Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Dogs Of War

 It took me quite some time but finally I'm so far as to write a book review, well, actually two of them, something which I have been planning to do for the last couple of months, lol! So here comes.

The 1st book is called The dogs of war by Frederick Forsyth, the author probably most known for The day of the jackal, a fictional story about an assassination attempt on President De Gaulle. I watched the movie version of it and reviewed it on this blog several years ago. Both books were written in the early 1970s which means that they are quite politically incorrect and would probably offend tender modern sensibilities.

The dogs of war is a story about a group of mercenaries which is hired by a wealthy and unscrupulous British businessman to organise a coup in a fictional African country with large resources of platinum. The main character is their leader Cat Shannon, a man of mixed Anglo-Irish heritage (who is blond, blue-eyed and very handsome and successful with women, btw). The novel is quite long (nearly 400 pages) and goes into great detail describing the preparations for the military operation and all the shadowy financial transactions taking place. 

Despite its length, it's not actually boring and I read it quite quickly. Speaking about "politically incorrect", it describes Cat's s8xual life perfectly. I won't go into it further due to the reasons of decency, but suffice to say, that while he is 33 or thereabout his girlfriend is 19, the fact which would make any feminist have a fit.

As the story keeps developing, the reader gets a strong feeling of the impending doom, which is already hinted at on the very first page by the epigraph chosen by the author, a somewhat altered quote from The Mayor of Casterbridge by T. Hardy:

That... be not told of my death, 

Or made to grieve on account of me,

And that I be not buried in consecrated ground,

 And that no sexton be asked to toll the bell,

And that nobody is wished to see my dead body,

And that no mourners walk behind me at my funeral,

 And that no flowers be planted on my grave,

 And that no man remember me,

To this I put my name.

And yet, the end was totally unexpected to me, and a somewhat of a shock. I won't add any spoilers because I hope that you read this book for yourself.

Book n2 is what one could call vintage as it was written nearly 100 years ago, in 1928 by Nevil Chute, an author totally unknown to me before, but when I did some research I found out that he was actually quite famous in his time and even wrote Hollywood scenarios.

 It's called in English So Disdained and it's a fictional espionage story presented in a way to make you think it really happened. It has not one main character, but two. The narrator Peter Moran, who currently works as the steward of Lord Arner and Maurice Lenden, a pilot. Lenden and Moran served together in WWI and meet again 10 years later under strange circumstances. 

Moran learns that Lenden had great difficulty adjusting to peaceful life after the war was over, due to the fact that flying is his passion but there are not enough job opportunities. After his marriage falls apart due to his inability to earn a stable income, Lenden travels to the USSR and starts working as a flight instructor but later gets involved in an espionage affair. After he tells his life story to Peter Moran he gets a malaria attack (he caught malaria while working in South America) and is very sick and in need of help.

Though the story is called So Disdained I haven't noticed anything like this in the novel at all. In fact, it's totally vice versa. Peter Moran and everyone around him take a sudden and unexplained liking to Maurice and try their best to help him, save him from the counterespionage service and the communists even to the point of risking their own career and life. 

The novel is short and fast-paced and leaves you in suspense till the very end. And yet, the end, again, is quite predictable when you contemplate the fact that it was written back in the day when honour was not an empty word and any stain on it could only be erased by blood. 

I'm not sure whether you can easily find this book (I happened upon it in a second hand store) but I highly recommend it to anyone.

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