“More T.E. Lawrence than Che Guevara”: Dangerous Men by L. Hobley

A collection of alpha males, espousing wildly different political ideologies, come together to form a militia and offer some effective resistance to Thatcher’s Britain. “They were all, to a greater or lesser extent, fantasists; Walter Mittys with a cause […] Above all else they were romantics; […] warrior poets with their own chivalric code.” Dangerous Men is a thrilling story with larger-than-life characters, deserving of a wider audience. This is a book that no commercial publisher would ever touch, and in any case I suspect L. Hobley would not countenance the compromises that a commerical publisher would demand.

The title is taken from the well-known T.E. Lawrence quote:

“Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.”

Demoralized by the defeat of the miners and printworkers in the mid-eighties, and fed up with the idle dreams of revolution, left-wing activists decide on covert intervention in future industrial disputes. But their first action is a tragic disaster. They are subsequently joined by people who know what they’re doing: a disgruntled ex-SAS trooper and two feisty women – an Irish paramilitary and an ex-Israeli Defence Force sharpshooter. They train hard and toughen up their act. Their reputation grows. But they inevitably overreach themselves and their security is breached. Two are killed in a final shoot-out and the rest disperse; but the legend of the PTC (we never learn what the initials stand for) grows. The narrator, whose precise identity also remains a mystery, is an academic investigating the truth behind the legend. Consequently we are often left wondering if there is a kernel of truth here. Was there really such a group? Did events described in the book, such as the bombing of the M27 tunnel, actually happen?

The dangerous men (and women) are so real, have such depth of character that you feel you know them, have touched them, spent evenings drinking and arguing with them. The suave and handsome Marxist who nearly loses his life in the first action, the Scottish nationalist, the South African ex-Foreign Legionnaire, the beautiful IDF soldier Tanya, the level-headed but accident-prone Vino, the strong man Dennison, the psychotic survivalist “Killer Bob” and Bishop, the Judas who finally betrays the PTC and turns to religion. Even the former policeman who is charged with breaking the group is a convincing, though deeply unsympathetic, creation.

The book is rambling in places and the narrative is disjointed. It reads like a rough first draft and needs a seriously radical edit. But if you overlook the omissions and inconsistencies and focus on the actions described you might find Dangerous Men a thrilling high-testerone read.

Dangerous Men is available on Amazon.

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