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The Afghan by Frederick Forsyth

The Afghan (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Frederick Forsyth

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1,194316,719 (3.33)9
Title:The Afghan
Authors:Frederick Forsyth
Info:Signet (2007), Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Afghan by Frederick Forsyth (2007)


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This book can be seen as a sequel to [The Fist of God]. The hero of that work, Mike Martin, was too good not to have another excursion. The world has moved on past the 7/7 London tube bombings and Martin has retired to solitary roof repairs in Hampshire when some mobile phone tapping exposes the threat of an Al-Qaeda 'spectacular' the nature of which can only be discovered by infiltrating the Al-Qaeda high command. Martin is the only man for the job.

The first two-fifths of the book, while starting to develop the terror plot mostly deals with Martin's background from his childhood in Baghdad through his long service with the SAS in the Falklands, Afghanistan (during the Russian occupation), Northern Ireland, Kuwait and Baghdad in the First Gulf War, the Balkans and Sierra Leone before returning to Afghanistan again in the aftermath of 9/11. This is a long story of which much would be known by anyone familiar with [The Fist of God]. The reader is also introduced to the Afghan of the title, a young Pashtun named Izmat Khan, influenced by time in Pakistani madrassahs, but initially only interested in the well-being of his country. In one of the several coincidences in the book, he meets Mike Martin who save his life when wounded by a Russian bullet. In the Taliban field hospital both Khan and Martin meet Osama bin Laden. Khan is turned into a jihadist after the complete destruction of his home, family and neighbours by a missile strike and becomes involved in the so-called Battle of Qala-i-Jangi in which his life is again saved by Martin. Forsyth gives us a pretty full and partly factual account of this fighting: an interesting small detail is that, while Wikipedia credits four US troops with a rescue of a TV crew and a CIA agent, Forsyth give the job to four SBS men. Captured, Khan is transferred to Guantanamo Bay and the stage is set for his place in the story as the legend for Martin's character when he infiltrates Al-Qaeda.

The next two-fifths deal with the operation to allow Martin to assume his false identity and contact Al-Qaeda followed by considerable detail about the preparations for the act of terror. We are treated to a lot of typical Forsythian information about terrorist recruitment and organisation, smuggling across the Straits of Hormuz, and international shipping. He does this well, as usual, and never fails to keep the story moving along. After a somewhat irrelevant side track to deal with the loose end that Izmat Khan has become the last 50 pages or so deal with the denouement of the terror plot. After the very detailed preamble the finale seemed a bit rushed, but that is Forsyth's style.

The tradition of almost superhuman and nearly infallible foes is long and honourable from Moriarty through Fu Man Chu and Carl Peterson to Smersh and SPECTRE. Here Forsyth is giving that role to radical Islam. He succeeded in scaring me by his description of the brainwashing of young men in the madrassahs, by the plausible and effective financial management of terrorism and, most of all, by his emphasis on the world-wide scope of the threat to the West. A message that I take away is that we shouldn't get too exercised about phone-tapping and that there is a place for suspension of human rights. I don't like to feel that way but Forsyth is persuasive. I am prompted to seek out rather more objective modern middle Eastern history.

A well-crafted and informative book. ( )
  abbottthomas | Feb 23, 2015 |
Good read. Fast paced action. Pleasant style. ( )
  wanderland | Feb 12, 2015 |
A nice book to read. I wish it would have been a bit bigger, to have a bit more room for explanation, inside information. The way it is written now, made me lose track of ships, actions, causes and reasons.

Apart from that, there are some very disturbing mistakes in the Dutch text, which could have been spotted easily by a good editor. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Dec 21, 2014 |
### Review

The Forsyth Formula, al-Qaeda version: A sort of post-9/11 apocalyptic western, this thriller pits White Guys against Black Turbans, the daring forces of freedom versus the jihadi doers of evil.Should Hasbro ever decide it needs a new G.I. Joe, Mike Martin's their man. The latest action figure from the Forsyth franchise (Avenger, 2003, etc.), he's a craggy Scot summoned from a wee bit of rest and relaxation at his Hampshire retreat back into the endless global fray. The listening department of Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Center has, through cell-phone surveillance, unearthed a plot. One of Osama bin Laden's financiers has already, clutching his laptop, hurled himself from a balustrade to protect the plans. Hi-tech British cunning retrieves the info, which reveals schemes for "Al Isra," the biggest potential attack yet. To penetrate al-Qaeda, U.K./U.S. intelligence makes a mole of Martin, passing him off as Izmat Khan, ex-Taliban bigwig serving time in Gitmo. Mirror images of each other, the men are archetypal warriors, Khan a stoic Afghan outraged by the Russian invasion of his country and conned by desperation into bin Laden's service, Martin a 25-year veteran of killing missions-the Falklands, the Balkans, the Middle East. Plus, passing for Khan is easy for multilingual Martin, son of an oil-company executive stationed in Iraq. He even looks the part: "olive-skinned, black-haired and eyed, lean and very hard of physique." Martin's mission earns him martyrdom, but only after all kinds of derring-do involving a ship called The Countess of Richmond, characters screaming "Eject, eject!" and a cameo appearance by John Negroponte.Gun-club porn-packed with stodgily accurate descriptions of weapons and acronymic slang. Hardly subtle, just bang-bang galore. (Kirkus Reviews)

### Literary Review

Exciting, frightening, instructive.
  Hans.Michel | Sep 13, 2013 |
The first two thirds were good: interesting and fast-paced. The ending became awkward and contrived but, overall, it was a decent read. ( )
  barringer | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frederick Forsythprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Meerman, Jacquessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my wife, Sandy, as ever
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If the young Talib bodyguard had known that making the cell phone call would kill him, he would not have done it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451221834, Mass Market Paperback)

When British and American intelligence discover an al Qaeda operation in the works, they enlist undercover imposter Colonel Mike Martin to pass himself off as Taliban commander Izmat Khan. But nothing prepares Martin for the dark and shifting world into which he is about to enter-or the terrible things he will find there.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:46 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When British and American intelligence catch wind of a major Al Qaeda operation in the works, they instantly galvanize--but to do what? They know nothing about it: the what, where, or when. They have no sources in Al Qaeda, and it's impossible to plant someone. Impossible, unless-- The Afghan is Izmat Khan, a five-year prisoner of Guant‚anamo Bay and a former senior commander of the Taliban. The Afghan is also Colonel Mike Martin, a twenty-five-year veteran of war zones around the world--a dark, lean man born and raised in Iraq. In an attempt to stave off disaster, the intelligence agencies will try to do what no one has ever done before--pass off a Westerner as an Arab among Arabs.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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