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on 9 February 2012
This is an extraordinary story. But the writing is dreadful - which is a great pity because Simon Mann is undoubtedly one of Britain's foremost military entrepreneurs, greater even than Mike Hoare of Congo fame.

There is a penchant for lots of short, sharp sentences bundled together. Like this. Tap-tap. All staccato. In a single paragraph. To give a sense of pace. Obviously. This is OK but it needs leavening with a copywriter's artifice to make the passages flow. It is odd that his literary agent and publisher didn't do something about this. And the chronology is muddled. Thus the book is robbed of both clarity and impact. How much more vivid it could have been, dammit.

But if you like the genre, stick with it because the content saves the book. Just about. I am filled with admiration for his sense of high-risk adventure. A buccaneer on the side of the angels - more or less. I am still not completely clear as to why he didn't abort the effort on Equatorial Guinea but I guess that when you perceive that you have powerful organs of state - or states in this case - backing you, albeit implicitly, and a project gathers momentum, you pass the tipping point so there's no turning back.

Moreover, the book provides a lot of history; it is about rather more than the Equatorial Guinea debacle and some successes add a positive note to the concluding disaster.

I found his description of his time in captivity quite harrowing. Interestingly, it seems his spell in E Guinean jails was less awful than that in Zimbabwean hell-holes. Ghastly. One salutes him for coping with five and a half years' incarceration with considerable resourcefulness as well as mental resilience. And he writes movingly about his release.

Two small asides. I was amused that he mentioned how bad Khyber safety matches, made in Pakistan, performed when he was in clink in Zim. I have a box in front of me that I bought at Gandamak Lodge, a hotel in Kabul run by a friend of mine. Well, if you drag the match-head across the striker bar gently at thirty degrees, then they are sure-fire. Secondly, to suggest that Aegis is the most successful private military company is less than impartial. But I understand why he said it.

Anyway, it is easy to judge. What we do means more about us than what we say. And as Sir Winston Churchill said, `When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.' Britain is better with people like Simon Mann than without him. I mean, real Britain - whatever there is left of it.

I wonder what he will do next? Bon chance!

Lastly, in case anyone rushes away with the thought that joining a private security company must be a great idea they should bear in mind that although there are undoubtedly outstanding people in the business, these days there is also more than a sprinkling of self-regarding braggarts bloated with a grossly inflated sense of their own abilities. The latter's world is one where loyalty is a rare commodity. Some clients are not exactly as pure as the driven snow, either.
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on 31 March 2017
Story is great, insightful on a world that I guess most people would be unfamiliar with. Style of writing is substandard though, annoying at times. Get past this and it is an enjoyable read.
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on 26 March 2017
No problems
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on 4 February 2013
Simply Brilliant. I do not normally read bio's but I am glad I have read Simon Mann's account. How he came through what he did is truly amazing.
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on 4 September 2012
I was very interested in the underlying story re the EG coup and the various characters associated with it and their motivations. Frankly if you share these goals keep your money in your pocket as you will be none the wiser at the end.

Frankly this is the worst book I have read in the last decade. The prose is dispiriting and the style jumping from one topic to another reflects what I think is the reality of a greedy, intellectually challenged fool trying to string out a story to construct a book.

Strong recommendation, this book is appalling and life is too short to read this rubbish when there are millions of great books out there.
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on 16 February 2013
A quite extraordinary story of risks in investment and life in very troubled areas. I had never imagined such goings on.
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on 26 December 2011
This for me was a must read book. Given the press speculation, repeated Government denials in the UK media and the personalities involved you had to read Simon Mann's first hand and exceptionally personal account of the events to get to the truth of what happened during this failed coup. Given the circumstances of his recording of the facts you just have to roll with the punches as it jumps from location to location, times and events. It provides the reader with a real insight as to what Simon Mann was going through personally at every stage of the mission planning, execution and his evential capture and internment. Cut away the fact that you may not agree with his politics or his thirst for financial gain through what he hoped would be the successful execution of the mission it is a rivetting read and a true personal account. There is much more that is not said in the book but it will keep you enthraled. It captures his moods as they happen, his survivors instinct while in captivity, his mental strength and discipline all combined to develop strategies to keep one step ahead of the prison staff, while throughout there is the constant threat of deportation and execution. The narrative provides the reader with a microspope with which to examine Simon Mann who is truly a remarkable character. Thoroughly enjoyable and strongly recommended.
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on 19 August 2012
I had been waiting for Simon Manns story for some time. As other reviewers have said - this is impossible to read it is so badly written. I would suggest he finds an editor to describe his life story which should be fascinating. Cry Havoc went into the charity box. Disappointing.
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on 1 May 2013
... doesn't always make an amazing book. It feels a bit hard criticising someone of Simon Mann's exceptional calibre, but while he is a true adventurer, he certainly isn't a great writer. Should have enlisted a co-writer who could have brought to this story the structure, rhythm, and impact that it deserves. It's also clear that Simon has kept a lot - too much - out of the book: his past, his real motivations, some explanations on the deal that set him free.
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on 3 December 2011
I was somewhat perturbed at the beginning of the book with written shorthand commentary. Does that make sense? The story improved chapter by chapter and I became engrossed. It was an interesting comparison to the WONGA COUP which I had read previously. Talk about two sides of a coin! As in Blood Diamonds reviewed above I knew of or had met some of the characters within. This made the book even more interesting to me. Once again I am confused as to why the SAS cap badge is used on the cover. The author served but his experiences within the Regiment are not a part of the script. I find the use of the cap badge somewhat misleading and only there to sell copies.
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