Frederick McCarthy Forsyth was born in Ashford, Kent, England, on August 25, 1938, the son of Frederick William Forsyth and Phyllis Green Forsyth. While at the Tonbridge School in Kent, he was a voracious reader, reading “anything I could get my hands on that had to do with adventure.” He also developed a keen interest in foreign languages, learning French, German, and Spanish as well as some Russian and Italian. He frequently vacationed on the Continent, where he polished his language proficiency. He was also an avoid motorcyclist, bullfighter, and airplane pilot. His formal schooling ended when he was seventeen. Only a few days after his seventeenth birthday, Forsyth had qualified for a pilot’s license, and he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in May of 1956. He soon became the youngest fighter pilot in the RAF.
Forsyth left the military in 1958 to become a journalist, claiming that “it was the only job I could think of that might enable me to write, travel and keep more or less my own hours.” He worked for the Eastern Daily Press in Norfolk, England, for three years. He then joined Reuters, the international news service, as a reporter and was posted to Paris, where he covered the Secret Army Organization (OAS) campaign against French president Charles de Gaulle.
At the age of twenty-five, Forsyth was appointed chief reporter of the Reuters East Berlin bureau, where he was Reuters’s sole representative covering events in...
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