Good news for American readers – Katanga 1960-63: Mercenaries, Spies and the African Nation that Waged War on the World will be distributed over there starting December 2015. It’ll be available through Amazon and all the usual suspects. It may even turn up in your local bookshop. It’s being distributed by the lovely people at IPG.
Katanga is available in hardback and ebook. Here’s a moment from the introduction about spending an evening in a dodgy Brussels bar:
The Mercenary Scene
“If you were thirsty in Brussels, perhaps in the mid-1980s, there was always 42 Rue du Marché au Charbon. Officially called La Renaissance, regulars knew it as Bar Simba, the only place outside Katanga you could get a Simba beer, straight from the Elisabethville brewery.
Today it is a gay bar, but Bar Simba used to be a military pub famous for giving free drinks to any soldier who donated his cap badge. Green Berets, SAS, and Navy SEALs had all dropped by to take advantage of the offer.
Not every customer was a career soldier. If you limited yourself to a few Simbas and stayed off the Chimay Trappiste, a lethally strong black beer, you might notice the map of Katanga province on the wall. You might see the similarity between Charles Masy, the bald and moustached owner, and the slim, crop-haired young man in the photographs hanging by the bar. You might overhear some of the regulars talking about their adventures in Angola, Biafra, the Congo, Yemen, throwing around words like “Les Affreux” and “Les Mercenaires”.
Bastards of War
It would not take long to realise Bar Simba doubled as a hang out for old mercenaries. No fighting for them anymore, but a lot of talking. Veterans of Africa, like Masy, argued bitterly about the United Nations, the USA, the USSR. Old grudges from Congo politics lived on: the settlers versus the merchants, the Walloons versus the Flemish, the Belgians versus the French, the English versus the rest.
As the evening came in and Masy helped himself to a Simba or two he would tell his patrons about the time he was arrested by the Rhodesians in ’63 and questioned on his adventures in Katanga.
“Finally they asked me: How many did you kill? I was fed up with their games so I said: Not enough!”
And through the rest of the night, the refrain from drunken, middle-aged men. Les Mercenaires. Les Affreux. We could have won. You understand? We could have won. If it hadn’t been for the UN bastards. For the American bastards. For the bastards in Brussels. For the African bastards. We could have done it. We could have made a new country.“
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