Gilles Perrault was born in Paris and was a schoolboy during the Nazi Occupation. His father was a lawyer and his mother a former member of the French Parliament. He attended the Collège Stanislas de Paris and then the Institut d'études politiques ("Sciences Po"). He became a lawyer and practiced for five years. Following the success of his 1961 essay "Les parachutistes," inspired by his own military service in Algeria, he became a journalist. He wrote articles on contemporary topics, then began to investigate little-known aspects of World War II and also wrote politically-inspired thrillers. He occasionally uses pseudonyms, including Jacques Peyroles and Sidney Vania. Books include Le Secret du jour J (Secrets of D-Day, 1944), an international bestseller; L'Orchestre rouge (The Red Orchestra, 1967), which was even more successful; Le dossier 51 (1969), La Longue Traque (The Long Hunt, 1975), and Le Garçon aux yeux gris (The Boy with Grey Eyes, 2001). Several of his books have been adapted into films. Others have sparked political and social controversy, some leading to lawsuits. In 1980, he created the television series Julien Fontanes, magistrat. Since the 1990s, he has been particularly active in opposing the French National Front. He published his memoirs in three volumes between 1995 and 2004.