Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.
With reviews of books that cover these topics
I am Soldier of Fortune
Dancing with Devils
Lt Col Robert Brown USAR (Ret) with Spencer Vann
Casemate UK, April 30 2016
Soldier of Fortune may not mean much to UK readers, but is a magazine founded by the author for those rare individuals who are mercenaries (or who, less rarely, fancy themselves as one). As a publisher, Brown is as individualistic as say Felix Dennis (RIP). As most publishers have found, this gave Brown a wide audience, but also a unique position since he could draw readers towards a series of hare-brained schemes, most of which seemed to involve attempted coups.
Brown’s base for establishing this venture was his experience as a soldier – in the US Reserves rather than regular army. Readers will soon concur with his decision that he was too much of a maverick to devote his whole life to military service. Nonetheless he seems (one soon becomes a tad sceptical about some statements) to have led a charmed life within the Army, and rotated through Special Forces twice. And, as the blurb states, he attended staff college without having a full security clearance.
One of his madcap schemes was to launch an independent rescue mission for US Prisoners of (the Vietnam) War ostensibly held near the Laotian border. This had some sense for the US Government since it could be a deniable operation. But it failed, largely due to poor selection of local partners.
I selected this book largely to learn more about the Vietnam War, since this has been poorly covered (by UK publishers). However I have to confess I gave up on this book at the halfway stage. It has a slightly stream-of-consciousness (Sixties!) style, and I suspect that Vann Spencer had a tough time putting Brown’s thoughts into readable shape. This book probably appeals more strongly to a US readership (and specifically, readers of Soldiers of Fortune)….