Sirerra Leone Revolutionary United Front

Sirerra Leone Revolutionary United Front

Al J Venter
ARRSE Rating
0.5 Mushroom Heads
The civil war in Sierra Leone (1991 to 2002) is one of the saddest in Africa. Sierra Leone has diamonds and other minerals, so it should not be poor. Neither South Africa nor Botswana – equally laden with mineral wealth – are. Instead it all went a bit wrong, in the African way until the then military attached, one David Richards, rather stretched his brief and sorted it. I felt that I could do with a tad more detail, so when this book came up for review I seized the moment.

It’s part of Pen & Sword’s “History of Terror” series an is written by Al J Venter who is, apparently, a specialist military writer with over 50 books published and has produced over 100 TV documentaries. I hope that they are significantly better than this, which is simply awful.

Usually in a history one expects some sort of structure, be it timeline or by theme. This has, as far as I can tell, none. It more resembles an old comrade holding forth about some distant battle long after the loyal toast has been drunk. But it lacks the charm, wit and relevance. And the port (although at times, such as the third repetition of the story of one pilot and a Hind defeating a rebel advance of Freetown (the capital of Sierra Leone) I would have gladly swallowed hydrogen cyanide). Not only is there no time line, there is little analysis beyond Sandline and Executive Outcomes (two mercenary companies) good, UN forces bad, rebels stoned and external powers involved. There is less detail on the Sandline fiasco that one could have picked up from reading the Sun at the time.

The author seems better connected with the south Africans of Executive Outcomes, but even then the analysis is pretty much went to Freetown, shot some gooks, had a beer. Repeat. Oh, and there’s a Mil-17 HIP called “Bokkie” – flown by the same guy who stopped a rebel attack on Freetown single handed with a Mil-24 HIND.

There are almost no outside sources, although the author frequently quotes his other works (which I have not read). Plenty of hubris and chutzpah but no research.

This country and this war deserve far better than this facile, idle, tedious repetitive banality. It’s not worth either the paper it’s printed on or any of your time.

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