JACKAL by John Follain


The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist, Carlos the Jackal
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Reuters journalist Follain relates the life, crimes, and capture of the world’s best-known terrorist. Yet the Jackal eludes him, refusing to open his mind and motivation to the author. —Carlos the Jackal— was born in Venezuela to an affluent family whose father was a committed Marxist. He went on to be educated in London and Paris, and then in Moscow. His career as a terrorist began in Moscow when he made contact with the radical organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. On behalf of the Popular Front, Carlos carried out a series of bombings and assassinations, culminating in the kidnapping of 11 OPEC oil ministers in Vienna in 1975. After being expelled from the Popular Front for insubordination, Carlos became more or less a freelance revolutionary. He established a small army of followers that killed 24 people and wounded another 257. He was finally captured in 1994 by French authorities in Sudan and is serving a life sentence in France. That Carlos was able to elude capture for 20 years had to do, explains the author, both with the willingness of certain nations, particularly Libya, to shelter him and fund his activities, and with the inept attempts by Western security services to capture him. Indeed, the book is at its best when discussing these topics, but Carlos himself remains an enigmatic figure. Overweight and something of a dandy, he does not fit the mold of hardened terrorist. Despite his Marxist background, he seems anything but doctrinaire, having little to say on his political motivations. Undisciplined and aloof, he was hardly a tool for the Soviet Union. But despite Follain’s having a limited correspondence with Carlos, the Jackal refused to reveal himself and his motives, and even after efforts to interview those who knew him firsthand, Carlos remains a shadowy figure. A good factual account that fails to delve deeper into the enigma that was Carlos the Jackal. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-55970-466-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1998


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