THE WHORES OF WAR: Mercenaries Today by Wilfred & Derek Roebuck Burchett

THE WHORES OF WAR: Mercenaries Today

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Burchett and Roebuck's investigations into the dirty business of soldiers for hire is not, as the title may suggest, worldwide in scope. Their focus is on Angola where, in July 1976, thirteen Britons and Americans stood trial for mercenary activities conducted against the legally constituted left-wing government of Angola. The trials received much publicity and, according to an international tribunal, were fairly conducted--the government using them to spotlight the sordid nature of the mercenary business. Much of the material here comes from court transcripts and the diaries and letters of the captured ""soldiers of fortune,"" whose greed, brutality, and racism are manifest, despite their semi-literacy. The profiteering of the recruiters (the ""pimps of war""), the question of who acted as paymaster, and the collusion of the CIA and the MI 6 are all weighed by the authors who see the mercenary as a growing menace in international affairs, flourishing because Western governments can no longer get the consent of their people to wage such campaigns through regular channels. In the event, the menace of the Angolan recruits was considerably lessened by the total disarray of their operations which were easily countered by the Angolan Army. Burchett and Roebuck write vividly of meals of horsesteak, summary executions, the delusions of fighting the ""Russians and the Cubans,"" and the mercenaries' scorn for the ""wogs"" and ""Nig-Nogs"" whom they were ""leading."" The illegality of such operations-they violate various US and British prohibitions against enlistment in foreign armies--is underscored, as is the do-nothing attitude of governments to the recruiters. Burchett and Roebuck, who covered the trials in Luanda, are both--as journalist and jurist--practiced watchdogs of Third World insurgencies, and though their alarm may be extreme there's no doubt that the story has repercussions for Rhodesia, Lebanon, and other trouble spots.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1977
Publisher: Penguin