Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror

[Book Review] While the title initially sounds melodramatic, as you read through the book the accuracy becomes striking. Pelton, widely known for his series on The World’s Most Dangerous Places (which is how I first heard of him, while researching my trips to North Korea and Iran), looks at the use of contractors/hired guns/mercenaries in various conflicts, highlighting both their usefulness and drawbacks.

The section on Afghanistan, where Pelton travels alone, trusting those he has met and befriended, in comparison to the distrustful, suspicious, largely ignorant contractor he meets and briefly stays with at a local home, is one of the best vignettes of the current wars I have read. You’ll disagree with parts of this book, but it will stick with you long after slicker, less visceral accounts have been forgotten.


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