7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Highly Recommended - Action, Adventure and Insight, 17 Jun 2010
This book packs a mighty punch. A nerve-wrecking story told in sharp, spare and precise prose, it reads more like a thriller than a memoir.
The first section of the book covers Brabazon's experiences in Liberia during that country's brutal civil war. It is an astonishing account, full of the worst horrors of modern conflict: marauding child soldiers, executions and cannibalism of prisoners. The tales of atrocities are striking for the author's use of detail ("the close-up, messy process of gutting a human being") and his honesty. He does not stint in describing the complex emotions he felt as a witness to such events - or in tracing how long weeks on the frontline messed with his moral compass.
Yet the story is far from unremittingly bleak. Brabazon captures the humour and spirit of the characters caught up in the war, from the spliff-smoking rebel commander Deku to the retinue of refugees, journalists and spies he meets along the way. It is also strangely redemptive to read how, amid the carnage, he forged a lasting friendship with his shady mercenary bodyguard, Nick du Toit.
Beyond the zipping bullets and booming rocket-propelled grenades, the book is also compelling when the author describes the difficult process of coming home: having flashbacks of rotting corpses while on a date with his girlfriend, for example. It is a powerful and, again, sharply honest insight into the trauma that his experiences inflicted.
The final third disentangles the story of the coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea, the `project' that Nick du Toit took on after Liberia. It offers a fascinating insider's view into the world of modern espionage and just how one sets about toppling a government in the twenty-first century. No doubt essential reading for anyone with an interest in the coup. My one quibble might be that the level of detail in this section can be slightly overwhelming - and misses some of the humanity and simple nail-biting tension of the Liberian stories.
Yet it's a minor point and overall the book deserves five stars: if you are looking for a true story with action, adventure and insight, you will not find anything better.