Fire Power

By Dave Thomkins and Chris Dempster

In May 1975, dishonorably discharged British paratrooper John Banks reviewed his skills as a parachutist, bridge-demolisher, and killer marksman, and found no civilian uses for himself. So he placed an ad in a paper: ""Ex-Commandos, paratroopers, SAS troopers wanted for interesting work abroad""--and within 48 hours found himself commander-in-chief of a formidable paper army expanding fantastically on file cards. Two days later, he had a contract from secret, moneyed interests to mount an invasion of Rhodesia from Zambia. That invasion, an absolute fiasco, never got farther than Heathrow airport. For a fresh face to hide behind, Banks recruited Dave Tomkins, an ex-con dedicated to becoming the best safeblower in the world, and already a too-famous demolitions man. A new job on the continent fell through, so Banks directed the group's attention back to Africa; and shopping around for a war to join, they lit upon Angola. In the acronym scramble, the tight nut of fire-power fanatics found themselves allied with the FLNA, which had both US and Chinese backing, against the Russian-supported Marxist MPLA, and at odds with a third independence group, UNITA. Eventually, about 150 meres followed them into Angola, and set up actions supporting FNLA chief Holden Roberto and his troops. The stellar fanatic was Greek excon Costas Georgiou, a.k.a. Tony Callan and now ""the Colonel,"" who led the band of none-too-stable meres to which authors Dempster and Tomkins belonged. (Dempster was tattooed with the motto ""Death before Employment""). A psychopath, he pitted them against Angolan troops, 15,000 Cuban troops, enemy tanks, heavy artillery, and the latest Soviet hardware--an utterly hopeless fight. His worst act, though, was executing a dozen of his own noncoms for misrepresenting an attack they were involved in. For these murders, he was himself later executed. . . . A gritty mere book for the Soldier of Fortune following. 

Editorial Review - Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.


I enjoyed this book about an ill-fated mercenary operation in Angola in the 1970's. As describes a pretty chaotic and brutal situation, this is not a read for the faint of heart as war crimes against humanity are described. This book was a great counter point to the 1970's era when Soldier of Fortune glamorized of mercenaries. The book describes a situation completely opposite of the now corporate "private security contractor" mercenary situation as found in many parts of the world.

I also enjoyed the beginning section of the book describing cross-border, overland trucking in pre-EU, Cold War era Europe in which the author was employed.

By E. Le