James Brabazon is narrating this story of war, violence, and political intrigue. He wanted a war. And, for his sins, he got one. James Brabazon was an ambitious young war reporter when he entered the chaos of the Liberian Civil War in 2002. Running with the infamous LURD rebels, he survived numerous deadly ambushes, the privations of dysentery and a dramatic hundred-mile escape from Government troops through dense equatorial jungle. He even had a bounty put on his head.
Surrounded largely by child soldiers high on drugs, Brabazon was accompanied by Nick du Toit, a South African mercenary with a dark past. They quickly became best friends. Before long, Nick promised James the scoop of his life: a front seat, beside Simon Mann, in an audacious coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. And the offer was too good to refuse.…
©2010 James Brabazon (P)2011 Audible Ltd
“An outstanding memoir about the power of friendship in the morally complex theatre of war. James Brabazon is a fearless reporter and a brutally honest narrator. I couldn't put this book down.” (Andy McNab)
This is a truly fantastic book. I was totally bowled over by the story and couldn't stop listening. There's not much more to say, really, except that I recommend this book very, very highly.
this book is entertaining enough that you will likely finish it. however, it is a tale of greed and moral corruption, including the authors. brabazon is not really a journalist, at least not in the sense that he is an objective reporter of the truth. instead, he is a journalist only in that he carried a camera and filmed some war footage. brabazon is really a thrill seeker easily influenced by those around him. this book is essentially his justification for agreeing to participate in a coup d' etat motivated solely by greed.
"Graphic, bloody 1st part - plodding, complex 2nd."
The first part of this book is a very graphic description of Brabazon's embedding with the LURD rebel army fighting with mercenary support, the dictatorship of Charles Taylor in Liberia. The "friend" of the title is "Nick", a South African ex-special forces mercenary, committed to protecting Brabazon at all costs among the often barbarous, uncontrollable LURD rebels, and under frequent attacks from government forces.
In the tradition of "The Good Soldiers" or Michael Herr's "Dispatches", the book gives a vivid picture of war, the hardships endured, the frequent atrocities, the chaos and randomness of the killing. At one point a LURD rebel accidently flicks his cigarette butt into the wind, which blows it in through the vent of the ammunition resupply truck he was in, detonating the entire cargo. Not only were all passengers killed, but the waiting LURD rebels who desperately needed the ammo, had to retreat as they ran out of bullets and RPGs.
Frequently, captured prisoners are tortured, mutilated and then executed, in one case being disemboweled, while punishments for food stealing were savage. It is no wonder that Brabizon came back from Liberia, enaciated and with PTSD, yet seemingly he couldn't wait to get back.
One interesting theme is his enduring friendship with Nick, who he knows has probably committed murder and atrocities previously, and who fought for apartheid against the ANC. Their friendship however, transcends their political differences, and he has no judgements towards his friend, working tirelessly to find a way to get him released in the second part of the book, when Nick is captured and tortured in a failed take-over of Equatorial Guinea.
Unfortunately, the second half turns into a complex unravelling of the doomed plot to take over Equatorial Guinea, involving Mark Thatcher, Simon Mann and Nick. Brabizon (by luck) was not involved, so it becomes a bit mind-numbing, with little action. The story only revives when he meets his friend again.
I've listened to an audiobook a week for the last 4 months in the car on my journey to and from work. This is the only one I've found myself listening to at the weekend.
I enjoyed the fact that it's narrated by the author, and I think that really helped give you a sense of how he was really feeling when he described the events he was portraying. I did find it hard to keep up with all of the different names and the wheeeling and dealing of who double crossed who and said what to whom, but I guees that's part of the tangled web of secret meetings and arms deals.
It's a part of the world I know so little about and I found myself on the interent reading other peoples interpretation of events, looking at maps and checking out pictures of the capital cities - much more than that was hard to find. The sort of read that gets you thinking.
"My friend the mercenary"
Just a brilliant, sad, and emotion listen about mercenary life in Africa. Shocking, heart warming, and very well read and written. You need to listen to this if you only listen to one book this year. Excellent
"What a cracker"
Really enjoyed this book, the author also narrates and his accents are very good, an excellent listen I would recommend this to anybody
A nice change to my usual fiction fix, the grim story of the war trip made more powerful being based on fact. Vivid images conjured in the imagination from a competent prose that made me outburst several times in shock, this gritty tale is recommended to those that aren't aversed to strong or crude language.
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