Family drama and duty
Blood Money By Johan Raath Delta Publishers
THIS riveting account sheds light on the realities of working in a wartorn country and is described as the first book on the war in Iraq written by a South African.
Raath and a security team were escorting American engineers to a power plant south of Baghdad when they were ambushed. He had arrived in Iraq only two weeks before and his baptism of fire was a small taste of what was to come over the next 13 years he would spend in the war-torn country.
His mission? “Not to wage war, but to protect lives.”
Raath acted as a bodyguard for VIPS and, more often, engineers who were involved in construction projects to rebuild the country after the 2003 war. His physical and mental endurance were tested to the limit in his efforts to safeguard construction sites that were regularly subjected to mortar and suicide attacks. Key to his survival was his training as a special forces operator, or recce.
Working in places called the Triangle of Death and driving on the Hell Run, Raath describes a host of hair-raising experiences. A trained combat medic, he also helped to save people’s lives after two suicide bomb attacks.
This is a gripping, grisly and highly informative account of the tough life and often thankless job of a private military contractor.
IT’S post-independence Zimbabwe and an atmosphere of nostalgia hangs over much of Harare’s remaining white community.
Hayden Eastwood grows up in a family that sets itself apart, distinguishing themselves from Rhodie-rhodies through their politics: left is good; right is bad.
Within the family’s free-andeasy approach to life, Hayden and his younger brother, Dan, make a pact to never grow up, to play hide-and-seek and build forts forever, and ignore girls.
But as the chemicals of adolescence begin to stir, their childhood pact starts to unravel. And as Sarah enters their lives, the brothers find themselves embroiled in an unspoken love triangle. While Sarah and Hayden spend increasing amounts of time together, Dan is left to deal with feelings of rejection and the burden of hidden passion, and the demise of a silly promise brings with it a wave of destruction.
This tender account is laced with equal amounts of humour, anger and sadness. It is a beautifully written tale of a family in crisis and an exploration of how we only abandon the lies we tell ourselves when we have no other option. – Orielle Berry