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Famous Like Me > Writer > G > Jan Guillou

Profile of Jan Guillou on Famous Like Me

Name: Jan Guillou  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 17th January 1944
Place of Birth: Södertälje, Stockholms län, Sweden
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Jan Guillou

Jan Oscar Sverre Lucien Henri Guillou (pron. /jɑːn ˌgɪˈjuː/) is a popular Swedish author and journalist, born 1944. He is best known for his series of novels about a Swedish spy, Carl Hamilton, although he has written other things, too. He also revealed a Swedish spy scandal to the public, for which he was put in prison for ten months.

He was born in Södertälje. He worked as a journalist for the Folket i Bild - aktuellt in 1966 and 1967 and co-founded the Folket i Bild - Kulturfront magazine, for which he wrote between 1970 and 1977.

Today Guillou is an influential independent commentator of current events, particularly the conflicts in the Middle East and miscellaneous domestic issues. In his columns in the tabloid Aftonbladet he tends to criticize the US war on terror, the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, the Swedish security police SÄPO and the powers vested in "experts" in e.g. court trials.

The IB affair

In 1973, Folket i Bild - Kulturfront published a series of articles written by Guillou and Peter Bratt that revealed that Sweden had a secret illegal military intelligence agency (Informationsbyrån or IB for short), similar to the CIA and even spying on Sweden's citizens for political purposes. This became a major political scandal, known as the IB affair (IB-affären). Guillou and Bratt were convicted of espionage.

The original FiB articles in Swedish are on the web.

Coq Rouge

While in prison, Guillou considered how he could write about what he knew without actually writing about it, as he was forbidden to do. He decided to write fictional stories of a Swedish spy. Thus was born the character Carl Hamilton. He is a Swedish spy, a U.S. Navy SEAL with leftist background, dubbed Coq Rouge by one of his superiors while he was temporarily in the Säkerhetspolisen. The first Coq Rouge novel was Coq Rouge. It was followed by nine more novels. In the last of them, En medborgare höjd över varje misstanke, Guillou destroyed the character (after reports that Swedish neo-Nazis had taken him as their role model).

The complete list of Coq Rouge novels:

  • Coq Rouge - berättelsen om en svensk spion (1986)
  • Den demokratiske terroristen (1987)
  • I nationens intresse (1988)
  • Fiendens fiende (1989; English translation Enemy's Enemy 1994)
  • Den hedervärde mördaren (1990)
  • Vendetta (1991)
  • Ingen mans land (1992)
  • Den enda segern (1993)
  • I hennes majestäts tjänst (1994)
  • En medborgare höjd över varje misstanke (1995)

A partial draft of an eleventh novel, along with Guillou's account on why it cannot be completed, was published as Hamlon in 1995.

A number of film and TV adaptations have been made based on the Hamilton character:

  • Code Name Coq Rouge, portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård (1989)
  • Förhöret, portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård (Television, 1989)
  • Enemy's Enemy, portrayed by Peter Haber (Television miniseries 1990)
  • The Democratic Terrorist, portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård (1992)
  • Vendetta, portrayed by Stefan Sauk (1995)
  • Tribunal, portrayed by Stefan Sauk (Television, 1995)
  • Hamilton, portrayed by Peter Stormare (1998, television miniseries 2001)

Crusades trilogy

After finishing the Coq Rouge series, Guillou wrote a trilogy about Arn Magnusson, a fictional Swedish character from the Middle Ages who was forced to become a Knight Templar and after returning to Sweden, was a leading military figure shortly before the time of Birger Jarl. The trilogy, dubbed the Crusades trilogy, consists of the following books:

  • The road to Jerusalem (1998)
  • The Knight Templar (1999)
  • The kingdom at the end of the road (2000)

He also wrote a follow-up novel about Birger Jarl, Arvet efter Arn (2001).


Guillou has also written an autobiographical book about his school years, Ondskan (1981) which also became a film, Evil (2003). The movie was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003, but Guillou was unable to attend as he is still listed as a terrorist by the USA. He managed to get a visa, but it was linked to attend the Academy Award ceremony and he was unable to get a ticket.

Anna Holt

Guillou was a co-author of the Anna Holt series.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Jan Guillou