By Simon Mann
Published in September 2012
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
Cry Havoc is the story of Simon Mann, one of the executives of the 1990s South African mercenary outfit called “Executive Outcomes.”
The book details how he became a mercenary, the campaigns he fought in, and his eventual imprisonment and capture.
Simon Mann was a British soldier who served with the SAS - one of the UK’s most elite units. He fought for the British army in Northern Ireland and in the Gulf War. In 1991, he left the army to work in oil and gas.
Mann was working on an oil and gas project in Angola, when a group of rebels captured his project. He was angered - rather than letting his project fall apart, he decided to fight back. He co-founded Executive Outcomes, and eventually defeated the Angolan rebels. Later, he would help defeat an army of rebels in Sierra Leone, ending an insurgency in a matter of weeks which the UN had struggled with for decades.
By the late 1990s, Executive Outcomes had become one of the largest and most successful mercenary outfits in the world. His men served on fields across Africa, as well as far flung places like Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
Everything would come crashing down in 2004, when he was hired to stage a coup against the government of Equatorial Guinea by Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark Thatcher. The coup fails - Mann is arrested on his way to Equatorial Guinea in Zimbabwe.
He is captured, tortured, and forced to sign a confession letter. He then spends five years in Chikurubi, Zimbabwe’s hardest prison. The last half of the book focuses on his harrowing time in jail. Eventually, he is sent back to Equatorial Guinea, where he stands trial, and helps the government identify everyone who had been responsible for the coup four years earlier. The president pardons him in exchange for his corporation.
He returns to the UK, but finds it hard to adjust himself to life after Chikurubi. To cope, he decides to write this book.
I enjoyed the writing style. This book is a must-read for any fools thinking of joining a mercenary outfit (I know a few). Even the CEOs of mercenary companies, like Mann, barely make any money. In addition to being incredibly hard and dangerous, it doesn’t pay well. The only ones making money are the ones hiring the mercenaries - the mercenaries themselves are the losers.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about privatized warfare, and modern African politics.
Most of my articles are book reviews, but I also write about many other topics.