Equatorial Guinea is a tiny country roughly the size of the state of Maryland. Humid, jungle covered, and rife with unpleasant diseases, natives call it Devil Island. Its president in 2004, Obiang Nguema, had been accused of cannibalism, belief in witchcraft, mass murder, billiondollar corruption, and general rule by terror. With so little to recommend it, why in March 2004 was Equatorial Guinea the target of a group of salty British, South African and Zimbabwean mercenaries, travelling on an American-registered ex-National Guard plane specially adapted for military purposes, that was originally flown to Africa by American pilots? The real motive lay deep below the ocean floor: oil.
In The Dogs of War, Frederick Forsyth effectively described an attempt by mercenaries to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea in 1972. And the chain of events surrounding the night of March 7, 2004, is a rare case of life imitating artor, at least, life imitating a 1970s thrillerin almost uncanny detail. With a cast of characters worthy of a remake of Wild Geese and a plot as mazy as it was unlikely, The Wonga Coup is a tale of venality, overarching vanity and greed whose example speaks to the problems of the entire African continent.
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About the Author
Adam Roberts is a staff correspondent of The Economist. For four years he was the publication's Johannesburg bureau chief, reporting from Madagascar, Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone andillegallyfrom Zimbabwe, as well as from many corners in between. He has also reported from South- East Asia, the Balkans, Europe and the United States. A former student of international politics at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, he is now based in London.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As can probably be seen from my books, I am obsessed with Africa. This book was one that had been on my list for a long time and I was not disappointed. While the writing was not great and there probably could have been some better editing, the overall effect was comprehensive. The perspective of those of us outside of Africa is often scarred by the violence we see so often reported. This book in many ways reenforces the idea that this kind of stuff only happens in Africa. However, this is not the fault of the author but rather the ridiculous mindsets of the mercenaries. These individuals are microcosms of way that Africa is viewed as a blank slate for the Global North to write the narratives they wish to. The arrogance is mind boggling.