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.
Voracious reader with a 70hr working week who rediscovered his passion for reading through Audible. Secretly in love with commutes!
Great narration by the author himelf
How the author realized that in order to survive, he had to reprogram his moral compass.
All of it was gripping.
Yes, I catch myself looking forward to my daily commute and sitting in the garage on returning in order to continue listening.
Great, pure, undiluted war story, based on simple, matter-of-fact reporting. No false heroism.
It drew me in and gave me an insight into the war from various points of view. That of a typical local African, that of a South African, that of a rebel, that of a reporter, and that of a mercenary.
It showed me that our view of the local conflicts is naïve at best and dangerously skewed and uninformed at worst.
I am looking forward to more of Mr. Brabazon's books.
Great book, it's hard to believe what really happens in some corners of the world.
A crazy thing to do film a war in the bush of Africa.
I can't believe that did it
Some places in the world are very brutal.
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.
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.
"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.
"Another shocking venture into the cruelty Africa"
I found the fact that James Brabazon had to blow his own trumpet at the beginning of this book very off putting. He did not need to tell us all how wonderful he is or how well he has done, the narrative of the book said all that and more. If only he had left it to the more subtle references, in the book, to the prizes he won for his documentary work, one would have felt much more inclined to think him less of an egotistical big head.
However, I cannot begin to imagine how I would have felt witnessing some of the horrors that he did during his time in Africa. He writes very well telling the story of his wish to record the war in Liberia, his ventures with his friend Nick, the mercenary, into Liberia and escape out after a disastrous campaign by the LURD, his illness and bodily weakness, which took many months to overcome. It was a horrifying tale of violence and mindless cruelty witnessed by someone who could do nothing to stop some of the terrible acts of inhumanity.
Brabazon reads the book so very much better than Simon Mann read his own book about mercenary life 'Cry Havoc' but it would have been better read by a competent actor. You will find some reference to the plight of Mann, in this book as this tale relates the horrors of the time his friend Nick has, after capture, during the failed coup d'etat they were both involved in.
Not a book for the weak of stomach but a witness to some of the terrible inhumanity of man to man.
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