Equally courageous, equally deadly, the British mercenaries in Bosnia have a story to tell, but a story without official blessing. War Dogs follows the fortunes of a gang of eight Bosnia mercenaries, a mixed bunch, old and cynical, young and naive, mean and psychotic, including two idealists; the rest just in it for the money.
Each of these rogue warriors has his own special skills, strengths and weaknesses, and are all tested in an increasingly terrifying and desperate series of engagements with the enemy. Both sides fight dirty, and not all of the mercenaries make it back to Britain. One boy with no military experience told his mother he is working in Eurodisney, and she only found out the truth when he came back in a box.
©1996 Keith Cory-Jones; (P)1996 Random House
From firstname.lastname@example.org Oscar Guillen
The book takes you through an indepth account of the lives of these mercenaries. From sleeping in a rat-infested cellar, to surviving being captured by the enemy. The brutality of war in a devided nation can not be better expressed than in this book. The fact that the author collected the material for this book in combat with these men gives the reader a point of view rarely given by an author. The image of the heartless mercenary is shaken as their lives are forever altered in the events of this civil war. Boys seeking for adventure are teamed with hardened war veterans to form an explosive relationship of brutality and compassion.
From James Hooper
As the only journalist to have been on operations with the South African private military company Executive Outcomes, my impression is that the other reviewers here have (1) never known or worked with mercenaries, (2) never been to Bosnia, or (3) never seen combat. Allow me to explain one or two things about this silly book.
As a contributor to Jane's Defence Weekly, let me say that six months of getting shelled a lot, shot at a lot and scared stiff a lot in Bosnia taught me a bit about the place. So when asked by a British military magazine to review a book about the war, I thought, Great! By page 20, however, I was wondering why it wasn't called War Comics. But you be the judge - and please interrupt if you have any questions.
The story begins with 13 tough mercs landing in Albania for a mission to Bosnia. "Uh, excuse me, but isn't there sort of like another country between Albania and Bosnia?" Shut up and sit down - I was only kidding about the questions. Led by Foreign Legion deserter Kit Freeman, the mission - to recce the airfield at Mostar - is so secret they have to make a minor 250-mile detour in an inflatable boat, Kit overlooking the fact that half way to Split they pass within 20 miles of Mostar airfield or, even better, that they could have flown directly to Split in the first place. (Maybe they forgot their map, which could explain why they landed in Albania. 'Gracious me! We're in the wrong country!') From Split they're choppered to "The Valley of Imotski," where, Kit warns, Serb commandos roam at will. "But there were never Serb forces anywhere near Imotski," you say. Button it - "But ..." - and sit down. Next, they `tab' 20 miles through heavy woodland to Mostar airfield. "Excuse me, but there's no 'heavy woodland' anywhere near Mostar!" I'm not telling you again to shut your face while I'm telling Kit's true-life story here.
Then ... uh-oh ... they spot a trip wire. If Kit disarms it the Serbs will suspect he and his boys are about, so he marks it "with a small piece of white tape instead". "Lemme get this straight. Disarming it is going to give them away, but white tape isn't?" No problem. He collects the white tape on the way out. "Interesting. I learned that you never come out the same way you went in because the bad guys might be waiting, and here's someone telling them with white tape that he ain't come back yet." Listen, who're you going to believe, people who have actually done the biz, or Kit Freeman? We're talking a serious professional here.
Where was I? Right. After Kit camouflages himself with white tape, what do you suppose they find sitting on the runway? Why, three MiG-21s! "I know I'm being a pain, but overlooking the fact that MiGs never operated out of Mostar during the war, what the hell are they doing in the open with Croat artillery just two miles away in Mostar?" I dunno. Maybe the Croats didn't hear those three jets land. Anything's possible. Like landing in Albania when your target's in Croatia, for example.
Anyway, they slither up with 30kg of PE and home-made timers in Tupperware containers. Now, anyone else would have thought that wherever there's PE then timers are a dime a dozen. But not clever ol' war dog Kit Freeman, who, just to be on the safe side, had a chum whip up a few in his garage before leaving the UK. (I told you he's a pro, but you didn't believe me, did you?) By the time the MiGs are history we're only on page 20. And for the poor bastard marooned on a desert isle with absolutely nothing else to read, there are, God help him, 241 pages still to go.
Kit Freeman claims it's all true. The author sulkily admitted to me that it's "not supposed or intended to be an accurate journalistic account". So is it Freeman's fantasy or the author's fiction? Who cares? Either way it's pathetic. My advice? If you're interested in reading about real mercenaries, then buy a copy of No Mean Soldier by Peter McAleese instead.
From Nathan J. Hook "USbsdKiwi"
Not a bad read as long as you don't take it all too seriously. Far too much of it feels like fiction and I guess Keith Cory-Jones has got the gift of the gab for making Hollywod style plots. Plenty of authentic looking pictures and grim revelations about nasty stuff going on during the time. I think the former Janes staffer has it spot on - love the bit about the white tape. Sloppy stuff.
I read this book a few years back, along with a bunch of other similar experiences from ex-SAS men cashing in on Andy McNabb's success with Bravo Two Zero. Much of these reports you can apparently take with a grain of salt and I think this novel you can throw in the same boat. Good chewing gum for the eyes on a journey from the airport, or what have you, if you don't like romantic fiction.
From Manuel Cavazos
This has got to be one of the best action and true life books I have ever read. The book grabs your attention since page one, and once you start you'll never stop reading. This book covers in great detail the missions of a group of british mercenaries through the war in the ex-Yugoslavia. The book takes you from recce operations behind enemy lines to a full scale attack on the Yugoslav Federal Army near Osijek. This book is a must for anyone trying to understand how and why mercenaries choose this type of work to make a living. Trust me, you'll never regret buying this book.
From a customer
From page one the narrative never falters and with it the compulsion to keep the pages turning. Although harrowing, the story reveals how and why mercenaries think, operate and deal with events, often earning a pittance for the risks they are forced into taking.... Comparable with Michael Herr's 'Despatches' in my opinion.
From a customer
This account of a team of merceneries lead by an ex British soldier is completely gripping. The action starts of page one and does not stop. Even in the highs and lows of war the author keeps your attention to a maximum. This is the type of book that can change your outlook on life. A Rambo like account with the true horrors of war left in. A truly graphic, explicit and horrific account of how vile humans can be towards one another. It is totally shocking that this can happen in Europe today. Read it....if you dare.