Looks like Katanga 1960-63: Mercenaries, Spies and the African Nation That Waged War on the World [or amazon.com] will be released September 2015. Here’s the Katanga 1960-63 amazon.co.uk page. You can order the book in advance or wait impatiently until it hits the shops. Blood diamonds, CIA assassins, jungle fire fights, unsolved murders, and a man who once flew Haile Selassie’s private plane into a tree. Some good photographs too.
Katanga 1960-63 tells, for the first time, the full story of the Congolese province that declared independence in 1960 and found itself at war with the world. The Congo had no intention of allowing the renegade region to secede, and neither did the CIA, the KGB, or the United Nations.
It was a fantastically uneven battle. The United Nations fielded soldiers from twenty nations, America paid the bills, and the Soviets intrigued behind the scenes. Yet to everyone’s surprise the new nation’s rag-tag army of local gendarmes, superstitious jungle tribesmen and, controversially, European mercenaries refused to give in.
For two and a half years Katanga, the scrawniest underdog to ever fight a war, held off the might of the United Nations with guerrilla warfare, two-faced diplomacy, and some very shadowy financial backing. It even looked as if the Katangese might win.
What happened in the former Belgian colony (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) is still important today. It was the ground zero of conflict diamonds, private military contractors, CIA-sponsored African dictatorships, and global corporations picking clean the bones of third world countries.
It began on 30 June 1960 when Belgium reluctantly gave the Congo its independence. The mineral rich nation sprawled across central Africa had been governed from Brussels since the nineteenth century. Hopes were high its natural resources would buy a peaceful and prosperous future.
Within two weeks the province of Katanga, main source of the world’s copper and uranium, the vital ingredient of atomic weapons, declared its own independence. The secession, masterminded by Katangese leader Moise Tshombe and a Belgian mining company, began a bloody civil war that pulled in foreign adventurers, CIA agents, and the UN.
It is an incredible, forgotten piece of contemporary history full of larger than life characters like the African secessionist leader with a weakness for blondes, the Irish academic determined to be a UN warrior, the megalomaniac Belgian settler with a resemblance to Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz in ‘Heart of Darkness’, chain-smoking American assassins in single-breasted suits, and adventurers from Belgium, France, Britain, and South Africa who would fight anyone, anywhere, for the right price.
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