A Game for Vultures Hartmann, Michael (William Heinemann Ltd, 1975)
The book was then, later, filmed. The story essentially focuses on the
Rhodesian struggle, as demonstrated in the personal battle between David Swansey
and Gideon Marunga. Swansey spends much of the book fighting to perform a sanctions-busting
deal to acquire 50 ex-military helicopters, having survived contacts on the
ground which have made it clear how important additional helicopters would be in
The struggle between ZANU and ZAPU groups and the Rhodesians - it is put across that many would
find it safer in a Rhodesian prison than in the bloody battles between the
combatants - is the focus of much of the book. The idea is presumably that the
superior organisation of the Rhodesian forces, aided by their military
superiority (and the helicopters Swansea is getting) will be enough to win the
The beginning of the story - when Swansey discovers the victims of an ambush,
and is also wounded himself - prompts him to trying to access helicopters.
A ZANLA/ ZIPRA clash- (which actually tended only to happen in urban areas) enables
the writer to give an impression of division amongst the guerrilla ranks.
The very end of the story - Marunga manages to destroy the helicopters, is
wounded - but seems to recognise similarities between the two men (Swansey
essentially enables Marunga to escape) is possibly supposed to make the reader
realise the futility of war.
The film (tag line - In every war there are those who kill... and those who
make a killing!) had, as its cast, Richard Harris, Richard Roundtree, Ray
Milland, Sven Bertil Taube, Denholm Elliot and Joan Collins (blink and you'll miss her).
Not a great film, and it was actually banned in Norway, for some reason, but an important piece of the Rhodesian cannon. One amusing
piece of trivia - if you can spot the weapon being carried by Gideon Marunga (Roundtree)
it seems to be an American M16, rather than the AK 47 which would have been more
plausible. You rather suspect that, had M16s been commonly carried by ZANLA/
ZIPRA, Rhodesia would have complained to the US about this, but would also have
appropriated a few of them for their own use. The way that Roundtree`s accent
keeps slipping into an American twang might also have raised some suspicion.