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Book Reviews: A Thriller From World War II by Ken Follet,' Jackdaws'

An Air Warrior and devotee of Lord Krishna has published over 120 short stories and 15 books on fiction and 4 on military history.



World War II is a watershed in world history and as long as man is alive it will continue to thrill as well as enchant generations to come. It is also a fit subject for fiction writers and gives plenty of latitudes to use his or her imagination. Many writers have written with World War II as the background or made use of their experience in World War II to write thrilling spy books. The creator of James Bond Ian Fleming was himself a member of British intelligence during World War II.

Another writer who has made a name for himself in this field is Ken Follett. He is considered one of the top thriller writers of the modern age. His success can be gauged from the fact that over 100 million books written by him have sold worldwide. Follet was born in 1949, just after the war ended, and is now 71 years old. If any writer wishes to write thrillers laced with suspense then it will be worthwhile for him or her to read the books of Ken Follet

World War II is still a subject that interests readers and Ken Follett caters to this public interest by writing a World War II spy thriller. The novel was published in 2001 and reissued as a paperback in 2002. The book titled ‘Jackdaws’ is a racy spy thriller that shows Follett at his best.


The book

The book was written two decades back but even now does not fail to thrill people who like to read spy thrillers and books on fiction in general. Reading is one of the great pastimes or man for we can't forget Bacon who wrote 'reading maketh a man.'

I have read the book twice more so because it gives a different picture of women who we generally imagine as the gentler sex. Follett starts with the main action without wasting time. The book brings to mind his famous earlier novel ‘Eye of the Needle’ and proves that Follett is the master of historical fiction. The story is set in World War II in Northern France in 1944. The Allies are on the verge of launching their D Day invasion with Ike as the Supreme Commander. The Germans are aware that an invasion is imminent, but they are not sure where it will come from.

This was the fatal flaw in the thinking of the Wehrmacht and the allies were able to fool the high command about the place where they were to launch their invasion. All along the German high command was expecting the invasion to be launched at Calias which is 22 miles from the English coast and the shortest distance. They were taken by surprise when the allies launched the invasion on the beaches of Normandy.

Folley creates a thrilling scenario. The ingredients are a telephone exchange and the French resistance. It is important for the Allies to destroy a telephone exchange with the help of the French Resistance. The telephone exchange is a vital link in the German communication set up in the region and its destruction is of great importance to the Allies. Folley brings out the importance of destroying the communication center as it is a vital piece for defense or offense in a war.

British intelligence makes a devious plan. They parachute a British woman agent Felicity Clairet to help carry out the destruction of the communication center. After being parachuted into enemy-held territory she is supposed to team up with the French resistance whose local leader is a man named Micheal Clairet. The purpose is simple to destroy the exchange.

Folley describes how the attack is launched and he brings out the fact that the attack fails as the German defense is good. Most members of the resistance are either killed or captured. Many are shot outright by the Germans. Folley uses the license of the fiction writer and creates a thrilling tale. Felicity escapes to England. British intelligence is not happy but she is given a second chance by the chief.

Here is the twist to the story. This time Felicity has other plans and she plans to attack the German communication center with an all-woman team of agents who are called the ‘Jackdaws’. All the women agents are tough and beautiful. You can't think of a woman and not think of beauty. However. Ii’s not an all-women team as one of them is a transvestite.

Opposing this all-women team of agents are two Nazi characters Dieter Franck and Willi Weber. Follett brings out the evil character of these two Germans and presents a thrilling tale. This is Follett at his vintage best as he delineates an exciting tale of adventure.

The Jackdaws enter the telephone exchange disguised as French domestics. Thus the reason for an all-women assault team is very plausible. Follett lets his imagination run riot by creating members of the Jackdaws with diverse backgrounds. One of whom is a murderess, while another is an aristocrat not forgetting the transvestite. Needless to add the operation is a success and the communication center is destroyed.


Last word

Ken Follett Is a distinguished name in the field of historical fiction and thrillers. His books have sold over 150 million copies, four of his books have been number one on the bestseller list of the New York Times. It has been reported that his net worth is almost $65 million. He owns a wonderful mansion on the island of Antigua in the West Indies.

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Ken Follett is married to Barbara, who he met in 1984. He was married earlier and Barbara is his second wife. She is seven years older than him, having been born in 1942. She was married twice earlier. She was a Labour member of parliament. She had to relinquish her seat in 2010 after the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal. Follett himself is a strong supporter of the Labour party. Folley is a father to six children. Three of the children are from the previous husbands of Barbara.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Peggy, sweet of you to spare time and comment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Thank you, Bill, nice to read your comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 26, 2021:

I have read a great bit, but oddly never this author. I think it is time I rectified that situation. Thank you for the review.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 26, 2021:

You have written enough of a review of this book so that I know I would enjoy reading it. Thanks!

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 26, 2021:

This is an excellent, well-written book review. I think I would very much enjoy this book. Thank you for such a good review, MG.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Ravi, thanks for commenting pal.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Misbah, thank you for taking time off to comment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Thank you, Liz, so nice of you to give your valuable comment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Chitra, Sweet of you to have spared time and commented.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 26, 2021:

Maria, It is a pleasure to read your comment.I am sure you will enjoy the book.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on February 26, 2021:

Nice and looks very interesting and exciting. I read some of the books of Ken Follet and he is a very good writer and has a knack of merging history, fiction, and the present in one compelling concoction that is hard to resist. Thanks for sharing.

Misbah Sheikh from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on February 26, 2021:

MG Singh, It sounds nice and interesting.

Maybe, sometime in the near future, I will read it.

Thanks for sharing


Liz Westwood from UK on February 25, 2021:

These books are timeless. It is good to be reminded of one that was published a while ago. You have written an excellent review and included interesting information about the author.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 25, 2021:

Nice book review. I like to read thrillers, and would look for this one.

Thank you for sharing.

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on February 25, 2021:

I have read a lot of historical fiction, so thanks for this recommendation, it sounds like I'd enjoy it.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 25, 2021:

Jennifer, thank you for a wonderful comment. I am flattered that you could locate my book " The Spy" on Amazon.

Jennifer on February 25, 2021:

I love spy thrillers and Ken Follet is a wonderful creator of such tales. I like the idea of an all-women spy team, though I dare say it is only in the realm of fantasy. Thank you for a wonderful review. After reading your name I looked up on Amazon and could locate your book "the Spy." I will read it this weekend.

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