A gripping work of reportage that, for the first time, tells the story of "Chucky" Taylor, a young American who lost his soul in Liberia, the country where his African father was a ruthless warlord and dictator.
Chucky Taylor was in many ways an average American kid: Growing up in Florida, he had friends, a high school sweetheart, and some brushes with the law. But then, in 1992, at age 15, he traveled to Liberia to meet his estranged father Charles Taylor - the warlord and future president of Liberia. Adrift in a strange, underdeveloped country, Chucky became the commander of the infamous Anti-Terrorist Unit, aka "Demon Forces".
Suddenly powerful amidst the lawlessness of his father's rule, any semblance of morality vanished: The savagery and pointlessness of his crimes shocked even his brutal father. Fleeing Liberia as his father's government fell, Chucky was caught sneaking into the United States and became the first American convicted of the war crime of torture. Now, Johnny Dwyer's deeply researched audiobook tells not just the riveting story of Chucky Taylor and his family, but also of Liberia, a nation which only recently has found reason to hope for the future.
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More a historic review than a biography
A thug's life
What sets this book apart from other bios of third world warlords is that its subject, Chucky Taylor, was born in the United States and spent his formative years there. Other than that, I didn’t find the narrative all that compelling. There is little about Taylor or his story to hold the listener’s interest – his banality, cruelty, and seeming lack of insight into the effect of his actions on those around him could be the story of any number of faceless tyrants that have been all too depressingly common in the history of the dark continent. I had expected a “rise and fall” story of an evil but perhaps compelling figure but there is little here to suggest Taylor did little more than stumble into power by birthright before fading away to irrelevance. In this case, truth is duller than fiction.