Saturday, 21 June 2008


There's a lovely piece in The Times today by Ben Macintyre about how Simon Mann fits perfectly into the fictional tradition of mercenaries. I think he's right about that. Mann gets a lot of coverage because he is a mercenary novel made flesh: a swashbuckling adventurer creating havoc in small African states. He refers at lenght, however, to Frederick Forsyth's The Dogs of War as a classic of the genre. I'd have to disagree with him there. I rate Forsyth as the BMW of thriller writers: not much character, but the most brilliant engineering you have ever seen. I re-read The Dogs of War recently, however, having first read it when it came out, and I was about 12. It's a fantastically boring book, by far the worst he ever wrote. It goes on for about 500 pages, and the actual fighting doesn't start until page 480. Most of the time, the hero is setting up bank accounts in Bruges, then getting the ferry back to Britain. As a foot passanger! Exciting stuff.

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