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The Afghan Hardcover – August 22, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399153942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399153945
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in the very near future, veteran Forsyth's latest isn't quite up to the level of The Day of the Jackal or his more recent Fist of God, but it's a cut above most other post-9/11 spy thrillers. The threat of a catastrophic assault on the West, discovered on a senior al-Qaeda member's computer, compels the leaders of the U.S. and the U.K. to attempt a desperate gambit—to substitute a seasoned British operative, Col. Mike Martin, for an Afghan Taliban commander being held prisoner at Guantánamo Bay and then arrange Martin's release into Afghan custody. Martin must maintain his cover under the closest scrutiny, even as the details of the planned outrage are kept beyond his reach. Despite the choice to have Porter Goss as CIA director at the end of 2006 and some nick-of-time Hollywood heroics, Forsyth convincingly conjures up the world of counterterrorism and offers an all-too plausible terrorist plot. 250,000 printing. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In Forsyth's latest novel, British and American intelligence forces learn of an impending al-Qaeda terrorist strike. However, they don't know exactly when or where the strike will take place. Their solution: to have one of their own officers infiltrate the terrorist group, posing as one of its own. It's an inventive story, and Forsyth spins it eloquently and with enough nail-biting suspense to leave readers' fingertips raw. One of the masters of the political thriller, Forsyth writes with a bare-bones, reportorial style that makes his stories feel as realistic as anything one might read in the daily newspaper. He set the standard for political thrillers with 1971's Day of the Jackal, and, although he has myriad competitors today, no one else has managed to make the very flatness of the documentarian's style an effective instrument for generating tension. Forsyth's name doesn't draw a crowd the way it used to, but this one deserves the attention of those who read such modern espionage masters as Daniel Silva. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

The book is mostly exposition very little plot.
How Forsyth winds together a story that makes it even remotely plausible is very intriguing ... and worth reading.
Aiden Rocke
Good read really held your interest once you start you cannot put it down.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 103 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In general, I am highly skeptical of the "international political thriller" genre, however I will concede that Forsyth is a master storyteller well worth anyone's time. "Day of the Jackal" and "The Odessa File" have got to be in the genre's all time top five, and I also greatly enjoyed his short story collection "No Comebacks." This latest book, while perfectly serviceable and engaging (as long as you don't think too hard about it), falls well short of these.

Through a gripping opening highlighting the use of technology in the "war on terror", Western intelligence agencies learn of the existence of an impending Al-Qaeda attack that will be even more shocking than 9/11. Unfortunately, they don't have a clue what it is, or how to find out. A chance remark (one of the many, many coincidences required by the plot), leads them to enlist retired SAS officer Mike Martin in a desperate attempt to infiltrate Al-Qaeda. They do this via an elaborate switcheroo with an Afghan who's been disappeared into Guantanamo for five years. In another massive (though, alas, not the most egregious) coincidence, Martin just happens to have known this Afghan years ago while fighting the Soviets. The first half of the book involves setting this plan up,and the second half follows Martin's attempt to uncover the plot. (Apparently Martin was the hero of an earlier Forsyth book, "The Fist of God", however, I've not read it. Other reviewers report an egregious number of continuity errors between the two books relating to Martin.)

The story unfolds so that readers not particularly conversant with the "war on terror" and the history of Al-Qaeda will get brought fully up to speed. There's also a very clunky section explaining the difference between mainstream Islam and extremist Wahabbism.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Gaurang Mokashi on April 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Being a great fan of Frederick Forsyth, I was eagerly waiting for the next installment of intrigue and drama from the great one.

The Afghan was big disappointment for me. The book falls short on a number of accounts when compared to his previous offerings. Detailed information and complex plot are Forsyth hallmarks. This novel fails in both aspects. Also the story lacks the drive and engrossing quality of his other novels. If you add an ending which peters out rather than reaching the climax then you have a very oridinary novel by Forsyth standards.

But then again, the novel is ordinary only by his own standards. If you have not read a Forsyth novel before then it can be a good read. Also the media hype surrounding Al-qaeda and taliban and easy availibility of information about them may have taken out some intrigue from the book.
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
While "fresh as this morning's headlines" has become a rather timeworn expression, it is not at all trite but decidedly true in regard to Frederick Forsyth's latest spine tingler. Even as I write this we are hearing of another terrorist plot which would have been even more horrific than 9/11 had it not been stopped. Yes, in the very real world we're the targets of hatred and the fictional world of Forsyth mirrors our plight.

A giant at creating international thrillers (The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War), Forsyth has now crafted a novel so loaded with the latest in espionage technology and tactics that it raises the hair on the back of your neck.

The time is today and the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service have learned of a planned terrorist attack. That's it, that is all they know. In order to circumvent the unthinkable they must infiltrate Al Qaeda and discover the nuts and bolts of this heinous plan - who, what, where.

Forty-four year old Mike Martin is a British Special Forces veteran who has seen his share of battle in some of the most volatile spots on our planet. Now retired he only wants to spend the rest of life in peace and quiet. However, he is the one person, the only man for this job. He was raised in Iraq, speaks fluent Arabic, and has skin dark enough to pass for a Middle Easterner.

He has a double - it is Izmat Khan, an Afghan who has been held at Guantanamo for some five years. After intensive training Martin takes Khan's place and a fake escape is staged, allowing Martin to eventually contact Al Qaeda.

True to form Forsyth leads listeners on a suspense filled trail as Martin attempts to uncover Al Qaeda's plan. Also true to form, award winning actor Robert Powell delivers a splendid narration adding to the tension and building to a shocking finale.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jon on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Well below Forsyth standard. As another review noted an incredible string of "coincidences". A character escapes literally by means of a bolt out of the blue, which destroys the walls and kills guards but does not injure him. He then finds added assets under impossible conditions with no possible way of knowing where to look. There are even more one-in-a- million coincidences in this part of the book but any more would spoil it assuming any remaining credibility.

Several screaming factual errors. Chivas Regal is a fine Scotch but it is not a single Malt. Forsyth should know this. The mentioned jet took off from Pensacola "Air Force" base. Pensacola is a Naval base. The Air Force base in the area is Eglin.

Major loose ends at the end, like how did the bad guys know enough to plan their attack, which required very closely held information.

Lots of good material but some real blunders along the way.

I feel he has treated great character very shabbily.
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