Book Review - Sidney Sheldon's "Reckless" by Tilly Bagshawe

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780062304056_p0_v2_s192x300Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless, by Tilly Bagshawe, is a suspenseful thrilling novel. For the past six years Bagshawe, contracted by the estate, has carried on his well developed characters and writing style. This book brings back one of his most beloved heroines, Tracy Whitney, first introduced in the novel, If Tomorrow Comes.

Bagshawe told, “I want to try my best to stay true to his writing. With that said, I am not him so it can’t be identical. There also must be considerations for the changes in the world. I want to strike a balance between his voice and mi Writing her character came easy, but I had to rewrite and rework the plotting. It was challenging to make the world she operates in believable, workable, and modern, since she came on the scene in 1985. I needed to find an interesting and real story for this great character as well as to have her grow. I feel incredibly lucky to write these books and to carry on these characters.:

This plot begins with Tracy’s decision to give up everything, settle down in Colorado, and devote herself solely to raising her teenage son, Nick. But her world seems to end after she receives the tragic news of her son’s death. Tracy decides to package her guilt into finding who is responsible. At the same time she is asked by the FBI and CIA to help hunt down a notorious environmental terrorist who sent an encrypted message mentioning Tracy by name. She wonders if there is a connection and her thirst for revenge propels her to help the national security agencies bring these terrorists to justice.

The multiple themes of revenge, greed, finding the truth, and grief drive the story in this novel. Anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to the powerful quotes in the book. Bagshawe has hit it head on for those who experienced and dealt with grief. “Human loss was not a team game. Each person dealt with tragedy differently…The need to be distracted… Don’t shut it out. That only gives it more power. But don’t let it consume you.” While the revenge portions have fast-paced, action scenes, the passages dealing with grief will tug at the reader’s heartstrings.

The author drew on the experiences of her husband who “had huge losses in his life, losing both parents when he was young. As a result he was put into foster care. I am married to someone where grief is a part of his life. I have watched others who have experienced it try to cope and survive.”

Fans of Tracy from the previous Sheldon book will not be disappointed in how she is portrayed in this plot. She is still beautiful, intelligent, and a survivor. Yet, she has a sadness to her after losing the love of her life, her hopes, and in some ways her freedom.

Sheldon’s legion of fans should relish the return of Tracy Whitney. Yet, those who have never read a book featuring this character will enjoy this fascinating heroine. With the heart-stopping sub-plot and breathtaking action, Reckless is a book to be read by the fireside on a cold winter night.

Book Review - "Doomed to Succeed" by Dennis Ross

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780374141462_p0_v2_s192x300Doomed To Succeed, by Dennis Ross, is an extraordinary book for anyone that wants to understand how US Presidents from Truman through Obama have reacted toward Israel, their policies, and the reasoning behind them. Dennis Ross has been a direct participant in shaping U.S. policy toward the Middle East, and Israel specifically, for nearly thirty years, participating in two Republican and two Democratic administrations. This is not a history of Arab-Israeli peace efforts but rather a discussion of the evolution of Israeli-American diplomatic relations.

In reading this book people will learn how the different Presidents have viewed the relationship with Israel. For example, JFK was the first President to sell arms and talk about the special relationship, Eisenhower and LBJ were preoccupied with other events such as the Cold War and Vietnam, and that the reason Nixon supplied Israel with arms on the eighth day of the Yom Kippur War was because no cease fire was accepted, the Russians were resupplying Egypt and Syria, and he did not want it to be seen in the context as Soviet arms defeating US arms. The chapter on Bill Clinton is also very insightful in that Ross views this President as the only one who “did not see Israel as a problem and refused to have public discourse with Israel.”

One of the most important points to be made in the book is that Presidents, such as Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Bush 41, and Obama, were not successful when they chose to redefine the relationship with Israel in order to gain with the Arabs. Yet, those Presidents who cooperated with Israel did not have the expected negative fallout with the Arab countries. Ross emphasizes in the book, “As the scope of US strategic and military cooperation with Israel has grown to unprecedented levels, the US presence in a number of Arab Gulf states has also dramatically increased.”

He directly noted to, that the recent Iran Deal is the perfect example. “What I say in the book is that the Arab leaders are focused on their regional rivals who see it as a direct threat to their security and survival: Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s, Saddam and Gaddafi the 1970s and 1980s, and today with the Iranians. Specifically the sanction relief that will allow them more resources to cause trouble.” He also makes an interesting premise, that the Palestinian issue is not a priority for the Arab leaders

Regarding the Palestinians, President Obama, according to Ross, “sees them as too weak to criticize and therefore reserves his criticism for Israel. The problem is when you give them a pass it becomes difficult for them to compromise because they also see themselves as the victim. If you always give them a pass and never hold them accountable why would they change their behavior? I remember commenting, if they are too weak to be criticized, to weak to be held accountable, then they are too weak to have a state. Those in this administration that feel that there must be a peace accord between the Palestinians and Israelis do not understand that nothing is going to change what is happening in Syria, or with ISIS.”

He explained directly, the reason he entitled the book Doomed To Succeed, “Although we may have differences from time to time what binds us is so much stronger than what divides us. Our relationship is rooted in shared values of being governed by the rule of law, civil liberties, separation of powers, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and respect for gay rights and women rights. There is no other country like Israel in the Middle East. It has retained its democratic character even with all the threats it faces.”

Doomed to Succeed offers compelling advice for how to understand the priorities of Arab leaders, Israel, and how future administrations might best shape U.S. policy in that light. This book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the US-Israel relationship.

Book Review - "Bone Labyrinth" by James Rollins

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

9780062381644_p0_v5_s192x300Bone Labyrinth, by James Rollins, is a thriller that tugs at the reader’s hearts.  There are two plots, one historical and one scientific.  This novel explores many important current topics including animal experimentation, the relationship between the guerilla and man, as well as the genetic make-up of a human’s brain. 

This 11th Sigma Force novel has Painter Crowe, the director, assigning Commander Gray Pierce, to investigate an attack on a group of scientists exploring a massive cave in the mountains of Croatia. One of the scientists, geneticist Lena Crandall, along with her twin sister, Maria, is attempting to find the origin of human intelligence. Maria’s research centers on her work with a three-year-old male lowland gorilla, Baako, who’s a hybrid of gorilla and Neanderthal genes. After Maria and Baako are kidnapped, the action-packed story begins. 

The story is told in alternating chapters involving two sets of protagonists. The first group is comprised of one of a pair of twins, an American scientist studying the evolution of human intelligence, a Catholic priest and some Sigma Force members assigned to rescue them after things go bad in a cave in Croatia. This piece is more of a historical quest. The other group, who wind up in a vast, underground science facility in China, is comprised of the second twin scientist, some other Sigma Force members, and Baako, the young gorilla who is the subject of the twins' research. Many readers will be drawn more to Baako and his story, turning every page as they wonder what will be his ultimate outcome. This sub-plot involves more of the science and genetics piece of the story as the Chinese scientists attempt to harvest some of the DNA of the animals to engineer a stronger solider. 

There is a powerful scene in the book where Sigma operatives Monk Kokhalis and Kimberly May are embedded in a Chinese zoo.  Rollins commented to, “I spent a week in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.  I joked with my editor after I finished the book I will never be allowed back in China.  This scene is taken from my reaction.  I was appalled, some of which, could not even put in the book.   For example, I found out that fifteen years ago, at the zoo restaurant, they would serve animal body parts.  I was shocked how the patrons of the zoo treated the animals, banging on their cages, throwing things at them, and as I describe in the book pouring a coke on top of a Mongolian bear.”

Rollins noted he did extensive research from watching clips of the Lion, Christian, who was released into a reserve after having been a pet for years.  When his human handler finds Christian in the wild the lion charges, hugs, and plays with him.  He also read about a pet gorilla that was also released into the wild, was found, and brought the family over to meet the human handler.

The reason Rollins chose to write about a gorilla instead of a chimp is explained in the book: from a genetic viewpoint 98% of the Chimpanzees are like us whereas gorillas are 97%.  Yet, from an intelligent and thinking standpoint gorillas are closer to humans than Chimps. The author’s description of how Baako looks at the world seems very plausible, having a sharper sense with a very emotional understanding of the past, present, and future.  The best scenes are between Baako and Maria, which mirror a mother/child bond.

The Bone Labyrinth blends intense action with thrilling plots that are sprinkled with interesting historical and/or scientific facts. A fabulous adventure that is heart wrenching and action packed.

Rollins also wants those who live in the Southern California area to know he will be doing a book signing at Camp Pendleton and he would love you to come bye and say hi!

Book Review - "The Hunting Trip: A Novel of Love and War" by William E. Butterworth (W.E.B. Griffin)

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9780399176234_p0_v1_s192x300The Hunting Trip by William E. Butterworth III, aka W.E.B. Griffin, is a humorous novel, in the same style as his previously written MASH books. People who need an escape from today’s dark times might want to read this novel.  He pokes fun at the future CIA, the OSS, military graduates, and Southern small towns. 

Butterworth III told, “I started out writing a serious story of a hunting trip that had sexual implications.  But it was not working so I decided on a funny book like when I wrote the MASH books.  I thought it was funny and hope readers get a couple of laughs from it. They can take their minds off of Obama, Kerry, and Hillary for a few hours.”

The novel begins in 1975 with an attempt by a bunch of wives of prominent citizens, living in Muddiebay Mississippi, to convince their spouse to go on a hunting trip in Scotland, while they go on a shopping spree in London. It then flashes back to Philip W. Williams III who is expelled from boarding school for committing a prank, and on the train home naturally wonders about his future. It never enters his mind that he will become a world-class marksman and a special agent of the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps in postwar Germany, play a key role in the defection of a Soviet officer, and then court danger as a courier for the CIA. He marries a beautiful Austrian ballet dancer, becomes a renowned bestselling novelist, and meets his lover on a hunting trip to Scotland.

Readers might question how this book parallels Butterworth’s life. People may recognize that he was actually writing about the small town in Alabama where he now resides part time.  Yet, those who think that Phil Williams’ Austrian wife is based on Butterworth’s first wife would be wrong.  He noted, “Yes, my ex-wife was an Austrian ballet dancer, but she was a good woman and I would never write anything nasty about her.  My son Bill would never let me get away with it.  Although she did have a red Mercedes convertible who did believe the car had two speeds, on and off.” The other similarity is that he went on a hunting trip to Scotland, as shown by the picture on the back cover. He further commented, “I wanted to zing my friends who were former OSS and those graduates of West Point who are a little stuffy.”

Another interesting point about the book is that for cuss words he substitutes “expletive deleted.” When asked why, he stated, “I didn’t think the dirty words were appropriate.  It is much more crude when you read them than when you hear them.  I wanted to let people’s imagination go to work.  I don’t think they will have a hard time understanding what I meant.”

Readers will enjoy the lighthearted spirit of The Hunting Trip.  This story will allow them to take their minds off of their problems and this country’s problems.  Fans of Butterworth III will enjoy a raucous series of adventures across Europe and the United States that will have them immersed in laughter.

Book Review - Tom Clancy's "Commander in Chief" by Mark Greaney

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399176760_p0_v1_s192x300Commander In Chief, a Jack Ryan novel, written by Mark Greaney has all the ingredients of a Tom Clancy story.  There is action, technology, a lot of world politics, and characters that many wish actually existed.  This book can be seen as a follow-up to Command Authority, the last book actually written with Tom Clancy.

Greaney noted to, “When I wrote Command Authority with Tom Clancy Putin had attacked the Ukraine and was in a position of strength.  We decided to have Volodin as a literary Putin figure, never trying to mask it. Now because of the repercussions of sanctions he is in a weak position, which is why I put in the quote about Russia not having a better military, economy, geography, or ideas than the West. I decided to bring back the Putin-like villain, Valeri Volodin, who uses the threat of force in a move of desperation.  He is playing poker with a bad hand, but is a very good bluffer. Russia still sees the Baltic States as their territory.”

The plot includes two themes: a geographical political war between NATO and Russia, which is where President Jack Ryan has a major role. The other features Jack Ryan Jr. who attempts to find out what the Russian leadership is up to by following the finances involving money-laundering schemes.   The plot has Russian President Valeri Volodin planning to expand his power and territory by covertly taking over Lithuania.  US President Jack Ryan recognizes this action but needs proof to get the European nations on board.  With the help from the Campus, a clandestine small operations unit, President Ryan must move swiftly to stop Volodin’s grand plan of global conquest that could change the balance of power.

Readers realize that this relates to today’s events.  The story is almost the direct opposite of what is happening.  The US President, Ryan, actually want to win wars and takes aggressive action.  He is attempting to get the passive European nations to help in the fight.  Compare that to today where the French President is asking for US support.

Greaney also commented about his status in writing future Clancy books. Currently he is not contracted to write another Ryan novel.  It would be a shame for those who are fans of Jack Ryan, because Greaney writes such action packed plots, while maintaining the flavor of a Clancy story. When asked about it he stated, “I had a conversation with my editor about a grand idea I have for another plot.  I just want to make sure I have enough pieces of the plot to make it interesting.  I want to make the stories realistic to the contemporary world while being honest to the characters.”

Currently the author has his own book coming out in February.  His “Gray Man” series has a former CIA, para-military type chased by the CIA. Having worked as a contract killer around the globe he will come back home to confront the CIA leadership.  With the next book going forward, he will be moving in a new direction.

Whether writing his own series or the Jack Ryan series, Greaney combines enthralling characters with realistic plots.  He seems to be able to foreshadow events in the real world.  Commander In Chief is a riveting book that readers will not want to put down. 

Book Review - "Blessed Are Those Who Mourn" by Kristi Belcamino

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780062389411_p0_v1_s192x300Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Kristi Belcamino is a non-stop action packed novel involving murder, mind games, and a parent’s worst nightmare. She has come into her own as an author with great character development, showing their emotions, fears, and strengths.  

Almost from the very beginning of this plot, readers are drawn into the character’s anguish. Bay Area crime reporter, Gabriella Giovanni and her live-in partner, Detective Sean Donavan confront evil when their child is kidnapped. She suspects that the same person who kidnapped and murdered her sister is behind the nightmare she is personally facing now. Detective Donovan is frustrated when he cannot protect those he loves, his girlfriend and daughter. The story’s suspense never lets up, as it becomes a race with the clock to find the child before time runs out.

Belcamino uses her experiences as a crime reporter to add realism to the plot making her main characters jump off the page. She noted to that in a New York Times Op-ed both her worlds as a reporter and parent sometimes conflict. “As a mother and crime writer, I’m two people every day. One is an Italian American mother who carts children to soccer and softball, making pancakes and acting silly. The other sits down and writes about terrible people doing terrible things to others. And sometimes those others are children. I wonder how I can tell my own daughter that the monsters she reads about are not real, when I know better than most just how real they are?”

A powerful quote from the book exemplifies this feeling, “At work, I’m pulled into the depths of darkness talking to people who are grieving or coaxing information out of convicts. When I return home at night, I’m confronted with innocence in the form of my small child who knows nothing of the evil in this world.” Americans tend to forget that policemen, those serving the military, reporters, and first responders must reconcile having to deal with the darker side of humanity.

She wants her readers to understand, “As a crime reporter I understand all those who must confront evil and then go home to hold their children. I began to find it very difficult to do both. I have put in all my books the theme of a child kidnapped and killed because I was haunted by the reality in a story I covered as a reporter. The dedication in my first book is to every girl and young man kidnapped and killed. Unfortunately, the details I draw from are my real life experiences of sitting with parents in the first few days as the search went on for their taken children. Now, as a reporter, I am more guarded, and try not to get as emotionally involved.”

It becomes obvious after reading Belcamino’s books that her character Gabriella is her alter ego. Besides writing a strong, smart, and sassy character; a riveting and intriguing plot; she also writes about the inner workings of a large Italian family, their loyalties and devotion towards each other.

Book Review - "What You See" by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780765374950_p0_v3_s192x300What You See by Hank Phillippi Ryan blends suspense, humor, and issues of the day. With multiple storylines told by numerous narrations, readers come to understand the workings of a crime scene. These sub-plots include murder, child abduction, and treachery. Also explored are the characters loyalties, having to decide between family and their career.

As with all Ryan’s books Jane Ryland investigates a story while Detective Jake Brogan is solving a crime, bringing both together by the end of the story. The plot begins with Jane having quit a job based upon principle. She interviews for a new job with Channel 2 and is given the task of covering a stabbing in Curley Park, Boston. Once again Jane is put into a position of covering a case her boyfriend Jake is investigating.

Ryan noted to, “Both Jake and Jane are honorable, determined, search for the truth, and believe in justice. In real life there must be a hard line between a law enforcement officer and a reporter, each has a job to do, and each have to protect their interests, their information, and their investigations. But Jake and Jane sometimes cross that line. So what I love about my books is that Jane and Jake in their professional lives are incredibly honorable, but in their personal lives their passion has sometimes overruled their professionalism. Throughout all the books they are trying to figure out how to deal with that ongoing struggle. What will happen to their relationship or how they will deal with it going forward? I have no idea. It’ll be fun to find out.”

The plot insightfully explores the current issue of privacy. With cameras everywhere, including in cell phones, on buildings, and on streetlights, can a crime be easily solved? A powerful quote says, “Life never just happened anymore. Memories had to be indelible, every event captured. And shared.” Because the murder takes place in front of City Hall there must be some surveillance. But this video leads into a dark conspiracy where what you see is not always as it seems.

Having to deal with the political fallout from City Hall Camera Surveillance, Catherine, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, must juggle her job responsibilities with her family. Something any parent can relate to is this powerful quote, “Geographically, her daughter was inches away. Emotionally? Right now, Catherine didn’t have time to fix it.” But Jane also had a conflict between family and her job. While investigating the crime, her sister calls asking for help in finding her future stepchild who appears to be abducted. Ryan vividly writes how Jane is being pulled in multiple directions, forced to switch tasks and put family first. Interestingly when asked hypothetically the title of a future autobiography Jane responds, The Juggler. It is fitting since she must decide when to put family ahead of her job, something most people struggle with constantly.

Readers will also be amused with some of Ryan’s well-placed humor. In a scene there is definitely a take off on the famous “who is on first, what’s on second” skit. More than anything the humorous interludes allows for a relief from the tension packed story.

Ryan noted to that many professions including the police, investigative reporters, and those serving in the military need humor in their lives.

“Oh, gosh, if there’s no humor in our lives, how would we manage? As a reporter, I see relentless sorrow, injustice, violence, and fear. As a journalist, that's the drumbeat every day, sometimes feeling as if television and newspapers are full of only bad news. I was on the job during the marathon bombings, reporting live, within moments of the second explosion. How do we manage to keep equilibrium? On the air, we focus on the story, the listeners, and our responsibility.  A journalist is documenting history, I think of that every moment of the day.

As a result, reporters must be careful not to let fear rule our lives, or sorrow drag it down.  As a reporter, there is a need for a sense of humor, or else the world becomes relentlessly dark, bleak, and sad.  Jake Borgan, as a law enforcement official, just as those who serve in the military, have the same dilemmas: they are putting themselves, as all those in public service do so bravely, in the line of fire, in the path of danger. They run toward the problem, not away from it.

So in my books, I try to leave a little room for humor, pleasure, love, and redemption, because that’s what we need in real life. I am careful to find a way for some of the characters, which as in real life, are faced with danger and grief and situations that are difficult to understand. I want them to be able to look at the world with some hope, and laughter, with love, and a sense of humanity.”

Besides humor, What You See has believable plots based upon Ryan’s experiences as a television investigative reporter who has won over thirty Emmys. Readers become enthralled and engaged with a story that has a hectic pace involving child abduction, murder, surveillance, and political secrets.

Book Review - "Cheney One" by James Rosen

The following Book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.
Cheney One on One by James Rosen is an important oral record of contemporary America. Cheney discusses five Presidents and many would argue he was at the core of some of America’s most important recent events. Standing at the center of American power for four decades, Cheney was candid about his time in office. This book is an important read to learn more about the man and leader. In addition it is a reminder of the facts that Americans might have forgotten about the events surrounding Dick Cheney’s experiences. With no topic off limits, the former vice president opened up about his complicated relationships with President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and talks candidly about why his influence in the White House waned over Bush's second term. Cheney One On One contains important and fascinating recollections of one of the most tumultuous periods in our nation's history, from one of its most powerful and controversial figures. Rosen has a quote that summarizes the feeling off the American left who continuously attack Dick Cheney. The author wrote, Cheney’s “gated driveway has seen more than its share of protestors, chanting about ‘torture’ and spray-paining the asphalt… Cheney remains, in many minds, the malevolent power behind the throne-witness President Obama’s joke about Cheney’s being the worst president of his lifetime. (Yet) to many conservatives, however, Dick Cheney was, and remains, a bona fide hero, perhaps America’s staunchest, most unapologetic defender of a muscular foreign policy abroad and fiscal restraint at home.” He explained to, “My chief aim was to rescue this man from the characterization of Darth Vader. We need to remember he is a flesh and blood human being. I found him to be a deep analytical thinker. Since mostly ‘Easterners’ write about him they do not grasp Cheney’s Western background that taught him to speak with an economy of words. The Eastern ear might see this as withholding, illusive, or menacing.” But Cheney is anything but menacing. It becomes evident after reading this book that the former Vice-President is a straight talker, giving substantial answers to very probing questions, including the controversy over the Iraq War. Readers are reminded by Cheney that in December 1998 then President Bill Clinton said, “If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction, he will deploy them and he will use them.” There was bipartisan support for the American air and missile strikes on suspected Iraqi sites. When asked the dichotomy between the Democrat’s support then and their attitude during the Bush-Cheney administration Rosen stated to, “He always rejected the idea that he and the President sat around and said ‘let’s just do Iraq.’ Under President Clinton the policy of the US was to effectuate regime change in Iraq. When it became the idea of the Republican administration the Democrats effectively piled on and sounded a different tune.” There are many more instances in Cheney One On One where readers learn and are reminded of historical events and the enormous impact this man made on many of those events, including being the most powerful Vice-President ever. Cheney comes across as a man having qualities of being loyal, dedicated, and honest. This book is an important read to gain an understanding of where this country has been and where it is headed.

Book Sale On Kindle

Since it seems to be the thing to do, I am running a sale on all my works on Kindle starting this Friday.  For a limited time, the three books in my "A Different View" photography series (A Different View: Travels to Al Qa'im and Beyond , A Different View: Travels with Team Easy, Iraq 2007 , and A Different View: DJ, Doura, and Arab Jabour) which showcases day-to-day life of the troops in Iraq will be available for just $0.99 cents.  My short story "Flight of the Fantasy " will also be available for just $0.99 cents, and my latest short story "Slaughterhouse " will be available for free.  You don't have to have a Kindle to read them, you can download a free app for your computer or smart phone.  If you have read, or do read them, please do leave an honest review of them.  


Exclusive Interview with Frederick Forsyth - Author of "The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue"

The following author interview is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399176074_p0_v2_s192x300The 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.

Elise Cooper:  Why did you decide to write a memoir at this time?

Frederick Forsyth:  I had nothing to do so I decided to write a collection of anecdotes. 

EC:  You are proud of your journalistic career.  What did you see as your style?

FF:  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.

EC: Why do you think a journalist needs the qualities of detachment, curiosity, and skepticism?

FF:  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.

EC: You covered the actual assassination attempts of France’s President Charles de Gaulle.  Is the story the Day of the Jackal factual?

FF:  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.

EC:  You also included humor in the book.  What was one of the most humorous?

FF: 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.

EC:  Who is one of the people you interviewed you most admired?

FF: 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.

EC:  What will you do in retirment?

FF:  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.