Top positive review
First-Class Journalism in Places the World Forgot
on December 4, 2002
I stumbled across Robert Young Pelton's comebackalive.com website while researching the topic of mercenaries in Africa, and paused to take a look at one of his books. The time was well spent, numerous typos and grammatical errors notwithstanding. Let's hope his next manuscript gets better proofreading.
Pelton's "The Hunter, the Hammer, and Heaven" chronicles the author's fearless journeys into three separate hearts of darkness: Sierra Leone, Chechnya, and Bougainville. Each is a place where surely angels would fear to tread, but Pelton, with careful persistence, deftly tiptoes through each, and not only comes back alive, but brings the raw, gritty truths of modern war with him. Places that are usually just a few lines buried in the back page of the Sunday paper spring to hair-raising life as Pelton gets to know the people in each place, and their motivations for fighting.
There is a lot of excellent material here for anybody who is trying to sort out all the players in these hellholes without benefit of a scorecard, and reading this book will impart a much deeper understanding of how and why such conflicts occur.
Another impression the reader will get is that the media outlets of the world are hopelessly out of touch, far more concerned with the color of Hillary Clinton's underwear than with the chaos, death and destruction that they are too lazy or corrupt to see. In my case, Pelton's reporting served only to underscore what I already knew - the media giants are completely out of touch, but in ways I never realized until I read this gutsy man's words.
The book also serves as a window into the shadowy private military operations (like Sandline International and Executive Outcomes) that have superseded the mercenary armies of the 60's and 70's. The book makes (in my opinion) a convincing argument for supporting such actions, rather than condemning them as has been done over and over in the mainstream media. Upon reading this book, you'll come away with a much better understanding of each hot-spot, and a profound respect for Pelton's awe-inspiring courage in seeking out and telling the truth. Highly recommended.