The Jackal (based on a real life character) is the main character in the fiction novel "The Day Of The Jackal" by Frederick Forsyth, which features a storyline centered on a professional assassination attempt on Charles de Gaulle's life in the summer of 1963. The book was published in 1971 shortly after Charles de Gaulle's death and became an instant bestseller.

The Jackal is described as a gentleman with blond hair and grey eyes in his early thirties. He uses a numbered Swiss bank account to hold the proceeds of his work. He is a sophisticated man who thoroughly thinks out his plans. He is most likely English, considering that he lives in England and holds a British driving license, even though his nationality cannot be verified by either the reader or the police forces in the book. No police force in Europe has ever heard of the Jackal, implying that he might change his codename for each of his missions. It could be inferred that the Jackal could have served in the French Foreign Legion, considering these facts; the Jackal speaks fluent French, he is able to kill a person with his bare hands - training given in the Legion - and the fact that the conspirators wishing to kill De Gaulle were in the Legion explains how they were able to get a dossier about him so easily. It is also revealed the Jackal has a contact from Katanga (Louis, presumably a mercenary) who puts him in touch with a skilled armorer who fabricates the assassin's rifle and a forger who provides false identification papers.

Explanation of the character's name:

The assassin invents the codename of the Jackal after he is hired by Rodin and his fellow conspirators. The codename stems from the name of the animal, as both the assassin and the animal are both predators, who hunt their prey. His real name is not stated, although several characters in the book know his true identity. He is adept at killing people with his bare hands and he is an excellent shot with a rifle. It can also be inferred that the Jackal is proficient with hand guns since the two German scientists were both killed with a 'neat little' bullet hole to the spine, most likely done with a low calibre pistol. The Jackal is chosen by his employers for his expertise and neutrality, and most importantly, his anonymity.

The Jackal's real name is unknown and details of his background are sketchy. He is in his thirties in 1963, so the Jackal was presumably born sometime between 1924 and 1933. He is either English or affects the manner of an Englishman. He is just under six feet tall, “reasonably good looking”, with a muscular build. He has few distinguishing features; the desk clerk at the Hotel Kleist in Vienna - where the Jackal first meets the OAS - can offer only a poor description when interviewed by the French two months later. One distinguishing feature are his cold, lifeless eyes; he covers this by wearing dark wraparound sunglasses. He likes to wear striped shirts. He changes his hair color constantly.

The Jackal may have received special forces training from the Royal Marines and may have once been with the French Foreign Legion. He speaks fluent French and is able to kill a man with his bare hands. He is skilled with handguns and is a crackshot who can hit a honeydew melon from one-hundred-and-fifty metres. He has worked in an office and commuted to work and despised it. Dreaming of “Cadillacs and Jaguars”, he became a mercenary, specialising in individual killings. Unlike his rivals - ex-SS killer Hans-Dieter Kassel and South African mercenary Piet Schuyper - he has managed to remain anonymous except to a select few who recommend him for work. He considers his anonymity his greatest weapon. He is an acquaintance of a former Congo mercenary called Louis who he met in Katanga. He may have helped assassinate Trujillo in the Dominican Republic by shooting the driver of his armoured car, causing it to crash.

Prior to being approached by the OAS, the Jackal's only confirmed kills are of two German rocket scientists in Egypt who were helping Nasser build rockets to attack Israel. He performed this task at close range using a small-calibre weapon, a crime which left the Egyptian government bafflled. The Jackal was paid by a Zionist millionaire in New York, who considered his money “well spent”. The Jackal personally supervised the transfer of his payment from Beirut to Switzerland, where he has a large account in dollars and Swiss Francs. The Jackal keeps two thousand pounds in cash in a safety deposit box of a solicitor's office in Holborn, London.

The Jackal planned to continue as an assassin until he had enough money to retire. The money paid to the Jackal for the Egyptian kill was enough to keep him in luxury for several years, but the offer of US$500,000 from the OAS to kill De Gaulle gave him the opportunity to retire early. Despite his concern over the “security slackness of the OAS”, the job is too tempting to turn down. Taking his usual elaborate precautions, the Jackal arranged a false passport to get him into France and forged identity papers to get him close to De Gaulle. He also stole two passports as contingent identities and bought disguises to match. Unfortunately, France's Action Service was able to kidnap and interrogate an OAS bodyguard, one of the few men who was aware of the plot to kill De Gaulle. Using OAS agent “Valmi” as cutout, the Jackal was kept fully informed of the French police's pursuit of him. This, plus his constant changes of identity, enabled him to stay ahead of the police until Liberation Day, August 25th 1963, when the Jackal tried to shoot De Gaulle with a rifle he had disguised as an alluminium crutch. However, De Gaulle moved his head at the last moment, causing the Jackal to miss. As the Jackal prepared for a second shot, he was discovered by French police detective Claude Lebel, who emptied a submachinegun at him. He was buried two days later in an unmarked grave; only Lebel attended, anonymously.

The Jackal is utterly ruthless but probably not psychopathic; he only kills those he has been paid to kill or those who compromise his mission. He likes precision. He habitually wakes at 7.30. His preferred drink is Campari and soda. He “can be witty” and behaves as a true gentleman while on a mission. He enjoys flirting with girls and is a great lover.

For the 1973 adaptation, some of the Jackal's background details are clarified. The dossier the OAS read from states that the Jackal killed Trujillo and the man in the Congo. This means that the Jackal probably used the name Charles Calthrop as a cover for his Caribbean mission, or the real Charles Calthrop name was mixed up. Edward Fox (actor) plays the Jackal with more lightness and humor than in the book.

Unknown: The Jackal's real name is never revealed. Until he chooses his new codename - '“Jackal” - he is referred to as “the Englishman”.

Alexander James Quentin “Alex” Duggan: This is the name of a boy who was born in 1929 but died aged two and a half. The Jackal obtains Duggan's birth certificate under false pretences and applies for a passport in this name but with his own photograph and details. Note: In the 1973 film, the name is changed to Paul Oliver Duggan.

Per Jensen: A pastor from Copenhagen who bears a resemblance to the Jackal but is older with iron grey hair and metal-rimmed spectacles. The Jackal steals Pastor Jensen's passport from his London hotel room and adopts the disguise after the French police discover his Duggan identity. Note: In the 1973 film, the character's name is Per Lundqvist and he is a schoolteacher; there is no Marty Schulberg character, so it is as Lundqvist that The Jackal pretends to be gay to stay at Jule Bernard's flat.

Martin “Marty” Schulberg: A student from Syracuse who bears a resemblance to the Jackal but is younger, with chestnut brown hair and heavy-rimmed executive spectacles. The Jackal steals Schulberg's handgrip containing his passport and adopts the disguise when he realises the police must be onto Jensen. In the book, as Schulberg, the Jackal pretends to be gay to slip past French security.

Andre Martin: A fictitious French war veteran from Alsace-Lorraine, Martin is in his late 50s and has only one leg, necessitating walking around with an aluminium crutch. The Jackal becomes Martin - complete with French identity card and mutilée de guerre card courtesy of a Belgian forger - by dying his hair grey and cutting it badly, and swallowing a couple of pieces of cordite to make himself sick and affect a pale complexion.

Charles Calthrop: Charles Calthrop is the name of a former small-arms salesman who was in the Dominican Republic at the time Trujillo was shot. The SIS later heard a rumor that Calthrop has helped the partisans kill Trujillo by shooting the driver of his armoured car, causing it to crash. In the book, the British police originally think Calthrop is the Jackal's real name, until the real Calthrop shows up at the end. When the Jackal learns the French are looking for a Charles Calthrop, he doesn't acknowledge this as his real name. In the movie, however, the OAS mention that the Jackal killed Trujillo, implying that The Jackal may have borrowed Calthrop's identity while in the Caribbean or may just have become mixed up with him. In any event, it is suggested that the British stumbled across the Jackal's false identity of Duggan by blind luck and that the Jackal may not even have been an Englishman.

Real-life terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez was given his more common nickname based on this book. Already dubbed Carlos, when police raided one of his safehouses, they found a copy of  "The Day of the Jackal," and a British journalist decided to dub him "Carlos the Jackal." Apparently Sanchez despised the nickname, especially because it implied he was a mercenary like the Jackal rather than a revolutionary, which was how he saw himself.

Readers were shocked by the realism of the book.

Source: Wikipedia



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