Brian Garfield

RECOIL - 2014 movie in development, based on Garfield's novel; DEATH WISH - 2014 movie in development, based on Garfield's novel

Remake of 1987 Garfield-Westlake classic (see information elsewhere)
Novel and movie
Spy pursued by the CIA. The DVD, from Criterion Collection, includes informative interviews with the fine director Ronald Neame and with author-screenwriter-coproducer Brian Garfield.
novel; basis for several movies
"Vigilante" of the streets - novel, basis for several movies; new remake, 2013, to star Liam Neeson
The biography of an amazing fraud
The true life of a colossal hoaxster -- he fooled Churchill, the Old Boy Network, and science
the films of Brian Garfield
Books and Movies
See right-hand column for Links to order
Pulitzer Prize nominee, finalist in history; an exciting narrative history used as a textbook by U.S. Navy. For years the bestselling title of Univ of Alaska Press. "A splendid achievement." --Washington Star
A critical encyclopedia of all "A" Western features shown in the United States from the advent of talkies to the book's publication date. The guide lists films alphabetically from "Abilene Town" to "Zandy's Bride"; each listing provides credits, information, and commentary. Most post-1982 Western films have been mediocre at best, Garfield feels, with a few notable exceptions like "Tombstone".
Historical Fiction
Biographical novel capturing Theodore Roosevelt's true adventures as a young rancher in the wild American West.


This section is not intended for live chats, but I check it now and then and am happy to respond to questions or observations sent to me by email. PLEASE NOTE that I can't respond to messages printed below unless your e-mail address is included in the BODY of the question. It's probably better and/​or quicker to send your questions and comments to me at briagar@​ .

-- Brian Garfield

Question and/or comment. . . .

Click and type in a question or comment

I just wanted to add a small note to this site to say how much I have enjoyed conversing with Mr. Garfield over the last few years. Your emails were the highlights to my days and your insights and encouragement were balm to my writer's battered aspirations. You are sorely missed by so very many souls! Rest in peace, dear sir! May your loved ones find solace in all the wonderful works and ardent admirers who remain to warm our days and comfort our nights. With much love, ASC. Brian, sorry for the long entry but I wasn't able to send you the first! I manually typed in your email address and was finally able to send it. Brian, It's so interesting how one may find unexpected connections in researching certain subjects on this incredible thing called the internet these days. I was casually searching the web and read about a WWII ship being excavated in the Aleutian Islands. That article incited my imagination such that I began looking things up on Attu, where my dad served in WWII. What came up low and behold was a Wikipedia story on Mr. Tatsuguchi. I read the article with great interest and noted 2 articles I will include at this email's conclusion. The reason for my email is to ask you if you know, or have an approximate idea, how widespread Mr. Tatsuguchi's diary was. I ask because I have held onto an excerpt for years. My dad would tell me about it when I was a kid and having a fiery imagination I imagined my dad being part of the team that recovered the diary (which by his words is what I thought I heard). Dad was in the 7th Signal Corps. Later in life a friend talked me into pursuing more information. I contacted a local TV station who interviewed me. Their TV crew was able to locate a gentleman who went to school with Tatsuguchi's wife. We met and he became my dentist for a short while. The TV crew and I attempted to contact the wife in southern California and I was told by the crew that CNN may want to run a story on it. The TV crew told me that Tatsuguchi's widow didn't want to talk about it let alone run a story on it. The TV station ran the story with nothing further about the matter and I decided not to follow up on the diary after that. So going over this now, especially when reading the articles below, I'm curious if this is something rare I hold onto or if it's just "one of a million copies" so to speak. I would NEVER let the excerpt go it being from my dad. During my limited research tonight I came across your book title on Attu and found it on Amazon. Looking up your biography WOW! You have such an interesting story yourself! This email is already longer than I expected, but I would like to add that I'm a first time author. A friend who proof-reads for authors talked me into this project that showed me how hard it is to write a fictional novel involving non-fiction material as well. My novel's title is The Coward of Kansas which is a very interesting story about a young kid in 1870 who loses his Boston family and heads to the Western Frontier only to find it completely different than he envisioned. He's a cowardly protagonist and the only person to help him, reluctantly, is a woman who absorbs the bullying and hellish taunting the protagonist has to endure. I've finished almost all the first draft, the arcs, outlines, sequels, etc. so most of my work now is purely research. Just wondering if you could enlighten me on the diary and Mr. Tatsuguchi and I wonder if you would find this interesting. Thank you for your time! Sincerely, W. Gary Stephens Civilian crews of transport ships in the area who obtained copies of the diary translation took their copies with them back to the continental US, where it drew the attention of the press and gained wide public exposure.[26] and: Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. the US commander of the Alaska Defense Command (ADC), on learning that the diary claimed that the Americans had used poison gas in the Attu battle, was sufficiently troubled to order that all copies of the translations be confiscated. In transit to Buckner's headquarters, the diary original itself vanished without trace, and its whereabouts are unknown to this day. Japanese versions are translated from the English translation. In early September 1943, the ADC's intelligence section reported that efforts to control the distribution of translated copies of the diary had failed.[27] Dear sir, I read and reread your note about "writing suspense fiction" which I found online. I am not a writer - but if I ever write something it will no doubt be benefited from this wonderful piece of yours. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience - I'm very grateful to read something from a real writer in a world saturated by how-to-write books written by people who barely published a page before. The fact that you'd written fifty before you set out to offer advice is worthy of great respect. Thank you sir. Amogh. Hello My name is Loïc Wibaux. I live in France. Pierre Wibaux who appears in your book Manifest Destiny was a great great uncle. I have a project about him I would like to ask you few questions if you have time to write to me. My email adress is Thank you for your attention, Best regards, Loïc Wibaux Such a mundane question I have, compared to the rest here. But I wonder why more of your books aren't available on Kindle? I know some readers prefer a "real" book but, after using an e-book, I'm not anxious to return to paper books, for many reasons. Jeri, at DEAR MR GARFIELD. MY FATHER IN LAW SERVED WITH THE 7TH SCOUTS ON ATTU AND LANDED OFF THE NARWHAL, HE WAS A FORWARD OBSERVER. DO YOU HAVE ANY ROSTER INFORMATION FROM YOUR SOURCES>

Dear Mr. Garfield:

Osprey Publishing has commissioned to write a narrative nonfiction book about US amphibious operations in World War II. As part of Aleutians chapter I would like to use some of the oral histories and material from The Thousand-Mile War.

Your oral histories of the campaign are more extensive than any I have found. Using them in conjunction with others will make this chapter all the more poignant.

I would like permission to use some of these stories in my book. I will give proper attribution to any material I use.

The easiest why to establish my credentials and background is ask you to visit my web site: www/ I will be glad to answer any question you and provide additional information. My contact information is listed below.

Thank you for considering my request.

With my best regards,
Mike Walling - First I must preamble for courtesy sake, this by no means is what I understand is for successful writers the ever constant queries by who ever as why to write their life story. In fact the opposite.I thought to google the short story I read no earlier than 35 years ago the key words Cutter's Game Alfred Hitchcock Anthology as was to learn you were the author of properly title Joe Cutter's Game. I knew you as the author more of works I admit than read, and do mostly of the movies made thereof from your novels than your writings in themselves.But on recognizing your and now website I am glad to know the author is Brian Garfield of one even say most important short stories than I only recall from memory.

Help...I'm not a high-tech gal. Joanne Handelman
(727) 914-4352 Fl. Need to be in touch with both of you!!

Hello Mr. Garfield,
I wonder if Miles Kendig's character was inspired by any stories about former CIA or intelligence contractors in the early 1970's? Or just purely a figment.

I ask this because my father, now deceased, hinted he lived this life, similar to Miles, before he bowed out in 1969 - My father did not want to transfer to Saudi Arabia. He had worked in Europe and NYC finance. I requested military and other records - but they had all been "burned in a fire".

I am having fun with some writing and appreciate your work - but this question is just out of personal curiosity. Thanks for letting me ask it here. Now, I have no further means of procrastination and will return to my work.

Cheers to you for your marvelous books.

Robin Kundrak

Brian: My friend's father served in VP-43 in the Aleutians during WWII. You cite a reference in The Thousand Mile War from Jack O. Haugen titled "The Story of VP-43. I cannot find a copy of this any where. Do you know where I can find a copy of this?

Thanks, Steve Thacher

I just started reading your 1000 Mile War. I bought it because my father spent the war on Kiska. I was wondering what started your interest in the Aleutian War

Paul Moore

Hello Mr. Garfield, My name is Todd Roberts & my father was Bobby Roberts(the Producer of the first two Death Wish Films). I would very much like to chat with you even just for a moment over the phone at your convenience. Please let me know when that could take place??
Thank you,
Todd Roberts CELL/310-422-4901

Dear Mr. Garfield

My wife is doing a family tree on the Lipshitz side. 

Just found out that your Grandmother and my Grandmother were sisters when they were part of the Simetz family.

I remember going to your father's estate in NJ when I was young. My father was your father's chauffeur in the 1930's.

Skip Vedell

Dear Mr. Garfield:

I have only read Death Wish and Death Sentece, but they were two of the best works of crime/suspense fiction I have ever experienced. My question is are you now retired from writing since I haven't seen that much from you in a while and if so, do you ever intend to do a comeback tour and bring back the Paul Benjamin character back in a new modern-day thriller?

Hello Mr Garfield,

When I was in my mid teens my neighbour gave me one of your Books - The Paladin to read.

I remember being gripped by this story and being thoroughly enthralled. This book can be credited with my lifelong love of suspense/action genre of books

I want to introduce my children to this book, but in an ebook option.

I have searched the internet high and low and can only find Used Paperbacks and Used Hardcover versions. Are you aware of any ebook or pdf version of this book?

Kind Regards,


I have used your book on western movies many times to help update my western movie collection on VHS and DVD. I would hope at sometime you could update the information about the movies listed. I have probably watched ninety per-cent of them. I have noticed that a lot of westerns use film from other westerns in their action scenes, even "Western Union." I also noticed that "Buffalo Bill" used a scene from "Drums Along The Mohawk." It's interesting how scenes are added that most people would not notice.

Anyway thanks for a great book.

Dear Mr Garfield,

I finished yesterday, reading and enjoying The Meinertzhagen Mystery. The things that fascinated me the most about the book were :
– RM's relationship to Hatter Bailey/Malleson;
– the connivance/attitude of high-ranking people in the cover up the man's known faults e.g. his thefts from the British Museum;
– the attitude of modern historians to the exploits of some of Britain's best-known secret agents of the First World War like: Paul Dukes; Sidney Reilly; and George Hill.

I don't know whether you would be interested in some of my thoughts, which your book generated, if you are then:

Hatter Bailey

As an amateur historian of British involvement in Central Asia and Transcaucasia in 1918 I have been researching Bailey's and others involved in Britain's amazingly convoluted strategy in: the breakup of both the Russian and Ottoman empires: the need to stop Germany and Turkey getting their hands on oil and cotton. I've been hacking at a novel about this period for years in order to understand what was going on and why. Slowly the mist beginning to clear – unlike in Wales this year were flaming June is the stuff of fairytales.
In Arthur Swinson's biography of Bailey – "Beyond the Frontiers" - Meinertzhagen gets one mention which surprises me after reading your book where Bailey is mentioned several times. In RM's Army Diary he castigates Malleson (a protege of Kitchener's) savagely and maybe accurately as neither Bailey, nor Teague Jones (The Spy Who Disappeared) who met the man in Meshed, Persia neither liked him nor rated him as an intelligence officer. I would be interested to know whether you had any more information on Malleson that you did not include in your book e.g. RM says Malleson was sent home from East Africa by Smuts in disgrace but I've not found owt to confirm this.


There seems to be a general attitude of covering up for one's fellows by e.g. class, job, religion, education, church and wealth. This comes out clearly in your book. A possible example I came across was when I attended a symposium on the SOE held at the Imperial War Museum and asked an eminent historian about the man I was interested in – AJ Evans. Evans served in MI9 in WW2 as he had been an escape and evader in the First World War (his book – The Escaping Club - was famous in its time). Prior to Evans serving in the RFC he was an intelligence officer on the Western front. He interrogated German prisoners captured after the latter launched the first gas attack at Ypres. Evans claimed he interrogated German prisoners about how the gas was launched etc. His interrogation of a single prisoner took place in front of his comrades. The first prisoner was asked about the gas and when he refused to say anything, Evans sent him outside the room and a shot was heard. A second prisoner was asked the same question and the same thing happened. The third prisoner interrogated told Evans what he wanted to know. I asked the historian, a fellow Wykehamist of Evans, though a generation younger, whether he thought the shooting was actually carried out and he replied, " no he was too much of a gentleman for that." I often wonder.

Intelligence Agents stories and Fantasyland

I used to believe all I read about Spies and intelligence agents but after reading various accounts on Sidney Reilly - some accept him as a great agent and others see a fantasist - cured me of that. I read in a biography of either Cumming or Blinker Hall that they used to regale the US assistant secretary of the Navy, FDR, with fictional stories of disguises and darring-do - whether he believed them is questionable. So the difference between fact and fiction in the intelligence world is so difficult as the discussions, over the last 90 years, of the authenticity of the Zinoviev letter shows. I know people have said that George Hill and Dukes exaggerated their espionage roles whereas I don't think for example Bailey and Teague-Jones did.

I wonder if people spinning fantasies get away with it because their audience doesn't know any better or doesn't have the knowledge to know any different. For example in the late1960s and early 1970s I played rugby for London Welsh usually in the third team but occasionally in the dizzy heights of the 2nd XV - never in the 1st. The club then was probably one of the most successful and famous in the UK. I must have met six to eight people at work, parties etc who told me they knew someone who played for the firsts and i was then told the name of who this person was. I would say "no he does not I have never heard of him and he doesn't play for the 1/2/3/4/5/6 XVs possibly the 7/8 xvs as they were intermittent teams.

The only thing that might make some of the agents tales less fantastic is the times they lived in and the attitude to death and people of a different class. 435 miners were killed in the Senghenydd pit explosion in 1913 for which the owners paid £25 in fines and compensation - so maybe RMs fantasies about killing various people was possible and acceptable, if only in the telling.

As as to your doubts about RM's intelligence role in the Thirties and Forties this morning I checked the official histories of MI5 and MI6 and neither mentions him -though I think both were written after your book.

anyway I enjoyed your book,

Simon John

Hi, I was justing reading a list of the 10 Best Revenge Movies and Death Wish was on it. I never saw the movie but read your book many years ago. I thought I remembered, in the book, that the wife actually committed suicide after the rape? after a certain experience during the rape? (I'm trying to be subtle? tactful?) Do I have the memory correct? I mean, I can understand how they couldn't have done that bit in the movie as it was written. thanks

I have been learning about the life of Richard Meinertzhagen and reading the Meinertzhaen Mystery. It is quite a story. I would like to know where Meinertzhagen is buried. The book refers to a service held at St. Sepulchre the end of June, 1967 but no mention of a burial. Was he cremated?

Dear Mr. Garfield,

I finally finished The Thousand Mile War where my father served in the Navy. I am not a military history reader at all but found your book absorbing (even in short stretches). I also found it remarkable in its research and candor about sometimes humorous and sometimes horribly tragic mistakes, blunders and infighting in the military. I am a bit surprised you had access to that information AND that the Navy apparently uses this book as some sort of textbook.

I can see why you were a Pulitzer Prize nominee.

Thank you for shedding some light on my Father's rarely talked-about experiences.

Peter Wollenberg
St. Louis, Mo (home of the Pulitzers by the way)

repeat message email added

Dear sir,

the email address given here does not work could you please advise.
best regards
Ami de Creighton

mail address;

Dear sir,

the email address given here does not work could you please advise.
best regards
Ami de Creighton

Dear Mr. Garfield,

Sorry, I missed putting my e-mail address ( in the question I posted below. By the way, your e-mail address does not work.


Dear Mr. Garfield,

Don't you think it's time you gave the western "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" a second chance? At the Internet Movie Database, the average user rating for the movie is 9 out of a possible ten points. Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Roger Ebert has put it in his list of "Great Movies". And the movie has been popular enough to be issued several times on video.


Dear Brian, I just found your "Meinertzhagen Mystery" and have been greatly enjoying both the story and your research

However, at the beginning of chapter 5 you put forth that Arthur (Edward) Aitken and Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) are brothers

I can not find any evidence of this unless Arthur Edward Aitken was an illegitimate brother or a half brother

Max Aitken had three legitimate brothers in the military and one brother was an Arthur: Arthur Noble Aitken who served as a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (I suspect the similarity of names lead people to the mistaken belief there was a tie between Beaverbrook and Arthur Edward)

Max Aitken's father would have been in Scotland around the time of Arthur Edward's birth (1861), but I'm lead to believe he was a seminarian at the time and preparing for ordination.

I can find no link between Arthur Edward Aitken, and Max Aitken

It maybe worth double checking this bit of research ( maybe helpful, especially, also Arthur Edward Aitken's Wikipedia entry)

I suspect I haven't been the first to make this point, so forgive if I've been one in a line of nit pickers :D I can't imagine how tiring it must be to have your work endlessly scrutinized, you have my sympathy

Great book and all the best

Dear Mr Garfield

I was very interested to read your excellent "The Meinertzhagen Mystery". For many years I had told my family that, when I retired, I would write a book of which the main thesis would be that Meinertzhagen was a Bad Man. Thanks to you, that, now, will not be necesary and you have done it much better than I would have.

The reason for my interest in RM is that the Capt. Cuffe who accused RM of treachery and assassination of the Nandi Laibon at Kaidparak and who was told to withdraw his allegations or return to his regiment in England, and who stuck to his guns and did not withdraw, was my grandfather. As far as I can tell, my grandfather never discussed those events with his family. I only discoverd about them when, by chance, I was browsing in my local library and recognised that the photographs in "Kenya Diary" were very similar (weapons, shields, terrain, subjects etc.) to those taken by my grandfather when he was on secondment in Nandi in 1905.

I am glad that you have freed up a chunk of post-retirement quality time for me!

In your book you comment on the fact that some of the records of the Kaidparak Incident are, surprisingly, contained in Royal Navy files. Perhaps this is because my grandfather was in the Royal Marine Light Infantry (being part of the RN) and, like RM, was only seconded to the King`s African Rifles.

John S. Silver, London.

The Paladin is the most gripping adventure, thriller and military story I've ever read (the Cruel Sea and Flock of Ships are 2nd and 3rd for me). The plot is astonishing, yet logical, and weaves around so many factual events that the assertion it is a true story is so plausible. It's a book I've read many times over the years that I'm looking forward to the day it's a film. I feel so passionately for the story it makes me wish I was a film producer to help it get there!

I would like to thank you for doing the signing for us and to let you know how much we both appreciate your doing this for us.
Gene Mc Neill...Lubbock, Texas.

I have a copy of THE PALADIN which I would like very much for you to autograph for me. It is a book that has traveled many miles and been read by many friends. The former president of LUBOCK CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY has "consumed it" as he stated and thought it as many of us feel is one of the most interesting books it has been our privilege to have read. Is it a true story or based on a true happening? Any comment from you will be greatly appreciated. Gene Mc Neill 5518 17th Place Lubbock,Texas 79416 e-mail address

[Always happy to sign 'em; signed Gene McNeill's; but as one of my writer friends cautioned people, "With me it's the unsigned ones that are more valuable." -bg]

...[Evidently my replies to questions and comments posted here tend to evaporate into the ether. Please either leave an email address for my response, or write to me at . Thank you !

-- Brian G.]


I'm also curious about the name, was it just random that you went from Paul Benjamin to Paul Kersey and then after to Nick Hume? Thank you... for creating a whole new genre for the century.
-- Gene, from California

[Wrote to Gene from Calif. The name was changed to Kersey mainly to avoid confusion with the good character actor in films named Paul Benjamin. The name in "Death Sentence" was changed because the movie is not, in any recognizable way, a sequel to the movie "Death Wish". Again, the purpose was mainly to avoid confusion. -bg]


[There were several questions in this one, so I broke it up with attempted answers. -bg:]

Dear Mr. Garfield As a fan to Death Wish (both movies and the book) and Death Sentence (both movie and book). I was wondering what was the whole story about the sequels to Death Wish being made, like were there any considerations at all for Death Sentence to being made after it was published in 1975?

[The producers of the sequel movies didn't care to film "Death Sentence" because it's about a man who learns the errors of his mistakes. They didn't think Charles Bronson was making any of those. We differed.... The sequel movies were not based on anything I wrote, other than the characters, and frankly I think they're pretty bad movies. -bg]

Of which movie out of the two novels were you more clearly satisfied with the most, Death Wish or Death Sentence?

[As a film "Death Wish" had enormous impact. In that sense, it was highly effective, although rather sloppy in its making. The script, by Wendell Mayes, was wonderful. The movie only parted from it a few times, but those were crucial.... I liked "Death Sentence" because Kevin Bacon's performance showed us the character much more faithfully than did Charles Bronson's, but by the time the Kevin Bacon movie was filmed -- 2007 -- urban vigilante films were old-hat, and it didn't have the same audience effect as the early one. I did feel the "Death Sentence" movie had far too much blood and gore in it, but it told its story well. The foot-chase scene, in the multi-story garage, is likely to become a classic in filmmaking classes -- I imagine even Hitchcock would have approved of it. -bg]

How come Death Sentence didn't really stick on to follow the novel's storyline?

[Different times, different mores. Partly my own fault -- I wrote the first two screenplay drafts of
"Death Sentence" and I proposed from the outset that it had to be a different set-up from that in the novel, which was distinctly set in the 1970s. -bg]

And with the remake of Death Wish going into production, would you probably would want or consider optioning Death Sentence again (even though it would be less than a couple of years since it was already made), to be remade from the novel directly as the sequel to do justice for both stories and the main character? I mean the theme of rise and fall fits to the categories of how both novels do work.

[Never thought of anybody's doing a remake of "Death Sentence", for that or any other reason. Sequels and remakes usually are of dubious value, although that's a generalization that isn't always true; sometimes they're wonderful -- for example the third film version of "The Maltese Falcon" is the Bogart one, the one we all remember.... I don't know if the Sylvester Stallone remake of "Death Wish" is still on the board at MGM. I rather hope it is, mainly out of curiosity. Whether a remake or some other version of the "Death Sentence" theme would fit as a second half of the story would depend on how Mr. Stallone conceived the first half. Last I heard, he was writing the screenplay himself, and it may or may not reflect the earlier movie. That's up to him and the producers. -bg]

Do you have a "personal stake" in the Paul Benjamin character? In other words, do you closely identify with his actions or do you find him morally repugnant? I apologize if you have already discussed this online elsewhere..thank you, in advance!

[I had a personal stake when I was writing each of the two novels -- got so much inside Paul, during the first one, that I was too paranoid to walk across the street to buy groceries. But that's what writers do, sometimes. I don't identify with Paul's actions beyond the brief span of time when I was so furious with a crook that I said, "I'll kill him," and probably meant it until an hour later -- cooler second thought -- I figured he'd be more likely to maim or kill me than the other way 'round. So I wrote a book about it instead of hunting for him/her. As a writer I have limitations, but as an action hero I have far more of them. I'm not a cop, or a stunt man.
[Do I find Paul morally repugnant? No. Not at all. He's all of us; he's Everyman. I find him perhaps too understandable. His moral behavior may be open to question but his motives are obvious. There's something dreadfully reprehensible in the dispatch with which he dispatches characters whom he sees as bad guys. But most of us tend to agree with him, don't we? Until we start to think about it, that is. Getting people to think about it was my purpose in writing both novels. By the end of the original novel, Paul is gunning down people because he doesn't like their looks. THAT's the danger in vigilantism. It's an attractive fantasy but, in practice, it's not a solution -- it's an additional problem. -bg]

I like it very much!
-- Susie from Idaho

[Thanks for the third degree, Susie ! ]

[Juskidn. -bg]

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