Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Frederick Forsyth: The Afghan, 2006 (Part I)

Given the similarly-themed events unfolding in Canada these past few days, the happenings depicted in Frederick Forsyth's The Afghan (2006) carry a very contemporary and ongoing feel. The novel is filled with details about hunters and hunted, ships and jets, couriers and satellite surveillance, infiltrators and fanatics, terrorism and counter-terrorism, attack and counterattack, interception and evasion. It ranges around the world, so there's a lot of geographical detail, and historical: things such as the destruction of Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the Great War of 1914-1918, due to the explosion of an ammo ship (in 1917), to counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland, the Falklands/Malvinas War (1982), Afghanistan (1980s-present), the "West Side Boys" in Sierra Leone (2000), pirates of the Pacific, a CIA prison nestled in the Rockies of the USA, and commandeered fuel ships in the Atlantic.

Observations along the way are fully relevant in 2014 and will continue to be so. Of the Taliban, Forsyth reminds us that under their rule, women could not [and cannot] move in public without being fully veiled and having a male relative as escort, "[a]ll singing, dancing, the playing of music, sports and kite flying . . . was forbidden . . . Beards on men were compulsory. The enforcers were often teenage fanatics in their black turbans, taught only the Sword Verses, cruelty and war" (page 105). (Just what everyone wants -- violent, aggressive and narrow-minded young males in charge of one's day to day life).

This is the modern world: "For terrorism, the Internet and cyberspace have become must-have propaganda weapons. Every atrocity that can be broadcast . . . is good; every atrocity that can be seen by millions of Muslim youths in seventy countries is gold dust. This is where the recruits come from -- actually seeing it happen and lusting to imitate" (page 305). 

Note: several of Forsyth's novels have been made into movies. Consider his first three novels, for instance: The Day of the Jackal (1971), The Odessa File (1972) and The Dogs of War (1974). 

Today's Rune: Partnership.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Read a fair amount of his work once upon a time, but then have moved away from him. Not sure why. I was never dissatisfied with his work.