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Congo Mercenary [Kindle Edition]

Mike Hoare

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In July 1964, after four years of uneasy independence, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was engulfed by an armed rebellion that spread throughout the country like a bush fire. The rebel soldiers struck terror into the hearts of civilians and National Army soldiers alike. Faced with this situation, the Congolese government hired legendary mercenary leader Mike Hoare to quell the uprising and bring order to the country.

In Congo Mercenary, Mike Hoare tells the true story of his resolute band of mercenaries during the Congo war. In fascinating detail, Hoare describes how the mercenaries were recruited and trained, and then recounts their adventures through four combat campaigns over an 18-month period during which they liberated Stanleyville, fought rebels in the hinterland, freed hundreds of European hostages and restored law and order to the Congo.

Originally published in 1967, and now including a new foreword by Mike Hoare, Congo Mercenary is a well-written and historically important account of one of the most brutal rebellions in Africa, as well as an accurate and gritty depiction of the mercenary life.


A book in which the author, Colonel Mike Hoare, tells of his part as a mercenary in the armed rebellion in the Congo in 1964. The book is intended as an accurate account of the military response to the rebellion.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 4358 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 342 Seiten
  • Verlag: Paladin Press (1. Januar 2008)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #358.667 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.5 von 5 Sternen  15 Rezensionen
34 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Great read, but book quality suffers. 12. Februar 2008
Von Joshua Senecal - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This review has two parts: comments on the story told by the book, and then comments about the book itself.

First, the story. This is Colonel Hoare's personal account of his service in the Congo as a mercenary, helping the Congolese government put down a communist-backed revolt. Colonel Hoare is a good author, and his retelling of the events makes for a very fascinating read. This book may challenge any preconceptions you have about mercenaries and their use, and give you some insights into the mind of a mercenary commander. It documents the struggles he had getting his mercenary group (5 Commando) organized and trained, and of course their many experiences through 18 months of service, including heart-wrenching accounts of the atrocities inflicted by the rebels on the European (mostly Belgian) residents.

This is better than any adventure novel--it really happened. If you are a student of military history, African history, or just like reading these types of stories, I highly recommend this book.

Now for the book itself (e.g. the paper, binding, print quality, etc.). This is advertised as a reprint. To be more specific, this appears to be a reprint that was made by scanning an earlier printing and then reprinting it. The text is very readable, but is not "clean", like you would expect from a typeset edition. If you've ever scanned a B/W document (at 300 DPI, say) and printed it on your laser or inkjet printer, you'll get the idea. It's readable, but not perfect. This has two downsides: first, sometimes the text shows flaws in places where the scanning was imperfect (the scanning head moved slightly or some such thing). Second, the pictures look like they were printed at very high resolution on a laser printer, and are not the high quality photos that appeared in earlier editions of this book.

I found this to be disappointing--thirty dollars isn't cheap. I have hardcover books (good ones) that cost less than this book, and for the price I would have hoped that more care and attention would be put into its preparation. Scanning, followed by the use of OCR software and several rounds of proofreading would have resulted in a boot with much better print quality. This may have something to do with the fact that Paladin Press is a small publishing house, and so they may not have the resources to dedicate to making a better-quality reprint. That, or they chose not to use them.

I would describe this book as a trade paperback. The quality of the paper and binding seem to be on par with other books of this type that I own. Take care of the book, and it should last a while, I would imagine.

So, is the book worth the $30 (plus shipping and tax)? If you really want a book by Colonel Hoare, you don't have much of a choice, as earlier editions of his books are much in demand and very expensive. Personally, I'm satisfied with it.
22 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Blows "Heart of Darkness" out of the Water! 16. November 2008
Von Ky. Col. - Veröffentlicht auf
First of all, the edition of the book I read is an older one, but I assume the newer edition is pretty similar. In "Congo Mercenary", Col. Mike Hoare vividly and effectively recounts his mercenary exploits in the dark years of 1964-1965. His penmanship is quite good and the book comes with some extras including a short essay on leadership, maps, a brief summary of the Congo Crisis leading up to the events, and photographs ranging to rescued hostages to an amphibious landing (there are some brutal images as well such as the bodies of Catholic priests murdered by the Simbas and the bloated corpse of a dead rebel laying on the ruins of a Simba monument in Stanleyville).

As to the book itself, it blows the fictional "Heart of Darkness" out of the water. Early on readers see Hoare arrive as a lone passanger on a plane into a country decending into chaos. Communist-backed Simba rebels are rampaging, looting, killing, and raping across sizable portions of the Congo. The Congo government is suffering from political intrigues that will eventually bring Mobutu to power by the end of the book. Hoare and some others realize something must be done so they form a force of mercenaries called 5 Commando to crush the Simbas and rescue hostages (and get a sizable pay check of course).

The book flows through scenes of humor and tragedy. It also tries to bring to life warfare in the Congo ranging from holding the line against drugged teenage rebels with antiquidated weapons to being on a gunboat caught in a storm on a large African lake. And then there are the columns of trucks, jeeps, and armored cars driving at breakneck speed down jungle roads shooting their way out of one ambush after another. As the book progresses, the rebels generally become more skilled and employ heavy machine guns, mortars, mines, 76 mm guns and AK-47s. Cuban and Ugandan advisors also begin assisting them and making thing a little tougher for the mercenaries who nevertheless still usually dominate the battlefield with some help from exiled Cuban pilots.

Not only is this a story of adventure and politics, but it is surprisingly an often disturbing and touching story of the human heart. Hoare planely admits to allowing his mercenaries to use torture in a few cases to gain vital information if he thinks it will protect his soldiers or help save hostages and he admits some of his character flaws. That said, the mercenaries do a considerable amount of good and liberate many European, American, and Congolese hostages. The Congolese soldiers and in particular the Simba rebels show a disturbing level of cruelty. The rebels make liberal use of cruelty ranging from severing limbs to rape to impalement to in some cases cannabalism. Missionaries, nuns, and priests are victimized in particular. Needless to say, captured rebels are often shown little quarter by government troops.

This book contains seens that may remain with the reader. Perhaps it is will be the humor of Hoare getting kicked by his wife under the table while talking to a pretty lady or perhaps it is the sad scene of a mother and her children acidentally being shot by a mercenary thinking they were rebels. Perhaps readers will remember Hoare naming his newborn son after one of his killed soldiers. There are stories here ranging from a reporter who thought this assignment would be his last in the Congo (it tragically was) to the group of lepers who protected a nun during the fighting. There are the images of a mercenary standing in the ruins of his childhood home and of the eight year old boy dying from rebel-inflicted wounds who nevertheless managed to touch the hearts of his rescuers with his bravery. There is the story of the wounded woman weakly asking Hoare why God allowed her family to be murdered by the rebels and the story of a murdered Catholic priest whos last words asked God to forgive the Simbas who tortured him. Overall what I expected to be an interesting story of adventure, brutal warfare, and historical significance also turned into a very human tale of the best and worst qualities within the human race.

As a person interested in history, the book was fascinating. As a Christian, I was touched by the stories of martyrs and acts of kindness. As a human, I was disturbed by the epic tragedy that war brings. Overall, a fascinating book that surpasses Conrad's tale of the Congo. I recommend it but caution readers that it is both controversial in places and is very violent at times.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good book 27. September 2009
Von Terry L - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
To make it short, I would say that if the life of a mercenary soldier interests you, you will like this book. If that subject never held your interest and you are just looking for something to read, you will probably be bored.

But in any case, I enjoyed reading the book even though the subject really only had limited appeal to me.

However, the poor reprint quality will probably make you question the high price.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Exceptional Memoir by the Congo Mercenary Leader 14. März 2014
Von Keith Wheelock - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This is an invaluable, extremely well-written account of the mercenaries recruited to fight in the Congo during the rebellion of 1964-1965. [As a Foreign Service Officer I encountered Mike Hoare and his mercenaries in Kindu, Coquilhatville, and Paulis.]

Major (later Colonel) Hoare had an unusual background for a mercenary commander. Born in India, in World War II he served in the London Irish Rifles (perhaps in a staff position) and was mustered out as captain. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1948 and then immigrated to South Africa, where he ran safaris and enjoyed sailing his small yacht.In 1960-1961 he formed a mercenary force to serve Moise Tshombe in the breakaway province of Katanga in the Congo. Three years later, soon after Tshombe was named prime minister of the Congo, Hoare was summoned to Leopoldville, where he was charged by Tshombe and General Joseph Desire Mobutu to recruit, train, and lead a group of hundreds of mercenaries.

For practical reasons, recruitment offices were established in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. Hoare assembled hundreds of mercenaries, few of whom were experienced soldiers. He weeded out a number of recruits immediately and then provided brief training to the remainder. His 5 Commando included about 300 mercenaries who were initially organized in five units stationed in central and eastern Congo. In August 1964 'rebels' controlled over half of the Congo and were threatening to topple the Leopoldville government.

I find it astonishing that Hoare was able to recruit and train a disparate group of mercenaries and then provide uncommon leadership in a catch-as-catch-can series of military engagements. His account of how he accomplished this should be highlighted in any chronicle of effective 'irregular soldiers.' Logistics and tactical intelligence were skimpy, his chain of command with the ANC (Congolese National Army) and Belgian military was ill defined, and his mercenaries were involved in heavy fighting from the outset.

Hoare presents a detailed account of the men under his command, how he identified and promoted key officers and noncoms, and how he provided unflappable leadership as he improvised on a daily basis. Despite modest pay and dreadful living conditions, his men displayed an esprit de corps that would be the envy of any professional army. The sense of camaraderie, as mercenaries were killed in a never-ending series of military engagements, was far different than what Americans learned about Hessian mercenaries during the War of Independence.

Hoare's initial primary objective was to participate in assaults leading to the capture of Stanleyville, the headquarters of the Congolese rebel government. One group of mercenaries moved eastward from Coquilhatville, while the main mercenary body fought from Albertville to Kindu and onward towards Stanleyville. An overriding concern of the American and Belgian governments was the safety of over 3,000 foreigners who were being held hostage by the rebel government. Hoare envisaged that his force, supplemented by ANC soldiers and a group of Belgian military (whether 'mercenaries' or seconded by the Belgian government) would be able to sweep into Stanleyville and rescue these hostages.

Another objective of Hoare's mercenaries was to rescue foreigners and Congolese who were being threatened and killed by the rebels. In Kindu, for example, at great personal risk these mercenaries sallied forth to rescue dozens of priests and nuns, as well as foreign residents who had been trapped in this maelstrom.

In Stanleyville, Hoare's contingent arrived hours after a parachute attack by Belgium's elite Red Brigade saved the lives of the great majority of the foreign hostages. The U. S. and Belgium, in launching this attack, were extremely sensitive to African and world opinion. Dragon Rouge (Stanleyville) was followed, two days later, by Dragon Noir, in which Belgian parachutists swept into
Paulis, in northwest Congo, and then swiftly withdrew. Hoare's contingent was left to provide security in Stanleyville and, over the coming months, to foray throughout much of Orientale Province fighting rebels ("Simbas") and rescuing foreigners who often were being tortured and killed.

This was a nasty slog where a small band of mercenaries and ANC troops faced frequent ambushes from a sizable Simba force. They had several advantages: they were organized as a cohesive force with dynamic leadership and then received constant air support from the Congolese Air Force (organized and run by CIA and staffed by Cubans often recruited from Bay of Pigs veterans). Improvising daily, these mercenaries suffered significant casualties as they steadfastly pursued the rescue of trapped foreigners while killing countless Simba. The stories of those foreigners that they rescued and the circumstances in which they discovered brutally murdered hostages seemed only to strengthen the resolve of Hoare and his mercenaries.

While the Belgians were supportive of Hoare's operations, his primary backers were Prime Minister Tshombe and General Mobutu, both of whom Hoare held in the highest regard. Often the mercenaries established civilian government in the towns they captured. They were also skilled in providing a sense of security that encouraged local tribes to turn against their Simba invaders.

Once the northeast Congo was reasonably secure, Tshombe and Mobutu encouraged Hoare to focus on 'cleaning up' a rebel-infested area in eastern Congo. By then many of the mercenary contracts had expired. Some of his key men had been killed or badly wounded. A substantial number of Hoare's initial contingent left the Congo, while others signed up to serve another tour with Hoare. Recruitment of hundreds of additional mercenaries became more difficult. Hoare was ruthless in screening new recruits and sent a number packing after a rigorous initial interview. His reconstituted mercenary force then set off for months of an extraordinarily difficult military campaign in which the rebels were increasingly better armed and trained. Weapons were flowing in from across the border in Uganda and Burundi and some Cuban 'volunteers' were engaged with the Simbas.

Hoare maintained an esprit de corps as his small band of mercenaries, often improvising, endured ambushes and mortar attacks, as they systematically cleared an area of thousands of square miles. During this constant and dangerous fighting, Hoare lost a number of his key officers nad noncoms, whose bravery was commonplace. One wonders why these men suffered such hardships and daily life-and-death situations on a modest mercenary's pay. I can only ascribe this to Hoare's uncommon leadership and the sense of camaraderie that impelled them to fight in a strange land with no real prospect of 'victory.'

Hoare, at Mobutu's insistence, had extended his contract once. When Hoare's hero, Tshombe, was ousted by President Kasavubu, and then Mobutu,another Hoare hero, initiated a military coup, Hoare decided it was time to pack it in. He turned over his mercenary command and departed to South Africa to rejoin his wife and son.

CONGO MERCENARY, initially written in 1967, describes a facet of Congolese history that, even today, is known by relatively few observers. While the word 'mercenary' has pejorative connotations in the Western world, the mercenaries that Hoare shaped and commanded bring to mind Henry V's St. Crispin's Day oration:



Describing the events of the 1964-1965 Congolese rebellion reminds me of Akira Kurosawa's classic RASHOMON. Everyone saw it from their own perspective. Lloyd Garrison of the NEW YORK TIME endeavored to write a book on the Congo of the early 1960s. I remember when he called me and lamented that all his sources told a different story. Eventually, he abandoned his Congo book project.

I have my own personal perspective. I worked in and on the Congo from 1960 to 1966. During the period described my Mike Hoare, I was the Congo analyst in the State Department's INR/Africa (research and intelligence) office.From May through November 1964, except for vacation and my time back in the Congo, I wrote daily, early morning Congo situation reports for The Secretary, the White House, and about 40 other people in the Washington community. I became a 'point man' for what became the Belgian/U. S. military assault on Stanleyville and Paulis. I early concluded that this was the 'least worst' option to rescue the 3,300 foreigners being held hostage by an increasingly volatile, Stanleyville-based rebel government.

In October 1964 I complained to the director of INR/Africa that we were getting no first-hand information from our embassy in Leopoldville on what was happening in the complex military efforts to defeat the rebels and to rescue foreign hostages. I volunteered to go into rebel-infested provinces, which I did with a White House/State Department mandate.After the fall of Stanleyville, I volunteered to return to the Congo to gather material for an official history of the Congolese rebellion through November 24, 1964. This I did with a CIA/State Department mandate. During my 1964-1965 trips to the Congo I found that:
* Members of the Political Section of the embassy had never ventured outside of Leopoldville to report on what what occurring;
* When I returned from my solo sorties into rebel-infested provinces, no one, except for the ambassador (with whom I was residing), expressed any interest in what I had uncovered (including two sacks of documents from the Kindu headquarters of General Olenga, which had been abandoned in great haste as Hoare's mercenaries approached);
* While I had observed the Cuban pilots of the Congolese Air Force, no information of its role in Congo fighting ever came from the embassy (or from CIA intelligence reports shared with the State Department).

The principal objective of my October-November 1964 trips into the Congo hinterland was to determine whether Stanleyville could be captured and the thousands of foreign hostages could be rescued by Hoare's mercenaries approaching from the south. Upon my return to Washington, I emphatically stated "No!". After encountering Hoare's mercenaries in Kindu, I thought it highly probable that this lightly-equipped force could be delayed for hours outside of Stanleyville, during which time virtually all the hostages would be slaughtered. (Though Hoare was confident that he could easily sweep into Stanleyville, in fact his column was delayed for hours by withering machine gun and mortar fire. Without the landing of Belgian paratroopers, persons I later interviewed in Stanleyville and elsewhere unanimously said that the hostages would have been killed without the Belgian/U. S. military action.(

I encountered various mercenary groups during my 1964 and 1965 returns to the Congo. Learning about the mercenaries was ancillary to my primary objectives. Still, I gathered some impressions:
* In Coquihatville, I encountered a rather rag-tag group of mercenaries led by Lt. Mueller, who stood out because of the Iron Cross he wore. [I was reminded of my written briefing for Governor Averill Harriman, as he prepared to meet with Belgian Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak in early August, only days after the fall of Stanleyville. Based in part on excellent tribal reporting by David Grinwis, who was the CIA representative at our Stanleyville consulate, I concluded that the military insurrection in eastern Congo was spearheaded by Batatela/Bakuso tribesmen under General Olenga. Contrary to U. S. planning ('needed 10,000 troops and 140 C-130s'), I concluded that the rigor of this tribal force would dissipate, once it experienced the urban life of Stanleyville and the politics of the rebel government. I advised Harriman that a well-organized group of 35 mercenaries could stop the rebel military move towards Coquilhatville. In fact it was stopped by 17 mercenaries and a tribe of pygmies with poison darts.]
* In Kindu, I appeared with an M-16 and a .45. Because I was the only person with a flashlight, I participated in the evening military planning sessions. I was impressed by Hoare and his mercenaries. He seemed to maintain firm discipline regarding keeping weapons clean and vehicles maintained. I did not hear of any looting. The mercenary rescue of dozens of priests and nuns was a remarkable achievement. The ANC was in the process of killing several captured rebels. I chose to stop this. With my M-16 I confronted a platoon of ANC soldiers. After some hesitation, the lieutenant turned over the prisoners. I put them in the back of a jeep, had a mercenary priest riding shot gun assist in getting these prisoners to a field hospital and then on a plane to Albertville the next morning.
* In March 1965 I was in Paulis. Rebels were close by. I slept in a hut last inhabited by nuns who had been brutally murdered. My security was an empty beer bottle leaning against the door and a cocked .45 by my bed.I encountered members of the 53rd Groupement. They were Southern Rhodesian mercenaries. From their tales, I concluded that they were robbers and thugs. One day their cook (who only spoke Lingala) served them the wrong type of potato. The cook was hoisted up on a truck and shot. Later I was with the local Congolese administrator, who had just returned from hiding in the bush. The commander of the 53rd Groupement came by and said hr 'wanted to kill the kaffir.' I slipped the safety off my .45 and asked whether he thought that I could kill him before he killed the Congolese.He backed off, at least while I was there. A distinctly different type of mercenary was also in Paulis. This was a group of Europeans. They seemed well organized and were putting armor plating on their vehicles. Hoare's second in command arrived on a C-46 piloted by a Cuban. Carlos, the pilot, misjudged and hit a massive ant hill. While mercenaries were exchanging money with the crew of a C-130,I and several others rescued Hoare's aide from the crumpled C-46 with gas streaming from its fuel tanks.

I found much of what Hoare wrote in CONGO MERCENARY highly credible and a fascinating account of who the mercenaries were and what they accomplished. Hoare was mistaken to ascribe the rebellion to the 'Communists.' I had massive intelligence to prove that this was not the case, at least through 1964. Arms that seeped across the Sudanese and other borders almost all came from African countries that were endeavoring to aid the rebels. Many of these amm may have been of communist origin.Hoare was totally involved in tactical military operations. Thus he was ill informed as to what was transpiring in Leopoldville, Washington, and elsewhere.

As a Foreign Service Officer I was appalled by the lack of meaningful military reporting from embassy Leopldville during the months leading up to the recapture of Stanleyville. This silence continued in the subsequent months, when Hoare's mercenaries were pacifying many thousands of square miles of rebel-infested territory and rescuing dozens of foreign hostages.

I conclude with tremendous admiration for what Colonel Hoare and his mercenaries accomplished. I regret that this has not been acknowledged in State Department reporting.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great book for those interested in mercenary war in Africa 23. Januar 2010
Von Akorps - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This is a great book for those interested in mercenary war in Africa, which has long been one of my interests.

If you liked the movie "Dogs of War" for example, this might be a book you would like.

I also liked books by authors such as J.F.C. Fuller and Deneys Reitz on various earlier wars in Africa. "Congo Mercenary" gives a more modern example that helps fill out the picture, and gave me some factual details filling in gaps in my historical knowledge.
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