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

Adam Roberts, Author . Public Affairs $26 (303p) ISBN 978-1-58648-371-5

The most terrifying thing about this chronicle of a failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea is that it's not a Graham Greene novel but a true story. Roberts, an Economist staffer, chronicles the plot by foreign mercenaries and merchants to topple the country's brutal dictatorship solely for the "wonga" (British slang for "money, usually a lot of it"). An irresistibly lurid tale is peopled with bellicose profiteers, particularly of the neocolonialist sort from Europe and South Africa, with long histories of investment in oil, diamonds and war-for-profit. Among these self-styled gentleman adventurers are Margaret Thatcher's son, Sir Mark Thatcher, and "rag-and-bone intelligence men" who linger in hotel bars, "picking up scraps of information... selling them on to willing buyers, whether corporate or government." The audacity of the coup's planners is almost admirable, though Roberts rightly chastises them for their oil-soaked greed. As he lifts the curtain to the backrooms of power in postcolonial Africa, the reader finds that not much has changed on the continent since 1618, when the "Company of Adventurers of London Trading to the Ports of Africa" became the first private company to colonize Africa for profit. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/12/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
Paperback - 319 pages - 978-1-84668-234-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-3290-4
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MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-5290-2
Paperback - 303 pages - 978-1-58648-500-9
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