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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Frederick Forsyth, Part II

Back in March of '09 I explained why author Frederick Forsyth is such a heroic figure. (He's actually one of my two greatest heroes ever.)

But it wasn't until yesterday, when I read a NY Times review of his latest book, The Outsider, that I found out that he'd actually been an MI6 operative.

(If you check out that review, be aware that they don't get to Forsyth's book until the last three paragraphs of the article.)

So, while Forsyth was churning out all those blockbusters, he was actually James Bond as well.


Steven said...

Who is the other hero?

John Craig said...

Steven --
Ken Kesey, whom I posted about the next day:

There are plenty of other people I admired for various reasons, but somehow those two seem the ultimate when it comes to combining great sensitivity and intelligence and humor with great courage.

Steven said...

Ever heard of this guy:

Its a bit of an understatement to say he had an extraordinary life and possessed extraordinary qualities. He was born a Polish Jew, grew up partly in Germany, joined the French resistance during the war, was interrogated by the infamous Klaus Barbie and tortured and narrowly escaped deportment to concentration camps several times. Towards the end of the war he hooked up with the American forces and became a Nazi hunter, catching one or two prominent Nazis in elaborate sting operations in which he pretended (if memory serves) to be an important surviving Nazi loyalist. He received the silver medal from the US army in 2004, its third highest honour. His parents and most of his family died in Auschwitz.

After the war, he emigrated to America where he became a famous language teacher who devised his own method of teaching languages and notably taught French to Princess Grace of Monaco, as well as teaching underprivileged black children in LA schools (he was particularly interested in teaching those considered low ability or lacking in confidence). He mastered ten languages and his home learning materials were quite prominent in bookshops around the early 2000's. He claimed to be able to teach languages to a conversational level uniquely fast.

I did his 8 hour German and Spanish courses and can attest that they were very helpful and indeed quite novel- easy, natural and stress free... for example, they gave me a good grasp of the unusual and somewhat complicated sentence structure of German but didn't get me anywhere near fluent. I can imagine working with him for a bit longer- weeks say- could have really worked wonders though.

I read his autobiography and found his story (especially his numerous improbable escapes from deportment) so extraordinary as to be hard to believe. He even claimed to hear angelic music and feel no pain while tortured, an experience which he said instructed him as to the power of the mind (he never made much of the possible supernatural element and wasn't to my knowledge a religious man). In spite of my misgivings, his service record checks out and he really did teach Princess Grace and become a famous language teacher of numerous languages.

Also, this contains some great stories of heroism and survival:

John Craig said...

Steven --
I'm not familiar with Michel Thomas, and to tell the truth, my initial instinct is to be a little disbelieving as well. Even if his service record checks out, some of what he said had to have been embellished, which then casts into doubt much of what else he says as well.

There are lots of heroic people in the world, people who've made it through great hardships and battled tremendous odds and lived to tell about it. I don't think Forsyth and Kesey even fall into that category; but what sets them apart for me is the sort of romanticism and spirit of adventure they expressed in their books, combined with a sort of gritty hard-headed reality.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Weird, I think I was also 20 when I read Day of the Jackal (referring to your older post). I haven't read any Kesey but I did read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. For a guy that didn't seem to actually do all that much other than acid, he definitely seemed to have a certain charisma about him that most of us never seem to obtain.

John Craig said...

Jokah --
Kesey was most famous for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which was this phantasmagorical tale of a roughneck in an insane asylum, as witnessed by a giant Indian. And it was, unquestionably, a great book. But I actually preferred his Sometimes a Great Notion, the story about the conflict between two brothers, set in the logging country of the Pacific Northwest, where Kesey grew up. One of them is this neurasthenic Yale graduate, and the other was the stronger brother, the tough, physically powerful force of nature Hank Stamper. Kesey knew how to present himself as Hank Stamper in real life, but he also identified with and understood the weaker brother, who tells the story in first person. Kesey knew how to romanticize machismo in a way that few writers can, and he lived it, too. But at the same time it wasn't an in-your-face kind of self-conscious machismo of the Hemingway variety, it was just him being quietly confident, and able to rise to any situation he had to. Yeah, very few people have that.

I honestly think the fact that he was a champion wrestler at 175 pounds had a lot to do with his self-confidence, he pretty much always knew he had the final argument. I knew a guy who was a world champion freestyle wrestler at 198 pounds, he had a similar sort of confidence. Calm, soft-spoken. Someone once described a situation to me where he had almost gotten into a fight, but he was just so completely calm about it, while the other guy was getting riled up (and not knowing whom he was facing) the guy I knew was just talking as you or I would about the weather and almost laughing at the situation. The other guy backed off without ever knowing how close he had come to being completely humiliated. Boy I'd love to have that sort of ability (both physically and calmness-wise).

Shaun F said...

John – a bit off topic but following the hero thought.

If anyone I know about deserves the title “Hero” it’s Mordecai Vanunu. How many people know of or remember his courage? And for that matter the consequences associated with the justice meted out to him? It’s one thing to be a confident and soft spoken but to be locked in solitary for 11 years and all the other icing on the cake? Oy vey.

John Craig said...

Shaun --
Absolutely, Mordecai Vanunu was a hero. He told the truth, and suffered for it. And he knew, or at least had a strong sense, of what the consequences would be, but he did it anyway.

High Arka said...

A troubling issue with MI6 is that, like the CIA, it's a Mossad operation run inside the host country. That doesn't mean that Forsyth was necessarily a (knowing) Zionist, but overthrowing Arab dictatorships for oil cartels (e.g., "Saudi Arabia"), overthrowing other Arab dictatorships for land development cartels (e.g., "Israel"), and murdering South American peasants for drug cartels (e.g., "Pfizer"), is the kind of stuff that drives the furious, poor survivors to either attack the western world via terrorism, or attack the western world via immigration.

It's certainly possible that someone could watch a bunch of old war movies, join one of the Zionist secret police operations, and travel the world serving the IMF while truly believing that they were helping their own country by "preventing dangerous individuals by destabilizing troubled regions of the world." Maybe Forsyth was just a Pat Tillman who survived. There are certainly many brave, ignorant British and American soldiers who have lost their lives in the desert killing Iraqis to maintain the petrodollar so that the ZOGs in the US/UK can continue trying to dominate Russia and China.

Perhaps we should respect those people for their childish bravery; for their courage, however naive and misguided it was. They probably didn't mean to destroy their countries, and their ethny, on behalf of Israel. We shouldn't, though, go so far as to respect the work they actually did, or the horrible Federal Reserve murder squads of which they were a part.

John Craig said...

High Arka --
While I don't doubt that US foreign policy has been subverted by those with more loyalty to Israel than to the US, and while the CIA (and FBI) must work for whatever administration is in charge at the moment, I don't think the average CIA or FBI operative personally has any Zionist leanings. And ditto for MI6.

Also, while much of our foreign policy -- like the Iraq War -- was encouraged by those, like AIPAC, who wanted to see Israel's enemies shut down by US firepower without having Israel directly involved itself, it's not as if Israel has benefitted territory-wise (in terms of "land development") from any of the recent upheaval.

High Arka said...

Israel plays the long game. A crippled region now means better expansion opportunities generations later.

Look at Soros--he's quite old, and quite wealthy, but still spends his time trying to affect social policy that won't be nearly realized until long after he's gone. Zionist understanding of intergenerational warfare is waaaay ahead of goys'.

John Craig said...

High Arka --
No question about the intergenerational thing. I've often gotten the sense with Jewish people I've known that they think of themselves as links in a long chain, whereas the goyim tend to think of themselves as separate entities.