On Wings of Eagles

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On Wings of Eagles
First edition
Author Ken Follett
Country UK
Language English
Genre Thriller / True story
Publisher William Morrow (US)
HarperCollins (UK)
Publication date
ISBN 0-688-02371-1
OCLC 9466033
955/.054 19
LC Class E183.8.I55 F64 1983
Preceded by The Man from St. Petersburg (1982)
Followed by Lie Down with Lions (1986)
You may be looking for On Wings of Eagles (TV mini-series)

On Wings of Eagles is a 1983 thriller novel written by British author Ken Follett. Set against the background of the Iranian revolution, it tells the story of the rescue of Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord from prison in Tehran by a team of Electronic Data Systems executives led by retired Col. Arthur D. Simons.

The story, according to Follett, is not fictionalized or a 'non-fiction novel'.[1]


Ross Perot contacted Ken Follett, who was paid by his publisher, to write On Wings of Eagles.

Follett based his account on many conversations with the people directly involved, and had the drafts checked by them as well. Aside from changing a few names, he believes the story to be what really happened.

Plot summary[edit]

In December 1978 two EDS executives working in Tehran are arrested on suspicion of bribery. Bail was set at 12.75 million dollars. When Ross Perot, head of the Dallas-based company hears about it, he decides to get his people out no matter what. While the firm's lawyers are trying to find a way to pay the bail, he also recruits a team of volunteers from his executives, led by a retired United States Army officer, to break them out by force, if necessary.

Their well-rehearsed plan to break the two out of jail fails because of a prison transfer, and the team has to figure out another way to rescue their colleagues, culminating in a harrowing overland escape to Turkey. Meanwhile, riots and violence dominate the streets of Tehran more and more each day, culminating in the Iranian Revolution led by Khomeini against the Shah, endangering the other EDS employees as well.


The book was a #1 International Bestseller.

Mini series[edit]

In 1986 a five-hour mini series of the same name was released, starring Burt Lancaster as Arthur D. "Bull" Simons and Richard Crenna as Ross Perot. It was watched by an estimated 25 million Americans.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Follett Bibliography - In His Own Words
  2. ^ page 121 of Posner, Gerald Citizen Perot Random House New York 1996
  • Chapter 8 "Escape from Iran" from Posner, Gerald Citizen Perot Random House New York 1996

External links[edit]