This is a book review by Randy L Harvey of Soldiers of Fortune - Mercenaries and Military Adventurers, 1960 – 2020 from Osprey Publishing by author Anthony Rogers and illustrator Peter Dennis and edited by Martin Windrow and Nick Reynolds.


** While mercenaries have been used throughout history, the 1960’ saw the rise of white freelance soldiers, employed by leaders of newly independent black African states.  Later groups of mercenaries hired themselves out not only to train Third World armies, but even to spearhead anti-government coups.  Many others also volunteered to fight in countries like Rhodesia and South Africa during the wars of the 1970s -80s. 

Over the past 30 years, former military professionals have accepted contracts from sophisticated military corporations employed by national governments, sometimes to share the burden if the ‘War Against terror’ following Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, individual volunteers have fought – for motives other than pay – in the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and Syria.

This book, by a former security contractor with wide-ranging contracts, explains the steady evolution of freelance soldiering over the past 60 years.  Illustrated with rare personal photographs and detailed colour plates of uniforms, equipment and weapons, it vividly brings the world of the military adventurer to life. **  

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.  


Osprey Publications has released Osprey - Soldiers of Fortune - Mercenaries and Military Adventurers, 1960 – 2020 as Number 244 in the Elite series. It is a 64 page soft cover book. 7 1/4  x 10 3/4 inches in size.  Included with the text are color and black and white photographs, color illustrations, detailed captions and more. It has a 2022 copyright, a publication date of March 15, 2022 and the ISBN is 978-1-4728- 4801-7.  


- Preface:  Venezuela, May 2020

- Introduction

- Africa

     - The Congo

          - Katanga, 1960-63

          - The Congo, 1964-68

          - 5 Commando, 1964-65

          - Mutinies, 1966-68

          - Aftermath

     - Rhodesia

          - Initial clashes,1964-66

          - Intensification, and the first ‘externals’,1972-74

          - Foreign volunteers

          - Opposing forces and operations, 1974-79

     - Biafra, 1968-70 

     - Angola, 1975-70

          - Background

          - ‘Colonel Callan’

          - Summary executions

          - Aftermath

     - South Africa’s Border War, 1966-89

          - Background

          - Recces units

          - Recruitment in Angola: 32 Battalion

          - Pathfinders

- The Indian Ocean

     - The Comoros

          - Background

          - The 1978 coup

          - Interlude in Chad, 1981-90

         - The coups of 1989 and 1995

     - The Seychelles

          - Background

          - Operation ‘Anvil’, 1981: the plan

          - The operation

          - Aftermath

- South America

     - Suriname

          - Background

          - Mercenary involvement, 1986-91

     - Columbia

          - Background

          - Planned strike against FARC, 1988

          - Operation ‘Phoenix’, 1989: the plan

          - The operation

          - Second and third contracts, 1989 and 1991

          - Aftermath

- The Break-Up of Yugoslavia

     - Background

     - Outbreak of hostilities

     - Foreign fighters, 1991-95

     - Aftermath

- War in the 21st Century

- Private military companies

     - Pioneers of military outsourcing

     - Executive Outcomes

     - Sandine International

     - The ‘Wonga Group’: Equatorial Guinea, 2004

     - Iraq and Afghanistan

- Dealing with the Fall-out

     - Daesh

     - Wagner

     - Conclusion

- Selected Bibliography

- Index


Author Anthony Rogers provides a well written text discussing professional soldiers for hire and their actions in various conflicts on different continents around the world.  The text goes into great detail in all areas of the book as outlined on the contents page, please refer to the contents listing for the areas that are covered through the book.  Anthony Rogers provides an excellent beginning to the end type of narration detailing the involvement by the mercenaries in the various conflicts listed in the contents section.  The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors.  Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.  I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be professional with their writing.  Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on mercenaries and security contractors, aka soldiers of fortune, in various conflicts from the time frame of 1960 to 2020 to their personal library will be pleased with this informative and interesting book.    


A total of 10 black and white photographs and 41 color photographs are included in this volume.  The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs.  They contain a few in-action photographs with the majority of the photographs having been staged for the photographer.  The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable; however, a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light.  The quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book.  Author Anthony Rogers stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book.  The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the scale figure modeler as well as anyone interested in the world of the professional mercenaries, their weapons, equipment, clothing and vehicles and aircraft used due to the details they contain.  


There are 24 color illustrations, accompanied by detailed captions, included in this volume of various soldiers of fortune by illustrator Peter Dennis.  The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

Plate A:

Katanga & Congo, 1961-64

     1. Volunteer Nigel Osborn; 4 Commando, Katanga, 1961

     2. Sergeant Donald Grant; 5 Commando, Congo, 1964

     3. Captain Siegfried Müller; 5 Commando, Congo, 1964

Plate B:

Rhodesia, 1966-79

     1. Trooper Barry Gribben, Rhodesian Light Infantry

     2.  Seregant Wally Insch, Selous Scouts

     3. Paul French, Rhodesian Special Air Service

Plate C:

South African Defence Force, 1981-82

     1. Steve Biddlecombe, 32 Battalion

     2. Mario Vidal, Reconnaissance Commandos

     3. Ken Gaudet, Pathfinder Company, 44 Parachute Brigade

Plate D:

Angola, Comoros & Suriname

     1. Costas Georgiou, alias ‘Colonel Callan’; Angola 1975-76

     2. Bob Denard; Kandani, Grande Comore, 1995

     3. Alan Boydell, SNAL Jungle Commando; Moengo, Suriname, 1989

Plate E:

Colombia & Sierra Leone

     1. Colombia mercenary; Operation ‘Phoenix’, 1989

     2. South African contractor, Executive Outcomes; Sierra Leone, c. 1995

     3. Angolan contractor, Executive Outcomes; Sierra Leone, c. 1995

Plate F:

Former Yugoslavia

     1. Volunteer, Croatian Army; Vinkovci, 1991

     2. ‘Fran’ Croatian Army 110th Brigade; Karovac, 1991

     3. Alan Boydell, HVO Baja Kraljevic Anti-Terrorist Group; Mostar, 1992

Plate G:


     1. Security contractor, 2003-04     

     2. Ken ‘Dusty’ Duncan, security contractor, 2005

     3. Alan Boydell, security contractor, 2017

Plate H:

Afghanistan & Syria

     1. ‘Happy Hem’, security contractor; Afghanistan, 2009

     2. ‘Local national, security contractor; Afghanistan, 2009

     3. ‘Fran’, Kurdish People’s Defence Units; Syria, 2016



The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown.  The captions go into very specific detail as to the specific individuals shown, types of uniforms and clothing worn, weapons, equipment carried and used, dates and locations and other such pertinent information. As I read through the captions, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors.  I was impressed by Anthony Rogers’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions that I have seen that are very brief and lacking in detail.    



There is 1 informational chart included in this volume and it provides information on the following:

- Acronyms & Abbreviations 

- A list of 65 acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the book.



There are 2 notes included in this volume and they are:

- Acknowledgements

- Artist’s Note

Osprey Publishing also offers Soldiers of Fortune as:

eBook (Epub & Mobi) ISBN: 978-1-4728- 4796 -6


eBook (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-4728- 4797-3

Osprey Publishing’s, Soldiers of Fortune - Mercenaries and Military Adventurers, 1960 – 2020 is also available as an electronic Kindle version through 


UK £13.99 / US $20.00 / CAN $27.00

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing.  Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on the KitMaker Network when you make your purchase.  Thank you. 



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