The Cobra

The Cobra

by Frederick Forsyth

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Overview

For decades, the West has been fighting the cocaine cartels-and losing- until the president decides enough is enough and asks one man to take charge. His task: to destroy the cocaine industry. His name: Cobra. It is the ultimate secret war. But only one side can win...


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101442470
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/17/2010
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 112,880
File size: 654 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


Frederick Forsyth is the author of fourteen novels and short story collections, from 1971's The Day of the Jackal to 2003's Avenger. A former pilot and print and television reporter, he has had five movies made from his works, and a television miniseries.

Interviews

Behind the Story
THE COBRA
by Frederick Forsyth


"There are two ways of doing this job," a news agency bureau chief told me once. "You can not bother and get it wrong, or take the trouble and get it right. In my office, we get it right."

He was a good journalist and taught me a lot. Even when I switched from foreign correspondent to novelist, the training stuck. Even though it is fiction, I try to get it right.

Anyway, readers nowadays have been around, seen a lot, traveled a lot. And there is the Internet. If they want to check you out, they can. So if it is uncheckable, you can make it up, but if it can be checked, it had better be right. That is why I go all over, looking, probing, inquiring, conversing in low places, until I am damn certain that even the smallest detail really is the way it is.

That includes the weird places to be visited. For THE COBRA, a deep delve into the murky world of cocaine, smugglers, Coast Guards, cops, and gangsters, there were certain "must-go" targets. The HQ of the DEA in Washington, the backstreets of Bogotá, the dockside dives of Cartagena. But the more I researched, the more I came across a recurring name: Guinea-Bissau.

Once a Portuguese West African colony, G-B went through eighteen years of independence war and about the same of civil war. The two left it a shattered, burned-out hellhole. The ultimate failed state. It still is. And the cocaine cartels spotted a perfect shipment point for coke going from South America to Europe. They moved in, put almost every major official and politico on the payroll, and began to shift scores of tons of puro through from Colombia to Europe. This I had to see, so I went, posing as a bird-watcher (the swamps and marshes are a wintering ground for European wading birds).

It was not my fault I landed in the middle of yet another coup d'état. It started while I was airborne from Lisbon to Bissau city. When I arrived, my contact was in a hell of a state. Flashing his diplomatic pass, he whisked us both through the formalities. It was two a.m.: sweaty hot.

"What's the hurry?" I asked, as he raced his SUV down the pitted track to the city. "Look behind you," he said.

The horizon in the rearview mirror was aglow with headlights. A vengeful Army was also heading for the city. At eight-thirty the previous evening, someone had put a bucket of Semtex under the Army chief of staff. He was all over the ceiling. The Army reckoned it was the President—different tribes and eternal enemies. They were coming to settle accounts.

I was in my hotel by three a.m. but unable to sleep, so I put on the light. It was the only modern hotel and had a generator. There is no public lighting in Bissau. At four-thirty, trying to read, I heard the boom, about five hundred yards down the street. Not thunder, not a head-on crash. Ammo, big ammo. One remembers the sound. Actually, it was the Army putting an RPG through the President's bedroom window.

It seems the explosion did not kill the old boy, even at seventy-one. He crawled out of bed. Then the building collapsed on him. Still alive, he crawled from the rubble to the lawn, where the soldiers were waiting. They shot him three times in the chest. When he still wouldn't die, they realized he had a juju that made him immune to bullets.

But that juju cannot prevail against machetes. Everyone knows that. So they chopped him up. He died.

The next day was kind of quiet, apart from the patrolling Army jeeps bristling with the usual Kalashnikovs, looking for the murderers of their boss. My contact waved his diplomatic pass; I beamed and distributed signed photos of a smiling Queen Elizabeth, with assurances that she wished them well (the Third World reveres the queen, even with a facsimile signature). We were waved through.

The airport was closed; ditto the borders. I was trapped inside, but no one could get in either. In the trade, it's called an exclusive. So I borrowed my host's mobile and filed a thousand-word summing-up to London's Daily Express, for whom I do a weekly column. I had the Express call me back and dictated the story to a lady with earphones in London. No one has filed news like that since Dan Rather was in college. Old-fashioned, but secure from intercept, I thought.

But of course the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland, heard it all and told the CIA. In the matter of coups in West Africa, I have what London's Cockneys call "a bit of previous." I wrote The Dogs of War long ago about that very subject.

After the story, half the West's media was trying to get me, but I was out in the creeks checking out the sumptuous mansion of the Colombians, notable for their ponytails, chains of gold bling, and black-windowed SUVs. When I got back to Bissau, a very voluble wife, Sandy, was on the phone.

It seems she was fixing a lunch date with a girlfriend and explained in her e-mail: "I'm free for lunch 'cos Freddie is away in Guinea-Bissau." Mistake. The e-mail vanished off the screen unfinished. Her mailbox vaporized. Database wiped. Instructions appeared on her screen: "Do not open this file. Cease all sending or we will respond."

I had a zany mental image of the morning conference at Langley. Corner suite, seventh floor, Old Building.

"What's this going on in Africa, Chuck?"

"A coup in Guinea-Bissau, Director. Several assassinations. It could be that damn limey again."

"Can we take him out of there?"

"It seems not. He is somewhere in the jungle."

"Well, zap his wife's lunch dates. That'll teach him."

The same night, I dined with new friends, and my neighbor at the table was an elderly Dutchman. "You work here?" I asked.

"Ja. Three-year secondment. I am a forensic pathologist. I run the mortuary."

The only things that work in Bissau are the gift-aid projects donated by the developed world. The Dutch built the modern mortuary. Shrewdly, they put it next to the locally run general hospital. Smart, because no one leaves the hospital save feetfirst on a gurney heading for the morgue.

"Been busy?" I asked. He nodded solemnly.

"Ja, very busy all day. Stitching the President back together."

It seemed the government wanted the old boy in his coffin more or less in the right order. I tucked into my stewed goat.

It took three days for things to calm down and the airport to reopen. I was on the next flight to Lisbon and London. At Heathrow, a passport officer checked the stamps, raised an eyebrow, and passed the document to a colleague. He contemplated both the passport and its owner for a while, then gave it back.

"How was Guinea-Bissau, Mr. Forsyth?" he asked mildly.

"Cancel the vacation," I advised. "You won't like it." Both smiled thinly. Officials don't do that. Never jest with officialdom. I stepped out into the crisp morning air of March 1, 2009. Beautifully cool. Good to be home.

Of course, West Africa got its own back. It always does. Twenty days later, my left leg blew up like a vegetable marrow, a real prizewinner. Dark red and hurting like hell. The first medic thought deep vein thrombosis. Bull feathers. Even I know DVT cuts in much sooner after the jet flight and there is no swelling.

The second surgeon did an ultrasound scan and got it in one. A sting, a bite, a scratch, who knows? But leading to a pretty vicious staphylococcal infection, aka septicemia or blood poisoning.

So into ER went the old scribe, and then to ICU. They pumped enough amoxicillin into a catheter to sink the USS Saratoga and saved the leg, though they were close to scrubbing up to take it off.

I came out after three weeks and spent the rest of the summer finishing the research among our Special Forces. Then wrote the novel October through December. Now it is with the publisher, due out mid-August.

So if you are interested, dear reader, it's all in THE COBRA. The dives of Cartagena, the U.S. Navy SEALs, their British equivalents the SBS, the Global Predator UAVs, oh, and dear old Guinea-Bissau. And it's all true. Well, okay, it's not all true, it's a novel. But it's accurate.

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The Cobra 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 216 reviews.
MRamos0 More than 1 year ago
This work of fiction was easy to read and it may be because I already had a working knowledge of almost ninety percent of the acronyms used. There is no need to have knowledge of all the acronyms for they are listed in the front of the book and explained as they are used in the narrative. The concept for the novel is rather bold, the president of the United States has decided that cocaine is a clear and present danger to the country; though those exact words are not used. An old school Central Intelligence Agency operative, Paul Deveraux, who was retired from the agency because of his violent yet effective methods is summon to accomplish the task. From the formulation of the basic desire of the president and with an executive order in hand Mr. Deveraux begins his prep work of building the organization he will need to combat the world cocaine trade and try to stop it. The book does go into detail on this organization building and research performed on the cocaine trade. We the reader are also introduced to the inner workings of the cocaine trade from the inside and can watch the actions and reactions of both sides as the book progresses. The realistic action in the book spans the cocaine using world. All the above mentioned background is told in great detail and takes about half the book to get us where most readers of action want to be, the actual operation. The reader is privy to the operations as they take place and the cocaine organizations response as these operations to destroy the cocaine industry unfolds. A calculated plan of action with a plot that is easy to read. The background of the inner details we learned earlier about the formation of the anti-drug teams and the drug cartel bear fruits as the story unfolds. A rich yet violent work of fiction that is filled with accurate facts on existing governmental agencies and their capabilities.
Lannie More than 1 year ago
This emotionally charged, fast-paced story starts in 2010 with the current administration in the White House where the president, troubled by the death of a staff worker's grandson to cocaine, asks for a comprehensive briefing on the cocaine trade. Thus The Cobra plan.What a concept! What a brain to be able to think this plan through!
Fighterjock More than 1 year ago
...and is an insult to Forsyth's earlier works. Why was this called "The Cobra?" We barely met that character while we primarily followed the exploits of Cal Dexter. The plot and dialogue are shallow, almost non-existent. The editor ought to be fired for allowing so many grammatical errors as well as a book full of acronyms. I felt as though I was reading through a documentary/report on the drug trade rather that a novel.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
The inside look that author Forsyth gives us into the workings of the cocaine trade is like a primer in the drug business. It's fascinating. the plan to take the druglords down is interesting, but not as fascinating. The fact that the police never seem to catch the higher ups is often attributed to their desire for statistics, but The Cobra makes it clear that the guys higher up have insulated themselves pretty well from the law.
LadyLJ More than 1 year ago
I was quite excited to receive this book, other Forsyth books had been quite engrossing and excellent "reads". Unfortunately this one does not meet the standards of his prior novels. If you are looking for a fictionalized report on the cocaine industry, you will love this book. I, however, was looking for an engaging novel with good character development and an interestingly complex plot. I received none of my expectations. The book has virtually no dialogue, endless descriptive paragraphs(not actions)(pretty bad when the most "readable" part of the book was a mock "report" from the DEA!), and little plot development until the last few pages when, finally, a small plot twist occurs. In other words, I found it BORING. If you just have to have it (why I don't know), at least save some money until it's in the bargain bin or out in paperback!
Anonymous 6 months ago
I enjoyed it.
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very poor, totally unbeliveable in many places quite preposterous in others, the rest is just weak, totally unlike his past masterworks.The basic premise is that the US president becomes personally affected by the effects on cocaine, and decides to increase the war on drugs to unprecidented levels. He does this by contracting an outsider - a now retired CIA agent, who takes on this mandate only under the conditions that he has a totally free hand. To do this the president declares cocaine a clear and present danger to the US, raising it to the same stakes as terrorism. Unfortunetly Forsyth thinks that this alieviates the responsabilities of civil rights. It doesn't, and this is only the first of several such basic errors. Another spectacular one is in assuming you can get DNA from someone's coffee cup, or that the british Prime Minister cares about global warming. All the portrayals of UK characters are very poor - something that Forsyth used to be quite good at. Although I don't know any Columbian's I doubt that any of those characters are accurate either. I hope that some research was conducted inot the drugs trade, as the various smuggling techniques feature frequently - but given all the other errors I could easily believe that Forsyth just made it all up.The story alternates between overviews of various special forces actions as dictated by teh Cobra - our CIA chap - and brief snap shots of the effects these have on the cocaine Cartel. It is not an effective story telling technique. There is no sense of action or drama in the comba sequences, and way too much foreshadowing in the criminal scenes. Added to this is a confused few sections where the left hand is supposed to not know what the right had is doing, but results in it being unclear who if anyone knows anything at all. The one area where the book could have shone, but didn't, would have been a discussion of the various possabilities of how to combat drug abuse. Legalisation wasn't even mentioned, which is yet another massive failing. About the only positive thing I can say is that it was coherentle written without obvious gramatical flaws.Don't waste your time with this, go and read Day of the Jackel which is heaps better.
sferguson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I probably made a mistake in beginning to read this book with preconceived notions of the techno-thriller genre. I read Clancy, Bond and Brown, among others and have consistently enjoyed their works as well as many others.This book shows serious promise in the beginning, but the story weakens towards the middle and the ending is not only a surprise but makes one question whether the story they had been reading to that point is the one that just finished.It is a decent entry in the thriller genre, but is not going to compare favorably to most of the major authors.
pmla1028 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Frederick Forsyth's latest book, The Cobra, is an international thriller so intriguing that it leaves the reader wondering how much is fiction and what portions could be bits and pieces of real events. When the President of the United States wants to declare war on the cartels bringing cocaine into the U.S. he send for "The Cobra", Paul Devereaux. Devereaux earned his nickname for his ruthlessness during his CIA career. The president calls him out of retirement and gives him carte blanche to fight one more enemy of America. Forythe's attention to detail is meticulous as Devereaux weaves an intricate web around his prey. The reader must be patient while the trap is set, but once it is sprung the action is fast paced and the ending is something of a surprise.
bjmitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I expect Forsyth novels to be fast-paced and exciting, but then I hadn't read his more recent books. This is a detailed story that requires patience; many characters, so many the list in the front is a great addition, also the list of acronyms. Because the concept involved is so massive an undertaking, you get halfway through the book before anything exciting happens and even then you aren't real sure what the overall plan is. However, a huge plan is in the works - destroying the international drug cartels and thus the world's drug trade. This is a good read, just not what I expected. It requires patience and an eye for subtle details. The end has a twist that surprised me, made me sit back and say, "Wow!"
qstewart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just finished Frederick Forsyth's new novel The Cobra. I found the book to be an easy and fast read because I am a fan of international thrillers and this book fills that category. To some readers the preparation for the attack on the bad guys by the forces of the US may seem long and drawn out, but that is necessary to show the intricacies of planning such an attack against the drug cartels must entail. It is also a way to introduce whom I believe to be the main character, Dexter. The book shows what it would take to defeat the drug cartels and how far a government would have to go to attempt to shut them down. And though successful, how elected officials can reverse their stance and demand a stop to a efficient program just short of it being completed. Readers may wish that such an operation could be carried out but are we willing to pay the price that may be asked of our society for such an undertaking.I enjoyed the book and really did not expect the twist at the end. I believe it is a fitting end to the book and makes one consider what can a nation that is built on laws do to protect itself and its people. It is a fascinating look at the inner workings of police and military units and how they could possibly be brought together to overcome the drug cartels. Will it happen, I think not, but it is an interesting story and well worth the read.
DeaconBernie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As an action book, this one never stops. It offers a very clear plan to severely hinder, even destroy, the Columbian drug cartel. It is clearly a very well researched book. On the other hand, there is very little character development and no romance. It is about highly motivated men who apply themselves fully to the task. The methods of gathering information are carefully thought out and described.
lwhitmill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A well written and almost beleivable story that takes you across the face of the globe into the underworld of illicet drugs. As the bold plan unfolds you gain an understanding of the barbarity of the drug trade as the plot leads to a rather unexpected ending. A book that is well worth the time invested to read it.
Chatterbox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At his best, Forsyth blends fact and fiction so effortlessly you can end up wondering whether what you are reading really did happen. Alas, this isn't his best novel {although it's not his worst). The basic storyline is a tad implausible, even utopian for the hard-headed Forsyth: when the president of the United States decides to play hardball with drug traffickers and kill the cocaine business, two characters from his previous novel, Avenger, who were adversaries, unite to fulfill the mission.As in any Forsyth novel, there's more attention paid to the mechanics of how this is done -- to the back story, the details, the procedures -- than to characters or dialogue, etc. Usually the Forsyth books are compelling enough that I find that approach works; in this case, it's not as effective, and I found myself bogging down. Many of Forsyth's better novels have focused on events of the recent past -- the first Gulf War -- or complex situations based on reality, like the rise of a populist anti-Semitic new force in Russian politics. In this story, which is based on an unlikely scenario and one that can't be tied as readily to real events, the narrative loses some of its punch. Even the "twist" in the story isn't really that surprising, if the reader thinks through what MIGHT happen should the powers that be decide to really pull no punches in killing off the cocaine trade. And the fact that Forsyth is concerning himself with a moral issue rather than the usual shades-of-grey political/military conflict also makes it tricky. There are the heroes, and the villains, and both do nasty things. Only recommended to Forsyth fans; if you haven't discovered his books yet, I can strongly recommend The Deceiver and Icon as well as classics like The Odessa File, or even Avenger. They would all get ratings of 4 stars or greater. This was a 3.5 star book for me, and a bit of a disappointment.
MikeD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very nice story line and interesting description of what we would need to do to completely stop the cocaine traffic, which would require complete and silent cooperation from the USA and its friends. Not enough character development from the two main characters, Paul Devereaux and Cal Dexter for my tastes and a disappointing ending for me. This novel could have been much better.
davejohnson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry but this thinly disguised book written about our current president and wife that starts in the present and runs into the future is a "turn off" for me! Especially coming from the author of The Jackal.
velopunk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Frederick Forsyth still has it. He seems to excel in that combination of fact and fiction backed by much research into whatever the background of the particular novel. In the Cobra, an American president, undoubtedly Barack Obama, for his wife is named Michelle, is moved to take drastic action against the Colombian drug cartel that controls the worldwide distribution of cocaine. An elderly, black White House waitress collapses in tears at a state dinner. Her grandson has just died of as cocaine overdose. She had been raising him and trying to save him from the streets. She pours out her story to the First Lady who later relates it to POTUS. This is the catalyst for the President to recruit an ex-CIA official, the Cobra, Paul Devereaux to head a quasi-military organization dedicated to eradicating the Colombian cartel jnown as Hermanidad. Devereaux has been given carte blanche by POTUS to do whatever it takes to solve the problem. Cocaine trafficking has quietly been changed to an offense equal to terrorism and the British have bought into the scheme. Devereaux demands a string of conditions and a year's lead time before any overt action will be taken against Hermanidad. He spends that year organizing, recruiting and planning. He has two ships outfitted to interdict ships carrying cocaine, but this time there will be no seizures with great fanfare. The ships will be boarded after all communications are temporarily blocked. The crew will be taken to Diego Garcia for detention and the ships will be sunk. Using unmanned drones, planes are indentified taking off from remote areas in Brazil bound for West Africa. The planes Cobra is looking for would normally not have enough range to complete the trip. Any plane attempting the trip must therefore have added gas tanks and be a cartel plane. They are simply shot down. Cobra's strategy is to seize or destroy the cocaine while it is still in the cartel's hands. Once handed, off the various gangs who are taking delivery of the product are liable for its loss. Does the book strain credulity? Of course. The idea of Barck Obama sanctioning an extra legal war against the cartel is laughable. Perhaps the book may have worked better with a fictional President. There is a Rahm Emmanuel type chief of staff who must deal with the Cobra. In the end the President gets cold feet. The Cobra has succeeded too well. He has sown disinformation that has the cartel and distributing gangs at each other's throats. Wholesale gang warfare has broken out and civilians have been killed and injured in the crossfire. This is the least satisfying part of the book. You had the feeling that it would all end badly. Devereaux is summoned to the White House and told to stand down and end his activities. He has stockpiled 150 tons of cocaine and uses it to bargain with the head of the cartel to ensure his personal safety now that the operation is over. The Cobra is found murdered in his house by his second in command. This doesn't seem to square with the Cobra's values and how he was portrayed in the balance of the book. Overall I enjoyed the book, especially the first 80%. The planning, strategy, and tactics of Cobra were very entertaining. I'm glad Forsyth is still writing.
cweller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very well written. Frederick Forsyth writes a great thriller that was slow to start but picked up pace and the many twists and turns kept you surprised at the end.
Kingray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The premise for this book was unrealistic and the end result a disappointment as I expected
rufusraider on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Cobra by Frederick Forsythe is a very well written novel. The character development was excellent and made you care/hate them depending on whether they were the white/black hat guys. I especially loved the take on Rahm Emmanuel (Jon Silver) in the book. The novel made him seem just as hated a politician as the real life person.The premise of the methodology to reduce the cocaine trade from Columbia is something most people would love to have happen as long as they didn't know the details of how it was done. It is done quietly and behind closed doors in the book. The results were what everyone wanted until the shortage led to violence among the criminals. Of course most of the violence in the US is currently caused by these same criminals protecting their turf now. This is as good as any book ever written by Frederick Forsythe. I have read most of his novels over time and loved this one.
repb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A definite hard-to-put-down read. Scary statistics which I suspect are relatively accurate. Well-written and very interesting, but went on a bit too long in my opinion. Can't say I was pleased with the ending, either, but that's just me.
MSWallack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy Frederick Forsyth's books and when I read one I find myself asking why he isn't one of the authors for whom I rush to the store to buy a new book. However, The Cobra did not live up to Forsyth's usual standard. Unfortunately, the book read less like a novel and more like a journalistic history piece chronicling certain events. The characters were mere pieces on a chessboard to be shuffled; they were never people and certainly not people about whom the reader cared. I learned quite a bit about the cocaine business (Forsythe is known for impressive research and, as always, he makes the reader believe that Forsythe knows of what he writes), but there needed to be more story to back up the reams of information. In some ways, I felt as if Forsyth was trying to recapture the detail and complexity that made Icon so good, but that book had terrific characters who faced dangers and challenges. The Cobra was simply not up to Forsyth's standards, but I guess that even the masters are entitled to a "swing and miss" now and then.
jimgysin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this as an ARC last summer, but somehow didn't realize I'd won it, and then my apartment managers managed to misplace it until it turned up again when they were going through Christmas packages that needed to be picked up. And no, the package hadn't been opened and read. Too funny.In any case, this was another solid outing by Forsyth, but there's little to make it stand out from the crowd. The writing is solid, the research is excellent and evident, but the plot and pacing never really drew me into the story. Instead, in many ways, it reads more like a non-fiction thesis on how to attack the drug problem, as opposed to being a thriller. And other than Cal Dexter, there weren't many memorable characters who were making me root for them, as I had my doubts about the eponymous Cobra from the very outset.The twist at the end almost raised it to a four-star read, but it still fell short for me.
PatrickJIV on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
IMO, writer was just to detailed with all info, much to descriptive. But I like books w/tons of dialogue and this one is 98% narrative, thus the 3 stars.
mramos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one seating and found that it flowed from the beginning to end. I can see where some may get inpatient with the planning of such an endeavor that Mr. Devereaux is asked to accomplish. The complete eradication of the cocaine trade by the executive branch of the USA. It is true as far as action goes the book does not pick up until over a third of the way in. So if you are expecting non-stop action you will have a few chapters to wade through if you do not wish to understand what is involved in executing those maneuvers. And though the President of the U.S. that he alludes too would never give such an order; all of the agencies and the privileges of executive orders using loopholes in laws are all very realistic. I think that most expected the author to jump straight into action and did not enjoy the planning stage of the book that I found extremely interesting. The only part of the book that was expected is the so called twist at the end of the book.