On Wings of Eagles
1983 | Thriller | 656 pages
A Terrifying Prison
A Daring Rescue
A Dangerous Escape
It all started on 5 December 1978. Jay Coburn, Director of Personnel for EDS Corporation Iran, sat in his office in uptown Tehran with a lot on his mind. The office was in a three storey concrete building known as Bucharest (because it was in an alley off Bucharest Street). Coburn was on the first floor, in a room large by American standards. It had a parquet floor, a smart wood executive desk, and a picture of the Shah on the wall. He sat with his back to the window. Through the glass door he could see into the open-plan office where his staff sat at typewriters and telephones. The glass door had curtains, but Coburn never closed them. Continue reading
I had done four spy stories and I was looking for something a bit different. Out of the blue, a call came via my agent saying, “this maverick Texan, Ross Perot, has been involved in an adventure and he wants you to write a book about it.” I was intrigued.
A lot of people knew about Perot’s adventure and a number of journalists were sniffing around. The rescue team felt that if there was going to be a book, it should be an accurate one by a good writer. Perot asked his wife who should write it. Margo Perot happened to be reading Eye of the Needle, and she said, “well, this guy’s great.”
The elements of the story were a gift. There were these Texan data processing guys, so respectable in their white shirts and striped ties, caught in Tehran in the middle of the revolution. They got arrested and put in jail, and no one could get them out.
I agreed to do the book. Journalists sometimes say that Perot paid me to write the book, but that’s not true. My publishers paid me, as with any other book.
I made the decision early on that I would write a completely true book; I wouldn’t change the story in any way. That created a technical problem because, in real life adventures, there are long periods where nothing happens. For example, day after day, these Texans would go to the Ministry of Health in Tehran and ask for an interview with the Minister. They would wait all day and go home again in the evening and say, “tomorrow we’ll do it.” That kind of thing is tedious and you can’t do it dramatically. How could I handle those long periods without being unfaithful to the truth of the story? It was a challenge but I think I finished up with a true story full of the suspense and adventure of the situation.
“A superb edge-of-the-seat true story.” - USA Today
“Superb. . . . Ken Follett’s fans may be reluctant to see him return to fiction.” - The New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable adventure.” - Los Angeles Times
“A first-rate bestseller . . . stirring, provocative, as meticulously detailed and as thrilling as Follett’s fictional creations.” - The Houston Post
“Rich in atmosphere, character, and dialogue. . . . Follett is a pro’s pro. . . . If this is not a major motion picture, somebody should kick Hollywood back to life.” - New York Daily News