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"Knocking off a bank or an armoured truck is merely crude. Knocking off an entire republic has, I feel, a certain style."
—Sir James Manson
The Dogs of War is a 1974 novel by Frederick Forsyth. It follows Sir James Manson, who discovers a large amount of valuable platinum in Zangaro, a People's Republic of Tyranny, and endeavors to obtain it discreetly. For this end, he employs Cat Shannon, a mercenary, who is given a hundred days to gather his team and make the strike. The rest of the book follows Shannon as he gathers his old friends and prepares for it.
This book is a famous example of Shown Their Work; Forsyth spent time covering the Nigerian Civil War, and drew heavily from his experiences there. Several people have even tried to carry out coups in real life based on the methods presented within. Forsyth actually pretended to be overthrowing the government of New Guinea based on the very methods he later put into the book, although it is not quite clear whether he would have actually succeeded.
Made into a movie starring Christopher Walken.
This book contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: Sir James Manson.
- Anonymous Ringer: Several: Biafra, 'General' Ojukwu and even Forsyth himself all play major roles in the plot without ever being explicitly named.
- Arms Dealer: Mostly of the legal variety, except for the one selling Schmeissers.
- Badass: Cat Shannon and his entire crew of mercenaries.
- Bittersweet Ending: Shannon gives the republic as a safe haven for immigrant workers and ends up reforming the government, but both Marc Vlaminck and Jan Dupree are dead, Semmler is killed later on in an accident with explosives, and Shannon commits suicide, though in his case he was killing himself because he had terminal cancer.
- The Big Guy: Marc Vlaminck.
- Bulungi: Zangaro.
- The Caligula: President Kimba.
- Crazy Prepared: The mercenaries, as one small error in smuggling arms would give them life in prison.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: The entire operation that Shannon conducts, and most of the ending, where Shannon completely screws his employers over.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Sir James Manson and his underlings.
- Deadly Distant Finale
- Ironic Nickname: "Tiny" Marc Vlaminck.
- Knife Nut: Langarotti, who is always sharpening his blade.
- Magnificent Bastard: Sir James Manson, and to an extent, Cat Shannon.
- Manly Tears: Upon Jan Dupree's death, by his aide.
- Out-Gambitted: Manson and his cronies.
- Private Military Contractors: Shannon and company.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: Zangaro, though later changed.
- Properly Paranoid: The mercenaries about smuggling arms, because one error will get them all life in prison.
- Rival Turned Evil / Driven by Envy: Roux and Shannon.
- Shown Their Work: The entire book.
- Redshirt Army: Kimba's forces, mostly due to not having workable guns.
- Secretly Dying: Mercenary leader "Cat" Shannon has been diagnosed with cancer, which motivates his betrayal of his employers as a final act of virtue.
- What an Idiot!: Kimba. See Redshirt Army.