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Forsyth writes in an intimate manner and made me feel as if I was sitting in his living room over a cup of tea discussing his life. The book is well written, concise with adventure, intrigue and humor.
The first part of the book he tells of his youth and his desire to fly planes. I was impressed that his father sent him to live with a family in France each summer when he was a child to learn French; then as a teen he sent him to live with a German family to learn German. Just before he went into the RAF he spent time in Spain living with a family to learn Spanish. He also learned Russian but via an academic method. A good part of the beginning of the book he discusses the techniques and importance of research to be a good author. He points out that a writer is an outsider as he is an observer of society and then works in solitude.
The remainder of the book is about his life as a journalist for the BBC, Reuters and as a free lance reporter. He discusses various wars in Africa and events such as the attempt to assassinate Charles de Gaulle that he covered as a reporter. Forsyth reveals how his ability to speak like a native helped him as an investigative reporter. He then details how these events and his investigative reporting provided the basic information that gave him the bases for his novels. I have read most of his books over the years and could relate to events in his life that he worked into his stories.
The book provides an insight into the mind of a writer. The story shows how much Forsyth liked to travel and enjoyed his desire for adventure. Robert Powell does a good job narrating the book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I’ve listened to and enjoyed many of Frederick Forsyth’s novels: all characterised by exciting themes given veracity by the author’s great attention to detail. What I didn’t know was that many of his exciting story-lines are based on experiences he was actually involved in. This is certainly the most-action packed biography I've ever encountered. If this autobiography had been a novel I might have thought one life could not actually have so many over-the-top experiences and repeatedly defy death. It's like a cross between James Bond and Indiana Jones! It certainly makes for an enthralling listen as the content is extraordinary, the writing well-suited to audio and the narrator is excellent.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Where does The Outsider rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
This book is very well read, and amongst the best biographical style works I own as audio.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
Mr Forsyth sees himself as an outsider, and yet he clearly is not, and has not, been. His networking skills and knowledge stand out in every chapter, and outsiders, but their very nature do not have these.
Which character – as performed by Robert Powell – was your favourite?
This is not a work of fiction (one assumes) and so this is an odd question, but Mr. Powell does both 'serious Freddie' and "Wooster Freddie' very effectively, perhaps adding a little more to the character of the book than would reading it alone.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, several sittings, on long train journeys and sorting tasks, proved very effective.
Any additional comments?
Mr. Forsyth makes his politics clear throughout his writings, and I quite respected him for it before listening to 'The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue', but his exposition of his own story actually left me quite angry. A man who was 'reconstructed' after a serious car accident, at a cottage hospital, by remarkable medics and nursing staff, then does not want to pay into the system that saved him: he leaves the country because the top tax bracket, after the allowances, is 'too much', is not so worthy of respect. A man who later complains that his investments adviser (due diligence is not about money management, it is about character and behaviour) is not effectively prosecuted because the state lawyer is not good enough, is also missing the point, that his taxes were not there to train the best for the CPS - is short on irony. A man who describes the Geisha tradition with such relish, and seems quite happy about the auctioning of young virgins within its framework (evidence suggests that is has continued in Japan into this century), even if he is in his seventies, should be 'an outsider', but I don't think he is. If you want a Ian Fleming style account this is not for you - but if you are happy with right-wing politics, and convenient 'patriotism' this will please you. And it is a brilliant performance by Robert Powell, of course.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful