Forsyth, Frederick: The Fourth Protocol
(researched by Christopher Saunders)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Published in 1984 by Viking Penguin, Inc. New York City, NY, USA Copyright (c) 1984 by Frederick Forsyth

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

Blue-gray board cover, with green-brown cloth spine that meets the board at approximately two inches from the spine on both front and back of the book.
Cloth spine is a dotted-line grain.
On the front of the cover is a stylized numeral "4", as well as the author's initials.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

202 leaves, the first and last of which are pastedown. 1 blank, unnumbered leaf follows first pastedown. 2 unnumbered leaves (title, dedication) follow. 1-2,3-121,122-124,125-258,259-260,261-389 2 blank, unnumbered leaves follow text block and precede pastedown.

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?


6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

Dust jacket design by Roger Lax.
Jacket is covered in protective mylar.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The book is well-presented. The typography is well-printed and readable. The typeface is Plantin, a serif font evocative of Times New Roman. Lines of text are well-spaced.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

Except for the pastedown leaves, which are off-white, the paper is bleach white and of a high quality and weight. The copy I examined is in excellent condition.

11 Description of binding(s)

Appears to be muslin lining of cloth, reinforced by an outer shell of cloth.
The pastedown leaves are glued to the binding.

12 Transcription of title page

[Stylized numeral "4"] The Fourth Protocol Frederick Forsyth Viking

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

The original manuscript is retained by the author at his home in London.
Viking Penguin retained several photocopies of the corrected manuscript for several years after publication. Due to space restrictions in the company's ms archive, the photocopies were destroyed sometime between 1987 and 1990.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

[From verso following title page] Set in Plantin. Designed by Roger Lax.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A


2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

200,000 printings

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Viking: New York, 1984. Hutchinson: London, 1984. Brandywyne Books: San Francisco, 1984. [Limited Edition] Bantam: Toronto and New York , 1984. Corgi & Bantam: London, 1984. Stoddart: Don Mills, Ontario, 1984. Charnwood: Leicester, England, 1984. Bantam: Toronto and New York , 1985. Underwood/Miller: Grass Valley, CA, 1985. G.K. Hall: Boston, 1985. Corgi: London, 1985. Charnwood: Leicester, England, 1985. Aarow Books: London, 1996. Hutchinson: London, 1999.

6 Last date in print?

Last printing was in 1999 by Hutchinson, in London.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

The new novel by the bestselling author begins with a jewel theft but extends to the Kremlin and KGB.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Author tour in 1984.

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

Books on Tape: Newport Beach, CA, 1985. Listen for Pleasure: Downsview, Ontario, 1985. Books on Tape: Newport Beach, CA, 1985, 1987 "Frederick Forsyth's The fourth protocol." Lorimar Home Video: Irvine, CA, 1987. "The Frederick Forsyth film omnibus." Hutchinson: London, 1987. "The Fourth Protocol." [Feature-length film] Columbia Pictures, 1987. Starring Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan and others. Chivers Audio Books: Bath, England, 1990. Audio Books [England]: Boston, Mass., 1990. Distributed in the United States by G.K. Hall.

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

"Il quarto protocollo." A. Mondadori: Milan, 1984, 1986 [Bestsellers Oscar Mondadori Series]. "El cuarto protocolo." Plaza & Jan?es: Barcelona, 1984 [standard and Special Collection editions], 1992 [Special Collection Edition], 1995. "El cuarto protocolo." Plaza & Janes: Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona), 1984, 1985, 1987 [Special Edition - en Los 25 ?exitos], 1990. "Che-4 Êui haek." MoÊumsa: TÊukpyÊolsi, Soeul, 1984 [Ch∞op∞an Edition]. "Das vierte Protokoll: Roman." Deutschen BËucherbundes: Stuttgart, 1984, 1993. "Le quatri·eme protocole: roman." Albin Michel: Paris, 1984. "Le quatri·eme protocole: roman." Librairie G?en?erale Francaise: Paris, 1984, 1986. "O quarts protocolo." Editora Record: Rio de Janeiro, 1984. "Den fjerde protokoll." Gyldendal: Oslo, 1984. "Das vierte Portokoll: Roman." Piper: Munich, 1984. "ha-ProÚtoÚkol ha-revi∞i." Sifre Shin shin shin: Tel Aviv, 1985. "Ti ssu hao hsieh I." Huang kuan ch∞u pan she: T∞ai-pei shih, 1985 [Ti 1 pan Edition]. "Daiyon no kaku." Kadokawa Shoten: TÂokyÂo, 1986. "SÂazish-i chahÂarrum: bardÂashtÂiaz paymÂan-i sÂalt du va riqabat-i sharq va gharb va jahÂan-i sivvum." Nashr-i VÂis: TihrÂan, 1988. "Czwarty protok?o." Wydawnictwo "GIG": Warsaw, Poland, 1990. "Le quatri·eme protocole." Editions Jouvence: Aylmer, QC, Canada, 1992. "ChetvÎiÏortyÊi protocol: roman." IKF "VOL'SA" MFÎTÏSP: Minsk, Belarus, 1993. "Czwarty protok?o." C&T: Toru?n, 1997.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Frederick Forsyth was born in 1938 in Ashford, Kent, England. His father was a furrier, shopkeeper, and rubber tree planter. Much of his youth he spent abroad, studying and summering in France and Germany. In 1
952, dreaming of adventure, he enrolled in the University of Grenada in Spain, only to drop out in 1953 and enlist in the Royal Air Force. He began flying in 1957 -- at age nineteen, the youngest man in England, at the time, to fly a warplane. He contin
ued with the RAF until 1958.
At that point, Forsyth began what was to become his professional writing career, accepting a position as a reporter for the Eastern Daily Press of Norwich, England, which he held from 1958-1961. He also served for a short while as a reporter for <
I>King's Lynn, of Norfolk, England. From 1961-65 he served as a Reuters News Agency reporter in London and Paris, and as a bureau chief in East Berlin, East Germany. From 1965-67 he served as a British Broadcasting Corporation reporter, and from 19
67-1968 he served as the assistant diolomatic coorespondent. During this time, however, he became sympathetic to the Biafra tribe, whose revolt the British army was at the time quelling in Nigeria. His personal sympathy to the tribe's cause led to the
publication of a non-fiction work (see below) and his resignation from the BBC. Briefly, Forsyth served as a free-lance reporter in Nigeria from 1968-70.
Forsyth is best known for his works of fiction. In addition to The Fourth Protocol (Viking, 1984), he wrote The Day of the Jackal (Viking, 1971), The Odessa File (Viking, 1972), The Dogs of War (Viking, 1974), The Shepherd<
/I> (Hutchinson, 1975), The Devil's Alternative (Hutchinson, 1979), The Negotiator (Bantnam, 1989), The Deceiver (Bantam, 1991), The Fist of God (Bantam, 1994), and Icon (Bantam, 1996).
In his desire for realism and accuracy, Forsyth ran afoul of the law and placed his life in danger during research for Dogs. At one point Forsyth posed as an arms dealer to learn more about illegal arms trafficking in South Aftrica, but, he said i
n an interview with the Chicago Tribune, he was discovered when an arms dealer noticed he resembled the author of Jackal, a copy of which sat in the window of a nearby bookstore. Forsyth also came under criticism for financing a military co
up in Equatorial Guinea. His involvement with a group of mercenaries attempting to overthrow that country's government was exposed by a London Times reporter and admitted publically in Newsweek. Partly because of the controversey, Dogs
became Forsyth's third best-seller.
Forsyth's style is heavily realistic, drawing in large part on historical events, present-day conflicts (e.g., the Cold War) and contemporary world figures. Critics have chastised Forsyth for his attention to plotting over character development. The aut
hor, in interviews with the Los Angeles Times, agreed that he does place more of an emphasis on plot rather than character depth, but stated that "this is how it works best for me."
In addition to his journalistic credits, he also published two non-fiction works. These include The Biafra Story (Penguin, 1969) and Emeka, the biography of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (Spectrum Books, 1982) -- a Biafra leader. Furthermor
e, he contributed to Visitor's Book: Short Stories of Their New Homeland by Famous Authors Now Living in Ireland (Arrow Books, 1982) and edited Great Flying Stories (Norton, 1991).
Forsyth's short stories, which appeared in Playboy, among other publications, appeared in collected form in No Comebacks: Collected Short Stories (Viking, 1982). His memoirs were published in 1995 by Summersdale of London, under the title
I Remember: Reflections on Fishing in Childhood.
Although he lived in Ireland for several years, Forsyth currently resides in St. John's Wood, in London, England, where he lives with his wife of 26 years, Carole. He has two children, Frederick Stewart and Shane Richard.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Most critics at the time of The Fourth Protocol's publication commended Forsyth for his imagination and skill in weaving a compelling and believable plotline. Jane Spitzer of the Christian Science Monit
, reflecting a majority opinion, wrote that "the strength of ?The Fourth Protocol' lies in its convoluted construction, its suspenseful plotting, its direct, efficient writing, and its wealth of detail on everything from cracking a safe to smuggling
nuclear bomb components."
But some critics had other views. Walter Clemons of Newsweek and other publications referred to the novel's plotline as "childish."
More significantly, however, Clemons criticized its author for writing from an distractingly overt Tory (that is, anti-Labour) agenda. (The novel's Soviet villains attempt to engineer a Labour Party victory in Britain's upcoming elections by detonating a
nuclear explosive near a U.S. base in England in such a way that it will look like an accident. The explosion will force "even levelheaded men and women to vote to get rid of nuclear weapons from their soil, and thus to vote Labour.")
Many critics, while not necessarily finding fault with Forsyth's premise, agreed with Clemons that the author's political leanings are unduly apparent, since TFP portrays the Labour Party as weak, ineffectual, and capricious (in its best light) and as a m
ere puppet of the Soviet Union (at its worst). Indeed, Clemons points out some of Forsyth's more ridiculous notions ? that the Labour Party will, if in power, order the "mass nationalization of private enterprise, property and wealth," will abolish the H
ouse of Lords, expel the U.S. from British soil, pull the country out of NATO, scrap its nuclear weapons and downgrade its conventional armed forces, thereby wrecking "the defenses of the Western Alliance beyond any possible hope of repair."
Clemons and many other critics, including New York Times book review and novelist Peter Maas, clearly regarded this as ultraconservative paranoid rubbish: "In [Forsyth's] view, the party's leadership is solely composed of boobs and knaves. And an
ybody who is for nuclear disarmament for whatever reason, noble or ignoble, is nothing more than a tool of the Kremlin."
As in his other works, Forsyth comes under further criticism for "poor writing" ? he does little in the way of character development and often relies on stereotypes. A minority of critics, however, note that this tendency works to his novels' advantages:
"the characterizations are efficient, however, some of them are deftly drawn sketches; and none of them get in the way of the plot."
Critics also point out that few women are featured in Forsyth's works, and on the rare occasion that a female appears, she often is cast into a negative role (for instance, a woman leads a crude anti-nuclear weapons rally outside the U.S. base.)
New York Times Book Review, Sept. 2, 1984 Library Journal, August, 1984 Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 7, 1984 Voice of Youth Advocates, Feb. 1985 Newsweek, Sept. 3, 1984

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

After 1984, there are few critiques of TFP alone, but it is occasionally mentioned in passing in reviews of later works, since TFP features elements (twisty plotting, terse writing style, and heavy, high-tech detail) typical of Forsyth's writing. The
same criticisms of Forsyth's writing (discussed above) are also mentioned.
In 1988 Forsyth himself responded to criticism about his writing style, claiming, in paraphrase, that "plot is everything" and characters are not worth developing fully because they detract from the plot.
New York Times Book Review, Sept. 2, 1984 Library Journal, August, 1984 Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 7, 1984 Voice of Youth Advocates, Feb. 1985 Newsweek, Sept. 3, 1984 Playboy, Aug. 1988

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Frederick Forsyth, as he would be first to admit, is not a writer of great literary merit: he is not Steinbeck, he is not Updike, he is not Hemmingway. He is not Gore Vidal, with whom he shares the dissection of
a top-ten best seller in 1984. But for his publisher Viking, he might as well be any of these: to date, Forsyth has had eight best-selling novels and has some 20 million books currently in print.
Indeed, Forsyth is credited ? along with The Little Drummer Girl author John LeCarré ?with creating and defining the modern spy-thriller genre as tense, fact-intensive (for instance, describing safe-cracking, bomb-assembly, and how Cold War intelli
gence organizations operate in explicit detail,) and, especially in Forsyth's case, heavily reliant upon real-life historical events and personages.
The Fourth Protocol describes the adventure of a British Mi5 agent as he attempts to foil a Communist plot to assist the Labour Party to win the upcoming Parliamentary elections. The means to this is the detonation of a small nuclear device outside a U.S
. military installation in Britain ? forcing out the Tory Party, whose longtime stance supporting nuclear weapons and NATO will become widely unpopular. Once the Labour Party sweeps the elections, Moscow will have nearly limitless control over the politi
cal affairs of Great Britain.

Forsyth's fame

Frederick Forsyth first made a name for himself with two best-selling thrillers that each played subtly on the contemporary population's fears at the time of their publication. The Day of the Jackal, which described a plot by French extremists to
assassinate Charles de Gaulle, preyed on the popular imagination's fears of terrorism and political extremism and appeared in 1971. Viking published The Odessa File in 1972, which, although it focused on WWII and Middle East conflicts, drew upon A
merican and British worries about the threat of global war ? at the time, of course, the U.S. was ensconced in the Vietnam war.
The continued success of Forsyth's name and the relevance of subject matter was proven by The Fourth Protocol's success ? which occurred in the years following Pol Pot's massacres and the establishment of President Reagan's anti-ballistic missile S
tar Wars defense program: Cold War years. Although much of the success of Protocol is due largely to the author's name-power, Forsyth's keen sense of capitalizing on public fears contributed greatly to his works' success: works between Jackal
and Odessa, while some were bestsellers, did not enjoy the success of Protocol, simply because
In addition to the use of contemporary popular anxiety, each of the novels contained other features that combined to render the works extremely attractive to readers. Jackal, Odessa and Protocol each rely on gritty, precise, unflowery
language ? appropriate for the grim and professional demeanors of his novels' central characters, often people employed in espionage or counterespionage. This language is exciting and compelling for most readers, opening a world of passionless, professi
onal killers, high crimes and lengthy, intriguing technical description.
The second key selling point of Forsyth's novels is just this: his use of exhaustive detail surrounding every facet of the espionage business. For pages in Protocol he describes the method in which a nuclear explosive is to built, for instance, d
etailing each part of the bomb, its construction, and how it is to be smuggled into Britain. Audiences thrill to this in much the same way that audiences of the 1980's began enjoying the "techno-thrillers" of Tom Clancy ? such description fulfills a pred
ominantly male need to know everything possible about a given subject, even when such detail dwarfs real action in the novel ? as it does in a few instances in Protocol.
"There is an American trait of admiring efficiency," Forsyth said of his lengthy descriptions in a Washington Post. interview. "The point [in a spy-thriller is] not whodunit, but how..."
"Forsyth's forte, with the added bonus of precise technical description, worth of a science writer," agreed Gale Contemporary Authors critic Andrew MacDonald, ". . . [is] how things work, ranging from the construction of a special rifle [in J
] and improvised car bombs [in Odessa]... to the assembly of miniature nuclear bombs" in Protocol .
A third reason for his popular success is Forsyth's tendency to work historical or contemporary newsmakers into his narratives. Protocol, for instance, includes actual figures like the infamous British traitor Philby and Soviet leaders among its "
Forsyth's works enjoyed success then for four chief reasons: his ability to make use of popular fears, his language, his jargon- and detail-heavy descriptive style and his portrayal of actual persons and events.
These four elements of Forsyth's style of writing earned him success with Jackal and Odessa, but Protocol benefited not only from a well-known and well-established formula, but from the author's name-recognition: reviewers from the <
I>New York Times Book Review
to the Los Angeles Times called Forsyth "the Master" of the new subgenre at the time of Odessa's publication. His latest works carry that moniker still.

Forsyth's detractors

Forsyth's fame and success has not come without heavy criticism by professional writers and academics, however.
Critical reactions to Forsyth's work echo academic-literary responses to the spy-thriller genre in general: that is isn't, strictly speaking, good literature. More specifically, Forsyth is criticized for flat, stereotypical characters, a dearth of emoti
onal depth, and reliance on formulaic plots.
As has been the case with many of his books, Forsyth's Protocol suffered from critical reviews that found fault with his lack of character development, that questioned his political motives and, in general, that criticized his book for an inability
to foster in its readers any feeling other than anxiety or tension.
Peter Gorner, for one, argues in the Chicago Tribune Book World that Forsyth's "characters are paper-thin, the pages are studded with clichés, and the plot is greased by coincidence." Although Gorner was writing about The Devil's Alternative>, a 1979 bestseller by Forsyth, the criticism had been leveled against previous works Jackal and Odessa and would continue to be said of later works, including Protocol.
Forsyth himself defends his writing, claiming on several occasions that he writes purely for public entertainment and focuses on creating a tension-filled plotline rather than describing a character's emotions or documenting how s/he changes during the co
urse of a novel.
"My books are eighty percent plot and structure," he said in a Los Angeles Times interview. "The remaining twenty percent is for characters and descriptions. I try to keep emotions out. ...The plot's the thing. This is how it works best
for me."
Many fans and critics ? representing a minority view ? have spoke in Forsyth's defense, claiming that his characters are so stereotypical simply because they are engaged in conforming or molding occupations attractive to people of a very specific personal
ity type: the soldier, the spy, etc.
Forsyth's writing is also devoid of extraneous description, a fact that underscores its grim, clandestine subject matter but opens it to criticism as being, in effect, poorly written. His characters, too, undergo no significant changes as a result of the
ir adventures (other than death.) Readers get no sense of a character's inner motivations, his emotional state, or, really, what makes him or her tick. Instead, Forsyth focuses on action: who does what to whom and not, in any non-professional se
nse, why.
Many critics point out that Forsyth's political agenda sometimes compromises the plausibility of his plot. Such is the case, they indicate, in Protocol. Many critics write that the author's own ultra-conservatism makes his portrayal of the Labour
party ? as Communist pawns and stooges ? laughable. Indeed, the prospect of a Labour victory in Britain ? the ultimate goal of the novel's antagonists ? is truly frightening only to him, it appears.
Critics of Forsyth, however, are forced to admit that his writing, however flawed, does sell: Gorner says that despite poor character description "...things move along so briskly you haven't much time to notice." Los Angeles Times critic Robert
agrees that "Forsyth's banal writing, his endless thesaurus of clichés, his Hollywood characters do not interfere with page-turning."

Continued success

Although Forsyth does indeed rely on staid character types and may, at times, fall subject to his own political leanings, he nevertheless produces intriguing plots and realistic, believable situations ? a fact realized by the general readership and respon
sible for his work's heady success.
Forsyth's end, as he has many times himself stated, is not to wow audience with skillfully-wrought prose, nor is it to produce a moving, emotional opus of real literary or social merit: it is to entertain, and to entertain believable and compellingly abo
ut thrilling subjects. This he accomplishes dutifully in Protocol, without flair and without regret, and, as with his other works, has profited exceptionally as a result.
His characters are indeed formulaic and stock, but ? as some critics have noted ? his plotlines are original and his scenarios highly inventive, with the historical events or persons he intermixes throughout his works serving to heighten the feeling of te
nsion he achieves.
Forsyth's method of writing won him fame in 1971 and 1972, with the publication of Jackal and Odessa, which won popular acclaim in large part because the genre (and Forsyth's style) was so new. Protocol , published more than a decade
after these works, capitalized in large part on the fame of the author's name ? earned with his first two and subsequent novels.
The novel's big-budget film tie-in appeared soon after publication in 1987 (featuring Michael Caine and Pierce Bronsan) and further added to the novel's success ? at the time being published by Bantam in a special movie-version paperback edition.
Criticisms notwithstanding, Forsyth's Protocol remains one of the most popular spy thrillers to date, and despite repeated criticism about his style, the same mixture of succinct, grim, plot-heavy pseudo-historical writing continues to earn him su
ccess in the market: he published four spy novels following Protocol , each, critics noted, achieving success by relying on the same basic formula.
As testament to his success, a whole host of up-and-coming thriller writers have and continue to emulate Forsyth's particular style ? if not conscientiously to duplicate "the Master," simply because they write in a style that sells. Among these ar
e Clancy, Gerald Seymour (The Journeyman Tailor, 1992), Robert Ludlum (The Rhineman Exchange, 1974), Patrick Robinson (Nimitz Class, 1997), and Martin Cruz Smith (Gorky Park, 1981.)

You are not logged in. (Sign in)