Colonel ‘Mad’ Mike Hoare is the best known mercenary in the English-speaking world. He was all over the news in the 1960s as commander of the 5 Commando mercenary force in the Congo; in the 1970s he inspired and advised the blockbuster film The Wild Geese; in the 1980s he did prison time for trying to take over the Seychelles.
Now in his 90s, he’s still going strong in the South African sun.
Hoare got his start as a mercenary in Katanga, a short-lived secessionist state originally part of the Belgian Congo. The Colonel has never been publicity-shy, with several autobiographical books to his name, but he’s never discussed important details about his time in Katanga.
Hubert Julian is all over my new book Lost Lions of Judah, about the mercenaries who fought for Ethiopia against the Italian fascist invasion. He was a hell of a character.
Julian’s home overlooked the Harlem River in New York. The Bronx town house was crowded with elephant tusks, vintage rifles, Ethiopian medals, photographs of Julian with Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie, souvenirs from Guatemala, books of newspaper clippings, a menagerie of parrots, and a pet monkey.
On Sundays his extended family turned up for inch thick steaks flown in from South America, with African fruits for dessert.
Julian obviously had money (“I’m richer now than a yacht full of Greeks,” he told reporters) although how much was the subject of conjecture among interested parties. An FBI report from the late 1950s claimed Julian “was subsidised by wealthy white women”. Julian insisted he earned his cash. Both may been true.
On 17 September 1961 a plane known as the Albertina took off from an airport in the northern Congo. Six hours later it was a molten mess out in the Rhodesian bush. Sixteen people died in the crash. One was Dag Hammarskjöld, head of the United Nations.
The Albertina went down as it was approaching Ndola airport in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) just after midnight local time. It was a clear night hazed with mist from a local cobalt refinery. The Albertina’s Captain, Swede Per Hallonquist, made a last radio communication with the control tower a few minutes before the crash.
My book is published. Katanga 1960-63: Mercenaries, Spies, and the African Nation that Waged War on the World [or amazon.com] is available in hardback and ebook. Prices look reasonable. Hope you enjoy it and here’s what it’s about:
Katanga is now dirt beneath the fingernails of history but while it lived this secessionist state divided the world. Even now it divides the Congo from Europe. If you want to see an African diplomat rage, praise Katangese leader Moise Tshombe. Want to start a bar fight in Kinshasa? Wave a Katangese flag. The events of 1960 are the ground zero of CIA-sponsored African dictatorships, private military contractors, conflict diamonds, and global corporations picking clean the bones of Third World countries.
Remember: if you buy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com you can leave a review letting the world know what you thought. It’ll really help.
For more warlike weirdness, you can buy my books in paperback or ebook:
Lost Lions of Judah: Haile Selassie’s Mongrel Foreign Legion [or amazon.com]
Franco’s International Brigades: Adventurers, Fascists, and Christian Crusaders in the Spanish Civil War [or amazon.com]
For those who prefer pixels to ink, there is an ebook version of Katanga 1960-63: Mercenaries, Spies, and the African Nation that Waged War on the World [or amazon.com].
Here’s a taste from the introduction to whet your appetite:
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:
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.