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Publisher's Summary

Col. Mike Hoare tells how his force of mercenaries, 5 Commando, put down a Comunist-backed rebel uprising in the Congo. As they restored law and order, town by town, he and his men freed 1,800 nuns and priests. His men also learned what it means to be real soldiers.

©1967 Mike Hoare (P)2012 Mike Hoare

Critic Reviews

"This well-written and well-illustrated book gives an accurate and useful account of the military response to the [Congolese] rebellion." ( The Daily Telegraph)

What listeners say about Congo Mercenary

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An Interesting Slice of an Unusual Life

Any additional comments?

Story: This book was written in the 60s by a British Mercenary Soldier. With that comes a militaristic outlook, some British "uppityness" and a small dose of casual racism. If you put those things aside and consider it a product of its time, it is a very interesting listen. I knew little about this conflict so I found it a fascinating look at the life and attitudes of Mercenary Soldiers in general and Mike Hoare in particular. Like most autobiographies, the author paints himself a bit of a hero, but to his credit, he confides that he made some rather large mistakes here and there.

Performance: This one is read by the author, which I always find to be a double edged sword. On the one hand you get the real feel of the story, but on the other hand you don't get a professional narration. I will say his warm, fatherly British voice was quite nice.

Summary: Due to its cheap price, this is probably worth your time. It is an unusual story, by an unusual man in an unusual conflict.

4 people found this helpful

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I felt I was there with Mike and his men

I love listening to Mike speak in his polished English accent, he has a captivating way of describing the moments that will keep you on the edge of your chair. I felt every stiflingly hot or miserably cold evening, I could feel and hear every bullet fly by my head as If I were laying in the mud alongside the other brave mercenaries. I couldn’t drag myself away from this narrative until the last farewell to his men.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Holy S*** what a wonderful and terrifying ride. What a brave and courageous group of men.

3 people found this helpful

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Good first hand account of bravery

Enjoyed listening to the Colonel and learned much about what it takes to command in austere circumstances

2 people found this helpful

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Nice to hear an unapologetic account

Mercenaries and Private Military Security get a bad rap. It is nice to hear from someone whom doesn’t white wash his account to sound perfect (cough cough Wehrmacht) or bend over backwards to atone for all the terrible things they did. He was a soldier and commander for hire and he did his job.

Excellent story as well as performance. Having Mike Hoare read it himself makes it feel like you are just hanging out having a drink and he’s tell you old “war stories)

If you are interested in Africa, the Congo, mercenary work, or just want to hear some action, you will enjoy this book.

Just be warned, it’s combat in Africa, it has some graphic content.

2 people found this helpful

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This Yank says, Good on you Colonel Hoare.

First, you should listen to the sample. His speaking style might drive you away. He reminded me of an elderly man reading from a post card, as he wrote it. I got used to that pretty quick, I did. Colonel Hoare describes his successes and his failures.

Before I listened to this story, I had already listened to several books on British history. "The Rise and Fall of the British Empire" by Dr. Patrick N. Allitt, Also, "The British Army: The History and Legacy of the Army That Helped Establish the World’s Largest Empire", by Charles River Editors. The Rise and Fall, by Dr. Allitt explains how Britain came to be in Africa, India and Asia and why the many former colonies of Britain were given their independence. The "British Army" is helpful, as it describes the evolution of the Army and how they fought their wars.

The reason Colonel Hoare was in the Congo was to stop communism. China wanted the Congo for it's vast natural resources.

Colonel Hoare describes the fighting and the equipment of his day. This was before satellites, cell phones, the internet and drones. The story covers almost 2 years. Today, this war wouldn't last 2 months. The Congolese not unwilling fighters, had centuries of warfare behind them. As they fought differently than the Europeans, they could fall victim the industrialized powers. The Europeans fought by their rules, the Congolese did not.

And, there is a bit of "racism", based on today's standards. The Congo was originally a Dutch colony.

A great story, well worth the listen.



2 people found this helpful

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Incredible detail on a little known subject

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Anyone interested in African "Bush" Wars or counterinsurgency in general should read Hoare's works. Congo Mercenary provides detailed accounts of the campaigns and politics of his years in the Congo in the early to mid-1960s. Hoare's storytelling is conversational, and while his ideals may seem outdated his observations are acute.

What did you like best about this story?

Hoare's descriptions of his leadership and how he developed 5 Commando into a fighting unit.

Have you listened to any of Mike Hoare’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Congo Mercenary is the most action-packed and detailed of Hoare's works. It goes into detail about the planning and execution of all of the campaigns that Hoare participated in.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was excellent, and I will be returning to it again.

Any additional comments?

There's also a great portrait of a young Mobutu, on the verge of seizing power in the Congo. So many of the portraits of Mobutu have been of the aging strong-man desperately holding onto power, this was an interesting contrast.

2 people found this helpful

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Of limited interest as long as you don’t believe it

Off the record Mad Mike referred to his own men as brutes and thugs. In this book they’re the perfect, young, adventurous, white gentlemen. No mention of their numerous and flagrant war crimes. In spite of its historical shortcomings this book could have been interesting if only Mad Mike had been a better writer.

1 person found this helpful

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Hope in The Heart of Darkness

A gripping account from an actual participant in one of The Cold War's most vital, yet unknown theaters. Truly, the world is worse off without more people the likes of "Mad Mike" Hoare.

1 person found this helpful

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War in the Congo

Interesting listen for those with an interest in the African Brush Wars of the 60s. The book covered a lot of ground and was often a little light on operational specifics. But, that very well could have been because there were few operational specifics. Narrated by Colonel Hoare himself (Irish with a bit of Afrikaans thrown in) which made clarity a challenge.

Africa was high adventure for those participating.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Grapes of Wrath
  • 10-06-18

Decent Listen Especially If You Are Of A Certain Age

I assume that this is the sanitised version of what really happened and has been somewhat romantically described.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Phil
  • 07-06-15

Fascinating account of war in the Congo

Superbly narrated, this is a genuinely fascinating account of events in the Congo, during a time of massive civil unrest and upheaval. A detailed account of the plight of the Congolese, and the events of the mercenary force and their fight with the communist backed rebels.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-16-21

An absolute blast!

At first I found the narration somewhat hard to listen to, it's full of audible paper shuffling and the odd flub of a line. But soon I found myself completely endeared to the narrator , the venerable late mike hoar. It felt like listening to your grandfather tell war stories. I really loved it.

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  • L. Knight
  • 01-31-21

Excellent

Excellent account of 5 Commando's involvement in the Congo. Hoare is surprisingly honest regarding his shortcomings, and also quite funny at times

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-08-19

Strange & Slightly Boring

The author is quite full of himself and his own achievements while apparently unconcerned about the killing of innocent people and looting civilian properties. There surely would be a strong case to prosecute him with war crimes.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-17-19

Superb

Excellent book, great to hear it read by the man himself. An interesting eye opener on some of the more recent events in African history.