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Welcome to Bright Review, the website for Christopher Othen, author of 'KATANGA 1960-63: MERCENARIES, SPIES AND THE AFRICAN NATION THAT WAGED WAR ON THE WORLD' and 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' (amazon.co.uk or amazon.com). Here you will find information about Christopher's book, along with articles on heists, history, wars, and writers.

The newest article is The Last Flight of the Albertina, about the mysterious death of UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld. Accident or murder plot? The most popular article is now Whiter Than White, a look at South African policeman turned bankrobber Andre Stander.

You can buy Christopher's book by clicking the amazon links or the the front covers at top and bottom right of the page. Order quick, it's selling out fast.



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Check Out My New Blog

News, Updates, and All Kinds of Cultural and Military Weirdness

Anyone who fancies a break from the turmoil of everything can cleanse their minds by reading about all kinds of cultural and military weirdness on my new blog. Expect to find short bursts of real-life insanity, updated regularly. I hope.

christopherothen.wordpress.com/

You'll find posts about Englishmen in the Spanish Foreign Legion, Pete Townshend of The Who shilling for the US Air Force during the Vietnam War, the woman who designed Ernest Hemingway's book covers, and Woody Allen fighting a kangaroo. And Filipino vampires. Hope you enjoy and remember to click the follow button at the bototm of the page.


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Katanga Book - September 2015

Mercenaries, Spies and the African Nation that Waged War on the World

Here's some more shameless publicity. KATANGA 1960-63: MERCENARIES, SPIES AND THE AFRICAN NATION THAT WAGED WAR ON THE WORLD will be published 7 September 2015. It's available from amazon.co.uk and bookshops nationwide. There's also an ebook version for those who prefer pixels to ink ... .


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Franco's International Brigades Available as eBook

Download the New Edition from Amazon

You can now read 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' on your Kindle. The ebook version is available from Amazon as of today. It has a nice new cover and some light revision to the previous Hurst edition text. Find out more ... .


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The Last Flight of the Albertina

Mercenaries, Conspiracies, and the Death of Dag Hammarskjöld, 18 September 1961

The Congo, 1961. The renegade province of Katanga has declared independence from the rest of the country. Violence erupts. United Nations peacekeepers arrive to stop the fighting but find themselves at war after an attempt to disarm the Katangese government's mercenary helpers goes badly wrong. In September UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld flies down to Northern Rhodesia for peace talks. His plane will never arrive. Murder? Accident? Conspiracy? CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, author of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' (amazon.co.uk or amazon.com), examines the facts in a chapter from his forthcoming book about the Katangese secession.


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In Search of Dominique Borella

A Man on the Militant Edge of French Anti-Communism 1932-1975

Indochina, Algeria, France, the Congo, Yemen, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon. French mercenary Dominique Borella fought for rightist causes around the world. He left behind dead bodies and closed mouths. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, author of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' (amazon.co.uk or amazon.com), wipes away the blood to uncover the life of a man who thought he could change the world one bullet at a time.


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The Assassination of Stepan Bandera

When Ukrainian Nationalism, Soviet Revenge, and the Ghost of Nazi Collaboration Met in Munich, 1959

Stepan Bandera is a hero to many Ukrainians. Protesters in Kiev love him. But Moscow claims he was a Nazi collaborator and Polish politicians erect memories to their countrymen killed by his militia. In September 1959 someone murdered him in a Munich apartment block. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, author of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' finds out who did it.


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Don't Bury Me Alone

Three More Classic Non-Fiction Books

CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, author of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' looks at another three non-fiction greats.


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Self-Inflicted Wounds

Four Non-Fiction Books You Need to Read

CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, author of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' is sitting in a Warszawa cafe, thinking non-fiction, bank robbery, and girls.


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A Short History of Russian Roulette in Australia

Earless Gunmen, Vietnamese Gangsters, and a Pool Hall in Footscray c.1987

Another extract from my history of Russian Roulette. This time we're in Australia with gun loving standover man Mark Brandon 'Chopper' Read and the cream of the Melbourne underworld. Did anyone ever win money by playing the suicidal gun game? Chopper did. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, author of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' has the details.


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Dead Man's Hand

Antonio Padilla's New Thriller About the Congo

A new novel about Congo mercenaries is available for Spanish readers. Antonio Padilla's 'La mano del muerto' is a sharp thriller about the links between Franco's Spain, Africa in the 1960s, and urban terrorism. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, author of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR' takes a look.


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Wacky Hijinks in Publishing

From Columbia to Oxford with 'Franco's International Brigades'

The US edition of 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR', the first book from CHRISTOPHER OTHEN, has moved publishers from Columbia University to Oxford University. Wacky hijinks will no doubt ensue ...


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Franco's International Brigades: On the Shelves Now

New Edition from Hurst & Co Published in January 2013

An expanded version of Christopher Othen's first book, 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR', is now available in the UK. American readers can get their hands on it when the Columbia University of New York edition is published in March 2013 ...


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Katanga Wants You

Do You Have Information on the Congo 1960-63?

I am writing a book on the Katanga secession in July 1960. Mercenaries, global politics, and the United Nations' first shooting war. Can you help? I am interested in hearing from anyone with first hand experience, previously unseen photographs, or in depth knowledge of the Congo or Katanga at that time. E-mail me at brightreview@aol.com or look up my name on Skype. My profile mentions the Congo. Discretion is guaranteed - CHRISTOPHER OTHEN .


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The Day of the Mkhedrioni

How the Bank Robbing Playwright Jaba Ioseliani and His Gang of Mafia Paramilitaries Made Modern Georgia (1988-1995)

The Soviet Bloc. 1988. The foundations of the communist system are crumbling, nationalist passions are rising, and everyone wants to make money. A good time to start an illegal Georgian nationalist militia with one foot in the Mafia and a taste for leather jackets. Jaba Ioseliani thought so and within four years he was the most powerful man in newly independent Georgia. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN looks at the rise and fall of the Mkhedrioni, the only militia group led by a playwright who did time for bank robbery.


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Franco's International Brigades - January 2013

Hurst & Co Team Up With New York's Columbia University to Publish New Edition

A new edition of Christopher Othen's first book, 'FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES: ADVENTURERS, FASCISTS, AND CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR', will be published in January 2013 in a joint venture between London-based Hurst & Co. and Columbia University of New York ...


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A Kidnapping in Poland

History’s Revenge on Bolesław Piasecki, PAX, and the Falanga (1957-58)

Winter in Warsaw. January 1957. A schoolboy on his way home is lured into a taxi. A ransom is demanded. An unusual crime in Communist Poland, made stranger because the boy's father is Bolesław Piasecki, an important man in the political establishment. Is it about the money? Or is it something darker, connected to Piasecki's pre-war past when he marched to a different drummer? CHRISTOPHER OTHEN investigates Poland's most notorious unsolved crime.


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Mercenaries, Guns, and Witch Doctors

The Congo Independence Wars (1960-67)

I am working on a book about the Congo wars of the 1960s that will cover the Katanga secession in 1960, the Simba rebellion of '64, and Jean Schramme's mercenary revolt in '67. Soldiers of fortune, witch doctors, guns, and Belgian colonialism. Can you help? I am interested in hearing from anyone with first hand experience, previously unseen photographs, or in depth knowledge of the Congo or Katanga at that time. E-mail me at brightreview@aol.com or look me up on Skype. My profile mentions the Congo. Discretion is guaranteed - CHRISTOPHER OTHEN.


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The Man Who Invented Russian Roulette

The Forgotten Life of Georges Surdez (1900-49)

The suicidal gun game of Russian Roulette originated in Tsarist Russia but remained nameless until it hit America just before the Second World War. Its gambling moniker was the invention of Georges Arthur Surdez, a Swiss-born and Brooklyn-based writer of pulp fiction stories. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN examines the career of a writer from the literary underbelly of American culture.


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Whiter Than White

Robbing Banks in Apartheid Era South Africa with Police Captain Andre Stander and his Gang (1977-84)

Andre Stander was a bank robber, a jailbird, and a Captain in the South African Police at the height of apartheid. In the late 1970s he robbed banks in his lunchtime and investigated crimes in the afternoon. Stander’s double life collapsed when he was sent to prison in 1980 but three years later he escaped and launched a new crime wave with a gang recruited behind bars. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN looks at the life and death of a criminal who always thought he was the smartest kêrel in the room.


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Sewer Rats

The OAS, the French Underworld, and the 1976 Société Générale Heist

A would-be assassin, a gang of Marseilles crooks, and the biggest bank robbery in French history. In 1976 a hand-picked group of criminals and far-right veterans used the sewers of Nice to break into the Société Générale bank vault. They cleaned out over 30,000,000 francs, leaving police baffled until a jealous wife and a holiday villa provided vital clues. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN demonstrates the best way to rob a French bank. Try not get your feet wet.


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Urga, February 1921

Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Mongolia

During the Russian Civil War Baron von Ungern-Sternberg earned a reputation in Siberia as a sadistic warlord whose excesses did more harm to his own side than to his Communist enemies. When the anti-Bolshevik forces collapsed in 1920 the Baron took his men over the border to Chinese-controlled Mongolia. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN looks at the Baron's capture of the Mongolian capital Urga, the first – and last –step of a crazed attempt to build a Buddhist Empire stretching from Mongolia to Portugal.


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What We Do Is Secret

Mind Games and Germs Burns with Los Angeles Punk Legend Darby Crash (1977-80)

A junkie singer, a fatal overdose, and a high school brainwashing programme. Los Angeles' Germs were the hottest punk band of the late seventies thanks to the charisma of their suicidal singer Darby Crash. Unable to decide if he wanted to be a music biz legend or a cult leader Crash fell apart under the pressure of his heroin fuelled lifestyle. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN examines how a fan of Charles Manson and L Ron Hubbard briefly became the most influential figure in the LA underground.


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Armed Tourists

A Bare Bones Guide to FRANCO'S INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES - the Foreign Volunteers of the Nationalist Army during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39)

Crusading Catholics, foreign Fascists, and Muslims with a grudge. The Spanish Civil War set right against left when centuries of grievances erupted into a bloody settling of accounts in 1936. The left-wing volunteers who came from around the world to fight for the Spanish government are well known but more foreigners joined the other side. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN looks at the right-wing version of the International Brigades: the foreign volunteers who fought for General Franco.


Black Sheep


One Hundred Years of Bankrupt British Aristocrats, Corrupt Golden Youths, and Frankly Untrustworthy Remittance Men

Murdered Earls, bisexual public school men, and war heroes with dark secrets. The political power of Britain’s upper classes may have declined in recent years but their instinct to lie, cheat, murder and steal is as strong as ever. CHRISTOPHER OTHEN is your guide through a library of wrong doing. Please check your morals at the door.


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Site Timeline


Information on the construction and administration of Bright Review

The page for dates, contact information, and an easy-on-the-eye list of the Bright Review articles.


Katanga 1960-63 Book Cover






General Franco's International Brigades Book Cover








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General Franco's International Brigades Book Cover





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