A real account of a failed coup
By Dr Vaidehi Nathan
Cry Havoc, Simon Mann, John Blake Publishing Ltd, Pp 351(HB), £19.99
Cry Havoc by Simon Mann is the first hand narration of a mercenary who ‘delivers’ flawless coups for a neat sum. His mission in Angola and Sierra Leone some of the bloodiest countries in the world, had been successful. But things went horribly wrong for him in Equatorial Guinea (EG). EG is an impoverished and yet oil-rich African country, predictably ruled by a ruthless dictator President Obiang, who reportedly was in the habit of eating the body parts of his enemies. Some were buried minus testicles and some minus the brain — that’s how macabre the scene was.
Mann is a former SAS solider who sold his services to those who could afford him. His interest in EG was to make millions “for my wife and children” he says. He knew that if he failed he would not be alive to collect any part of that promised millions. He was taking all precautions. The top intelligence of the major players in the region, US and the UK, were ‘aware‘of his mission. In a roundabout way they were paying and facilitating him. Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. was also involved in the coup plot.
The action plan in EG that looked like sitting duck to Simon Mann went awry and he got arrested. It took Mann quiet some time to realise where he had faulted. It was not his mistake. The US, which had originally backed the coup, struck up a deal with the EG dictator in exchange for oil. And turned Mann over.
Mann, by sheer luck survived one of the worst incarcerations, that is why he was able to tell the story. He was freed by the efforts of several people. The story has all the ingredients of a thriller, only it is all true. Africa for long has been the chessboard for the West, especially America. It allies and fights with groups in turns to gain oil, power and mines. Mann exposes the murky international politics and the dangerous internal situations in these small African nations. What mars Mann’s narration is his style. It tends to read complicated and dragging. His use of short sentences, probably intended to deliver punch are too many and hence the charm and punch are lost. That apart, the book is interesting and forces the reader to wonder if what he says could be true. Of course it is all real as he is the man who was on the spot and soaked it all in.
(John Blake Publishing Ltd, 3, Bramber Court, 2 Bramber Road, London W14 9PB, England)