I write books about mercenaries and extremists, smugglers and peacekeepers, lost causes and short-lived countries, and the kind of writers who hammer out words on a busted typewriter with a 9mm in their belt and a bottle of vodka in the ice box.
And it’s all true.
My first book was about the Spanish Civil War, my second told the story of the 1960s Katanga secession. A third about Ethiopia’s battle with Italian Fascism came out in June 2017. My books are available in hardback, paperback, and ebook; in English and Spanish; published by Thistle, Amberley Publishing, the History Press, Destino of Barcelona, Columbia University Press, and Oxford University Press.
LOST LIONS OF JUDAH: HAILE SELASSIE’S MONGREL FOREIGN LEGION – HARDBACK (AMBERLEY PUBLISHING, 2017)
In October 1935 Fascist Italy invaded independent black Ethiopia. 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 crazy gang of mercenaries who could barely shoot straight and leaned further to the right than Mussolini.
‘Lost Lions of Judah’ [or amazon.com] lifts the lid on Americans posing as fake French counts, Fascist Belgian soldiers, an African-American pilot duo known as the Black Eagle and the Brown Condor (they hated each other), a Cuban veteran of three failed far-right coups, an Austrian Nazi doctor, Swedish soldiers who preferred fighting communism, and an alcoholic English dropout.
The international powers backing Haile Selassie were equally disreputable. Hitler supported Selassie as part of a plot to grab back the Rhineland, and Japanese secret societies pushed a penniless Tokyo princess into marriage with an Ethiopian prince. Together, this bizarre foreign legion tried to save Ethiopia from Fascism.
KATANGA 1960-63: MERCENARIES, SPIES AND THE AFRICAN NATION THAT WAGED WAR ON THE WORLD – HARDBACK & EBOOK (HISTORY PRESS, 2015)
‘Katanga 1960-63’ [or amazon.com] 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.
FRANCO’S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES – EBOOK (THISTLE, 2015)
You can now read ‘Franco’s International Brigades’ [or amazon.com] on your Kindle. The ebook version is available from Amazon as of April 2015. It has a nice new cover and some light revision to the previous Hurst edition text.
Remember – if you’ve ever bought anything from Amazon then you’ve got an account there. And that means you can review any book on the site. So if you feel like telling the world how much you enjoyed ‘Franco’s International Brigades’ [or amazon.com] go right ahead. It will really help to raise the book’s profile.
The main differences with the Hurst edition, for completists, are a little extra about Australian Catholic reactions to the Spanish Civil War and an updated total for Greek volunteers.
FRANCO’S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES – PAPERBACK (HURST/CUP/OUP, 2013)
The paperback version. This ground breaking book is the first full account of the foreign volunteers and conscripts who fought for the right-wing Nationalist rebels in Spain during the 1930s. It has been revised, updated, and expanded from the original English language edition.
The new edition [or amazon.com] adds 10,000 words of additional content, including the personal stories of Italian volunteers, an account of a notorious court case involving the White Russian community in Paris, details of the plot by two Frenchmen to wage biological warfare on Nationalist Spain, more on Eoin O’Duffy’s Irish Brigade, the first account of Austrian and Filipino volunteers in Franco’s forces, and the full story of the Norwegian Nazis who burgled Trotsky’s home.
FRANCO’S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES – PAPERBACK (REPORTAGE, 2008)
The original English language version, put out in what was essentially a limited edition back in 2008. Reportage was a pair of former BBC reporters who didn’t much like each other operating out of a house in North London. We had a book launch with wine and speeches at Daunt Books in Holland Park.
Reportage went bankrupt not long after this was published. At one time their ‘Franco’s International Brigades’ [or amazon.com] was going for ridiculous prices on eBay but is a lot cheaper these days. Don’t buy it. The Hurst/Thistle version is better in every way, from prose to facts.
I remember writing this book in some Essex warehouse when I should have been working, a conveyor belt running just behind me and Polish girls everywhere wondering what the hell I was doing. It is a significant rewrite of the very first book, published in Spanish the previous year.
LAS BRIGADAS INTERNACIONALES DE FRANCO – HARDBACK (DESTINO, 2007)
The start of it all. Destino are a Spanish-language publishers out of Barcelona who picked up my book proposal back in 2005. They wanted the manuscript in six months in order to bring out a hardback the next year. The plan was to cash in on the Spanish Civil War anniversary.
I wrote ‘Las Brigadas Internacionales de Franco’ very quickly in a bad part of East London. As soon as I sent in the manuscript, Destino put back publication by a year for business reasons. I never got a chance to do more work on it.
I won’t pretend this version [or amazon.com] isn’t flawed but there’s a lot of information in there and the book itself looks good. It got positive feedback from Spanish readers. An extract from the chapter on the Irish Brigade appeared in La Raza newspaper.