Soldiers of Misfortune

 the history of mercenaries


Banana Men

Lester D. Langley, Thomas Schoonover: The Banana Men

Marvellous book about the American mercenaries in Central America, serving United Fruit and various dictators.

A little known chapter of Americas manifest destiny.
Trial by Battle

Jonathan Sumption: Trial by Battle

The first volume of Jonathan Sumption's monumental history of the Hundred Years War.
Divided Houses

Jonathan Sumption: Divided Houses

The third volume of Jonathan Sumption's monumental history of the Hundred Years War.
Chinese Bandit

Stephen D. Becker: The Chinese Bandit

A great thrilling novel about a swashbuckling adventurer in warlord China. Excellent reading stuff for holidays or better while traveling.

Frans G. Bengtsson: The Long Ships

Despite I'm no great fan of historical novels this is one of my favourite books. Maybe it's because of Bengtsson's dry-witted slightly ironic style, which reminds a little of the old Nordic sagas.
But Bengtsson isn't only an excellent writer, he knows also history very well and gives nearly a complete overview of the military exploits of the Viking world, where mercenary service played an important role. In the first part of the book some Vikings are captured by the Moors in Spain and are serving later in the bodyguard of the emir of Cordova, the great al Mansur. In the second part covers the so called "eastern way" to Byzantium where many Vikings served the Emperors in the Varangian guard.
The Devil Soldier

Caleb Carr: The Devil Soldier

A courageous leader who became the first American mandarin, Frederick Townsend Ward won crucial victories for the Emperor of China during the Taiping Rebellion, history's bloodiest civil war. Carr's skills as historian and storyteller come to the fore in this thrilling account of the kind of adventurer the world no longer sees.
Mission Song

John Le Carré: The Mission Song

Abandoned by both his Irish father and Congolese mother, Bruno Salvador has long looked for someone to guide his life. He has found it in Mr. Anderson of British Intelligence.Bruno's African upbringing, and fluency in numerous African languages, has made him a top interpreter in London, useful to businesses, hospitals, diplomats-and spies. Working for Anderson in a clandestine facility known as the "Chat Room," Salvo (as he's known) translates intercepted phone calls, bugged recordings, snatched voice mail messages. When Anderson sends him to a mysterious island to interpret during a secret conference between Central African warlords.
Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Dark allegory describes the narrator's journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad's finest, most enigmatic story.
Lord Jim

Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim

Last Hero

Peter Forbath: The Last Hero

Man Who Would Be King

Rudyard Kipling: The Man Who Would Be King

Cuba Libre

Elmore Leonard: Cuba libre

South Sea Tales

Jack London: South Sea Tales

Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian

Without any doubt Cormac McCarthy's nightmarish masterpiece counts among the greatest novels of the Twentieth Century.
McCarthy shows the brutal violence behind the conquest of the West, in regions where the thin border between civilization and atavistic rites disappears. But it's also a novel about the mercenaries and adventurers so typical for the so called Manifest Destiny. Many of the events are historical and based on the Glanton Gang, a band of outlaws and scalp-hunters, who killed Indians in the Mexican borderlands during the late 1840's in the pay of the Mexican goverment.
Therefore the novel tells a lot about all these small dirty wars which where so omnipresent in history.

One of the best books I read about warfare and the men who pursue this trade.
Foreign Legion

Douglas Porch: The French Foreign Legion

Doyle White Company

Arthur Conan Doyle: The White Company

The White Company is a historical adventure by Arthur Conan Doyle set during the Hundred Years' War. The story is set in England, France, and Spain, in the years 1366 and 1367, against the background of the campaign of Edward, the Black Prince to restore Peter of Castile to the throne of the Kingdom of Castile.

Despite the real persons who are mentioned all over the book, it's a bad romantic contruct, which has absolutely nothing to with the real events.

Probably one of Conan Doyle's worst books!!