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Roberts, Adam

Roberts, Adam


Married Anne Hammerstad (an academic specializing in African security politics). Education: Graduated from Oxford University; London School of Economics, master's degree.


Home—London, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Economist, London, England, bureau chief in Johannesburg, South Africa, until 2005, staff correspondent in London, England, 2005—. Consultant, Coup! (drama), BBC-TV.


From Jo'burg to Jozi: Stories about Africa's Infamous City, Penguin Books (Johannesburg, South Africa), 2002.

(Editor, with Joe Thloloe) Soweto Inside Out: Stories about Africa's Famous Township, Penguin Books (Johannesburg, South Africa), 2004.

The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs, and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa, PublicAffairs (New York, NY), 2006.


Miramax acquired the film rights to The Wonga Coup in 2006.


Adam Roberts's The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs, and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa tells the story of the abortive 2004 attempt to overthrow the regime of African strongman Obiang Nguema in Equatorial Guinea. The coup, led by former SAS officer Simon Mann, made headlines worldwide for two major reasons: first, it named Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as one of the head conspirators; and second, it followed very closely the plot of suspense writer Frederick Forsyth's 1974 novel The Dogs of War—so closely that some commentators suggested the plotters had adopted the plot of the novel as their working plan. ‘It seems most likely,’ wrote a contributor to Curled Up with a Good Book, ‘that Forsyth was involved not in a fictional coup of Equatorial Guinea thirty years before, but in plotting an actual failed coup."

Nguema's government claimed that the attempted coup had the backing, not only of Thatcher and other individual financers, but of the governments of the United States, Great Britain, and Spain. Roberts also points out that the plotters launched their coup in the hopes of plundering Equatorial Guinea's rich and largely untapped oil resources. Whether or not this was the case, the coup itself was a farcical exercise marked by amateurish planning and incredible naivety or stupidity. According to Roberts, stated Dominick Donald in the Guardian,the South African government had been getting regular updates on the plot for months before it was launched, and waited until the very last moment before passing on the information that would scupper it,’ and ‘the plotters had lamentable operational security, indulging in poolside or bar-stool bragging about their plans.’ ‘Adam Roberts' account of the Wonga coup,’ wrote Ludovic Hunter-Tilney in the Financial Times, ‘is well researched and wonderfully gripping."



African Business, August 1, 2006, review of The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs, and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa, p. 64.

Daily Variety, March 16, 2007, Steven Zeitchik, ‘Buchman Eyes Wonga Script,’ p. 13.

Entertainment Weekly, August 11, 2006, Thom Geier, review of The Wonga Coup, p. 71.

Financial Times, August 12, 2006, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, ‘In Brief—The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Billions in Africa Oil,’ p. 33.

Library Journal, November 1, 2006, James Thorsen, review of The Wonga Coup, p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, June 12, 2006, review of The Wonga Coup, p. 42.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2006, review of The Wonga Coup.


Agony Column, (October 9, 2007), ‘Adam Roberts Uncovers The Wonga Coup: Life Imitates a 1970s Thriller."

Curled Up with a Good Book, (October 9, 2007), review of The Wonga Coup.

Lippincott Massie McQuilkin Literary Agents Web site, (October 9, 2007), ‘Adam Roberts Journalist, The Economist."

Manchester Guardian Online, (August 12, 2006), Dominick Donald, ‘Cloud Coup-Coup Land: Adam Roberts's The Wonga Coup Is the Best Account So Far of the Failed Coup Involving Mark Thatcher, Says Dominick Donald."

Seattle Times Online, (October 9, 2007), John B. Saul, ‘‘The Wonga Coup’: Pillaging Africa: A Surreal Case Study."

Wonga Coup Web site, (October 9, 2007), author biography.

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