I began reading this book with a sense of trepidation, expecting a triumphalist tome churned out by another right-wing émigré, crowing over the collapse of the Soviet Union and its former satellite states. The prologue, set in Kabul and Angola, confirmed my fears. Radek Sikorski, Polish-born, Oxford-educated, journalist and war-groupie of such outfits as the Afghan mujahideen and Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA guerrillas in Angola, stamps his politics clearly on the very first page. ‘Giant transport planes approached to land in a tight corkscrew, spreading decoy flares like sparklers, terrified of our missiles,’ he writes of the Soviet withdrawal from Kabul.
Our missiles? Sikorski later writes extensively, and insightfully, on how the Communist regimes distorted history and ideologies for their own purposes, but this is hardly objective reporting. Eventually, like some of the journalists-turned-mercenaries