The 100 Books Project: Mercenaries.

“From huge, publicly owned firms to small independent companies, the corporate world has learned that war is indeed good business, and business is good and getting better.”


“Mercenaries: Soldiers of Fortune, from Ancient Greece to Today’s Private Military Companies” by Michael Lee Lanning

Mercenaries is a very straight-forward book, of the non-fiction variety, going through the different stages of hired soldiers through time, a journey that I rather enjoyed taking for all the academic, non-literary approach that the journey took. Still, Lanning approaches the subject with a little bit of humor and a great deal of expertise and knowledge. The history of the soldier of fortune isn’t something I ever expected I’d be actively interested in, but I had this book in my Big Pile of Books and thought I’d give it a try. Don’t expect a great deal of literary prose here, but there’s a treasure trove of really great information that could be great for research if you’re intending on writing anything having to deal with mercenaries, be it in a historical context or a modern day setting.

Naturally, as a history nut, I took more interest in the earlier groups of mercenaries, though Lanning’s recounting of groups in Africa during the ’60s made me want to go and pick up Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible again. Meanwhile, the details on the ventures of private companies to turn hired soldiers into fortune and profit made me want to watch a bunch of James Bond and Archer. It was definitely interesting to get a little highlight on these various aspects on the topic in different media.

I find it difficult to say much about a book that doesn’t have a lot of literary value, but Mercenaries is a really cool resource to have in your arsenal. Lanning’s writing is clear and concise, with the occasional spot of humor, and he handles the topic with a business-like knowledge. I think it’s a good read for anyone who’s interested in soldiers of fortune or intend to use them in some fashion in their writing.

Books read: 29/100.

I’d also like to take a second to thank Emma McCoy for subscribing to the blog! Welcome aboard, Emma! Good to have you with us.

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