From Publishers Weekly
The fog of war, informational and moral, permeates this adrenalized memoir of Africa's dirty wars and the men who fight them. British documentarian Brabazon entered Liberia in 2002 to film rebel forces in that country's civil war, taking along bodyguard Nick du Toit, a mercenary and former soldier in South Africa's apartheid-era army. Worlds apart politically, the two men bond amid the savage conflict--in one excruciating scene, Brabazon films rebels cannibalizing a prisoner--as the author comes to depend on and admire his tough, courageous companion. Nick joins a byzantine conspiracy to overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea and invites Brabazon to film the prospective coup, a proposal that crosses the boundaries of journalistic ethics, though it strongly appeals to Brabazon's lust for adventure and cash. His postmortem on the plot's disastrous outcome, with its cast of shadowy financiers, rival intelligence agencies, and soldiers of fortune, reads like a political thriller. Brabazon's searing narrative captures both the allure of war--the rush of danger, the deep camaraderie, the get-rich-quick mirages--and its brutal realities. It's both a seductive paean to and a harsh exposé of the mercenary ethos that fattens off of Africa's travails. (Feb.)
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The post-imperial history of West Africa has seen a series of horrific civil wars, from Nigeria to Sierra Leone to Liberia. Photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Brabazon was determined to cover the carnage in Liberia as rebels fought against the regime of Charles Taylor. Well aware of the dangers he would face, he hooked up with a �bodyguard,� Nick du Toit. He was a former officer in the South African army under the apartheid government. Like many others in similar circumstances, du Toit drifted into a career as a mercenary. Brabazon�s narrative proceeds on two tracks. It is a chronicle of a particularly savage military conflict, in which torture and even cannibalism come to be regarded as routine. It is also a story of his unlikely but deepening friendship with du Toit, and that evolving friendship also provides a sometimes surprising window into the motivations and characteristics of mercenaries. This is a disturbing, even sickening, but revealing account of just a few of the sufferings endured by Africans in recent years. --Jay Freeman