Few books really do break the mold. This year, however, marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. publication of a thriller that — at the very least — redefined the scope of the genre: The Day of the Jackal.

Frederick Forsyth wrote it in just over a month at the start of 1970, fueled not so much by inspiration as desperation. He was 31 and no one was much interested in the Biafran war he had been covering as a journalist for the previous few years. Banging out a book quickly on his Empire Aristocrat typewriter, sitting at a kitchen table in a friend’s flat, appeared the best way to pay off his debts.

Start your free trial to read the full story

Subscribe to Air Mail to access every article
and search our entire Arts Intel Report.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here.