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Thursday, September 21, 2017


A “romp” told in a light-hearted and entertaining style, but I found it somewhat lacking in substance. (Review by Barry Meehan)

The Life Of Mercenary Soldier Peter Duffy by Graham Linscott, well-known as The Mercury’s The Idler, was released last month.

On reading this “romp”, as author Graham Linscott describes the life of Peter Duffy, I get the feeling that Duffy would rather have had the by-line read “The Life of Adventurer Peter Duffy”, as it would seem that he fell into the role of mercenary rather more by accident than design.

The book covers Duffy’s life from his early days in Scotland, through his time as a coffee planter in Tanganyika, his karate training in Japan, his movie career as an extra and stuntman, his mercenary life in the Congo Civil War, his career as a social and news photographer, and his participation in the abortive Seychelles coup with a subsequent stint in jail.

The book is apparently based on stories related by Duffy to Linscott over a series of interviews in Linscott’s home, where Duffy was recuperating after a hip operation. A contract was signed, but Duffy walked out of the house one day, saying that he wanted nothing more to do with the project. He and Linscott didn’t speak for three years afterwards, with Linscott still in the dark about what he had done wrong, or why Duffy had walked out of the deal. None of this is covered in the book, but has been gleaned from newspaper reports.

The book is indeed a “romp” and is told in a light-hearted and entertaining style, but I found it somewhat lacking in substance.

Duffy comes across as a bit of a serial womaniser during his early years, with several tales of dalliances with the fairer sex, some illicit and some not. It certainly appears that his sense of adventure was not to be stifled by settling down with any one woman.

A large portion of the book covers the attempted Seychelles coup by a bunch of mercenaries under the leadership of Mike Hoare, and sheds some light on how the plan was hatched, and how it went seriously wrong, leading to the hijacking of an Air India jet and its passengers to Durban, along with the subsequent trial of those concerned and their imprisonment and eventual release.

Unfortunately, Peter Duffy passed away on the day the book was being sent to the printers, so we will never know what he thought about it, and whether he considered it a true reflection of his adventurous life. RIP Peter Duffy. – Barry Meehan

The Life Of Mercenary Soldier Peter Duffy is published in paperback by Nomapix (Pty) Ltd. ISBN-13: 978-0-620-72217-9