In a Fleet Street newspaper and authorship career Brian Freemantle has worked in 30 countries, including Russia, Vietnam, the United States of America, India, every country making up the European Union and every country in the Middle East. As Foreign Editor of the Daily Mail in 1975, funded by that newspaper, he organized the only British rescue mission to airlift from Saigon days before it fell to the communist north 100 orphans. South Vietnamese helpers, terrified of North Vietnamese reprisals for working for Western organisations, had fled: many of the orphans would have died from neglect had they not been taken to the safety of England. Ninety six survived: four died from illnesses contraacted in Vietnam.
Freemantle left journalism that year to become a full time writer. RED STAR RISING, published in America in August, 2010, was his 81st book: all but five have been fiction. RED STAR RISING is the first of a trilogy - the second is being published in 2012 - featuring his internationally acclaimed character Charlie Muffin, who has so far featured in 14 novels.
Freemantle was banned from Russian for several years for entering Czechoslovakia undercover to expose the Russian crushing of the Prague Spring and then for writing his non fiction book, another expose, KGB. The only then available copy of that book was stolen from the Frankfurt Book Fair by Russian intellience agents in 1982. During a publicity tour of America in 1986, the FBI uncovered a murder contract taken out against him by Colombian drug lord Jose O'Campo, whom he'd exposed in his non fiction book THE FIX. Centred in Florida, the plan was to firebomb any vehicle in which publishing escorts were taking Freemantle to radio and television interviews. Payment was to have been one kilo of pure cocaine. The Florida segment of the tour was abandoned. As it continued, there were repeated approaches to Freemantle's publicist from people purporting to be profile writers seeking advance information of Freemantle's itinerary throughout America.
Freemantle was twice approached to be a spy, both at the time when the intelligence agencies of Russian satellite countries were supervised by the Soviet KGB. Freemantle was Foreign Editor of the Daily Mail and frequently wrote opinion or comment articles on international events of the moment. The separate approaches, from London-based Polish and Hungarian intelligence agents, were to make Freemantle an "agent of influence," blackmailing him into writing pro-communist articles after entrapping him, with substantial cash payments, for providing innocuous articles for Warsaw and Budapest publications. Freemantle rejected both attempts.
Freemantle's entry into authorship wasn't easy. When his 16th full length manuscript was rejected by the last of the English publishers to which it was submitted, the advice was: 'Stop wasting your time. Stick to journalism.' His 17th attempt, GOODBYE TO AN OLD FRIEND, was contracted in five countries in as many months and bought - although never made - for a film. CHARLIE MUFFIN, the first in the series of his eponymous Hush Puppy shod, Establishment-despised character, was filmed, however, and judged so representative of its gentre to be issued as a DVD in 2010.
The eighty one so far published books have achieved a sale of ll million in 13 countries. To research them - and during his earlier journalistic career - Freemantle has worked throughout the world. He is one of the few writers to reach and live with a descendent of Fletcher Christian on the South Pacific island of Pitcain, refuge of the mutineers, for HMS BOUNTY in which he advances a theory for the uprising based upon word-of-mouth anecestral anecdotes never before recounted. At the height of the near control of Jordan by the Palestinian Black September Organisation, Freemantle obtained a "passport" from the Saiqua terrorist organisation illegally to enter Syria for a world exclusive interview with the then PLO leader Yasser Arafat. The experience formed the background for BETRAYAL.
The attempt to recruit Freemantle as a spy failed for Polish and Hungarian intelligence and their then KGB controllers, but the experience provided the background for the hapless Russian spy characters for KINGS OF MANY CASTLES and ICE AGE, both Charlie Muffin books. The shrugged aside acceptance of government-approved assassination - and the identity of a central character for GOODBYE TO AN OLD FRIEND - came from a KGB general named Kalenin who talked calmly of devising the ricin-poisoning murder on London's Waterloo Bridge of Bulgarian emigre critic Georgi Markov at the same time as teaching Freemantle the etiquette of Russian threshold crossing. The factual tradecraft of all Freemantle's espionage novels - as well as essential guidance for his non fiction CIA - was attributably provided by CIA counter-espionage legend James Jesus Angleton at the permanently reserved dining room table of his Washington club at which Kim Philby's mocking admission of being one of the world's most infamous KGB spies threw him off the scene for a further six months.
THE VIETNAM LEGACY was predicated upon Freemantle's reporting period there during America's unwinnable war. On the day the peace negotiations by the then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were supposed to have come into operation, Freemantle, with another foreign correspondent, was ambushed on Highway 1 and pinned down by Vietcong crossfire. Both escaped riding pillion on motorcycles of fleeing South Vietnamese. Freemantle's last foreign assignment for the Daily Mail was in Vietnam and is the one of which he is the proudest. Days before the North Vietnamese overran Saigon, he chartered an airliner and, with a volunteer crew and a Daily Mail team both on the ground in Saigon and aboard the plane flew there and back in 36 hours to rescue 100 orphans. The airlift was universally denounced as kidnapping by other British news media. In 2010 Freemantle for the first time met Viktoria Cowley, one of the adopted orphans he'd brought to England as a months old baby on the rescue flight. She told him: 'You saved my life and those of every other child. On their behalf and my own, I thank you.'
Freemantle, who was born in Southampton, England, is married to wife Maureen and has three children, Victoria, Emma and Charlotte. After a secondary school education from which he attained two O levels, he moved through provincial journalism to London's Fleet Street where he worked upon four national newspapers, predominantly international news gathering. He quit Fleet Street in 1975 to become a full time author. Freemantle is a Freeman of the City of London and has twice, raising money for the children's charity of the Lord Taverners, of which he is a member, exercised the medieval, still existing right of a Freeman to drive a live sheep across London Bridge, the oldest Thames river crossing.