Devil's Guard

Devil's Guard

4.09 (620 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback

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Product details

  • Hardback | 350 pages
  • 140 x 220mm
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0450011453
  • 9780450011450

Review Text

At some undetermined time in the recent past, George Elford, a zoologist, casually met an "extraordinary" individual, Hans Josef Wagemueller, a former Nazi SS trooper, in a bar somewhere in Southeast Asia, and therein lies the origin of this disquieting document, a conversational memoir of Wagemueller's morally constipated activities as a dedicated anti-Communist mercenary in the French Foreign Legion in Indochina after the defeat of Hitler's Reich and prior to Dien Bien Phu. Reputed to be all true (except for personal names, changed to protect the real identities of Wagemueller himself, now an honored citizen of an undisclosed Asian country, we are told, but still subject to possible prosecution in Germany for war crimes; those SS buddies who also served with him in the Legion; and his dear old publicity-shy mom, still alive and well in Germany), Elford says Wagemueller talked for 18 straight days into a tape recorder. What comes out is a sickening firsthand account of the French war operation, tales not unlike our own Vietnam "turkey shoots" and mass murder atrocities. The enemy is conned into capturing food supplies doctored with strychnine; women are raped, killed, mutilated; men are tortured for information or the hell of it, forced to eat propaganda leaflets, their own excrement, drink machine oil; others get worse treatment: "He ran the fuse down the man's hip, attached the detonator and slipped the charge under the prisoner's scrotum. . . . The man's body heaved as a spurt of blood splashed across his thighs." Although the book occasionally reads like a John Wayne movie script ("Make it straight there, or I will spill your filthy guts right here"), it provides an important insight into the cruelties and crudities of guerrilla war as well as the men who fight these wars; anyone disturbed by the Calley case should get some useful input from Devil's Guard. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Rating details

620 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 41% (255)
4 36% (222)
3 17% (104)
2 4% (22)
1 3% (17)
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