The life and times of ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare

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Author Chris Hoare, left, shows his father, the famous ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare, now aged 99 and living in Durban, a copy of his biography.PHOTO: supplied
Author Chris Hoare, left, shows his father, the famous ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare, now aged 99 and living in Durban, a copy of his biography.PHOTO: supplied

FOR the first time, a biography on the famous Mike Hoare has been published. Titled Mad Mike Hoare: The Legend, the book has attracted favourable comment from the likes of Kingsley Holgate, Eeben Barlow, and Al J Venter who commented, “I found The Legend to be written exceptionally well, and with remarkable clarity and insight.”

The 320-page book is by Mike’s son, Chris Hoare, a journalist who had unique access to his father’s life story. It is the result of 12 years of research and writing between times, has 200 references, 89 photographs, seven maps, a bibliography, and an index.

“Mad Mike” Hoare became world famous in 1964-1965 when he led 300 “Wild Geese” across the Congo to crush a communist rebellion, rescue 2 000 nuns and priests from barbarity, beat Che Guevara, and become a legend.

Of Irish blood, Mike was schooled in England and, during World War 2, was the “best bloody soldier in the British Army”. He demobbed as major, qualified in London as a chartered accountant and emigrated to South Africa. Going rogue, he started living dangerously to get more out of life, including trans-Africa motorbike trips, bluewater sailing, exploring remote areas, and leading safaris in the Kalahari Desert. Here Mike got to know the CIA agent who was to change his life … and Nelson Mandela’s. Later Mike was technical advisor to the film The Wild Geese, which starred Richard Burton playing the Mike Hoare character.

In 1981, Mike led 50 “Frothblowers” in a bid to depose the socialist government of the Seychelles. Things went wrong and soon Mike was to spend three years in jail for hijacking a Boeing 707. Says Chris: “My father, who is 99-and-a-half now and lives in Durban, was essentially a gentleman adventurer, probably the last of that breed. I like to think he was an officer and a gentleman with a bit of pirate thrown in.”

The book was published by Partners in Publishing and is available in bookshops.

Chris Hoare is Mike’s eldest son. He went to school at Michaelhouse, has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Natal, and has spent most of his working life in journalism of different kinds. — Supplied.

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