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The Dogs Of War (1982)

The Dogs of War (1982)

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3.93 of 5 Votes: 3
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0553268465 (ISBN13: 9780553268461)

About book The Dogs Of War (1982)

I remember my older brother watching “The Dogs of War” when I was a kid, but I didn’t really remember much about the movie except that it involved mercenaries in Africa and starred Christopher Walken. Lately I have been studying the various wars in Africa that followed World War II and the role of mercs in them, and decided to read this book after seeing multiple recommendations from other sources (including one from the Internet Movie Firearms Database).SUMMARYAn Anglo-Irish mercenary named “Cat” Shannon is approached by the henchman of a powerful London business leader to plan and execute a coup d'état in a small African nation where a mother lode of platinum has recently been discovered (and kept secret from most people). Shannon proceeds to arrange all personnel, equipment, methods, transportation, and needs of the operation while also managing the finances as provided by his rich (and supposedly secret) patron. After a few close calls, his operation (in the fictional nation of Zangaro, based on Equatorial Guinea) is launched.OVERALL: 3 out of 5After I read the first several paragraphs of this book, I set it down and wondered if this was what I had spent my entire life looking for. With some additional reading I realized that this was not the case, but it’s still a terrific book.There are plenty of slow parts, but the book never had a problem keeping hold of my attention. The characters don’t get to shine much, but they’re perfectly fitted to the story and environment they are in. The book isn’t filled with the action I expected, it reads more like a spy novel (or a technical manual at times). The final couple of chapters reward the audience for their patience though.The romance was a bit silly in my opinion; it’s very fast, doesn’t seem to serve much purpose (it actually makes Shannon less human and less relatable for me), it’s very convenient, and feels more like the author on “fantasy mode” rather than the hard-edged realism that the rest of the book is filled with. Maybe that was the point.This is definitely a good book for anyone who likes military stories, especially mercenary ones. The protagonist’s speech about his motivations, why he is a soldier of fortune, and how he wants to die, is brilliantly written. There's also a lot of nods of real history (that is worthy of looking into).RATINGS BY CATEGORYCHARACTERS: 3 out of 5This book is a good example of every character getting a few paragraphs of biographical data, but they don’t come across very strong in the actual narrative. People go about and do their jobs, tempers flare here and there, but nothing is unexpected.I liked Shannon, who shines most of all. Despite spending a lot of the book giving staccato instructions to others, his motivations made sense by the ending. I thought his romantic interest was one-dimensional and based more on fantasy than realism. I also thought one of the most interesting characters, another mercenary named Roux, played too minor a role.MY CASTSince I don’t remember the movie that well, I was free to imagine my own cast playing the characters. Generally speaking, they’re modified in terms of age and physical size to match their physical descriptions in the book.The mercenaries…“Cat” ShannontttCary ElwesBig Jan DupreetttPaul Hogan“Tiny” Marc VlaminckttJean RenoJean-Baptiste LangarottitJohn LeguizamoKurt SemmlertttDolph LundgrenThe patron & his men…Sir MansontttAlbert FinneySimon EndeantttMichael FassbenderMartin ThorpetttJoshua HartoThe gun dealers…Johann SchlinkerttPeter LorreAlan BakertttAlan RuckThe others…Julie MansontttKristen StewartCharles RouxtttMartin SheenCarl WaldenbergtttArnold SchwarzeneggerPACE: 3 out of 5This is a hard one for me. On one hand, there were parts of this book that had me glued to the page and unable to put it down. But there are other parts that really slow down. Many aspects of planning a mercenary operation are explained in detail, and some of those details involve topics that just aren’t as exciting as “mercs shooting at things in Africa”.STORY: 4 out of 5I have read that this book is considered a “mercenary manual”, and I can see why. The author doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about the training, the arms, or the tactics. Instead the reader is offered a firsthand look at the entire process; where the mercenaries come from, how a prospective mission comes up, how the appropriate people are approached, the offers and negotiations involved, the budget, the planning, and the execution. There is probably more pages spent in this book describing European banking than actually shooting of small arms.Though things slowed down many times, I liked the story though. Bu the final act when everything happens, it’s a solid payoff. The action feels gritty, and there is nothing glamorous in any of it.My only real complaint is in the brief “romance” in the book. Though Forsyth does a good job at some points (I liked the girl’s fantasies that are briefly described), it didn’t feel realistic at all. It’s too convenient and too easy. Besides one detail that Shannon learns through the dalliance, it doesn’t propel the storyline forward. It does not even provide additional insight to Shannon’s character, who seems to be involved for some ulterior motive that is never explained in detail.DIALOGUE: 2 out of 5The dialogue isn’t bad per se, and I particularly loved some of the threats that are made, but a lot of the dialogue is unrealistic recitation of instructions. The “romance” dialogue is also… somewhere between embarrassing and embarrassingly unrealistic.STYLE/TECHNICAL: 3 out of 5It’s amazing that Forsyth is able to describe complex corporate and banking relationships in relatable terms that most readers should be able to understand. It makes sense though; the entire book is written in a kind of journalist’s voice. Whole sections could probably be transplanted to a newspaper and look right at home.I will complain that at times this makes the reading somewhat stiff and dry, without character. There is also a surplus of painful dialogue attributions (a character “growls” his words on more than one occasion for no real apparent reason, and Shannon “bawls” his orders several times).It is amazing how much dramatic summary the author gets away with... it serves the novel well in most cases, but I would have appreciated more straight narrative later in the story to really highlight the gritty work.

Oh, man. After almost 20 years of reading and enjoying Forsyth's globe-trotting espionage/mystery thrillers, I knew I was bound to come across a clunker, and this one's it. In a way, this book is similar to his deservedly acclaimed "Day of the Jackal" in that in concerns the plot and execution of a serious crime for political gain. While "Jackal" is about the assassination of French President Charles De Gaulle, "Dogs of War" concerns the attempted coup d'etat of a small, fictional African country in order for a British mining company to take advantage of the country's seemingly endless supply of platinum. In order to do this, the company hires mercenaries to invade the country and depose its dictator. Sounds like a great yarn, right? WRONG! Great idea for a story, horrible execution. First of all, Forsyth seems to have come across the problem that makes Tom Clancy's books so insufferable: endless, monotonous details about a the planning and execution of an operation. We get it, Freddie: you did your research. Now, how about some interesting characters and dialogue? How about some suspense, maybe?While "Day of the Jackal" went into great detail about certain aspects of planning for the operation, it was on a much smaller scale and therefore, much easier to take in. Here, it's torture. Also, "Jackal" told its story from the point of view of both the assassin and the police chasing him. It's a fantastic cat-and-mouse thriller. Here, there's nobody to root for. It's incredibly dull. The book does have it's rare moments, and I particularly enjoyed the twist ending. But other than that...meh.Forsyth wrote great novels before this one: "Day of the Jackal," "The Odessa File." He also wrote many great novels since: "The Negotiator," "The Deceiver," "The Fourth Protocol," "Icon," among others. Also, his short story collection, "No Comebacks," is definitely worth checking out. But he seemed to be sleepwalking through this one.

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In keeping with my usual practice for books I've only read in a Reader's Digest condensed version, I'm not presuming to review or rate this one. However, I do want to post an interesting background factoid. Zangara, the fictional African nation that serves as the setting here, was directly modeled on the real-life country of Equatorial Guinea, which Forsyth visited just before writing the book, and psychotic President Kimba is a fictionalized version of E.G.'s first president, Macias Nguema, whose dictatorial reign of terror (1969-79) was ended by his overthrow and execution. The country is still a hotbed of tyranny, paranoia and corruption --and The Dogs of War is still a banned book there. :-(

Well-written and boring.Pat Shannon, a mercenary between jobs, contracts to employ of bunch of his mercenary friends to displace the insane dictator of a small African country with valuable mineral deposits. His employer is bankrolling him in order to install a puppet government that will give him a sweetheart deal on the mining. To do so, he must not only recruit the men and acquire the weapons, ammunition, and transportation, but he must also smuggle them all in and out of countries of origin and transit and arrive in total surprise. Along the way, he must cope with those from his past who really don't love him, as well as treacherous arms dealers.This book was probably a handy how-to-do-it smuggler's guide when it was originally published. But it is now just a collection of impressive but useless detail. The plot is very thin and the outcome predictable in almost every respect.Normally, I'm a Forsyth fan.

I spent fourteen years in the U.S. Army (1986-2000). Approximately seven years in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve and seven years in the Regular Army. I was eighteen when I enlisted in 1986 and I was all about the "action". I had obviously watched too many Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone movies. By the time I separated from the Army in 2000 I had come to realize a few crucial things about the military and combat operations.1. Beans and bullets (logistics) are everything. The side that excels in running an effective logistical network might not "win" the conflict, but it will probably at least ensure that when it's time to pull out the troops they'll do it on their own terms. See Iraq (2003-2011).2. For every soldier whose mission is to engage in active combat operations against an opponent there are five or more soldiers and civilians whose job is to get that soldier (marine, airmen, sailor etc.)into the combat zone and keep that soldier supplied and cared for. 3. Wars are expensive.In more ways than one.4. Combat operations consume vast amounts of resources. Money, lives, food, fuel, raw materials and so on. (See #3).5. The devil is in the details. Effective organization and planning is very very important. Without it you don't have a chance.6. A soldier's life is not a glamorous one. Mr. Forsyth does an excellent job of showing what goes into organizing a professional and effective military force and combat operation.It's a tedious and time consuming job. He shows that a one hour combat operation involving a few dozen soldiers entails several thousand hours of planning and training. The details that many have found to be tedious are part of war. How much the details of the International Arms Trade has changed over the past forty years I can't say. Obviously technology has changed. However one thing that hasn't changed is the side that has the best chance of winning is the side that is the best equipped, organized and led. The Dogs of War isn't a Tom Clancy novel. It's a non-sentimental look at a military operation. Albeit a mercenary operation. It might be a little dry, but then so is real life.

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