The Book of the Week is “The Outsider” by Frederick Forsyth, published in 2015. This is the autobiography of a British adventurer. Born on the eve of WWII, passionate about airplanes, he joined the Royal Air Force in his late teens. The National Service– British military– was a great leveler of young men from all walks of life, as it brought them together, fostered their bonding and helped unify the nation.
The multi-lingual author chose to become a foreign correspondent. He had become Reuters’ bureau head stationed in East Germany at the time John F. Kennedy was killed in November 1963. The Germans were scared there would be a war. He met many Eastern European characters, including one whom he suspected had served the Nazis as a law enforcement officer, and then switched to the Communists after the war, simply learning Russian while keeping his sadistic persona. “West Berlin was teeming with spy agencies, agents, infiltrators and defectors.”
By the late 1960’s, Forsyth had to adjust his career ambition and settle for becoming a freelance journalist after he acted in accordance with his own moral compass while covering the 1967-68 Nigeria/Biafra war for the BBC. Later, he went to Israel, where he interviewed David Ben Gurion. This first prime minister of Israel came from a Russian shtetl to Palestine in 1906. Ben Gurion said that at that time, his people spoke Yiddish and Russian, not Hebrew, because Eliza Ben Yehuda had yet to create the Hebrew dictionary.
“The thing about journalists is that they lie well.” In the early 1970’s, the author lied his way into getting his first novel published, even though he was 100% ignorant about publishing, royalties and contracts. Read the book to learn the details of Forsyth’s adventures in flying, journalism, intelligence work, and publishing.