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My Friend the Mercenary (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

James Brabazon is a reputed author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker from The United Kingdom. He is bests known for his excellent work in situations of conflict. Brabazon gained popularity for the first time when he was the only reporter to film the fighting of the LURD rebel group when they took a stand to overthrow the rule of President Charles Taylor at the time of the 2nd Liberian Civil War. While Brabazon was in Liberia, he came across a South African arms dealer & mercenary named Nick du Toit. He hired Nick as his personal bodyguard. A memoir written by Brabazon, My Friend the Mercenary, is based on his experiences of the civil war in Liberia, the friendship between him and Nick du Toit, and Nick’s subsequent failed attempt of the Equatorial Guinea coup. In 2013, author Brabazon produced a documentary for HBO that revolves around the story of Tim Hetherington, a professional photographer. He was a collaborator and close friend of Brabazon, who got killed in 2011 while covering the Civil War in Libya. This documentary was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of the Best Documentary.

Author Brabazon was born on February 18, 1972, in London, UK. He earned his master’s degree from Cambridge University in history in 1994. Immediately after, he started working as a photo-journalist in Paris and London. Later, Brabazon moved to Nairobi for working as a TV news producer with a Kenyan agency called Camerapix. As an author, Brabazon likes to write thriller, science fiction, and crime stories. Brabazon visited Liberia when the ill-fated country was going through civil war. He came in contact with the insurgent group LURD and marched along with them for covering their fight in overthrowing the president’s rule. He moved with the group towards Monrovia by taking a great risk on his life and became the first journalist to do so in Liberia. During the course of the reporting, Brabazon came across important pieces of evidence about the atrocities by LURD and recorded them. Some of the atrocities committed by them included execution and torture of soldiers, the murder of POWs, killing of government officials, etc.

Brabazon stated that the thing that disturbed him the most was that the people appear to be normal individuals once the war trappings are removed. After returning from Liberia, Brabazon underwent treatment for a post-traumatic stress disorder. He made two more visits to Liberia within a period of one year. The events that he witnessed during his reporting formed the basis of his documentaries. After encountering Nick du Toit on his Liberian visit, Brabazon became a good friend of his. He made him his bodyguard and formed a strong bond with him in spite of feeling uneasy around him because he was a veteran of the African Army during the apartheid era. In 2003, when Brabazon met Nick again in West Africa, Nick informed him about his participation in a rebellion to overthrow Teodoro Obiang’s rule and offered him the chance to film the attempt. However, Brabazon could not be present for filming the coup as he had to return to England to mourn the death of his grandfather. Later, he learned that the coup ended in failure and Nick du Toit was taken in custody. He was eventually given a sentence of 34 years in Black Beach prison. However, he was pardoned after serving over 5 years.

When Brabazon learned that Nick was tortured, starved, and beaten in prison, he expressed guilt as well as relief that he was prevented from having the same fate. Later, Brabazon wrote a memoir surrounding all these events. Other than the journalistic work, Brabazon has carried out the production of 21 films under the Unreported World series for Channel 4. In relation to this series, Brabazon has traveled to countries like Columbia, Somalia, Papua New Guinea, India, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Syria, and Angola. Additionally, he has made 6 documentaries under the Dispatches series. The written work of author Brabazon has featured in magazines like Monocle, The Independent, Newsweek, and The Guardian. He has recently started a new series called the Max McLean series, whose second book is expected to be released later in 2019. As of today, Brabazon resides in the UK and continues to work as a journalist and author.

The first book in the Max McLean series written by author James Brabazon is entitled ‘The Break Line’. It was released by the Michael Joseph publication in 2018. The book opens by describing that Max McLean works undercover for the British government. The government officials deny any knowledge of the work carried out by him for them. A time comes when the commanders of Max McLean begin to lose faith in him. He is given one final chance to prove his worth. He is asked to visit a research facility under the command of the military and meet an ex-comrade. There, Max encounters the bravest man known to him and his friend under lock up for the protection of his own. Max is told that his friend has lost control over his mind and has become a danger to himself and the ones around him. He suspects that he is not made aware of the whole truth and sets out to find the truth on his own. As moves ahead on this mission, he encounters numerous lies and betrayals and is forced to question everything that he once had a firm belief in. His search for truth brings Max to Sierra Leone, where he comes across various other obstacles.

Another mind-blowing book penned by Brabazon is known as ‘My Friend the Mercenary’. It was published in 2010 by the Canongate Books. This book tells the story of Brabazon’s relationship with Nick Toit, and arms dealer from South Africa who becomes his bodyguard when he takes up reporting duty in Liberia in Feb 2002. As soon as Brabazon begins his journey with Liberian guerrilla forces, he senses danger to this life. So, he hires Nick for protection. In the events that follow later, Nick and Brabazon begin a strong friendship. The narrative also shows how the warlords run a nation, rebels try to take control from them, common people suffer in the crossfire, and chaos spreads everywhere. Brabazon has also described incredible background scenes as the Liberian rebels attempt to overthrow the government and try to seize the control from them. This novel appears to be an honest description of what it takes to be a survivor, a journalist, and a friend in a dangerous environment.

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