BANGER OF THE WEEK: My Friend the Mercenary



These are exactly the type of stories I tried, fruitlessly, to locate. This week was more disappointing than any other, but I still found a pearl in the mud. This book goes into the story of photo-reporter James Brabazon and his tirades throughout west Africa's conflicts in the early 2000s, and his trusty mercenary sidekick Nick.

The guttural experiences of jungle warfare and the chaos thereof, the disease, hunger, waste and pillage are all communicated humanly and without condescension. The plot of the book is thickest at the very start, but the latter third of the work has a quality all on its own, with intelligence and business intrigue taking the place of bloody combat.

It is very clear that Africa is nowhere near hospitable - not because of the animals or people, but the systemic problems facing it. It makes too much sense for too many people to leave Africa in a state of disrepair, and even though this won't last I do hope to visit the continent some more before it becomes another developed suburban hellscape.

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