Gérard de Villiers

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Gérard de Villiers
Born (1929-12-08)8 December 1929
Paris, France
Died 31 October 2013(2013-10-31) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Occupation Writer

Gérard de Villiers (French: [ʒeʁaʁ də vilje]; 8 December 1929 – 31 October 2013) was a French writer, journalist and publisher whose SAS series of spy novels have been major bestsellers. According to the New York Times, "His works have been translated and are especially popular in Germany, Russia, Turkey, and Japan. The SAS series has sold a reported 120 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."[1] De Villiers' books are well known in French-speaking countries for their in-depth insider knowledge of such subjects as espionage, geopolitics, and terrorist threats, as well as their hard-core sex scenes. Bringing de Villiers and his hero Malko Linge to English-speaking readers, Vintage Books published The Madmen of Benghazi and Chaos in Kabul in 2014, Revenge of the Kremlin in 2015, and Lord of the Swallows in February 2016. Surface to Air is due out in June. All were translated by veteran literary translator William Rodarmor.


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,[2] selling more than 120 million books. In addition to France, they are popular in the United States, Germany, Russia, Turkey, and Japan, and studied by various intelligence services. De Villiers published four titles per year between 1966 and 2005, and five per year between 2006 and 2013.[2][3] Usually the locale of the story is featured in the title (as in, Les amazones de Pyongyang' [The Amazons of Pyongyang] or Putsch à Ouagadougou [Coup in 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.[3] Each book was typically researched 15 days on location and then written in 15 additional days.[4]

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 freelance assassin was captured.[5]

English translations[edit]

In the mid-1970s, Pinnacle Books published a dozen of the SAS novels in English, now out of print. They include The Belfast Connection (ISBN 0-523-00844-9) in 1976.

Between 2014 and 2016, Vintage Books published five Malko Linge novels: The Madmen of Benghazi (ISBN 978-0-8041-6931-8) and Chaos in Kabul (ISBN 978-0-8041-6933-2), followed by three Russia-themed thrillers: Revenge of the Kremlin (ISBN 978-0-8041-6935-6), Lord of the Swallows (ISBN 978-0-8041-6937-0), and Surface to Air (ISBN 978-0-804-16939-4) in late 2016. The books were translated and adapted by French literary translator William Rodarmor.

Film adaptations[edit]


His grave in cimetière de Passy in Paris.
  1. ^ Robert F. Worth (January 30, 2013). "The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much". New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Publisher's web site, accessed 2 November 2013
  3. ^ a b Hugh Schofield, "Get out of Afghanistan: France's million-selling spy writer", Sunday Times Online, Sri Lanka, 7 October 2007, accessed 4 July 2011
  4. ^ Alexandra Guillet (November 1, 2013). "Gérard de Villiers, l'auteur aux 200 "SAS", est mort". TF1. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ 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

External links[edit]