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4.1 out of 5 stars65
4.1 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 August 2010
Forsyth's reputation of in depth research was more or less founded with this book. It came as a fictionalised version of, and utilising most of the research that went into The Biafra Story: The Making of an African Legend. This explains the author's uncanny knowledge of arms trading and smuggling as well as of outside financed mercenary expeditions - it would in some way be a shame not to use the knowledge in a novel afterwards. The Biafra Story: The Making of an African Legend, while excellent, was never likely to draw as wide a readership.

I agree with the other reviewers that most of the book gets dedicated to the in depth planning and organising of the operation and that the 'action' bit is relatively brief towards the end. Without revelaing too much, the ending does come with an interesting twist - again very much a result of what the author would have hoped for in the case of the original Biafra situation. For pure suspense and gripping action this book scores about average.

On the other hand it has a strong normative political message, which is an added bonus and for someone who likes their novels meticulously researched rather than off the cuff this is still a gem.
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on 15 January 2003
It was after I had read the book that I saw that film was going to be on television and decided to stay up until stupid o'clock in the morning. If there was ever a stupid idea, and has made me wary of Christopher Walken ever since.
If unlike me, you saw the film first and have since decided that the storyline is nothing to write home about then you need to pick up the book. Right from the outset you become close to Cat Shannon, a mercenary and a leader, and his rag tag army of specialists.
Its the traditonal setup with the heavy weapons guy being 7 feet tall and the silent assassin being a small withdrawn man. But you feel for them despite their existance relying on war and as your drawn into the world of backhanders and clandestine meetings you'll soon realise that several hours have passed.
Frederick Forsyth is very good with the english language, but it's the lengths that he goes to to research the book and it is evident that he knows more about the underworld than he should.
I have read this book twice and enjoyed it thoroughly both times although I wouldn't say it was as good as "The Negotiator" or "The Devil's Alternative", both by the same author.
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on 14 June 2010
If you are looking for a manual on how best to go about a coup d'etat, as I was, this is the smart choice and that's what this book feels like, an in depth explanation of the processes involved, from the seed of greed that instigates the idea to the final execution. Reminded me of journalistic writing however, very informed but at the culmination, lacking that sense of the subjective experience.
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on 22 April 2014
One of the great reads from a master story teller. Even after reading this several times over the years, the first time while on a plane flying down to Southern Africa (Rhodesia). I never felt bored by re-reading this novel but can still immerse myself in it & feel well satisfied when I have come to the end.

I would recommend this book to anyone also it is far, far better than the "Americanized" rubbish that was the film of the same name, a film that I only watched once & was most disappointed with.
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on 2 June 2015
It's weird... some thrillers you read date badly. Others, not so much. Examples of books that date badly include pretty much anything by Robert Ludlum. I've yet to read any of his books that don't feel... of their time. This book, however, is different.

It's about a British mining conglomerate in the 1970s that are thinking about destabilizing a country in Africa (and profiting from the subsequent coop), to get their hands on a potentially profitable mining operation.

It then watches the man who is called in to manage the operation as he goes about his work.

The book was old. It was written in the early 1970s, but it didn't feel old. It rattles along at a good old lick, while giving you the impression you're learning how 1970s mercenaries work at the same time.

It feels a little dated in places (references to Iraq, Facist Spain, and Yugoslavia for example), but all in all it's a good book.
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on 5 February 2013
I am a big fan of Forsyth's work but this really is one of the worst and most misguided thrillers I have ever read. It is one long shopping list of events that range from the staggeringly dull to the only very mildly interesting. Endless chapters pass as Shannon wanders from one country to the next doing bank transfers. You could easily skip a good eighty percent of this book and not even notice, read the first three to four chapters and then skip to the last few in the reasonable expectation that when a mercenary is hired to do a job he will set about preparing for that job in a normal, logical and straightforward fashion...which he does.
Joyless, dull and thoroughly uninspired.
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on 8 November 2015
This story is one of the most unique suspense novels I have ever seen because you simply have no idea how it is going to turn out in the end. Although all of Forstyh's book grab your attention (I found I have to take notes while I am reading them!) you still have a basic idea about how things are going to turn out in the end, even with Forsyth's patented twists. Take for instance "Day of the Jackal"...I am not presenting any spoilers in saying the reader knows from the start that President De Gaulle is going to walk away breathing at the end. In "Dogs" however, one has no idea who the good guys and the bad guys are, if the elaborate plans are going to work, and what everyone's real motivations are.
Although some complain there is too much detail and too little action, I reject that view.I found all the details in illegal arms purchases, setting up shell companies, how geological surveys are conducted and how "big business" and the political and financial Establishment work in Britain to be fascinating and enlightening, and ultimately, disillusioning..
One thing I have learned about Forsyth by reading his novels is that he is extremely politically INcorrect. No moral relativism for him. No pretending that all people around the world are basically the same....i.e. Swedish Social Democratis,as the "progressives"are always claiming. He likes civilized people and nations and despises the brutal and barbaric. He points out ethnic differences in values and behavior, for instance, he states in this book that many, but not all Africans, are not good soldiers, but with proper training they can be.
In summary, this book really grabs the reader's attention but it is important to go slowly and absorb the numerous details, in order to really appreciate the unfolding story.
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on 4 December 2014
I’ve meant to read this book for a long time, ever since I was shown the villa on an island off the west coast of Africa that Forsyth was living in when (supposedly) he wrote it. At first I quite enjoyed it, but started to struggle when it became apparent that the primary focus was on airline timetables and bank transfers. It almost beggars belief that there is a footnote at one point suggesting that more details of stealing an identity could be obtained from an earlier novel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing in any other fictional book that I’ve read!
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on 31 July 2013
This is definitely one of my all time favourites. Forsyth's meticulous research into mercenaries of the day makes the book a Classic masterpiece. Carlos Shannon, the ruthless yet compassionate anti hero storms through the pages leading up to one of the most exciting action sequences in print. If you only read one book on mercenaries, read this one... again and again.
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on 5 August 2015
I like Forsyth's style of writing very fluid. His research is meticulous, I believe he was an investigative journalist at one time. Very useful when researching his material for his books. He is one of my favourite authors. This book is very well written and proceeds at a comfortable pace.
Thoroughly recommend it.
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