Zululand Observer - Weekender
‘Mad Mike’Hoare - the inside story
AT the time of his ‘fame’, Mike Hoare’s name was on everybody’s lips, but very few could examine the soul of this man, who was either a hero or villain, depending on one’s political stance.
Mike’s journalist son Chris has highlighted some of the memories he has of his father in a book he has written titled ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare: The Legend.
Biographies are one of the more difficult genres to write, but with Chris’ close contact with Mike was able to make it a very readable book telling the story of his father’s exploits.
The book covers Mike’s early life as a scholar in England and his British
Army career before emigrating to South
Africa as a qualified chartered accountant.
Chris recounts Mike’s expeditions including the one for which he gained most fame.
This was the 1964-1965 expedition in which he led 300 ‘Wild Geese’ across the Congo to crush a communist rebellion.
During this operation, which is described in detail in the book, they rescued 2 000 nuns and priests from barbarity, beat Che Guevara and became a legend overnight.
Mike was the technical adviser to the film ‘The Wild Geese’, which starred Richard Burton playing the Mike Hoare character.
Adventurer at heart
It was not only political expeditions which kept Mike going.
He also participated in trans-Africa motorbike trips, blue water sailing, exploring remote areas and leading safaris in the Kalahari Desert.
In one of his last exploits, in 1981, Mike led 50 ‘Frothblowers’ in a bid to depose the socialist government of the Seychelles.
This was not to be and Mike spent three years in jail for hijacking a Boeing 707.
Chris spent 12 years researching and writing the book which has 200 references, 89 photographs, seven maps, a bibliography and an index.
Chris says, ‘My father, who is 99-and-a-half now and lives in Durban, was essentially a gentleman adventurer, probably the last of that breed.
‘I like to think he was an officer and a gentleman with a bit of pirate thrown in.’
The book is published by Partners in Publishing and is available in bookshops at a recommended retail price of R395.
The ISBN number is 9780620798617.