The Day of the Jackal – Frederick Forsyth (1971)

The Day of the Jackal (1971) is a thriller novel by English author Frederick Forsyth about a professional assassin who is contracted by the OAS, a French dissident paramilitary organisation, to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France. The novel received admiring reviews and praise when first published in 1971, and it received a 1972 Best Novel Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. The novel remains popular, and in 2003 it was listed on the BBC’s survey The Big Read. The OAS, as described in the novel, did exist and the book opens with an accurate depiction of the attempt to assassinate de Gaulle led by Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry on 22 August 1962; the subsequent plot is fiction. … The book begins in 1962 with the (historical) failed attempt on de Gaulle‘s life plotted by, among others, Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry in the Paris suburb of Petit-Clamart: Operation Charlotte Corday. Following the arrest of Bastien-Thiry and remaining conspirators, the French security forces wage a short but extremely vicious ‘underground’ war with the terrorists of the OAS, a militant right-wing group who believe de Gaulle to be a traitor to France after his grant of independence to Algeria. … Over the three years immediately prior to his writing The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth spent most of his time in West Africa covering the Biafran war, first for the BBC in 1967 and then for another eighteen months as a freelance journalist in 1968–1969. Upon his return to Britain his first book, the non-fiction The Biafra Story: The Making of an African Legend about that brutal civil war during which Nigeria fought to prevent the secession of its eastern province, was published as a paperback by Penguin Books in late 1969. To Forsyth’s disappointment, however, the book sold very few copies and so with the arrival of the 1970s the then 31 year-old freelance journalist, international adventurer, and onetime youngest (at 19) fighter pilot in the RAF found himself both out of work and ‘flat broke’. To solve his financial problems he thus decided to try his hand at fiction by writing a political thriller as a ‘one-off’ project to ‘clear his debts’. Unlike most novelists, however, Forsyth would employ the same type of research techniques that he had used as an investigative reporter to bring a sense of increased reality to his work of fiction, a story which he first began to consider writing in 1962–1963 while posted to Paris as a young Reuters foreign correspondent. When Forsyth arrived in 1962, French President Charles de Gaulle had just granted independence to Algeria to end the eight-year Algerian War, a highly controversial act that had incurred the wrath of the anti-decolonisation paramilitary group Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) which then vowed to assassinate him. …”
Guardian – A book for the beach: The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Criminal Element

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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