The Settler View.

Daniel Carney’s father was a British diplomat who had a rough Second World War.[1] Daniel (1944-1987) was born in Beirut,[2] then the family lived in Tehran before “coming home” to Britain in 1948.  Apparently, it never seemed much like home to Daniel Carney.  Or perhaps he just wanted a more adventurous life than Britain and its crumbling empire could provide.  When he was 19, he went to Southern Rhodesia, which had just broken from the Black-ruled Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.  Here he joined the British South Africa Police (BSAP).  This national police force contained para-military units fully involved in the “Bush War” against Black nationalists operating from neighboring countries.[3]  They might be described as “a toughish lot, but very go ahead.”[4]  Carney spent three and a half years with the BSAP, doing stuff and listening to the tales of other people.  Then he packed it in for real estate and writing. 

Carney wrote fiction about what he knew and believed.  The descendants of White settlers seeking a better life at the price of a more rugged life dominated Southern Rhodesia, which had a vastly larger Black population.  Like most of the other “White Africans” who descended from European settlers in Algeria, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, and Angola, they saw themselves as besieged defenders of Western civilization.  They saw their opponents as pre-civilized “savages” who were being used by the Soviet Union which often supported their efforts at national liberation.  Before cancer killed Carney at a young age, he wrote two novels that expressed the settler view.  Both were made into movies. 

The Whispering Death (1969).  A former BSAP officer and his loyal African tracker hunt the guerrilla who murdered his fiancé.  He succeeds, but his killed by Army troops for going off the reservation.  Made into “Albino”/”Whispering Death”/”Night of the Askaris” (Dir. Jurgen Goslar, 1976), reviewed by right-thinking film scholars as “a nasty, repugnant tale of racial hatred and revenge.”

The Thin White Line (1978).  Former mercenaries from the Congo are hired to save a charismatic African president from captivity—so that he can be exploited by a Western mining company.[5]  Made into “The Wild Geese” (Dir. Andrew McLaglen, 1978).  One right-thinking reviewer described it as “deadly dull” even as it “exploits racism as some kind of sporting entertainment.”  It was the 14th highest grossing movie that year, so maybe not that dull. 

Carney wrote two later thrillers, but neither has anything to do with Africa: The Square Circle (1982), which was made into “The Wild Geese II” and Macau (1985).  His novel Under a Raging Sky (1980), perhaps offers insight into Carney himself: a young man chucks a boring white-collar job to seek adventure in Rhodesia.  He finds it. 

It is reported that, after his death, Carney’s heirs opposed republication of his books. 

[1] Various postings in China during the Sino-Japanese War; captured by the Japanese at Shanghai in early 1942;

 eventually exchanged for Japanese diplomats; posted to Natal, South Africa, and then Beirut. 

[2] Where the British were trying to keep the Free French and the Arab nationalists from duking it out before the whole Hitler thing had been sorted out.

[3] See Rhodesian Bush War – Wikipedia 

[4] Sam Collins to George Smiley, in John LeCarre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974).  Collins is describing the criminals who own the gambling joint which he manages since being unjustly forced out of MI-6. 

[5] See: Wilbur Smith, Dark of the Sun (1965); Frederick Forsyth, The Dogs of War (1974); and John LeCarre, Mission Song (2006) for similar themes. 


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