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The Day of the Jackal Mass Market Paperback – October 4, 1982

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (November 4, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553266306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553266306
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The Day  Of The Jackal makes such comparable  books that The Manchurian Candidate  and The Spy Who Came In From The  Cold seems like Hardy Boy mysteries." --  The New York Times

From the Publisher

The Jackal. A tall, blond Englishman with opaque, gray eyes. A killer at the top of his profession. A man unknown to any secret service in the world. An assassin with a contract to kill the world's most heavily guarded man.

One man with a rifle who can change the course of history. One man whose mission is so secretive not even his employers know his name. And as the minutes count down to the final act of execution, it seems that there is no power on earth that can stop the Jackal.

"The Day Of The Jackal makes such comparable books that The Manchurian Candidate and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold seems like Hardy Boy mysteries." -- The New York Times

Customer Reviews

Suspenseful, entertaining, a very good read.
I read this book years ago, then saw the original movie, and each one which is released.
Wanda P. Cronauer
One of the best books I have ever read in the fiction category.
Christopher Foley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ian C. Kemp on January 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What can I add to 69 other reviewers? Simply this; I first read the book 25 years ago, and I still regularly take it back down off the shelves and dip into some part that jogs my memory, and enjoy savouring the detail afresh, as with a great piece of classical music or a Jane Austen novel. I am not normally a reader of thrillers; but this is equally much a great detective story and a mind game, and the writing style and the language are also superb, as is the evocation of the French setting. It starts quite slowly but accelerates all the way to the end. It is fascinating to compare it with the great 1973 film (NOT the Bruce Willis version). Scenes from the film like the final assassination attempt create an even more vivid picture in the mind as you read the book again. On the other hand, the detail of the planning, or the moment of Lebel's realisation of how the Jackal has got a gun through the apparently impregnable police screen, or seeing how all the different threads of the storyline fit together, can only be captured in the book. Every word and every nuance count at the climactic moments. Read the book, then see the film, then read the book again. It may not be as pacy as some modern all-action thrillers, but it is never contrived and virtually every bit rings true.
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88 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on August 24, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Day Of The Jackal" features a plot you know is going to fail, a protagonist who you never know much about other than he's up to no good, and a henpecked hero looked upon with contempt by most of his superiors. The Bond lovers who made up this novel's key audience back in 1971 must have scratched their heads. But they kept reading. So will you.

Ian Fleming had his James Bond take on outsized supervillains in blurry circumstances that only slightly approximated real life. Forsyth took Fleming's Anglo love for the good life and attention to how-things-work detail, and transported it to a real-life setting, part travelogue, part "what-if" hypothesis. He named real people, used real issues, and presented in utterly passionless style a story that sells you on its utter verisimilitude.

Forsyth doesn't go much for humor: a trip by the assassin Jackal to a gay bar is about the closest to a chuckle we get; a politically incorrect one to be sure. He throws in some nice descriptions: "The heat lay on the city like an illness, crawling into every fibre, sapping strength, energy, the will to do anything but lie in a cool room with the jalousies closed and the fan full on." But for a first-time fiction author, Forsyth isn't trying to sell you on his lyrical brilliance. He just moves you from one scene to another with minimum fuss, a deeper brilliance given he was a struggling writer with no track record with this sort of thing.

Spy fiction was never the same after "Day Of The Jackal" came out. It became less a thing of fantasy, more a thing of life, because Forsyth proved that such an approach not only could work but work better than the Fleming approach. Even the movies' Bond adapted to it over time, for better or worse.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Teemacs on January 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was unfortunate for Freddie Forsyth, because he was never able to match it. But then, neither was anyone else. Set in the aftermath of the Algerian crisis in the early 1960s in which an entire Foreign Legion paratroop regiment mutinied and formed the OAS (Secret Army Organisation), there was an attempt on the life of French President Charles de Gaulle and France trembled on the edge of civil war, the story is meticulously put together and excitingly told, with a bit of repetition of language (Mr. Forsyth seems to like trains; several times he described the demolition of someone's expectations or his person as if hit by a train). The Jackal, hired by the OAS to assassinate De Gaulle, is a cold-blooded killer who's in it purely for the money, yet curiously you find yourself rooting just a little for him. And you KNOW that Charles de Gaulle died in his bed in Colombey Les Deux Églises in 1969, so the Jackal can't possibly succeed, yet the book keeps you reading right to the end - and the O. Henry-type twist that has become somewhat of a Forsyth trademark. By the way, most of the French politicians mentioned were real people in De Gaulle's government.

All in all, a brilliantly-conceived and -presented thriller. I have yet to find a better one. (For what it's worth, Fred Zinneman's film of the novel, with Edward Fox as the Jackal, is also excellent. Avoid like the plague the appalling US remake starring Bruce Willis).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Foreman on June 18, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The only thing I regret about The Day of the Jackal is that I saw the movie first, so I knew basically what the storyline was before I ever picked up the book.
However, what kept my interest up in reading the book was Forsyth's constant attention to intricate details, fascinating details that really painted the picture a lot more fully and clearly--and without giving away what was going to happen.
And let's not forget the basic characters of the book--they were quite realistic in their thinking and in their actions based upon that thinking. The mark of a great author, at least as far as I see it, is the ability to create such realistic characters and not have to resort to contrivance to make a point.
I touched on this a bit earlier, but I don't want to forget to mention specifically about the way Forsyth expertly kept the suspense building until the climactic point near the end.
I could go on, but I would be giving away specific plot details by doing so.
I strongly recommend for anyone to read this book. I can virtually guarantee that (s)he will not be disappointed in the least. Whether the reader's main interest is history, suspense, or just a good story doesn't matter.
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