The dogs of war

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The Dogs of War (in the English original: The Dogs of War ) is one of the most famous novels by Frederick Forsyth . With the motto At least we tried , the book is dedicated to "Men in nameless graves" . The plot is said to be inspired by Forsyth's experiences as a reporter in the Biafra War .


The original title is The Dogs of War and refers to a quote from William Shakespeare's drama Julius Caesar ("Calling for murder and unleashing the war's dog") from the 3rd act, 1st scene.

The book describes a coup carried out by mercenaries in the fictional black African republic "Zangaro". What is obviously meant is Equatorial Guinea at the time of the dictator Francisco Macías Nguema : The capital of Zangaro is called "Clarence" and Malabo , the capital of Equatorial Guinea, was founded by the British in 1827 as Port Clarence . Clarence also looks very similar to Malabo, with its natural harbor bordered by two headlands .


It's about a billion dollar platinum mountain in the jungle of Zangaro. Sir James Manson, the head of a London mining company that discovered the mountain, cannot expect mining rights from the corrupt and criminal regime, which is oriented towards the Soviet Union in terms of foreign policy. Manson therefore wants to ensure its overthrow and the establishment of a government that is well-disposed to him. The discovery is initially kept secret.

He lets the famous mercenary Carlo Alfred Thomas Shannon engage in the delicate operation through middlemen, who, however, keep Shannon hiding the actual client and the reason for his assignment. "CAT" Shannon gets a personal picture of the situation in Zangaro, finds out who hired him and hooks up with Manson's daughter without his knowledge. With the background of the order in the picture, he wins trusted specialists - the "dogs of war" - for the company. Through his connections all over Europe he procures boats, firearms, grenade launchers and ammunition, some illegally .

Meanwhile, his client secretly tries to buy a shell company for the exploitation of the platinum mountain. The news from Platinum Mountain also leaked through a spy to the Soviet Union, which is sending an exploration expedition.

The night landing and storming of the government building succeed, the president is killed. But Shannon prevents the agreed appointment of the corrupt new head of state, who was flown in from exile in the neighboring country and selected by his client, and shoots him. Locals who do not belong to the two largest ethnic groups and members of the previous opposition, whose leader Shannon has known for a long time and informed about his mission, are supposed to put things in order and form a new government. The Soviet expedition is one day late.

Shannon has destroyed his legendary reputation as a mercenary, but since he has become ill with cancer because of his tobacco consumption , he doesn't care about the consequences. He dies at the end of the book as he always wanted to die - by a bullet (of his own).


  • Frederick Forsyth: The Dogs of War. Thriller . Piper, Munich 2001 (first edition ibid. 1974), ISBN 3-492-23127-6 .
  • Frederick Forsyth: The dogs of war . Bantam Books, New York 1995 (first edition London 1974), ISBN 0-553-26846-5 .


A film adaptation was made in 1981, directed by John Irvin . Christopher Walken took on the leading role . Other actors were Tom Berenger , JoBeth Williams , Ed O'Neill , Robert Urquhart and Jim Broadbent .