The best books about mercenary groups

2 authors have picked their favorite books about mercenary groups and why they recommend each book.

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Zero Footprint

By Simon Chase, Ralph Pezzullo,

Book cover of Zero Footprint: The True Story of a Private Military Contractor's Covert Assignments in Syria, Libya, and the World's Most Dangerous Places

Many Americans who follow geopolitics, the military, or our nation’s involvement in the Global War on Terror know that Private Military Contractors (PMCs) have become a way in which much of these covert and clandestine wars are fought. Even those who know that PMCs exist don’t know much about the types of missions they do, the types of people who staff these outfits, and the places that they’ve been in modern military history.

Zero Footprint chronicles the exploits of one British citizen on his path from a member of the heralded British Tier 1 unit The Special Air Service (SAS). The book follows his life from what he thought was a career-ending injury that led to his being on the frontlines of every major engagement in the clandestine Global War on Terror. This guy was even in Benghazi the night of the famed “13 hours” attack, and this book gives…

Zero Footprint

By Simon Chase, Ralph Pezzullo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zero Footprint as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This national bestseller is a dramatic insider account of the world of private military contracting.

Armored cars, burner phones, top-notch weaponry and top-secret missions -- this is the life of today's private military contractor. Like author Simon Chase, many PMCs were once the world's top military operatives, and since retiring from outfits like US Navy SEAL TEAM Six and the UK's Special Boat Service, they have devoted their lives to executing sensitive and hazardous missions overseas.

Working at the request of U.S. and British government entities as well as for private clients, he takes on jobs that require "zero footprint,"…


Who am I?

I’m a former Green Beret and combat veteran of OIF (Iraq), OEF (Afghanistan), and OEF-TS (North Africa). My first unit within Special Forces is the oldest within SF, and as such, I had the opportunity to work alongside some legends amongst men, people who were there in the early days of Special Operations. After leaving Special Forces I have written three published Special Operations-focused books, both fiction and non-fiction, which has led to a life of studying everything there is to know about Special Operations, the intelligence behind wars, and the history of both.


I wrote...

Love Me When I'm Gone: The True Story of Life, Love, and Loss for a Green Beret in Post-9/11 War.

By Robert Patrick Lewis,

Book cover of Love Me When I'm Gone: The True Story of Life, Love, and Loss for a Green Beret in Post-9/11 War.

What is my book about?

The life story of a troublesome youth who grows up and finds his way into the US Army Special Forces to join the fight against terrorism post-9/11. Love Me When I’m Gone follows one Green Beret as he serves his nation in Iraq, Afghanistan (where he earns the Purple Heart & Bronze Star), and North Africa, all while trying to maintain a working relationship with his high school sweetheart and the love of his life.

Book cover of The Making of a Legionnaire: My Life in the French Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment

This tome was the size of a phone book but it has relevance even today. It's one of the slightly obscure classics but it speaks to the profound spiritual questions that transcend time. Parris was an idealist Englishman who served in the legion in the early 90s. but this was not a story of glory and medals. Parris saw action in Chad and had to spill blood. This chilling act never left him and he was haunted by his actions for years to come. The author passed from illness but dedicated the book to his son.

The Making of a Legionnaire

By Bill Parris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of a Legionnaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Penniless, divorced and AWOL from the British forces, Bill Parris volunteered for the French Foreign Legion in the early 1980s. Unlike many British volunteers to the Legion, Bill did not desert. He endured a horrendous training regime and, despite a fear of heights (!) joined the elite Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment. He discovered how women from all over the world flock to Corsica where the Legion is based - so his R&R was almost as exhausting as the jungle warfare school he was later sent to. This is more than a war story - it is a personal journey too,…


Who am I?

In 1999, I followed my childhood dreams and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. In 2005, I published my first work, Legion of the Lost, which chronicles my swashbuckling experience serving in the French Foreign Legion. This is my story. 


I wrote...

Legion of the Lost: The true experience of an American in the French Foreign Legion

By Jaime Salazar,

Book cover of Legion of the Lost: The true experience of an American in the French Foreign Legion

What is my book about?

Since 1831, the French Foreign Legion has been a renowned symbol of discipline and solidarity. Made up completely of foreign volunteers, the French Foreign Legion gives men a new lease on life, and a chance to test their limits both physically and mentally. And in 1999, the Foreign Legion was just what American Jaime Salazar was looking for.

From the harrowing physical rigors of Legion basic training to his posting in the 2e REG outside of the tiny village of Saint Christol, from his fierce competitiveness and pride to his ultimate disillusionment with the French Foreign Legion and dramatic desertion, this is the story of Salazar's quest for honor and sacrifice. Legion of the Lost is a compelling, first-hand account of the contemporary French Foreign Legion, sure to dispel myths while, at the same time, add to the legend of the finest trained army of mercenaries the world has ever seen.

Broken Angels

By Richard K. Morgan,

Book cover of Broken Angels

Everyone has heard of Altered Carbon, but I actually prefer this second book in the series. The idea of digital immortality in these books really made me wonder what that very advanced technology might have been like when it was just being invented. That eventually led me to develop my own answer to that question in my own sci-fi novel. I so love the scene where Kovacs buys cortical stacks in bulk in a street market so he can fish through them to find appropriate team members to help him out on his mission.

Broken Angels

By Richard K. Morgan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Broken Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fifty years after the events of ALTERED CARBON Takeshi Kovacs is serving as a mercenary in the Procterate sponsored war to put down Joshuah Kemp's revolution on the planet Sanction IV. He is offered the chance to join a covert team chasing a prize whose value is limitless and whose dangers are endless. Here is a novel that takes mankind to the brink. A breakneck-paced crime thriller ALTERED CARBON took its readers deep into the universe Morgan had so compellingly realised without ever letting them escape the onward rush of the plot. BROKEN ANGELS melds SF, the war novel and…


Who am I?

My lifelong passion for history and culture led me to become a science fiction writer. I like to view history as not only the story of what has already happened, but also what is going to happen to humanity. I love to spend time thinking about the vast universe and what humanity’s evolving role will be, should we manage to survive our own self-destructive tendencies. I love history so much that I wish I were immortal, just so I could witness it all, and that, naturally, has led me to read so many sci-fi books featuring forms of immortality, and incorporating my own version of technical immortality into my writing.


I wrote...

The Immortality Game

By Ted Cross,

Book cover of The Immortality Game

What is my book about?

Moscow, 2138. With the world only beginning to recover from the complete societal collapse of the late 21st Century, Zoya scrapes by prepping corpses for funerals and dreams of saving enough money to have a child. When her brother forces her to bring him a mysterious package, she witnesses his murder and finds herself on the run from ruthless mobsters. Frantically trying to stay alive and save her loved ones, Zoya opens the package and discovers two unusual data cards, one that allows her to fight back against the mafia and another which may hold the key to everlasting life.

Kings of the Wyld

By Nicholas Eames,

Book cover of Kings of the Wyld

Nicholas Eames crafted a radical take on the standard fantasy adventuring party by giving them rock band style. This book is a fun take on the fantasy genre with a group of over-the-hill mercenaries getting together for one last score. It isn’t often that a book comes along and grabs me by the ears and sets me to head banging. Kings of the Wyld was that book. I couldn’t put it down as I followed Clay and his ragtag band of mercenaries. I love the mix of humor and epic fantasy with the found family thrown in. The audio version is a riot that preserves the rock and roll tone and makes for a great time painting your newest D&D miniature.

Kings of the Wyld

By Nicholas Eames,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Kings of the Wyld as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An outstanding debut which will make you laugh and cry and hold your breath. This is a book that has it all' - K. J. Parker Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best - the meanest, dirtiest, most feared and admired crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. But their glory days are long past; the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk - or a combination of the three. Then a former bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help: his daughter Rose is trapped in a city…


Who am I?

I got started as a writer through writing fiction intended to accompany a hobby, to deepen worldbuilding, and breathe life into the miniatures in a table-top wargame. I have always been fascinated by the worlds that grab our attention, that yank at our nostrils and dare us to make something more, to tell our own stories in this grander universe. So, I put together this list of books to accompany you as you dream of other worlds and build something with that hobby, whether it is painting miniatures for your friends, knitting, or whatever keeps your hands occupied. Here is a list of books to keep you company. 


I wrote...

Alone

By Joe Parrino,

Book cover of Alone

What is my book about?

Separated from his brothers aboard a seemingly abandoned pilgrim ship, Raven Guard Librarian Ithkos Jevel picks his way through the dark and sinister corridors of the vessel.

Can Jevel survive to rejoin his battle-brothers and discover the fate of the humans who called this ship home?

Dawnthief

By James Barclay,

Book cover of Dawnthief: Chronicles of the Raven 1

The Raven is your classic band of mercs, a found-family of warriors caught up in world-ending levels of chaos. This is much more 90s style fantasy and unashamedly so – serious, sword-swinging, spell-casting stuff. As a result, you have to buy into that a bit given how the genre has changed, but at the same time, the series is all about the consequences of actions rather than any pretence about happily ever after so there’s real meat to it.

Dawnthief

By James Barclay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dawnthief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chronicles of the Raven: One

ELITE, UNSTOPPABLE ... AND HIRED TO DO THE UNTHINKABLE

The Raven are an elite. Formed of six men and an elf, they're swords for hire in the wars that have torn their land apart. For years their only loyalty has been to themselves, and to their code.

But that time is coming to an end. The Wytch Lords have escaped and The Raven find themselves fighting for the Dark College of magic, on a mission which soon becomes a race for the secret location of Dawnthief. It's a spell - one created to end the…


Who am I?

I’ve been writing fantasy for two decades now and still, I can’t resist a foul-mouthed rogue with a grubby soul. They’re usually the most entertaining characters to write and in the long days of plugging away at a book, they’re often the ones that remind you what’s so fun about the job. When I started Stranger of Tempest it was (pretty much solely) with that in mind – I wanted a disparate band of crazed, badass idiots to go on an adventure with and see where it took me. Of course, as I got to know them I found there was more to their tales than that, but it was fun right to the end!


I wrote...

Stranger of Tempest: Book One of the God Fragments

By Tom Lloyd,

Book cover of Stranger of Tempest: Book One of the God Fragments

What is my book about?

Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour - a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little, so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. 

Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won't turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough: the mercenaries are less stupid and vicious than most he's met over the years. So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine.

Dogs of War

By Frederick Forsyth,

Book cover of Dogs of War: A Spy Thriller

I read this classic as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army when I was training at Jungle Warfare School in Panama. I was already a huge fan of the 1980 movie adaptation, starring a young Christopher Walken. The book is billed as ‘fiction’, but accurately describes an attempt by mercenaries to overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in 1972. Forsyth was a BBC reporter in Africa and witnessed wars often fought with mercenaries. He also advised the movie Wild Geese, based on true events led by the mercenary "Mad Mike" Hoare. When Mad Mike died in 2020, I had the privilege of discussing his legacy with Freddy Forsyth on the BBC.

Dogs of War

By Frederick Forsyth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dogs of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Frederick Forsyth delivers an international thriller that takes readers into the darkest hearts of men and nations…
 
In a remote corner of the impoverished African republic of Zangaro lies Crystal Mountain. At certain times of the day, the mountain itself seems to glow with a strange light. Only the ruthless and untouchable tycoon Sir James Manson knows why: the mountain contains billions of dollars worth of the world’s most valuable mineral—platinum. And he wants it all.

To do so, he must first remove the unfriendly government currently in power and replace it with a…


Who am I?

Dr. Sean McFate is an expert on international relations and a former military contractor. He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank, and a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Syracuse University's Maxwell School, and the National Defense University. He began his career as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. 


I wrote...

The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats

By Sean McFate,

Book cover of The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats

What is my book about?

The New Rules of War has been called the “The Freakonomics of modern warfare”. It was named a “Book of the Year” by The Economist, The Times [UK], and Evening Standard. Additionally, it is an Amazon bestseller and Editor's Pick, and is included on West Point’s “Commandant’s Reading List”. 

The book provides ten new rules of modern warfare and explains how to win. China, Russia, and Iran understand these new principles but the “West” doesn't and struggles against weak foes like terrorists and the Taliban. But we can win, if we update our strategic IQ. Admiral Jim Stavridis, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said: “Sean McFate is a new Sun Tzu.” In the U.K it is titled: Goliath: Why the West Doesn't Win Wars. And What We Need to Do About It

Song of Scarabaeus

By Sara Creasy,

Book cover of Song of Scarabaeus

Song of Scarabaeus is sci-fi, not fantasy, but it definitely has that perfect blend: just enough adventure, just enough sci-fi/fantasy, just enough of a love story. The relationship between the two characters, a scientist and her bodyguard, creates instant on-page tension. I can’t spoil why, but it’s an interesting life-and-death situation that kept me turning pages. With this captivating plot, great characterization, realistic dialogue, and expert worldbuilding, I wish I could erase my memory of this book and experience it all over again. 

Song of Scarabaeus

By Sara Creasy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Song of Scarabaeus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A powerful debut….Gripping characterization, non-stop action, fascinating biological speculation, and a dash of romance. Don’t miss it!”
—Linnea Sinclair

 

Remember the name: Sara Creasy. With Song of Scarabaeus she takes her place alongside Ann Aguirre and Linnea Sinclair, staking her claim as one of the most exciting new writers currently rocketing across the science fiction universe. Seamlessly blending action, romance, intrigue, technology, and a tough, complex, and unforgettable heroine in the vein of Elizabeth Moon, Creasyboldly goes where few have traveled before. No wonder author Vonda N. McIntyre declares that “Sara Creasy is a new writer to watch, and Song…


Who am I?

I’ll admit I’m a terribly picky reader. My specific taste doesn’t seem to fit in one genre and is sometimes hard to nail down—literary prose with genre tropes, softly-integrated worldbuilding, adventure that leaves room for reflection, and a love story subplot that’s more mental than physical. I love anti-heroes and angst and stories that get a bit dark—but not too dark. When I find it, I’m hooked and obsessed, and I feel like I’m twelve years old again, reading late into the night with a flashlight under the covers. That exprience is what I’m always hunting for, and what I attempt to recreate in my own writing. 


I wrote...

Unquiet

By Kay Camden,

Book cover of Unquiet

What is my book about?

In Mick’s quiet Missouri town, strangers stand out—especially mysterious women who vandalize cars in broad daylight. It’s strange, but none of Mick’s business… until he notices the woman’s busted lip. The right thing to do is offer her a ride—which is how he ends up with her knife against his throat in his own apartment.

Waapikoona has nearly reached her quota of bodies to raise her sister from the dead. But she stalls killing Mick, sensing another regret she’ll have to carry in her already dark world. She’s crossed the circle of time, made a pact with a powerful underworld demon, and angered the thunderbirds. Mick can’t escape his new calling: stop Waapikoona and the unquiet she’s dragged into his town.

The Red Knight

By Miles Cameron,

Book cover of The Red Knight

I suspect there are few authors who know more about using medieval weapons than Miles (Christian) Cameron. At times there’s a nerdy level of detail in the arms and armour here (one I enjoyed rather than was put off by), but that’s not all there is to this tale. Firstly the fight scenes are just outstanding, breathless, brutal, shocking, and exciting – some of the best I’ve read in any book ever. Secondly, the company led by the Red Knight is a great crew of awful people; flawed, mad, or outright bastards, they’re far from cardboard cut-outs and the book is all the richer for the humanity they display. 

The Red Knight

By Miles Cameron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Red Knight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forget George and the Dragon. Forget Sir Lancelot and tales of Knightly exploits. This is dirty, bloody work. This is violent, visceral action. This is a mercenary knight as you've never seen one before. Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild. Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company…


Who am I?

I’ve been writing fantasy for two decades now and still, I can’t resist a foul-mouthed rogue with a grubby soul. They’re usually the most entertaining characters to write and in the long days of plugging away at a book, they’re often the ones that remind you what’s so fun about the job. When I started Stranger of Tempest it was (pretty much solely) with that in mind – I wanted a disparate band of crazed, badass idiots to go on an adventure with and see where it took me. Of course, as I got to know them I found there was more to their tales than that, but it was fun right to the end!


I wrote...

Stranger of Tempest: Book One of the God Fragments

By Tom Lloyd,

Book cover of Stranger of Tempest: Book One of the God Fragments

What is my book about?

Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour - a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little, so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. 

Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won't turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough: the mercenaries are less stupid and vicious than most he's met over the years. So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine.

The Wonga Coup

By Adam Roberts,

Book cover of The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs, and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa

An uncompromising look at a real-life mercenary operation gone bad by a veteran journalist in Africa. In 2004, a group of salty British, South African, and Zimbabwean mercenaries sought to takeover — wait for it — Equatorial Guinea. Simon Mann, a former EO mercenary from the British upper classes, leads the mercenary coup, backed financially by Sir Mark Thatcher, son of famed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Unknown to them, South African intelligence had penetrated their organization and set a trap. It goes badly for the mercenaries. I knew one of them.

The Wonga Coup

By Adam Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wonga Coup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Equatorial Guinea is a tiny country roughly the size of the state of Maryland. Humid, jungle covered, and rife with unpleasant diseases, natives call it Devil Island. Its president in 2004, Obiang Nguema, had been accused of cannibalism, belief in witchcraft, mass murder, billiondollar corruption, and general rule by terror. With so little to recommend it, why in March 2004 was Equatorial Guinea the target of a group of salty British, South African and Zimbabwean mercenaries, travelling on an American-registered ex-National Guard plane specially adapted for military purposes, that was originally flown to Africa by American pilots? The real motive…


Who am I?

Dr. Sean McFate is an expert on international relations and a former military contractor. He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank, and a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Syracuse University's Maxwell School, and the National Defense University. He began his career as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. 


I wrote...

The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats

By Sean McFate,

Book cover of The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats

What is my book about?

The New Rules of War has been called the “The Freakonomics of modern warfare”. It was named a “Book of the Year” by The Economist, The Times [UK], and Evening Standard. Additionally, it is an Amazon bestseller and Editor's Pick, and is included on West Point’s “Commandant’s Reading List”. 

The book provides ten new rules of modern warfare and explains how to win. China, Russia, and Iran understand these new principles but the “West” doesn't and struggles against weak foes like terrorists and the Taliban. But we can win, if we update our strategic IQ. Admiral Jim Stavridis, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said: “Sean McFate is a new Sun Tzu.” In the U.K it is titled: Goliath: Why the West Doesn't Win Wars. And What We Need to Do About It

The Hard Way

By Lee Child,

Book cover of The Hard Way: A Jack Reacher Novel

I met Lee Child within a few weeks of this book being released. I had never read anything by Child and honestly, hadn't even heard of him prior to that meeting. I bought his book, got it autographed, and read it. His style was different from any other author I had read to that point. I liked his rogue character, Jack Reacher, and the way Child put that character into more and more peril as the story progressed. Having said all that, I had a character in my writing that, in many ways, resembled Reacher. Lee child's writing had a major influence in the crafting of my Gregg Kaplan character and series.

The Hard Way

By Lee Child,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hard Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jack Reacher is alone, the way he likes it.

He watches a man cross a New York street and drive away in a Mercedes. The car contains $1 million of ransom money. Reacher's job is to make sure it all turns out right - money paid, family safely returned.

But Reacher is in the middle of a nasty little war where nothing is simple.

What started on a busy New York street explodes three thousand miles away, in the sleepy English countryside.

Reacher's going to have to do this one the hard way.

_________

Although the Jack Reacher novels can…


Who am I?

I cut my teeth loving the intrigue of the spy world. Days of old TV shows like Man from U.N.C.L.E. (the original not the remake). All the James Bond movies—old and new. As a child, I had a Man from U.N.C.L.E. spy kit, equipped with a miniature camera and all. It seemed only fitting that when I started writing, I stayed with what I loved. The espionage thriller genre has evolved over time to a more sophisticated, action-packed storyline…which is right up my alley.


I wrote...

The Savannah Project

By Chuck Barrett,

Book cover of The Savannah Project

What is my book about?

The truth can be a dangerous thing. 

Jake Pendleton, aided by an unlikely partner – an air traffic controller named Gregg Kaplan – must untangle the webs of deceit in order to find a vicious killer. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing is sacred. Nobody is safe.

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