THIRD PARTY EVENT: In Conversation with Al Venter

Talk May 26, 2011 6:30 PM

Al Venter’s unusual claim to fame is that, after covering conflicts on almost all continents for near-on five decades, he is still alive. That comes through rather forcefully in his last book, Barrel of a Gun, recently released in the US and Britain. 

Doing a personal tally while writing “Barrel” he discovered that he’d had about a dozen whisker-width scrapes, most of which might have ended otherwise.  He puts a lot of it down to luck and a peculiar predilection for regarding the most absurdly dangerous situations as comical, especially when it is anything but. It is all nerves, he admits, but goes on to say that a smile and a bit of banter when the chips really are down, sometimes helps.

For all that, he has been “wounded” twice, once, in a frontal attack across trench-lines in Angola and as a result of his own stupidity. What it has done is leave him more than half deaf, which helps when you’re trying to sleep in some Third World environment where an evening’s enjoyment is measured in terms of decibels.

In a more serious vein, Al J. Venter is described by Wikipedia as a war correspondent, documentary filmmaker and author of more than 40 books (45, in fact).  He has covered violence and insurrection just about everywhere. Venter served as African and Middle East correspondent for Jane’s International Defence Review and has reported on a number of Africa’s bloodiest wars including the Nigerian Civil War, the Ugandan conflict, Rhodesia, the Sudan, Angola, the South African Border War, the Congo as well as Portuguese Guinea and Sierra Leone.  In addition he has undertaken three military assignments with Executive Outcomes and a Joint-STAR mission with the United States Air Force over Kosovo.  

This is a rare and unprecedented opportunity to hear Venter speak; expect a searching and revealing evening that will cover blood diamonds, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic quest for nuclear weapons. In conversation with journalist John Coster, Venter will also be talking about his pending new work, ‘Neal Ellis – Helicopter Pilot: Mercenary’ shortly to be published by Casemate.