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‘A Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fear… nor love.’ from Star Wars Episode II




The Dogs of War - Frederick Forsyth


Rare Natural Resource, Poor African Nation, Sharp Business Acumen and Mercenaries for hire.


Shell companies, Laundered Money, a Greedy Dictator and Tacit Government Support.


All in the time-tested name of Empire building.



Sir James Manson, Knight of the British Empire, chairman and managing director of Manson Consolidated Mining Company has all the money he’ll ever need. What he doesn’t have is the patience to deal with long and winding political methods to get what he wants. Not when he sees a potential ten billion dollars up for grabs. He has the resources and the methods and he intends to make full use of both.


Firmly grounded in the realities of business and politics he knows ‘there was only one commandment, the eleventh, “Thou shall not be found out.’


He knows there is a mountain of wealth waiting to be taken in the obscure African state of Zangaro. Methodically he goes about obtaining it. He plans an outrageous coup to overthrow the government, and put into power his very own puppet. In his own words – “Knocking off a bank or an armoured truck is merely crude. Knocking off an entire republic has, I feel, a certain style.”


If Manson had committed his thoughts to paper it would list out something like this:


1. Stop information from getting any further and buy off who ever knows.


2. Find all possible information on the obscure state, especially who can be bought/bullied/exiled, and which local groups can be divided and conquered.


3. Find out the political situations (presence of communists – Russians and Chinese)  


4. Scout around for a prospective puppet dictator to head the new government.


5. Assess the military strength and security situation in the targeted state.


6. Set up a shell company which will be awarded the mining franchise once the newly appointed puppet dictator is in power.


7. Recruit a mercenary unit to carry out the finer points of the plan.



Article 47 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Convention of 1949 describes a mercenary as any person who:


a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict:


b) does, in fact, take part in the hostilities;


c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;


d) is neither a national of the Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;


e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and


f) has not been sent by a state which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.


- from SOMEONE ELSE’S WAR: Mercenaries from 1960 to the present by Anthony Rogers


The out-of-work mercenary – Carlo Alfred Thomas Shannon is at the helm of a small mercenary team. ‘Cat’ as he is nicknamed is a brilliant tactician, adaptable in his methods and flexible in execution. His military background and experience in action have honed his skill. But he wasn’t always this way – the truth is that he was simply bored out of his mind at his nine-to-five job at a trading outfit ‘from which he walked out without a word and drove into the Congo.’


Cat’s time in the office made him well-versed in commerce. He knew the nuances of trade, how to set up a business and the benefits of discreet bankers. If they knew, his former mundane employers would say that this knowledge would only ‘add value’ to his criminal enterprise.


An unofficial responsibility for getting ‘a job’ for the team came to rest with Cat. Which wasn’t easy in these troubled times. ‘In fact he foresaw in the offing a nasty outbreak of peace’. This troubled Shannon, though not because of any lack of real employment issues in a traditional job;


The real problem was being able to stick it out, to sit in an office under the orders of a wee man in a dark gray suit and look out of the window and recall the bush country, the waving palms, the smell of sweat and cordite, the grunts of men hauling the jeeps over the river crossings, the copper-tasting fears just before the attack, and the wild cruel joy of being alive afterward. To remember, and then to go back to the ledgers and the commuter train, that was what was impossible. He knew he would eat his heart out if it ever came to that. For Africa bites like a tse-tse fly, and once the drug is in the blood it can never be wholly exorcized.


Enter Sir James Manson.


Of course Sir James couldn’t be expected to scout around and recruit a mercenary – his henchmen do the dirty work. But price negotiations that do take place between Sir James and Shannon are brisk and philosophical.


“You know perfectly well if your firm consults a lawyer, architect, accountant or any other technical expert you pay him a fee. I’m a technical expert in war. It buys you my knowledge, my contacts, my acquaintanceship with the world of arms dealers, smugglers, gun-runners, and mercenaries. Lastly, it buys the risk of my getting killed in the attack.”


“Fair enough. You have one hundred days, Mr. Shannon, to steal a republic.”


A report prepared by Shannon details strategy for the invasion, logistical requirements, precautions, expenses and so on.


Frederick Forsyth’s plot for the story is deeply researched, and close to reality. Note the following extract from the book ‘How to Stage a Military Coup’; Frederick Forsyth: The Dogs of War. Still in print, this has been described as a ‘textbook for coups d’etat’, but keep in mind that the real –life original version failed. - from Notes to pages 141-75


Once the plan has been accepted by his current employer Shannon prepares to execute Sir James’ plot, but not entirely to the letter.


Sources and further reading


1. Someone Else’s War: Mercenaries from 1960 to the Present by Anthony Rogers

2. How to Stage a Military Coup: From Planning to Execution by David Hebditch and Ken Connor


This article contains extracts from the novel.




The Day of the Jackal: The Day of the Jackal is Frederick Forsyth’s most celebrated work and also what he is most associated with. Forsyth wrote only after thoroughly researching the topics involved in his stories because of his own disappointment with the authors’ lack of knowledge in books he himself read. However the depth of research in The Day of the Jackal inspired at least one assassin and one would-be assassin…


Avenger: Cal Dexter is a troubled man who addresses pain with pain. He channels the agony of his losses through his vocation. Not in the guise of a lawyer but as a former special forces veteran who has evolved in skill to address the problems that cannot be helped by governments. Dexter’s grounded approach as a soldier and as a lawyer has made him many friends of questionable repute but undeniable skill. And this is where Dexter (the dinosaur) mixes tech with old-school espionage.


The Cobra: The Cobra - Paul Deveraux is properly described on the back cover but a more fitting description can be found while reading the main text: “He loathed political correctness, preferring courtly good manners to all, save those who were clearly the enemies of the one true God and / or the United States.” Devereux is physically present in precious few scenes but his influence permeates the meticulous plotting and actions that populate the pages.


The Way of the Jackal: Only a few people really know. Not even the real hero of the thriller finds out. But we are provided with a few sketchy details about him. He was a mercenary in Katanga (the Congo), and his skills and contacts obtained in that war enable him to become an ice-cold assassin. The Jackal came to choose his profession because of the adrenaline junkie within and love for the good life that money can buy. He quits a mundane day-job and dives into a life of cloak-and-daggers and sniper rifles. He is physically fit and a deadly killer even with his bare hands, and attractive enough to seduce at will in a kind of dark James Bond way. A thorough professional and conscious-less killer, he doesn't digress from the unspoken rules he has established.



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