recognize
the enemy. It could be anyone in the street. At least
with the Irish, they had a genuine desire for independence,
which many saw as reasonable. I would not compare this
with they type of terrorism the American President and
the British Prime Minister were recently discussing.
Let’s talk about Rain On The Dead. In
it you have the likeable character Sara Gideon who is
Jack: I made her Jewish because my foster parents
were Jewish and were very good to me. I got to know
Jewish traditions and the faith very well. I wanted
to show that there are plenty of Jewish people who are
serving in the British and US military. That is why
she is a retired war hero. She is a good character and
her Jewishness is a part of who she is.
Why did you bring back the former US President, Jack
Jack: I found it interesting to use him in this story.
He is quite a popular character and I enjoy writing
about him so I felt we were at a stage to bring him
back. There are a huge number of fans that look forward
to reading about this character and seeing what will
happen to him.
What US President did you most admire?
I suppose it would have to be Jack Kennedy. Many years
ago I wrote a book, Day of Judgment, which was primarily
set in Germany. It had in it a very famous visit by
a US President to Berlin where he made a very famous
speech to the German people. Historically, it affected
world politics at the time. I used it as background
for this book. The novel is about the underground that
tried to help people escape from the East German Communist
regime. Obviously, I used President Kennedy in certain
scenes of the book.
Your style is to write characters that are not all good
and are not all bad, such as Sean Dillon and Colonel
Kurt Steiner. Please explain.
Human beings are not like they are portrayed in Hollywood.
They are individuals who are a mixture of good and bad.
Many of my fans like these type of characters. I like
when people question if the characters are really villains.
These types are very interesting to write about.
What about Steiner?
tried to make the point that he and his men were not
Nazis but just soldiers. Steiner is a reasonable person
who was forced by circumstances to do a certain job.
There is not much he could do about it. If he did not
join he and his family would all be punished.
In The Eagle Has Landed you contrast the soldiers
with the Nazi atrocities of the Warsaw Ghetto and what
was done to Steiner’s father. Why?
I wanted to show these atrocities through the eyes of
the German soldiers. They were disgusted by what was
happening; yet, were unable to do much to stop it. I
also had some personal experiences. I served in Germany
just after the Second World War and my uncle was a regular
soldier in the British army. He was wounded and captured
early in the war. Although he was not Jewish he was
sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp to work in the
factory there, which was against international law.
This gave me an interest in the Nazi situation and World
Colonel Steiner saved a Jewish girl but was not executed.
Is that realistic?
Yes. What the Germans did to soldiers like Steiner is
require them to do very dangerous jobs within the military.
For example, they worked to dispose bombs and clear
mine fields. With these jobs there was a good chance
of blowing themselves up. In the novel, Steiner and
his men were made to do the dangerous work of sitting
on top of torpedoes to disarm them. This was a suicide
job since most did not survive for very long.
In the book you have Steiner commenting on the rules
of engagement. This is the direct opposite of what the
Islamists terrorists did in your latest book. Please
explain this quote from The Eagle Has Landed, “Why,
did you think we’d hold the entire village hostage
or come out fighting, driving the women in front of
us? The brutal Hun? Sorry I can’t oblige.”
Steiner was an honorable man and soldier. He had a moral
code. I really don’t know why the Muslims do what
they are doing. Those terrorists don’t seem to
have a moral code.
Since this is the fortieth anniversary of The Eagle
Has Landed any plans?
Jack: I believe there is talk of remaking the
story on television. There was the movie starring Michael
Caine as Steiner. I think a TV show would be very helpful
to get more of the book story told than in the two hour
and ten minute film.
on The Dead
By Jack Higgins
Reviewed by Elise Cooper
Jack Higgins, the author of the famous
book, The Eagle Has Landed, has a new book
out, Rain On The Dead. There are similarities
between both books, including IRA characters, the main
character as someone flawed, as well as a plot line
that includes assassinations and kidnappings.
Rain On The Dead begins when two Chechen Muslims
attempt to assassinate the US President, Jack Cazalet.
Unfortunately for them, Cazalet has guests with him,
including black ops specialist Sean Dillon, and ex-IRA
gunman, and his colleague, Afghan war hero Captain Sara
Gideon. With the help of the English authorities Dillon,
Gideon, and company search for those responsible, IRA
sympathizers and Al Qaeda terrorists.
Yet, readers cannot think of Higgins without bringing
to mind his classic thriller, The Eagle Has Landed,
especially since this year is the fortieth anniversary.
The plot has Colonel Kurt Steiner forced to take a crack
team of commandos to England. Their mission is to kidnap
or assassinate Winston Churchill. The Germans enlist
the help of an IRA assassin and a South African woman
who hates everything the English stand for. This book
is a riveting account of whether the Germans will succeed.