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Publisher's Summary

One of the most celebrated thrillers ever written, The Day of the Jackal is the electrifying story of an anonymous Englishman who in, the spring of 1963, was hired by Colonel Marc Rodin, operations chief of the O.A.S., to assassinate General de Gaulle.

France was infuriated by Charles de Gaulle's withdrawal from Algeria, and there were six known attempts to assassinate the general that failed. This novel dramatizes the seventh, mostly deadly attempt, involving a professional killer for hire who would be unknown to the French Police. His code name was Jackal, his price half a million dollars, and his demand total secrecy, even from his employers.

Step by painstaking step, we follow the Jackal in his meticulous planning, from the fashioning of a specially made rifle to the devising of his approach to the time and the place where the general is to meet the Jackal's bullet. The only obstacle in his path is a small, diffident, rumpled policeman, who happens to be considered by his boss the best detective in France: Deputy Commissaire Claude Lebel.

©1971 Frederick Forsyth (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A masterpiece tour de force of crisp, sharp, suspenseful writing." ( Wall Street Journal)"Compelling, utterly enthralling....Some of the tensest thriller writing I can remember reading." ( Sunday Express, London)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Quite a chase!

This story is quite a chase as we ride along on the investigation for a mysterious man who has been hired to kill France's president. The story is written very engagingly, and I found myself really hoping for the success of all of the authorities involved. But also, I liked the character of the Jackal. Several of his actions and reasons I could totally understand.

Overall, this is an enjoyable story and totally worth the listen. And Simon Prebble does a great job of narration.

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

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Holds Up Nicely

When I first thought about getting this book, I wondered how it would hold up after so many years. It was Amazingly Entertaining. Easy to follow, even with the European places and names. It keeps you engaged at every turn right up to the end. I can easily understand why it's considered a 'Classic'. It's a Great Book.

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

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awesome book

This is pretty much a flawless book. I think it's kind of old, but it isn't dated at all. Narration was superb. I was amazed by the technical details in it. It's one of those books where you wonder how anyone BUT and assassin wrote it.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

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simply one of the best

this is one of those books you can point at as a game changer, altering a genre. i read this long ago and loved it, and it is still excellent. if you like a more cerebral spy thriller, more LeCarre style than a shoot-em-up blow-em-up Hollywood mess, then try this. Along with LeCarre's Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and Greene's Human Factor, you have 3 of the best ever written as far as I'm concerned.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 12-07-12

Tight & fantastic political/cat-and-mouse thriller

Edgar award winner 'The Day of the Jackal' is well-paced, originally plotted and filled with amazing research. Forsyth clearly belongs among the top ranks of the great thriller writers. He is often immitated (Clancy, Thor, McBain) but NEVER really replicated.

Beyond the merits of the novel itself, the Day of the Jackal has also influenced actual assassins (Yigal Amir and Vladimir Arutinian), inspired the nickname for Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (aka Carlos the 'Jackal') and provided both an inspiration to and techniques for several genearations of identiy thieves. That is a helluva lot for just one novel's resume.

54 of 58 people found this review helpful

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  • X
  • Cincinnati, OH, United States
  • 03-26-11

Tour de montagnes russes (roller coaster ride)!!!!

Courtesy of Wikipedia, the true historical context on which the novel is based is as follows. The Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS — or Organisation armée secrète, lit. "Organization of the Secret Army" or "Secret Armed Organization") was a short-lived, French far-right nationalist militant and underground organization during the Algerian War (1954-62). The OAS used armed struggle in an attempt to prevent Algeria's independence. The OAS's motto was "Algeria is French and will remain so" (L’Algérie est française et le restera).

The OAS was formed out of existing networks, calling themselves "counter-terrorists", "self-defence groups", or "resistance", which had carried out attacks on the FLN and their perceived supporters since early in the war. It was officially formed in Francoist Spain, in Madrid in January 1961, as a response by some French politicians and French military officers to the 8 January 1961 referendum on self-determination concerning Algeria, which had been organized by General de Gaulle.

After the March 1962 Evian agreements, which granted independence to Algeria and marked the beginning of the exodus of the pieds-noirs (European settlers), the OAS attempted to prevent the on-going political process by a campaign of assassinations and bombings. This campaign culminated in Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry's 1962 assassination attempt against president Charles de Gaulle in the Paris suburb of Le Petit-Clamart.

The fictional Day of the Jackal novel commences after the failed Petit Clamart assassination attempt. In the novel, the OAS hires a contract assassin to kill de Gaulle. The assassin's planning is meticulous and his execution is daring with the French police in hot pursuit. I was on my feet pacing the room at the end of the book. I blew through this book quickly. It is well-written and the narration is superb.

60 of 65 people found this review helpful

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  • AL
  • 01-17-12


Simon Prebble's narration is superior by far over previous version, revealing new facets of understanding, making this worthy of a re-listening and fuller understanding of the story.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 06-17-12

Wonderful intellectual suspense.

Intricate, smart plotting. Excellent ending.

This is a classic - a great experience. I’m frequently smiling at the smart and unexpected actions. Leading the investigation is homicide detective Lebel. He is short, rumpled, quiet, unassuming, and blinks a lot when criticized. There are no scenes with his wife, but we hear that he is henpecked. Don’t expect a charismatic hero. This is a humble man doing smart things in a methodical manner. I loved the nuanced characters. I was sympathetic to some of the bad guys and disliked some of the good guys. Jackal is a bad guy but he does not humiliate or do despicable things to people. He just kills anyone who threatens him. I admired his intelligence and competence. The OAS guys are bad guys, but they have idealistic motives, even though warped. They’re not out to kill masses of people. They just want to kill one guy.

Government officials learn that the OAS hired a foreigner to assassinate the French president. The killer’s code name is Jackal. They cannot talk to the OAS because they are hiding in another country. Lebel is brought in to lead the search to find the Jackal. I’m shaking my head thinking where does he start? What can he do? And then I am so impressed with the method of investigating and uncovering clues. On the other side, I was impressed and intrigued with many smart things the Jackal did.

I love this method of writing - classic. There is no jumping around in time. Things are told in a logical and linear method. In many cases when a new character is introduced, a short background is given showing his motivations, and then the current day story continues. This works well. And all scenes have natural endings. The author doesn’t stop a scene in the middle of a sentence. (Stephen King are you listening?)

I am frequently annoyed with other authors who leave scenes before a natural end and jump to another character, place, or time. For example, Mary walks into a room, hears a noise, and is hit. The next sentence is about another character in another place. This is not story suspense. It’s manipulation to create artificial suspense. I am angry at the author. My anger takes me out of the story. Forsyth does suspense perfectly in this book. For example, Lebel gets a clue about the Jackal. I feel hopeful. POV switches to Jackal who is doing things according to plan. He hears that Lebel learned something, so Jackal changes his plan and does something different. I’m impressed. POV then switches to Lebel’s guys who arrive at Jackal’s location but don’t find him because Jackal left an hour earlier. I’m thinking oh no what will they do next? Even though the POV is switching, the actions flow in a logical time line. The result is a chess game - watching each player respond and make his next move. This was a perfect way to maintain suspense throughout the book.

I had only one complaint. I wanted to see revenge and consequences for Jacqueline and the man she seduced. It probably happened but I didn’t get to see it.

Genre: suspense thriller.
Ending: Excellent and feel good.

51 of 56 people found this review helpful

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A Classic

I'd read the book back in the 60's or 70's. Since then I've forgotten the details so this was a new book once again. I enjoyed it over 3-4 days and looked forward to resuming the book where I left off. If you enjoy these types of books (Lone Assassin vs the "System," ) then you'll not have any complaints. And the reader was excellent. He could pronounce all the foreign words that gave me such trouble while reading. A nice English accent.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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History or Fiction?

This was a daily special I picked up because of the familiar name... not knowing anything about French history, Charles de Gaulle, Frederick Forsyth or the movie... and I didn't take time to read the reviews.

I tried to read the book several times and got lost in the first chapter... this time I finally made it to the second chapter where the story becomes interesting and I couldn't stop. While reading I began to wonder if I was reading a very well researched historical crime or fiction, but refused to check it out on Wikipedia until I finished the book. I think my lack of knowledge made the book better because I didn't know how it was going to end. That said, the book might be a little dated but it grew on me and I'm glad I read it. Certainly the movie couldn't begin to cover the complicated plot.

A bit of sex and some violence, but then the Jackal is a paid assassin... I wasn't sure who I was hoping would come out on top, the brilliant assassin or the quiet and determined policeman.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful