Gérard de Villiers
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|Gérard de Villiers|
8 December 1929|
|Died||31 October 2013
Gérard de Villiers (French: [ʒeʁaʁ də vilje]; 8 December 1929 – 31 October 2013) was a French writer, journalist and publisher. His SAS series of spy novels have been bestsellers, according to the New York Times, "His works have been translated and are especially popular in Germany, Russia, Turkey, and Japan. SAS series has sold about 100 million copies worldwide, which would make it one of the top-selling series in history, on a par with Ian Fleming's James Bond books. SAS may be the longest-running fiction series ever written by a single author.". Viking has plans to publish his 2011 thriller Les Fous de Benghazi (The madmen of Benghazi), translated by William Rodarmor, next year.
Villiers was the son of Jacques Adam de Villiers and a graduate of Sciences Po Paris, France's most reputed and highly selective Political Science university, as well as the ESJ Paris (Superior School of Journalism in Paris).
After working as a foreign correspondent until 1965, he started writing spy novels. He is the author of the spy novel series SAS, beginning in 1965, which tells the adventures of the Austrian prince and CIA agent Malko Linge. The title SAS is a play on initials and acronyms: Son Altesse sérénissime (SAS) is the French version of "His Serene Highness" (HSH). In addition, the British Special Air Service (SAS) is the principal special forces unit of the British Army.
Villiers has written 200 novels of the franchise, selling more than 150 million books, which are popular in Germany, Russia, Turkey and Japan, as well as in France. He published four titles per year between 1966 and 2005, and five per year between 2006 and 2013. Usually the locale of the story is featured in the title (as in, Les amazones de Pyongyang' or Putsch à Ouagadougou). Villiers was well-known for writing novels in tune with contemporary events, such as wars or terrorist threats. He frequently visited theatres of operation, doing research and interviews to ground his stories with accurate facts. Each book was typically reasearched 15 days on location and then written in 15 additional days.
His mastery of political intrigue sometimes led him to publish books that anticipated crisis events. These included portrayals of the assassinations of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Due to tips from spies, he was nearly finished writing SAS: The Hunt for Carlos when the assassin was captured.
- Victims of Vice (Brigade mondaine), directed by Jacques Scandelari (1978)
- Miles O'Keefe played Malko in S.A.S. à San Salvador (1983).
- Richard Young starred in Eye of the Widow (1989), directed by Andrew V. McLaglen.
- Robert F. Worth (January 30, 2013). "The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much". New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- Publisher's web site, accessed 2 November 2013
- Hugh Schofield, "Get out of Afghanistan: France's million-selling spy writer", Sunday Times Online, Sri Lanka, 7 October 2007, accessed 4 July 2011
- Alexandra Guillet (November 1, 2013). "Gérard de Villiers, l'auteur aux 200 "SAS", est mort". TF1. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Alan Riding, "France's James Bond Gets the Scoop on the Hunt for Carlos", New York Times, 18 September 1994, accessed 4 July 2011
- Christophe Deloire, « Gérard de Villiers : Le mercenaire du polar », Le Point, January 13, 2005
- Gérard de Villiers at the Internet Movie Database
- "Looking desperately for spies in Macau: from golden guns to nukes", Macau Business
- "The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much" by Robert F. Worth, New York Times