Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dogs of War - by Frederick Forsyth (1974)

Suppose you are in the turbulent time period of the 1960's - 1970's when various colonial ruled countries in Africa were reaching their independence. There were many different influences working in the countries at that point of time, the Soviet Union was trying to get regimes to be in its favor. Many of these countries were mineral rich, and there was a fight to get the rulers of the country in favor of companies so that they could get advantages of the mineral rights that were being awarded by these countries. It was not unheard of that a country's Government could be deposed off in a coup, although using mercenaries was not unheard of. As is normal with Forsyth, his novel is based on a lot of detailed research, enough that people who were in this line of business were astounded by the accuracy of these details.

In fact, there is a lot of buzz that the country that Forsyth refers to as Zangaro was actually the country of Equatorial Guinea; the book is supposed to be atleast partly based upon Forsyth's time as a reported in the Biafran War between Biafra and Nigeria, and in fact, as a part of researching this story, Forsyth was researching how to attempt a coup against the Government of Equatorial Guinea, and it was supposed to cost a ridiculously small sum of a quarter of a million dollars. There is a lot of speculation that there was an actual coup attempt against the Government that was spoiled by Spain.
The book draws mixed reviews, with many people praising the depth of description of the details; however, there was also criticism that there were too many details or preparation and not enough action. The story is about a British mining tycoon learning of a hot discovery of the priceless metal, platinum, in the Central African republic of Zangaro. However, the ruler is leaning towards the Soviet Union, who in turn decide to give him a KGB guard and also send in their own survey team. At the same time, the British tycoon Sir James Manson hires a mercenary, Carlo Alfred Thomas “Cat” Shannon, who had left Zangaro earlier after the side he was supporting failed. They decide to plan an operation in which they will kill the current leader, Jean Kimba, and replace him with their own man. The rest of the story is about the execution of the plan, and how it meets with its challenges.

Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth, published in 1974

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