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The Fourth Protocol

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  31,316 ratings  ·  333 reviews
Professional thief Jim Rawlings breaks into the apartment of a senior civil servant, and unintentionally discovers stolen top secret documents. Although one of the most notorious thieves in London, he is enough of a patriot to anonymously send the documents to MI5 so that they might locate the traitor. In Moscow, British defector Kim Philby drafts a memorandum for the Sovi ...more
Paperback, 443 pages
Published 1996 by Arrow Books (first published August 1984)
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
Best Spy Novels
1,106 books — 2,008 voters
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
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Igor Ljubuncic
One of the best spy books around.

Two years after I jotted this one sentence, I should elaborate more.

The book can also be called: how to assemble a nuclear weapon in 13 easy steps. Combine that with some solid, classic 80s Cold War era spy tactics and half a dozen sub-plots converging toward a decidedly gray-day industrial-era English brick house standoff, and you get yourself an excellent thriller. The best part is, it's visual. You are reading this book and you see it like a film unfolding bef
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Frederick Forsyth is one of my all time favorite novelists and my favorite of all "spy novelists". The Fourth Protocol is my favorite spy novel of all time. It definitely falls into the "Commando Spy" category but is far better written than most.

I love spy novels of most types and the Commando spy novels (of which I refer to the 007 novels as) are particular favorites of mine but I also like the more behind the curtains novels that LeCarre writes. This book of Forsyth's is a fantastic cross
Paul Alkazraji
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pierce as agent Petrofski in the film version.

On Russian intervention…

When an elite Russian agent is dispatched to plant an atomic bomb on a US airbase in the UK, beleaguered MI5 agent John Preston is pretty much all that stands in his way.

A rich and interesting picture is built up of all the circumstances leading to this, with Forsyth’s meticulous thoroughness, though the filling in of detailed backstory for me felt at times to be an unwelcome interruption to the forward flow of the nar
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies, 2017
Frederick Forsyth is a writer who did write some classics when it comes to the thriller genre, The Odessa File about Nazi's post WWII, Dogs of war about the post colonial attitudes of big cooperations about former colonies, the day of the Jackal about the assassination of the French President. And all books have a very precise build up with a lot of details how certain things can be done, mostly illegal stuff, and then the writer still knows how to surprise you in the end.

The Fourth Protocol is
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a 3.5 read with detractors of the parts involving Philby (dragged) and the annoying use of false suspense > such as "and he read it and knew" the reader not knowing until later. The twists at the end almost garnished the book a four but I'm going with a three. ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it
This is my first British-style spy thriller, and I have to say it stacks up pretty darned good next to the American equivalent. There are no Mary Sue characters, no great intuitive leaps of logic, no silly foolishness from the Bad Guys, and only a smidgeon of authorial politics coming into it. However, it does make me sad to see that every author of this sort of stuff that I've come across is Right Wing to some extent or another. I wonder what a Left Wing spy thriller would look like, and I wond ...more
Jim Puskas
This is Forsythe's most successful book about the Cold War. His research into the inner workings of the Soviet goverment was so astonishingly detailed and accurate that he came under the attention of the CIA! This book included several of the most intriguing and fully developed characters that Forsythe ever created. A terrific read which was regrettably made into a movie that managed to leave out all of the romance and subtlety of the book and dull the edges of the story. Forget about the film, ...more
Eddie Owens
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christian D.  Orr
"THE FOURTH PROTOCOL" by Frederick Forsyth

Another classic Frederick Forsyth thriller from the Cold War era, whose age (both the actual publication date and the storyline take place during Margaret Thatcher's tenure as Prime Minister of the UK) does not diminish the enjoyability of the novel. This one pits MI5 officer John Preston--an intelligent and skilled operative whose career growth and ability to do his job is frequently stymied by his pompous jackass boss Brian Harcourt-Smith--against KGB
Marc Maitland
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I had seen the film countless times, I read the book with eager anticipation. The book is a FAR more finely-woven plot than could ever be accommodated within the space of a 90-minute film, and therefore FAR more satisfying. The wealth of detail offered by Mr. Forsyth is an educational experience, whether the sections and sub-sections of the secret services, or the S.A.S. Regiment, but best of all the pin-prick analysis of the 1980s' Labour Party is wonderful to behold. The involvement of t ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Trust a master story teller to write an epic! I can't even begin to imagine the kind of research required for writing a novel like this. Immensely eventful. gripping and a complete page turner. This kind of a story and plot demands extreme craft over the topics like politics, international relations, covert operations and government administration. Something as simple as how to make a bomb stretches for 4-5 pages. May be called overtly descriptive, but somehow fits into this novel's style and ge ...more
The Fourth Protocol was my third Frederick Forsyth read, and whilst it is my favourite of the three, my feelings are much the same as my feelings towards the other two of his books I have read. Of course, I’ll be reading more. I brought a collection that contained twelve books, and I’m not one to ignore the books on my shelf. However, I won’t be rushing into any of them. I fear my feelings towards all of his books will be about the same, and such a thing disappoints me, as I want to enjoy them m ...more
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended by a friend, and because I hadn't read any Frederick Forsyth for some years, I picked up the Kindle version for a snip and plunged back into the world of the early nineteen eighties.

This author knows everything about suspense and deception, and the first half of the book certainly plots a 'tangled web'. You need to stick with it, because every single strand is important, and some of the back stories are fascinating. His knowledge of the USSR and the Cold War is almost second to none,
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. This book was very slow getting started, and had long boring narratives on British politics. I listened to the audiobook, and didn't even bother pausing it when I temporarily left the room, because I knew I wouldn't miss anything interesting. In fact, if it hadn't been for all the good reviews here, I would have bailed, which I almost never do. The story finally kicked into gear about 2/3 of the way through the book -- way too late.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply fantastic - I had been recommended this book and finally got round to reading it and I wished I hadn't waited that long (Sorry Dan!). Frederick Forsyth has such a great style of writing with such attention to detail that you can visualise the scenes in your head and are almost there in the room with the characters. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Ben B
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own
I have probably read this book cover-to-cover a dozen times, and have read selected chapters many more. The characters are well drawn, the story is well told, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One of the most fun spy novels of all time.
Adrian Parker
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
A slow moving spy story, this one is quite dated now and suffers from pages of boring as hell excerpts from reports sent to the KGB.
Eventually we get to the chase and the last third of the book is decent, but you deserve a promotion if you make it that far honestly.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
The fourth protocol is about nuclear weapons. Russians try to breach it and what follows is this tale. Very interesting read. his research is thorough as always. Must read.
Ben Boulden
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A perfectly plotted spy thriller that feels less like a novel and more like true crime. A combination that would become difficult as a steady reading diet, but works very well here.
Shom Biswas
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-before-2012
My favourite writer within the broad category of thrillers, one I literally grew up reading, is Frederick Forsyth. Forsyth is different from the standardfare thriller writer in that he takes a long time in patiently building up the plot. If you want a thrill-a-minute ride, Forsyth is not for you (I do have a recommendation for the extreme thrill-seeker, and that is Robert Crais; but Crais would be for another day). Forsyth is not necessarily a mystery writer, his two most celebrated books, Day o ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this completely preposterous 1980s Cold War spy thriller, the Russians try to effect the outcome of another country's elections.

OK, that was a joke, sadly. However, what's not funny is Forsyth's crystal ball glance into the future, with suitcase bombs, terrorists and spies shuttling across borders to create their sleeping cells, and a very devious plan on behalf of the Russians to overthrow a foreign (in this case, UK) government. In pre-internet hacking days, the Russians in this novel devis
Feb 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Frederick Forsyth's first book The Day of the Jackal is one of, if not my favourite thriller.

Since reading it I have been trying to capture its magic with Forsyth and other authors.

The premise behind this is highly intriguing with the nuclear disarmament and far left of the Labour party being fascinating and strangely as relevant today as when it was written. (Anti Nuclear weapon marches that occur in the book occurred in London today with exactly the same sentiments.)

Despite these ideas having
Kay Smillie
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taken me long enough, having seen most of the film adaptations of his novels, but I have finally read my first Frederick Forsyth novel and I am looking forward to reading more (having bought a set of twelve of his novels). The Fourth Protocol is a well researched story based in a slightly in the future UK (at the time it was written) and it brought back memories for me of that time (mid 80s). Excellent spy thriller.

Ray Smillie
Diane Anderson
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frederick Forsyth NEVER disappoints!!!
I could hardly put down this book.
Santosh Bhat
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paperback
Good old Spy thriller with many white- knuckle sequences. Doesn't go where you expect it to, and for that I am grateful.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
as with other FF novels, the research hangs very heavily here. The plot is well conceived and subtle enough. However, Forsyth's own politics and prejudice do leave a slightly disturbing smell.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Frederick Forsyth novels were a familiar fixture in our household when I was growing up, as both my parents loved his work. He was amongst the first ‘adult’ reads that I was drawn to at the time. So, my love affair with his books began, and over the years I have read everything he’s written- keeping up with any new release/s.
As my mother has been in and out of hospital quite a lot over the past year and a half, I am keeping her supplied with books to read, and buddy reading them with her, or re
Christopher Titford
CT review September 2018

Excellent from the start to finish, Mr F. always has understood how to cultivate the “tapeworm of the story”.
Negative? A few informative but rather boring passages that add only to show a bit of savoir faire
... e. g. all the detail on the bomb making.
Otherwise would recommend highly.
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
At first, I was more than a little worried that I wasn't going to like this book. 2010 is a long way from 1984, when this book was published, and the author is grinding some axes that are no longer in the toolshed at all (to stretch a metaphor). Also, part of the thrill of reading a book like this when it comes out is the thrill of finding out how some parts of the current governments do their thing -- the melding of realistic details with behind-the-scenes looks at the various Soviet apparatich ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Forsyth at his finest. I love his Cold War-era spy stories. As usually it starts a bit slow - and by a bit I mean REALLY slow. I really could do without 17 pages of description how does the British Labour Party work... But when the story takes off it quickly becomes really enjoyable. I like his cynical and realistic outlook on spycraft where mysteries are solved and plots are revealed sometimes by a stroke of blind luck and sometimes by diligent and meticulous studying and analysis of various re ...more
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Britain under communism [s] 5 55 Jul 06, 2009 02:40PM  

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Frederick Forsyth, CBE is an English author and occasional political commentator. He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil's Alternative, The Fist of God, Icon, The Veteran, Avenger, The Afghan, and recently The Cobra and The Kill List.

The son of a furrier, he was born in Ashford, Kent, educated at Tonbridge Scho

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