Hi friends. I had a long chat with Angus of the WW2 podcast recently about Ethiopia, mercenaries, Haile Selassie, and my book Lost Lions of Judah. He trimmed it down and tidied it up and now you can hear us discussing the Italo-Ethiopian war in glorious stereo through iTunes, Facebook, as well as the WW2 website. It’ll probably turn up on Youtube some time soon.
Tune in and take a listen, then get your hands on the book itself [or amazon.com]. It’s about the crazy gang of adventurers who helped Ethiopia fight back against the Fascist Italian invasion of 1935.
It was a war between far-right modernity and patriarchal traditionalism. The Italians had airplanes, high explosive, and mustard gas. The Ethiopians preferred swords and spears. Emperor Haile Selassie needed expert foreign help. What he got was a bunch of mercenaries who could barely shoot straight and leaned further to the right than Mussolini.
Lost Lions of Judah: Haile Selassie’s Mongrel Foreign Legion tells the whole colourful, blood-stained story.
Hi friends. This is a round up of stuff about my books and assorted matters i.e. a combination shill/boast. Let’s go.
An article I wrote for the Amberley website about Ethiopia and the Italian invasion is live. Check it out here. It’s a useful overview of the war and mercenary involvement. Also has a very nice photograph of Haile Selassie with book and Great Dane.
The BBC History website commissioned an article on my book, emphasising the role played by foreigners, both as soldiers and journalists. Article is done, checked, and lined up for publication. Should be live this month or the next. Keep an eye out or check back here – I’ll update when it appears. [Update: they’re taking their time. Hang in there].
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: