In 1965 Frederick Forsyth joined the BBC and was sent to Biafra to cover the war that was raging in Nigeria. What he saw of this brutal and cynical conflict made it difficult for him to toe the editorial line of the BBC's coverage so he resigned, turned freelance, vanished into the thick of the conflict and later emerged to publish the highly controversial The Biafra Story.
In 1969 he decided to use his experience as a Reuters reporter in France as the basis for a thriller. Within 35 day he'd completed The Day of the Jackal, which established him as one of the world's leading thriller writers. To date it has sold in the region of 10 million copies and was made into a major film starring Edward Fox in 1973.
In a case of life imitating art, while researching his new book The Cobra, Forsyth arrived in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau on the very day that the Army chief-of-staff was murdered, allegedly by order of the President. That night, in a tit-for-tat attack, the President himself was bombed out of his residence, shot and hacked to death. Unable to leave the country, Forsyth found himself back in the role of journalist reporting on this coup for the British press.