Special Operations Magazine
Jim Hooper’s Bloodsong! details the exploits of Executive Outcomes the most successful private army in recent history, and their actions in Angola and Sierra Leone. Hooper tells his story through the eyes of the men of EO, who have a unique and unusual perspective of fighting on both sides of a bloody insurgency. He begins with their stories of supporting the Angolan rebels, or UNITA, while serving in the ranks of the South African Defense Force, or SADF, then explains how they came to switch sides and, as a private army, began helping their former adversaries (the Angolan government) defeat their longtime allies.
Hooper, a writer with extensive firsthand experience in many African sub-state conflicts, was the first journalist taken on active operations with EO and then asked by those in the book to write their story.
Along with giving excellent accounts of the fighting that took place from the perspectives of the men on the ground and in the air wing, Bloodsong! also shows the side of a foreign internal defense/unconventional-warfare mission that special-operations personnel will truly appreciate.
Whatever EO employees may have been fighting for — money, adventure, love of the job — the stories of bravery, audacity, innovation and fighting for the man next to you are truly universal. The impact that this small group of men had was remarkable, and it will likely be examined by militaries all over the world for years to come.
—JFK Special Warfare Center and School
Bloodsong is the first-hand account of the private military company Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone and Angola, where twenty-one of its employees were killed in the vicious fighting to capture the diamond mines at Cafunfo. Using Russian BMP-2 armored vehicles supported by EO-flown Mi-17 helicopters, PC-7 light attack aircraft and MiG-23 fighter-bombers, a handful of former special forces operators succeeded where thousands of government soldiers and East-bloc advisors had failed. Told by senior ground and air officers, Bloodsong reveals how and why the company became a legend in the annals of professional soldiering. It is a compelling narrative of the successes, trials, and tribulations of the most famous – or infamous – private military company of the 1990s.
—Centre for International and Security Studies
York University, Toronto
Bloodsong lifts the lid superbly on the murky and misunderstood world of the private army.
Hooper spent time embedded with private military company Executive Outcomes as they skirmished against the Angolan and Sierra Leonean rebels in the 1990s. His account includes interviews with leading players including the Afrikaans former special forces troopers and commanders, soldiers from the mainly black South African army battalions who signed up to avoid drastic unemployment back home and first hand account of former South African Air Force pilots flying Russian-made combat aircraft in the skies above Southern Africa. This gripping tale of late-20th century history outlines the co-operation between Communist Cuba and Russia that opposed the Angolan government, the needs for minerals and mining rights and a fascinating tale of combat where soldiers fight for pay instead of their country.
Easily one of the most compelling books about modern mercenaries (Private Military Contractors). Exceptional for its coverage of a very little known unit (except among its clients, members, and opponents). Highest recommendation for those interested in the modern conflicts of Africa.
Executive Outcomes’ intervention in Angola was a decisive moment in the emergence of the modern ‘private military company’. The end of the Cold War paved the way for EO’s personnel to turn on their former UNITA allies by signing up to fight for the Angolan Government, an about-turn which, according to Hooper, caused more tensions with old SADF colleagues than with the new ANC Government. An initial operation to seize the Soyo oil refinery in 1993, was followed a year later by EO’s participation in a decisive campaign to oust UNITA from Angola’s main diamond fields. Hooper’s account will prove satisfying to military buffs. There’s seems little doubt that the company was an effective force in Angola and Sierra Leone, and Bloodsong is an important source for the events it covers.
“Green Ribbon Books”
An engaging, short nut in-depth account of front line soldiering in Angola with Executive Outcomes. Gutsy and colourful journalism from Jim Hooper.
For the first several chapters I literally could not put the book down, but like a good meal, or fine wine, I realized that it would be better if I read it slowly and reflected on the personal stories told to Jim Hooper from the men of Executive Outcomes.
I found the book to be very informative and very close to getting the story from the soldier directly. It was shocking to me to realize how wrong many of the things I thought I had learned about Angola, Namibia and EO were just plain wrong. I would strongly recommend this book for 2 reasons. First, it is so well written (which is not common for this genre) that it makes it easy for the reader to understand the situation and paint a clear mental image of the adversity that EO faced from multiple directions, even from their employer. Second, it was easy to relate to individuals in this story and it is the accurate and brutal truth. If there is one thing I respect, it is the knowledge of the truth no matter the consequences. I praise Jim Hooper for the outstanding writing and collection of his experiences with EO and the truly talented portrayal within the chapters of this book.
Well done; plenty of places in Africa that Executive Outcomes is needed right now…
I thought this was a good read and confirmed other books I’d read on the subject of private armies in Africa. It’s a wonderful read and easy going on the picture of what was happening in Angola and clearly blew the wind on those who were fed propaganda by media and politician’s. Once started, the book is hard to put down.
A good overview from the tactical level, Hoopers account gives the What as opposed to the Why. Engaging, and relatively short, I’d recommend as a source of first hand accounts in Angola during a tumultuous period.
Growing up in Namibia and South Africa this book was everything I had expected it to be, and more. EO was controversial because no one really knew what they were about. Jim Hooper sets the record straight in this gripping book. He tells it like it happened and takes you into every contact situation and puts the reader right amongst those men fighting a war. These guys were real soldiers that went in to do a job overcoming language and logistical problems. This is an account of what really happened and of a group of excellent black and white soldiers that fought shoulder to shoulder
Few people know what transpired in Angola. This is an outstanding book with re-collects that are seldom found. I will go so far as to say that this book honours the men that fought and were critical in bringing about peace in Angola. The book states factual humanitarian aid that EO delivered to the population. Bloodsong is already a collector’s item, I just hope that those reading it will appreciate the effort that went into it and how valuable the stories are in history. And lastly…why 200 EO personnel were asked to leave Sierra Leone so the UN could replace them with 15,000 soldiers who failed.