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The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  268 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A real life version of THE DOGS OF WAR in which a band of mercenaries plots to over throw a venal government of the newly oil-rich nation of Equatorial Guinea
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2006)
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Brock
This book was made more enjoyable by my having recently finished Robert Klitgaard's Tropical Gangsters, which is a book about World Bank/IMF development activities in Equitorial Guinea nearly 20 years before the activities described in The Wonga Coup. I'm not sure if I would have given this one three stars had I not already had an interest in finding out where the country had ended up after the difficulties I read about in Klitgaard's book.

Certainly don't read The Wonga Coup if you have a thirst
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Meredith
It is amazing what white men think they can still get away with in modern Africa. Only African heads of state can act with the sort of complete impunity that Simon Mann tried to get away with in his attempt to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea.
Edwile Mbameg
So far, I've read up until Chapter 15 and I won't recommend it to anyone for a combination of part or all of the reasons below.

1. Unsubstantiated Claims. The author makes tons of outlandish claims but they're never substantiated. For example, In chapter 8 he claims the existence of contracts between the coup plotters and Mr Moto yet he never presents copies of these contracts in his "primary documents." How do we know the alledged contracts exist(ed)?

2. Sources. What are his sources? Where are h
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Tony
Frederick Forsyth's The Dogs of War details an attempt to overthrow the government of a small African country — in the book called Zangaro, but well known to be Equatorial Guinea. And when I say “details”, I mean sets out in painstaking detail just how exactly such a thing could happen. And when I say “could happen”, I mean has been attempted. Twice.

The first time was the attempted coup in 1973 that mirrored the book in almost every way — other than in its failure — and of which Forsyth himself
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R K
The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa had me hooked straight from the title. Seriously, guns, thugs, and ruthless determination? I’m usually satisfied if a book provides me with just one, but all three? Seriously though, this story has all the intrigue and mysterious men of adventure of a Frederick Forsyth novel, only this one is true. The story follows Simon Mann, an Eton educated and SAS trained British aristocrat member of th ...more
Carolee Weber
I read this after it was a choice with my African book group and I missed the discussion, but wanted to read the book. It's a very well researched book about a group who attempted a coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004. I ended up skimming parts of it as there were a lot of details that bogged down the reading. I would recommend it for anyone particularly interested in EG or anyone planning a coup in an African country. It's kind of sobering what the perpetrators faced after getting caught and I wo ...more
Christopher Mello
Interesting to the point that you cannot put it down. So many characters of interest and a hair-brained scheme to take over a country that was destined to fail before it even started. Its both funny, sad, and amazing!
Patrick Thomas
It's good, especially if you're interested in energy politics, or, even better, if you have a secret fascination with mercenaries. The actual story is riveting, and Roberts has clearly exhaustively researched everything. Also provides an interesting look at modern African politics.

On the other hand, it's too long by half, it really drags in parts, and there are way too many people to keep track of, especially if you read it slowly like I did.

For international relations types like myself, I'd rec
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Philip Hollenback
Fun and revealing story about how mercenaries tried to stage a coup in a tiny African country in 2003. Apparently this is a regular thing that happens in Africa.

The writing got a little bogged down and expository in the middle of the book. I was hoping for more action but instead I got page after page of "this guy said this, the other guy said that" stuff. Stil, overall the book was fun.

Also I learned that Margaret Thatcher's son is an a-hole, and he was involved in financing the coup. Ridiculou
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Thomas
I loved this meticulously researched book by The Economist's man in Africa about the attempt by a group of mercenary adventurers to stage a coup in Equatorial Guinea. Along the way the story touches on Mark Thatcher, Margaret's son, and the novelist Jeffrey Archer (maybe). It's a fascinating story, well told, and infuriating when one considers both the politics involved and the overriding problems of Africa because of exactly the type of post-colonial economic neo-colonialism and corruption desc ...more
Huw Francis
A book that shines a light on the supposed attempt by the British Government(allegedly including both Mark Thatcher and Jeffrey Archer) to replace the government of Equatorial Guinea with one of its own choosing.

It left me feeling stunned by the arrogance of the people (allegedly) involved and their apparent belief that they could actually pull it off.

Recommended reading for anyone with the misguided belief that international affairs is cleaning up its act.

Adam Roberts

Terri
I vaguely remember news stories about this when it happened, mainly because Margaret Thatcher's son was involved.

It is the story of a failed military coup in Equitorial Guinea (a tiny African nation I knew NOTHING about) by a group of mercenaries. The idea was throw over the dictator (who was a greedy cruel man - but they were not in it for humanitarian reasons) and take control of the oil.

The attempt failed mostly because too many people were talking too much all over the place.

Lana
Equatorial Guinea is fascinating. Corruption, piles of skulls, cannibalism, state sanctioned rape and torture, etc. all supported by oil money. I would support this coup attempt if they had been doing it with any purpose other than the money. But that's all they were after. I find it disgusting that the rich, spoiled, momma's boys that concocted this plan were let out of jail before their paid help.
durban
Aside from the somewhat disjointed nature of the telling, it is always interesting for me to learn about other countries, and to do it in a multi-textural way.

One thing, Equatorial Guinea is a very scary place!!
The enabled abuse of power and the torture of the people introduced in the book gives just a quick wink at the levels of barbarity so many people world-wide experience.
Jess
I was intrigued by the fact that British/international mercenaries constructed a coup to be carried out in a small African country within this decade, and it was interesting to get a window into the world of the mercenaries, but I think I would have been equally satisfied by a long article. It read almost like a court brief more than a popular book - could have used some editing.
Pat
Pretty good, although for some reason, and not just this author specifically, journalists always feel the need to recap who everyone is and what their role is every time they get mentioned in a new chapter. I'm not sure if the book is based off several independent reports he filed or what, but it seems a little hand holdy and condescending, not too mention pads the book out.
ted
a very interesting story, but so badly written. this reads like a first draft sorely in need of editing. i read about half, and since the author tells you clearly what is going to happen, the rest reads like a laundry list of the equipment they used and what they did with it. it did pique my interest in reading frederick forsyth though.
Paul
This was a fairly entertaining book about a coup that occurred in equatorial guinea. It was a bit "pop journalism" for my tastes, but overall I think the story was told well and it hit on a few interesting things I didn't know about. I'd say overall about 3.5/5.
Jake
Crazy! Africa has some messed up stuff going on. This happened in 2004 and I don't even remember hearing anything about this in the news or anything. My company has actually done some work in Equatorial Guinea, where this took place, so it hits home a little bit.
Andrew
I thought this book did an excellent job of tying an exciting story of mercenaries and international intrigue together with the story of the resource curse many LDC's face today. Also it raises important issues about the privatization of military force.
Davin O'regan
Interesting background on a strange plot but the author draws unconvincing conclusions about transitions, governance, the resource curse, and other major challenges in Africa. A fun read but less educational than it aims to be.
Joe
This is a very interesting look at one of the least known countries in the world, its recent history. A look at Simon Mann's career and his plan to overthrow its government and his remarkable hubris.

A very interesting read.
Mark Mills
Really well-done account of an attempt by British and South African mercenaries to overthrow the despotic regime of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. Margaret Thatcher's son even puts in an appearance.
Bill
Interesting book detailing the specifics of an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004, in which Mark Thatcher was implicated. Offers a good view of modern-day mercenary activity.
Tom Rosales
If you have ever read Dogs of War this should be on the list. A good read on the inside of events that hepled shape the book Dogs of War.
Dirk
Interesting, mildly instructive and well written, but excessively Brit. Roberts is a bit too impressed with himself and worse his subjects.
Rachel
A quick and exciting read about the world of mercenaries, coups, and the curse of oil in sub-Saharan Africa.
Reverenddave
While I didnt think the book was particularly well written, the story is fascinating and Adam got some great access.
Louise  Dunlap
A past-his peak mercenary decides to attempt a coup and learns his arrogance has led him into prison.

Kate Taylor
brilliantly researched and compelling written tale of backwater geopolitics and mercenary behaviour
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adam Roberts (born 1965) is an academic, critic and novelist. He also writes parodies under the pseudonyms of A.R.R.R. Roberts, A3R Roberts and Don Brine. He also blogs at The Valve, a group blog devoted to literature and cultural studies.

He has a degree in English from the
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