Excursions in my Mind₵40.00
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The Biafra Story: The Making of an African Legend
The Nigerian civil war of the late 1960s was one of the first occasions when Western consciences were awakened and deeply affronted by the level of the suffering and the scale of atrocity being played out in the African continent. This was thanks not just to advances in communication technology but to the courage and journalistic skills of correspondents such as Frederick Forsyth, who had already earned an enviable reputation for tenacity and accuracy working for Reuters and the BBC.
In The Biafra Story, his first book, the Author took a strongly Biafran stance, revealing the depth of the British Government’s active involvement which many would have far preferred to remain secret. Genocide is not a pretty word but there is no other way to describe General Gowon’s treatment of the Biafran people, facilitated by a ready supply of British arms and advice. That Forsyth had the courage to take on The Establishment surprised none who knew him then; today his robust common-sense views strike a cord with those who tire of political correctitude.
Still relevant in terms of the lessons that it offers, many of which are, tragically, still unlearnt, this powerful book is also significant as it launched Frederick Forsyth on his hugely successful literary career by providing him with the background material for Dogs of War. The combination of dramatic events and shocking exposures combined with the author’s forthright and perceptive style makes The Biafra Story as compelling a read today as when it was first written.
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Frederick Forsyth, CBE is an English author and occasional political commentator. He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil's Alternative, The Fist of God, Icon, The Veteran, Avenger, The Afghan, and recently The Cobra and The Kill List.
The son of a furrier, he was born in Ashford, Kent, educated at Tonbridge School and later attended the University of Granada. He became one of the youngest pilots in the Royal Air Force at 19, where he served on National Service from 1956 to 1958. Becoming a journalist, he joined Reuters in 1961 and later the BBC in 1965, where he served as an assistant diplomatic correspondent. From July to September 1967, he served as a correspondent covering the Nigerian Civil War between the region of Biafra and Nigeria. He left the BBC in 1968 after controversy arose over his alleged bias towards the Biafran cause and accusations that he falsified segments of his reports. Returning to Biafra as a freelance reporter, Forsyth wrote his first book, The Biafra Story in 1969.
Forsyth decided to write a novel using similar research techniques to those used in journalism. His first full length novel, The Day of the Jackal, was published in 1971 and became an international bestseller and gained its author the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. It was later made into a film of the same name.