Excellent. I lived through it all and travelled throughout Southern Africa at the time. We all knew change would come about but we also knew it wouldn't be through the barrel of the gun. We were right and Hooper tells it like it was.
A strong story about the fight against SWAPO terrorist / freedomfighters ( pick your viewpoint) and how they worked. No glamour and no excuses, but lots of broken promises. A must read for anyone who want to know more about conflicts in southern Africa.
My involvement with this story is rather personal; in the year that this was penned I was an Ops Medic at the military base of Eenhana when the author was casavaced to us after getting hit in the arm during an enemy contact. Things being what they were then, I did not really get a chance to speak with the “Mad foreign journalist” as we jokingly referred to him, but he left me with enough of an impression to want to read his take on things.
Having missed the 1st edition print I was very glad to see Koevoet re-released 25 years later on. Snapping up a copy on Amazon I was immediately transported back to the heat and conflict of Okovangoland in 1987. It takes the astute observations of an outsider to expose a story like this with the complete objectivity it requires. It also took some balls to immerse himself into a proverbial nest of vipers - even more so getting it published. I felt the story was an accurate and unbiased portrayal of the situation and true reflection of a complicated war not fully understood even by those fighting it.
If you were there this is a must read, if you were not, it will take you there and show you what it really was. Thanks for an excellent read and a flood of memories Jim!
Jim Hooper's "Koevoet" is a gritty and honest portrayal of the crucible of combat. The book places the reader directly on the ground and into the heavy emotional trial of men living and fighting in a deadly complex war. Page after page the reader will be thrown into the the unpredictable confusion of uncensored combat and then witness how these men decompressed and prepared for the next "CONTACT!" The books pictures taken by Jim Hooper add the images needed to complete this vivid account of events. The fact that Jim Hooper embedded with "Koevoet" for such an extended time enables this book to transcend from historic record to becoming a priceless first person narrative of the true humanity found in individuals who serve in times of war. Being a combat vet the book continually struck up my own memories of OEF and OIF. In my opinion no matter the war or the time the experiences found in war are the same for those that fight. This book captures this sentiment by illustrating the lifetime bond forged among brothers in arms, and the devotion they have towards each other. In this current edition the addition of Koevoet veteran current reflections about the unit and the author adds an incredible new insight. "Koevoet" is a must read for anyone trying to understand and gain a first person perspective of the men who fought day after day in South Africa's Bush War.
I was much impressed when the first edition of this book appeared 20 years ago, and I am delighted with this revised edition, with much expanded eye-witness testimony and illustrations. Jim Hooper's account of the five months in 1987 that he spent embedded with a (mainly black) South West African Police counter-insurgency unit in the Namibian bush war was about the most unpopular kind of testimony imaginable in the climate of the late 1980s. The difference between 'acceptable' truths and 'unacceptable' truths is one of timing. When a story is breaking the media can't handle the complexities of real life; they make a choice as to who are the guys in the white hats - a choice that is not always dishonest, but is ALWAYS partial. Choosing to tell the truths of the men he rode with - sympathetically, but with complete honesty, based solely upon what he had seen and heard - opened Hooper to unjust, even slanderous criticism. Hooper is a careful reporter, but also a born writer; his vivid word-pictures drag you in and hold you. He skilfully conveys his initially unwelcoming reception by an operational unit; the long, frustrating grind of search operations in punishing terrain and climate; the extraordinary bush skills of the Ovambo policemen; the shock of sudden contact, and its aftermath. He didn't just come in, get a few quotes and posed photos, taste the dust, and leave, to write up a glib piece in an air-conditioned hotel room. He stayed; and that enabled him to at least begin to understand the men whose lives he shared for months on end. Their trust in him was vindicated when he came back to them after being wounded the first time. His unflinching description of his reactions to the mortar attack in which he was wounded for the second time - and which cost the lives of men he had come to know - will stay with me. Like so much in this book, it could not be farther from the stereotyped tropes of some reporters. Its neglected subject, and the voice that the author has found to tell it, make this book something really unusual. Do yourself a favour, and read it.
An awesome read and true reflection of what the "bushwar" was all about in the then South West Africa. Jim gives a blow by blow account of how it was and how it was done in a time of war operating with Koevoet. For those how where there and always imagined what it was like for the operators of Koevoet this is a must read.
Jim provides his readers with an honest documentary on his time with Koevoet, which is commendable considering all the warped sensation seeking reports written about this outfit and war. It is an easy read and provides readers with great insight into a war few knew about or understood. Don't forget to visit Jim's website for more photos!
I have been reading various titles regarding the bush war, all have been great, but this has been top of the pile. could not put it down. an outsider giving you an honest portrayal of an unforgiving war. a must have for any enthusiast of this war.