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From the author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, comes an exposé of international corruption, and an inspired plan to turn the tide for future generations With a presidential election around the corner, questions of America's military buildup, environmental impact, and foreign policy are on everyone's mind. Former Economic Hit From the author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, comes an exposé of international corruption, and an inspired plan to turn the tide for future generations With a presidential election around the corner, questions of America's military buildup, environmental impact, and foreign policy are on everyone's mind. Former Economic Hit Man John Perkins goes behind the scenes of the current geopolitical crisis and offers bold solutions to our most pressing problems. Drawing on interviews with other EHMs, jackals, CIA operatives, reporters, businessmen, and activists, Perkins reveals the secret history of events that have created the current American Empire, including:   How the defeats in Vietnam and Iraq have benefited big business The role of Israel as Fortress America in the Middle East Tragic repercussions of the IMF's Asian Economic Collapse The current Latin American revolution and its lessons for democracy U.S. blunders in Tibet, Congo, Lebanon, and Venezuela From the U.S. military in Iraq to infrastructure development in Indonesia, from Peace Corps volunteers in Africa to jackals in Venezuela, Perkins exposes a conspiracy of corruption that has fueled instability and anti-Americanism around the globe, with consequences reflected in our daily headlines. Having raised the alarm, Perkins passionately addresses how Americans can work to create a more peaceful and stable world for future generations.  


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From the author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, comes an exposé of international corruption, and an inspired plan to turn the tide for future generations With a presidential election around the corner, questions of America's military buildup, environmental impact, and foreign policy are on everyone's mind. Former Economic Hit From the author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, comes an exposé of international corruption, and an inspired plan to turn the tide for future generations With a presidential election around the corner, questions of America's military buildup, environmental impact, and foreign policy are on everyone's mind. Former Economic Hit Man John Perkins goes behind the scenes of the current geopolitical crisis and offers bold solutions to our most pressing problems. Drawing on interviews with other EHMs, jackals, CIA operatives, reporters, businessmen, and activists, Perkins reveals the secret history of events that have created the current American Empire, including:   How the defeats in Vietnam and Iraq have benefited big business The role of Israel as Fortress America in the Middle East Tragic repercussions of the IMF's Asian Economic Collapse The current Latin American revolution and its lessons for democracy U.S. blunders in Tibet, Congo, Lebanon, and Venezuela From the U.S. military in Iraq to infrastructure development in Indonesia, from Peace Corps volunteers in Africa to jackals in Venezuela, Perkins exposes a conspiracy of corruption that has fueled instability and anti-Americanism around the globe, with consequences reflected in our daily headlines. Having raised the alarm, Perkins passionately addresses how Americans can work to create a more peaceful and stable world for future generations.  

30 review for Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    At the end of Three Days of the Condor the guy who is not Robert Redford, the guy who is the evil CIA operative who has been trying to ‘bring him home’ throughout the film - which we have guessed is a euphuism for ‘take him out’ - is talking about why the CIA does bad, manipulative things in the world. He tells Redford that it is simple economics and anyway, what would Redford expect them to do? Redford says he should ask the American people first. The CIA man looks at Redford in the way so many At the end of Three Days of the Condor the guy who is not Robert Redford, the guy who is the evil CIA operative who has been trying to ‘bring him home’ throughout the film - which we have guessed is a euphuism for ‘take him out’ - is talking about why the CIA does bad, manipulative things in the world. He tells Redford that it is simple economics and anyway, what would Redford expect them to do? Redford says he should ask the American people first. The CIA man looks at Redford in the way so many people do when confronted with the naivety of the person they are talking to, but finally replies, “Ask them when there's no heat and they're cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. Want to know something? They won't want us to ask them. They'll want us to get it for them.” The whole way through this most remarkable book I found myself thinking of that line and that last scene from Three Days of the Condor. This is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in quite a long time. It reads like a Le Carre novel or something by Graham Green, and yet it is autobiographical. A young man becomes drawn into international finance and has the role of convincing third world countries (particularly the leaders of these countries) to take out loans that are so huge their countries will never be able to repay them. They do this so as to ensure that these countries become satellites orbiting the American Empire. His job was to make these countries compliant, dependent, and endlessly economically exploitable. Perkins asserts that the economic hit men were potentially only phase one of what could become a three phase attack on the democratic rights and independence of foreign nations. If bribing the leaders of countries with massive loans they could never repay didn’t work, then the jackals were sent in to kill selected targets and to create mayhem that would ensure the ‘right’ people would be put into power. If this didn’t work, then US troops were sent in. He gives instance after instance of where this pattern was applied in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia over a period of about three decades. It would be hard to imagine someone from the US reading this book without a growing sense of shame. It is hard to read this book from anywhere in the first world without feelings of responsibility, disgust and self-loathing. He reminds us continually that our lavish and unsustainable life style is only possible by the exploitation unto death of large parts of the globe. This is also a remarkably well written autobiography – if Noam Chomsky was to make up a character who walked the path of evil before converting and walking the path of righteousness, he’s have come up with someone pretty much like John Perkins. Perkins does not come out of this book a saint, but he does come out of it a bit of a hero – I think. It surprises me more I can say that this book ever got published. I believe we live in times when global capitalism is so cocksure of its pre-eminence and unassailability that it doesn’t even bother to cover up its deeds. I think I preferred it when the rulers of the world at least pretended they were concerned we might overthrown them if we caught them at their cheating. I think I preferred it when they would lie to us, if for no better reason than purely out of shame. Now they don’t even bother to treat us to that level of respect. We have become completely contemptible. Where they can do whatever they like and then rub our noses in it and we will only shake our heads and complain about how powerless we are. This really is a fascinating book, fascinating in the literal sense of having one’s attention stolen as we read. Like I said, this reads like a spy novel, but made even more compelling by it being true. This book demands to be read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Terrible. Here's the book in a nutshell. "I'm in doing . I feel bad about this. I meet . He takes me to . I learn . I return to my out of touch american enclave and happen upon . He like a prophet." The process then repeats. Anyway, I'm sure the ideas in this book will help some 19 year old get laid. and if you are that 19 year old then I can not recommend this book highly enough. Terrible. Here's the book in a nutshell. "I'm in <3rd world country> doing . I feel bad about this. I meet . He takes me to . I learn . I return to my out of touch american enclave and happen upon . He like a prophet." The process then repeats. Anyway, I'm sure the ideas in this book will help some 19 year old get laid. and if you are that 19 year old then I can not recommend this book highly enough.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mona

    Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, while purportedly the author's memoir and hard-hitting expose of his work in the "corporatocracy", reads more like a flat and repetitive mass market thriller. In the 1970s, John Perkins began working for MAIN, an international consulting firm, as an economist who developed inflated projections of development in poor countries, so that they would then become dependent on richer countries like the United States. As Perkins explains, the "corporatocracy" consists Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, while purportedly the author's memoir and hard-hitting expose of his work in the "corporatocracy", reads more like a flat and repetitive mass market thriller. In the 1970s, John Perkins began working for MAIN, an international consulting firm, as an economist who developed inflated projections of development in poor countries, so that they would then become dependent on richer countries like the United States. As Perkins explains, the "corporatocracy" consists of international corporations, banks, and governments that utilize various financial and political resources to enforce and maintain the idea that all economic growth is beneficial, and futhermore, is most beneficial to those that instigate, while those who do not should be exploited. To illustrate this idea, Perkins explains his travels and work in countries such as Panama, Indonesia, and Ecuador. He also details his transition from economic hit man to concerned American citizen. For all I know, Perkins' account may be one-hundred percent true, but there were several things which I did not find convincing. He presents the idea of the corporatocracy as a novel concept, whereas anyone paying the slightest attention to world politics and history over the past fifty years is most likely already aware of the trend of a few governments, banks and corporations controlling the global arena and the victimization of poorer populations. It is difficult to trust Perkins-the-narrator, especially since he tends toward cloak-and-dagger dramatizations and also because he made a living for many years from deception and exaggeration. He claims that he was intimately involved in events such as the Saudi Arabian Money-Laundering Affair, but many of these claims are not supported by outside evidence. I also did not find Perkins to be a very sympathetic character. He continually expresses his frustration with his job in one sentence and then justifies his choice to stick with it in the next by painting a picture of himself as a victim. I don't find much of Perkins' account to be reliable, but as a semi-fictional account, more in the line of a mass-market thriller loosely based on reality, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man makes important points about the ways in which the corporatocracy works to uphold the status quo.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Good message, important, but reads like fiction. If this guy wanted to have any serious impact he should have written something less sensational. Also, he's a jackass. He spent his whole life screwing over everybody, including his friends, and then he writes a book (for which he probably made lots of money and became famous) and we're supposed to believe this guy suddenly developed a conscience? I don't buy it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kainan

    My short review is this: 'Confessions' is a good introduction to the darker side of foreign policy and the effects of globalization. My slightly longer explanation is this: Paradoxically, what makes the book more accessible is also what turns many people off to it. It takes a chunk of history about a particular topic, and describes it in largely narrative form. Much of this is due to the book being an 'account' of Perkins' career during that time. Admittedly, it becomes somewhat taxing at times t My short review is this: 'Confessions' is a good introduction to the darker side of foreign policy and the effects of globalization. My slightly longer explanation is this: Paradoxically, what makes the book more accessible is also what turns many people off to it. It takes a chunk of history about a particular topic, and describes it in largely narrative form. Much of this is due to the book being an 'account' of Perkins' career during that time. Admittedly, it becomes somewhat taxing at times to slog through Perkins attempt at literary description (I doubt I'd read a fiction novel from him). However, the book is still mostly content, and important content at that. The topic is mainly about how the altruism of globalization is a hoax, and how our government does some quite terrible things to maintain its interests. I've heard many people complain about not being able to sympathize with the author, but I don't really think that's the point. If you're looking for a good fire-side read, this isn't it. Additionally, I'm amazed how many people have simply brushed the book off with an "I don't buy it". The book is meant as a spring-board, not a road-map. Agree or not, at least go out and do some research on the topic. To simply disagree with an idea because it's hard to swallow is a level of self-denial that keeps therapists in business. So, ultimately, if you're new to the field of globalization and global politics, this is a good, radical, introduction (even though it may be counter to the view you hold right now, it's always good to know what the other side's argument is). If you're already well versed in the subject, you can probably skip this one. Read more Chomsky.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    This is a remarkable work, decades in the making. Perkins is the real deal, an economist who worked for international consortia to pillage the third world. The modus operandi was to perform economic analysis of target nations that indicated a rate of growth far in excess of any real possibility in order to justify offering those nations huge loans, loans they were never expected to be able to repay. The point of this was twofold. First, the money loaned would find its way right back into the poc This is a remarkable work, decades in the making. Perkins is the real deal, an economist who worked for international consortia to pillage the third world. The modus operandi was to perform economic analysis of target nations that indicated a rate of growth far in excess of any real possibility in order to justify offering those nations huge loans, loans they were never expected to be able to repay. The point of this was twofold. First, the money loaned would find its way right back into the pocket of American corporations, because it would be used for major construction projects, roads, dams, electrification projects. The economic benefits would never accrue as predicted, so the host country would be saddled with crushing debt and then be forced by entities like the IMF to slash and burn domestic social services in order to make interest payments. The benefits of the “development” would go to the elite of the host nations, at the expense of the lower classes. In fact, he offers data showing that poverty increased over the term of such foreign investment. Local elites were essentially bribed to go along, and they in turn acted as enforcers for the American elite that was pushing the product. John Perkins began as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He managed rather well with this experience and was recruited by a corporate type into the MAIN corporation, the actor in most of the hit man activity. In fact the title was not a case of advocacy hyperbole. The people in this line of work actually refer to each other and themselves as Economic Hit Men, or EHM’s. I learned several things in reading this. First was that conquest via excessive indebtedness was a conscious policy, with the short term profitability of development by Bechtel or equivalent being icing on the cake of overall domination. I learned about SAMA, or the Saudi Arabia Money-Laundering Affair. Perkins talks about several of the leaders he came to know, Trujillo in Panama, Jaime Roldos in Ecuador, other leaders of less-than-presidential caliber. P 15 My job…was to forecast the effects of investing billions of dollars in a country. Specifically, I would produce studies that projected economic growth twenty to twenty five years into the future and that evaluated the impacts of various projects. For example, if a decision was made to lend a country $1 billion to persuade its leaders not to align with the Soviet union, I would compare the benefits of investing that money in power plants with the benefits of investing in a new national railroad network or a telecommunications system. Or I might be told that the country was being offered the opportunity to receive a modern electric utility system, and it would be up to me to demonstrate that such a system would result in sufficient economic growth to justify the loan. The critical factor, in every case, was gross national product. The project that resulted in the highest average annual growth of GNP won. If only one project was under consideration, I would need to demonstrate that developing it would bring superior benefits to the GNP. The unspoken aspect of every one of these projects was that they were intended to create large profits for the contractors, and to make a handful of wealthy and influential families in the receiving countries very happy, while assuring the long-term financial dependence and therefore political loyalty of governments around the world. The larger the loan, the better. The fact that the debt burden placed on a country would deprive its poorest citizens of health, education and other social services for decades to come was not taken into consideration. P 16 …talked about the deceptive nature of GNP. For instance, the growth of GNP may result even when it profits only one person, such as an individual who owns a utility company, and even if the majority of the population is burdened with debt. The rich get richer and the poor grow poorer. Yet from a statistical standpoint, this is recorded as economic progress. …Over the years, I’ve repeatedly heard comments like, “If they’re going to burn the U.S. flag and demonstrate against our embassy, why don’t we just get out of their damn country and let them wallow in their own poverty?” People who say such things often hold diplomas certifying that they are well educated. However, these people have no clue that the main reason we establish embassies around the world is to serve our own interests, which during the last half of the twentieth century meant turning the American republic into a global empire. Despite credentials, such people are as uneducated as those eighteenth century colonists who believed that Indians fighting to defend their lands were servants of the devil. P 17 [quoting his teacher Claudine] “We’re in a small, exclusive club,” she said. “We’re paid—well paid—to cheat countries around the globe out of billions of dollars. A large part of your job is to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty. We can draw on them whenever we desire—to satisfy our political, economic, or military needs. In turn, these leaders bolster their political position by bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people. Meanwhile, the owners of U.S. engineering and construction companies become very wealthy. P 23 [The source of the Boogey man image appears to be Indonesia. Apparently there were pirates from a place called Bugi.] …the infamous Bugi pirates, who still sailed the seas of the archipelago, and who had so terrorized early European sailors that they returned home to warn their children, “Behave yourselves or the Bugimen will get you.” P 49 ..I knew enough history to know that suppliers who are exploited long enough will rebel. I had only to return to the American Revolution and Tom Paine for a model. I recalled that Britain justified its taxes by claiming that England was providing aid to the colonies in the form of military protection against the French and the Indians. The colonists had a very different interpretation. What Paine offered to his countrymen in the brilliant Common Sense was the soul that my young Indonesian friends had referred to—an idea, a faith in the justice of a higher power, and a religion of freedom and equality that was diametrically opposed to the British monarchy and its elitist class systems. What Muslims offered was similar: faith in a higher power, and a belief that developed countries have no right to subjugate and exploit the rest of the world. Like colonial Minutemen, Muslims were threatening to fight for their rights, and like the British in the 1770s, we classified such actions as terrorism. P 58 Panama was part of Columbia when the French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps, who directed construction f the Suez Canal, decided to build a canal through the Central American isthmus, to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Beginning in 1881, the French undertook a mammoth effort that met with one catastrophe after another. Finally, in 1889, the project ended in financial disaster—but it had inspired a dream in Theodore Roosevelt. During the first years of the twentieth century, the United States demanded that Colombia sign a treaty turning the isthmus over to a North American consortium. Colombia refused. In 1903, President Roosevelt sent in the U.S. warship Nashville. U.S. soldiers landed, seized and killed a popular local militia commander, and declared Panama an independent nation. A puppet government was installed and the first Canal Treaty was signed; it established an American zone on both sides of the future waterway, legalized U.S. military intervention, and gave Washington virtual control over this newly formed “independent” nation. …the treaty was not signed by a single Panamanian. P 72 – re Guatemala United Fruit Company had been [Guatemala’s] equivalent to the Panama Canal. Founded in the late 1800s, United Fruit soon grew into one of the most powerful forces in Central America. During the early 1950s, reform candidate Jacobo Arbenz was elected president of Guatemala in an election hailed all over the hemisphere as a model of the democratic process. At the time, less than 3 percent pf Guatemalans owned 70 percent of the land. Arbenz promised to help the poor dig their way out of starvation, and after his election he implemented a comprehensive land reform program…United Fruit launched a major public relations campaign in the United States, aimed at convincing the American public and congress that Arbenz was part of a Russian plot and that Guatemala was a Soviet satellite. In 1954, the CIA orchestrated a coup. American pilots bombed Guatemala city and the democratically elected Arbenz was overthrown, replaced by Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, a ruthless, right-wing dictator. Thje new government owed everything to United Fruit. By way of thanks, the government reversed the land reform process, abolished taxes on the interest and dividends paid to foreign investors, eliminated the secret ballot, and jailed thousands of its critics. Anyone who dared to speak out against Castillo was persecuted. [Torrijos then asks Perkins] “Do you know who owns United Fruit?” “Zapata Oil, George Bush’s company—our UN ambassador.”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Maxwell

    Here's why a lot of people won't like this book: it's brutally honest, historically accurate, and it has a message. Here's why a lot of people will like this book: see above. Perkins story about himself is not for everyone; I'll tell you that right now. The biggest reasons are a) his constant dealings with historical leaders, politics, and world geography throughout the 60's, 70's, and 80's; and b) even though he translates many economic terms and explains what he's doing, how, where, when, and wh Here's why a lot of people won't like this book: it's brutally honest, historically accurate, and it has a message. Here's why a lot of people will like this book: see above. Perkins story about himself is not for everyone; I'll tell you that right now. The biggest reasons are a) his constant dealings with historical leaders, politics, and world geography throughout the 60's, 70's, and 80's; and b) even though he translates many economic terms and explains what he's doing, how, where, when, and why, it could be confusing or overwhelming for the average reader. (This isn't a rip by any means, it's just the reality of the book -- I mean, look at the title. Let me put it this way: if I were to read a book about a guy who does C++ for a living, I'd be lost. Same idea.) On the other hand, if you like history, politics, and economics, then this Bud's for you. Perkins does a great job with the tempo of his book, and really explains how other countries are in bed with big business here in America. (Personally, I found the part about The Saudi Arabia Money Laundering Affair exciting to read...chalk me up to "geek.") I remember finishing the book, and declaring to Melis, "My God...I have to get a Hybrid." If you like world affairs from the early 60's through present day, and you know and understand basic economics, then you should enjoy this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Len

    I don't know why I keep reading books like this...I only get more and more depressed about the state of the world. Perkins' story is well told and it kept me interested throughout. Like a lot of other political books I've read of late, this one is made even more relevant by the events that have occurred even in the short time since it was published. The book tells the tale of the American led imperialism around the world leading up to the events of 9/11 and even the subsequent invasion of Iraq. I don't know why I keep reading books like this...I only get more and more depressed about the state of the world. Perkins' story is well told and it kept me interested throughout. Like a lot of other political books I've read of late, this one is made even more relevant by the events that have occurred even in the short time since it was published. The book tells the tale of the American led imperialism around the world leading up to the events of 9/11 and even the subsequent invasion of Iraq. The sad part is the characters have barely changed in the past 30 years -- the same few idiots have manipulated world affairs and they are still doing it. Dick Cheney foremost among them. I'll tell you this, if you have any doubts that the Bechtels and Halliburtons of the world are in charge of everything - including American foreign policy -- this book will rid you of those doubts. One bright spot is that Perkins ends the book with some advice on how we as real Americans can change things. I'm not optimistic that we can, but at least there are some things we can do short of revolution. Anyway, interesting that I chose to read this on the heels of 1984. Power corrupts...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sean Sullivan

    This is garbage. Worse than that, I think this book is dangerous. First of all, I think Perkins is a total liar. I don’t doubt that there are people out there that make their living by betting against developing countries, and I don’t doubt that there are people who have an economic incentive for progressive third world leaders to fail. But I really doubt that the way these people ply their trade is by having beautiful blonds show young business guys (in this case, Perkins) the dark path by inte This is garbage. Worse than that, I think this book is dangerous. First of all, I think Perkins is a total liar. I don’t doubt that there are people out there that make their living by betting against developing countries, and I don’t doubt that there are people who have an economic incentive for progressive third world leaders to fail. But I really doubt that the way these people ply their trade is by having beautiful blonds show young business guys (in this case, Perkins) the dark path by intellectually seducing them in Boston apartments while going around calling themselves hitmen. It really stretches the realm of the believable. And no, just because no one has called him a liar doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth, it means that his argument is so insanely overdrawn that serious people in positions of power do not take him seriously. Which leads me to my next point. This book is dangerous. Its dangerous because it feeds into the stupid left conspiracies that keep progressive economists impotent. There is a world wide conspiracy! They meet in dark rooms and plot our destruction! Nothing is that simple, folks, and until we give up on fairy tales and start looking at the global economy as it exists, meaning as a complicated world where many powerful people are at cross purposes and no few grand conspiracies ever come to fruition we are bound to lose.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maura

    I'd had high expectations of this book and was very disappointed--mostly because I wasn't able to get past the fact that Perkins is a chauvinistic pig who I hated from the beginning til the end. He must have thought the fact that he later wrote a "confessional" about being a chauvinistic pig would make his readers forgive him or feel sorry for him, but that definitely wasn't the case for me. Also, he writes like a horny 10th grader--very poorly, and in the middle of discussing serious issues he I'd had high expectations of this book and was very disappointed--mostly because I wasn't able to get past the fact that Perkins is a chauvinistic pig who I hated from the beginning til the end. He must have thought the fact that he later wrote a "confessional" about being a chauvinistic pig would make his readers forgive him or feel sorry for him, but that definitely wasn't the case for me. Also, he writes like a horny 10th grader--very poorly, and in the middle of discussing serious issues he feels the need to comment on the attractiveness of all the females in the room. The book's saving grace is that the subject matter is interesting. It's about the many years Perkins spent working for a consulting firm (if I remember correctly), and his job was basically to approach the governments of poor countries and convince them to commit to building huge infrastructure projects that they couldn't afford, so they'd have to take out massive loans they wouldn't be able to pay. Essentially what he was doing was driving countries into debt for the benefit of the international banks and the US corporations that were funding the projects, and in this book he (kind of) explains how he and his cohorts were able to do it. Apparently there's some dispute about the author's credibility, but I found nothing unbelievable about it; I think it's probably an accurate representation of some of the ways poor countries get into debt. The only reason I'm giving it 2 stars instead of 1 is because I found the topic very interesting and it's hard to find books written by people who actually participated in these activities. So, in spite of its significant flaws, I still feel it's worth reading. If it had been written by someone other than Perkins, it probably would've been great.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Really interesting perspective of US economic "development" abroad. It reads like a memoir, but it's mostly about the ways private US companies mess with other regimes. I wish everyone would read this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ali Heydari

    For having a better future, everybody should read this book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vheissu

    Ordinarily, I would not waste my time reading such claptrap, except that my colleagues are assigning this book to our students and my cousin graciously gave me a copy. As an act of respect to my cousin (and rebuke to my colleagues), I hereby offer my reactions to this grotesque excuse for a “memoir.” I should acknowledge my own professional background first, so that those inclined to dismiss my criticisms may do so without further regard. In the late 1970s and throughout most of the 1980s, I was Ordinarily, I would not waste my time reading such claptrap, except that my colleagues are assigning this book to our students and my cousin graciously gave me a copy. As an act of respect to my cousin (and rebuke to my colleagues), I hereby offer my reactions to this grotesque excuse for a “memoir.” I should acknowledge my own professional background first, so that those inclined to dismiss my criticisms may do so without further regard. In the late 1970s and throughout most of the 1980s, I was an international business analyst for a New York-based think tank, a major international oil company, and the sixth-largest bank in the United States. In particular, I assisted my employers in assessing the political risks associated with foreign direct investments and sovereign lending. In my decade long employment, I never heard anybody express sentiments like those claimed in this book. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Sherman Antitrust Act are stern realities for American businesspeople, who are no more likely than anybody else to commit their felonious intentions to paper or share them frankly with others, especially competitors. I should also state that I was only able to read the first two chapters of this book before I could stomach it no more (see below). I was once before suckered into reading a wretched conspiracy tome by the taunt, “How can you claim it is wrong if you haven’t read it?” To that I now respond, “I’ll read your book if you will read one selected by me.” Curiously, I have had no takers. Chapter 2 of the book, breathlessly entitled “In for Life,” demolishes the author’s credibility in ten brisk pages, both in terms of his personal integrity as well as his respect for the intelligence of his readers. In this chapter we first meet his femme fatale, “an attractive brunette” with “soft green eyes,” “Claudine Martin,” who corrupts the “naïve, intimidated, and bedazzled” hero of the tale with promises of being “well paid—well paid” in return for “cheating countries around the globe out of billions of dollars.” Foolishly presuming that he can rationalize his villainous behavior with “the old ‘working from inside’ justification,” Ms. Martin warns our penitent, ala la Cosa Nostra: “Don’t be foolish. Once you’re in, you can never get out. You must decide for yourself, before you get in any deeper.” Neither Ms. Marin nor our hero ever specifies the exact penalty for blabbing, but apparently it did not preclude authoring a bestselling tell-all confession with seeming impunity and without witness protection. O apostasy, where is thy sting? Our redeemed narrator minces no words about his brief:I would work to bankrupt the countries that received [international loans] (after they had paid MAIN and the other U.S. contractors, of course) so that they would be forever beholden to their creditors, and so they would present easy targets when we needed favors, including military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources.That the interests of the U.S. military-industrial-complex are identical to those of American international companies generally is asserted without benefit of factual or logical support and plenty of evidence to the contrary, notwithstanding. Mr. Perkins, on the other hand, draws the reader’s attention to banal and trivial details. For example, “Claudine and I openly discussed the deceptive nature of GNP.” Really? Is that why no economist or social scientist of any repute, much less businesspeople, rely on such data for policy- and decision-making? Or, the theft of poor countries’ wealth was “intended to create large profits for the contractors and to make a handful of wealthy and influential families in the receiving countries very happy…” Do tell. Surely it is common knowledge that private companies act in the financial interests of their owners, typically forsaking altruistic contributions toward non-owners, as a way of doing business. Stop the presses. And this: “the main reason we establish embassies around the world is to serve our own interests, which during the last half of the twentieth century meant turning the American republic into a global empire.” I do not know whose interests a nation’s foreign policy ought to serve other than its own; seeking imperial hegemony over other countries hardly sets the United States apart from other great powers. Similarly, our formerly faithless but now faithful informer reveals, “The rich get richer and the poor grow poorer.” Yawn. Elsewhere, our intrepid confessor seems to contradict himself about the ultimate beneficiaries of his corporate crimes and misdemeanors. He writes that his job was “to encourage world leaders to become a part of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests,” while also asserting that “the empowerment of international corporations and of multinational corporations such as the World Bank and the IMF” were financed primarily by the “United States and our sister empire builders in Europe” (emphasis mine).So, which is it, an American imperium or a world condominium of great military and economic powers? Case in point is the shocking—shocking!—revelation that British and American intelligence services helped overturn the government of Iran after the Iranians “nationalized all Iranian petroleum assets” in 1951. An “outraged England,” the principal owner of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., and its special ally, the United States, set their respective intelligence agencies to the task and brought down the government of Mohammad Mossadegh, reinstalling the Shah as the “unchallenged dictator” and presumably the defender of foreign business interests in the kingdom. Lost in this and the many other recitations of this well-known and –documented covert action is the fact that the Shah did not return the oil fields to their former British masters after the coup but kept them under the Iranian National Oil Co. instead, where they remain to this day. Measured by Perkins’ criteria, the coup against Mossadegh was a cruel failure for Britain. The Shah nonetheless managed to destroy the communist-led Tudeh Party and become the United States’ main arms buyer in the Persian Gulf region, suggesting at least the possibility that other motives were at play in addition to the disposition of Iran’s oil reserves. Mr. Perkin’s tale is not the least bit credible but certainly corroboratory of the suspicions of those predisposed to believe him; others, not so much. Perhaps the most shocking fact is that otherwise sensible social scientists would include this confession in their syllabi. Sigh.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Antonio

    I don’t want to be overly negative, but Confessions of an Economic Hitman really irked me. I was only four or five pages into it before I got the overwhelming feeling of wading knee deep through bullshit. I think I might have been more tolerant if the book had been better written, but it wasn’t. It was cliched, used lame tropes, got treacly and scanned like bad spy fiction. The big problem with taking a bad John le Carre approach is that there were no stakes. “Oh no, he might expose the truth, b I don’t want to be overly negative, but Confessions of an Economic Hitman really irked me. I was only four or five pages into it before I got the overwhelming feeling of wading knee deep through bullshit. I think I might have been more tolerant if the book had been better written, but it wasn’t. It was cliched, used lame tropes, got treacly and scanned like bad spy fiction. The big problem with taking a bad John le Carre approach is that there were no stakes. “Oh no, he might expose the truth, but he’s got to go yachting…” It seems like the worst consequences he faced was boring consulting positions that paid way too much. “He’s such a rebel he’s willing to risk a comfortable sinecure!” So, the first thing that tripped my bullshit detector is that he claimed he couldn’t get a publisher (which I believe b/c the prose was so bad) b/c of the content. This is a pretty incredible claim b/c here’s the book and if the powers that be wanted to suppress this book it would have been easy. They allegedly orchestrated the death of two Latin American presidents. If they can kill someone as high profile as Torrijos then how hard would it be to off a semi-nameless exec who goes yachting a lot. If what he’s saying is true, what is more likely from an assassination happy cabal trying to prevent the exposure of their secrets? His boat disappears at sea, no book written, maybe a page 5 obit in the local paper. Or, what he claims happens, he talks about what he’s writing but no one does anything for 15 years and then the CIA (or NSA but we’ll get into that) swings into action and discourages some publishers even though the revelation of these secrets could bring down the whole house of cards? And it’s this kind of dumb crap throughout that made this book totally unbelievable. The next thing that really bugged me is that he takes on a fake “common man” persona and dumbs down stuff that doesn’t need to be dumbed down. He applies for the Peace Corps and is surprised to learn that Ecuador is in South America and not Africa? This guy had a first rate education (including prestigious prep schools and admission to an ivy league college) and he didn’t learn where Ecuador was? Later he’s in Panama during the 70’s, a time when latin America is on fire with revolutionary fervor, and he’s surprised to hear about refugees from Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, etc. Even though he keeps talking about how he always kept up with this area of the world b/c of his love of Ecuador? You couldn’t turn around in the 70s and 80s without hearing about unrest somewhere in Latin America and how the US or CIA was involved. Why would he cope this attitude? Passages like these felt condescending. I think the condescension gives a clue to the rest of the book. He has so little respect for the reader’s intelligence that he thinks he can pass off even the most unbelievable stories. My biggest beef is that he makes these insinuations that he worked indirectly for the NSA, but he has no idea of what the NSA does. The NSA and CIA aren’t interchangeable organizations. The NSA is responsible for things like code breaking, communication monitoring and intercepts. The CIA is responsible for infiltration, and the type of subversion he’s talking about in this book. There’s tons of stuff available from the Church Committee that lays out exactly what kinds of illegal activities these two organizations were up to in the time period he’s talking about. He could have figured this out with about ten minutes of googling and some basic research. So, allegedly he’s working as an “EHS” for the NSA which doesn’t do anything like faking economic reports to score IMF money. That’s more along the lines of something the CIA would do. The NSA do lots of terrible and illegal things, but before 9/11 they didn’t do stuff like this. So, he can’t get his basic intelligence agencies right. This was the point in the book where I almost put it down. I decided to struggle through the rest of it to find out why it was so popular, but it only got worse. He does the common and racist cliche of “brown people are so wise and spiritual”. He talks about how much the people of the Amazon can teach us. He talks about how he’s the only person in his team to get to know the local Indonesians. He keeps bringing up how he likes to learn the local culture. But then there’s the problem with pretending he’s totally oblivious to what’s going on in the rest of South America when he’s in Panama. In Iran he tells a story about bedouins in Iran (Bedouins are Arab, not Persian.) and camel trails throughout the country (camels aren’t common in Iran, they’re mostly in the southwest corner that abuts Iraq and in the far east). If he knew the basics about these areas he wouldn’t lapse into these cliched tropes. Talk to a Persian, they’re least favorite thing in the world is to be confused with Arabs. On top of all this he can’t even paint a coherent picture of the conspiracy he’s “exposing.” He claims the US can make all these loans to foreign countries b/c we have a fiat currency, but then immediately goes on to explain why having a fiat currency with a large outstanding debt is a danger. So, these genius created a master plan to loan money that will never be repaid by exposing the US to a debt crisis that will seriously harm, if not destroy, them in the future? This is the dumbest conspiracy ever. And so we get to my biggest problem with this book. The CIA, the NSA, foreign development, and corporate corruption in the world governments, not just the US, is a serious problem. This kind of dumb conspiracy theory crap makes criticisms of these problems easy to dismiss as quackery. It also delays people from learning about the actual problems. Do government contractors fluff their estimates and expenses and behave in all sorts of horrific and illegal ways? Yes, just look at Dynacorp’s child prostitution problems and KBR and Halliburton’s war profiteering. But it’s not a big conspiracy, that’s what you get for political contributions. Snowden has exposed the NSA’s data collection, lots of journalists are covering the drone war. These aren’t closely guarded secrets that have remained hidden for the past 50 years. There’s too much corporate influence in government. We have a lot of really bad foreign policy. Just look at how the TPP is being negotiated right now. It’s not a secret conspiracy. Almost all this stuff has been front page news for a while. The problem isn’t a secret cabal. It’s getting elected officials to do anything about it. This guy didn’t help by misleading well intentioned people and making them sound like kooks.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This book got 5 stars because it is highly disturbing and everyone especially Americans should read this book. Perkins writes his true story of what he did when he was an economic hit man. The basic gist is that he went to other countries promising the growth of their economy if they contracted engineers and workers from the States to install infrastructures such as electricity and running water. It looks like a great idea to the government because they are "helping" their people by creating a b This book got 5 stars because it is highly disturbing and everyone especially Americans should read this book. Perkins writes his true story of what he did when he was an economic hit man. The basic gist is that he went to other countries promising the growth of their economy if they contracted engineers and workers from the States to install infrastructures such as electricity and running water. It looks like a great idea to the government because they are "helping" their people by creating a better economy. In the long run, the rich get richer (the very few rich of course.) and the poor get poorer (lots of poor people.) As well, the country becomes indebted to the companies that helped install the infrastructures and are at the United States' mercy. Perkins didn't work for the government but essentially did. Most people know at this point that the US government is tied so closely to big business. There are things that Perkins did that are disgusting and totally unethical and finally his guilty conscience got to him so he wrote the book. Good thing because it is an eye opener and brings some light to one of the many reasons other countries are not to fond of the US. He gives us some tips and some things we can do to combat the mess he has made. One of the actions is stop giving big business our business. I think most people know that big businesses are pretty evil for the most part. The worst thing we can do is just sit idly by and continue living in ignorance. Worse yet, sitting idly by with the knowledge that is out there. Read the book. Be disgusted. Erase your ignorance. Do something.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    The author of this book, John M. Perkins (not the same person as the Christian anti-racism activist), devoted the early part of his career to the planned exploitation of Third World economies on behalf of the interests of corporations, primarily American. He represents himself as one of many and his activities as being wholesale. Now, presumably repentent, he has become an advocate of traditional cultures worldwide. Reading his story has reminded me of a young friend I have. Recently returned fro The author of this book, John M. Perkins (not the same person as the Christian anti-racism activist), devoted the early part of his career to the planned exploitation of Third World economies on behalf of the interests of corporations, primarily American. He represents himself as one of many and his activities as being wholesale. Now, presumably repentent, he has become an advocate of traditional cultures worldwide. Reading his story has reminded me of a young friend I have. Recently returned from a year's "service" in Afghanistan, I've pumped him for information of what it was like to be part of the U.S. military presence there. That didn't sound very interesting at all--his work being primarily to inventory munitions, but his attitude about what he was doing was. When asked what he thought we were doing there he said we were fighting the 9/ll terrorists. He had no idea that the purported highjackers were mostly Saudis, nor that Osama bin Laden wasn't an Afghani. Coming from a viewer of Fox television, this degree of ignorance would be appalling enough, but this guy had just spent a year there with hundreds of other volunteer soldiers. Presumably the subjects of 9/11 or of their mission would have come up in conversation. Does this imply that most of them are so woefully ignorant of what they're doing and why they are doing it? People like my friend--for he is a very nice fellow--and Mr. Perkins, one of them simply misinformed, the other oh-so-clever, and what they do to others trouble me deeply.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    The scariest thing about this book is that if you read it having read nothing about the CIA or the overseas financial games the agency (and US corporations acting with CIA influence) has played around the world, it seems like frightening fiction written by a conspiratorial nutjob. If you read it having read a few books about the history of the CIA, you're twice as scared because you know it all may be true. Perkins writing is fitting for the topic, and reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman i The scariest thing about this book is that if you read it having read nothing about the CIA or the overseas financial games the agency (and US corporations acting with CIA influence) has played around the world, it seems like frightening fiction written by a conspiratorial nutjob. If you read it having read a few books about the history of the CIA, you're twice as scared because you know it all may be true. Perkins writing is fitting for the topic, and reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman is very much like reading a sprawling Ludlum conspiracy thriller. Once again, a nonfiction book proves that reality is just as crazy as any writer's imagination... unless the whole thing never happened, and Perkins is still working for the CIA, this time as an Information Hitman. (In which case, don't be surprised.) NC

  18. 5 out of 5

    Thamrong

    Nothing altruistic about foreign aids; multilateral agencies come in many colors and shapes like World Bank,Asian Bank, US Aid and IMF. Less developed countries leaders succumbed to the temptation of selling their sovereignty to the devils. The lucrative loans for infrastructure loan is not meant for social development to benefit the poor mess instead to ensnare the host countries for political allegiance and control. Who benefits! The local oligarchy. The book reinforce my believe of the decept Nothing altruistic about foreign aids; multilateral agencies come in many colors and shapes like World Bank,Asian Bank, US Aid and IMF. Less developed countries leaders succumbed to the temptation of selling their sovereignty to the devils. The lucrative loans for infrastructure loan is not meant for social development to benefit the poor mess instead to ensnare the host countries for political allegiance and control. Who benefits! The local oligarchy. The book reinforce my believe of the deception of the great American power.

  19. 5 out of 5

    sonia

    It's an interesting story. He has the perspective of the "insider" in the whole international development industry. Obviously then, his tales of drinking coffee with Torijjos or dealing with Iranian revolutions in the 1970s is fun to read. Although, he reaches a point by the end of the book where he goes a bit overboard with his guilt. You empathize with him all the way through the book until he just starts spewing nonsense about feeling guilty for Iraq and 9/11. I think it's almost an ironic ro It's an interesting story. He has the perspective of the "insider" in the whole international development industry. Obviously then, his tales of drinking coffee with Torijjos or dealing with Iranian revolutions in the 1970s is fun to read. Although, he reaches a point by the end of the book where he goes a bit overboard with his guilt. You empathize with him all the way through the book until he just starts spewing nonsense about feeling guilty for Iraq and 9/11. I think it's almost an ironic round about way of "crediting" himself with guilt--meaning he thinks he had a bigger negative impact on the world than he actually did. I also just didn't like his myopic view on globalization. He just basically says that everything America does some how relates to its "empire building." While I agree with he analysis of all the atrocities that Regan and Bush Sr. committed in Latin america, and every sort of take he had on US foreign policy during the cold war--i just dont think he understands that the world has changed, and people are changing with it. He makes us feel guilty for being American (which we should), but then tells us we can appease this guilt by going to "anti free trade" protests and basically proseletizing about his book to our friends and family (sounds more like a marketing ploy then a way to absolve us of our sins). All in all, it's worth picking up if you have the time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ✺❂❤❣

    An interesting take on international consulting industry. So, it makes sense in a sort of a roundabout way: 'If somebody lights the stars, that means that somebody needs it'.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lesandre

    Disconcerting, to say the least. It seems there is hardly anything, as an American, I own or acquire that doesn't have the blood of hundreds and thousands upon it. Thank goodness somebody is telling this story. I've always suspected something of the sort, but never understood its specific mechanisms.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    I find it kind of surprising and disappointing that so many of the reviewers here have rated the book so poorly, and more importantly that they have done so not only for purely legitimate reasons (that they think Perkins is a poor writer; I disagree, but if they think so, they ought to rate accordingly) but because they accuse him of being a "conspiracy theorist." Perkins attempts to dispel this notion at every turn: "Some would blame our current problems on an organized conspiracy. I wish it we I find it kind of surprising and disappointing that so many of the reviewers here have rated the book so poorly, and more importantly that they have done so not only for purely legitimate reasons (that they think Perkins is a poor writer; I disagree, but if they think so, they ought to rate accordingly) but because they accuse him of being a "conspiracy theorist." Perkins attempts to dispel this notion at every turn: "Some would blame our current problems on an organized conspiracy. I wish it were so simple. Members of a conspiracy can be rooted out and brought to justice. This system, however, is fueled by something far more dangerous than conspiracy. It is driven not by a small band of men but by a concept that has become accepted as gospel: the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits. This belief also has a corollary: that those people who excel at stoking the fires of economic growth should be exalted and rewarded, while those born at the fringes are available for exploitation." And this is why Perkins' book is important: it explains, in terms more unwavering and far-reaching than any author I've encountered (including Chomsky) the way the world works. (This is another problem some reviewers cite: that he overstates the extent the forces he cites really affect things.) Perkins explains that the Neo-liberal economics that justify globalization bear the same relation to the way economics really work that US government propaganda bears to the real reasons they are in Iraq (reasons Perkins reveals perhaps more clearly than anyone I've read, again including Chomsky). Perkins rehearses overtly many of the reasons and methods corporations use to increase their profits. These usually include exerting their influence on the government to earn or create contracts that funnel tax money into their own pockets - for example, foreign aid, or military spending. The aspect treated in Perkins' book is US (and not only US, of course) foreign policy as it is used to open and maintain markets in third-world countries, markets that allow corporations to strip the land of its wealth without losing profits to fairly treating the locals or worrying about the local environment. To this end, the US government and its associates in the World Bank and IMF spend billions of dollars supporting friendly dictators and ousting or destabilizing and discrediting defiant governments (in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Guatemala, Panama, Haiti, Colombia, etc). Defiant governments of course are not always ideal themselves - though sometimes good exposes over emphasize a good guy-bad guy dynamic, it is really only about profits. As long as a foreign government lets corporations make money, they will be tolerated. No matter how brutal they are. If they try to defy the corporations, no matter whether for the end of increasing the quality of life of their citizens or for their own gain (Chavez vs. Iraq), they will be opposed, discredited, undermined, or deposed by the US government. In Perkins' account, corporations are not evil. They merely do whatever they need to maximize profits. And of course, that rarely includes fairly compensating workers or spending millions to reduce environmental impact. It often includes lobbying the government to reduce taxes and impose protectionist policies, spend more money on weapons, look the other way on environmental offenses, forge devastating "free trade" agreements with countries with cheap labor markets, and, when necessary, invade a country to maintain access to natural resources. Read Confessions if you are interested to understand what is really going on in the world and why, if you want to know why foreign aid doesn't seem to accomplish anything. Read it if you want to know the truth. P.S. Confessions is particularly relevant today, as it will show you the true dynamics of Haiti's situation. The governments providing aid are by no means altruistic, and they have profits, rather than the good of the Haitian people at heart. This is why aid efforts will ultimately result in Haiti's failure to recover from the earthquake and a slide into even more abject poverty.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    I didn't want to like "Confessions," nor Perkins. It bothers me when people point to nefarious and secret conspiracies engineered by masterminds who control our lives; it means we have no responsibility or power. It bothers me when people "confess" to past crimes and urge reform when it works to their reputation and remuneration. But I wanted to honor a coworker's recommendation and loan of the book, so I gave Perkins a chance. I was engrossed and even entranced by his facility with words and na I didn't want to like "Confessions," nor Perkins. It bothers me when people point to nefarious and secret conspiracies engineered by masterminds who control our lives; it means we have no responsibility or power. It bothers me when people "confess" to past crimes and urge reform when it works to their reputation and remuneration. But I wanted to honor a coworker's recommendation and loan of the book, so I gave Perkins a chance. I was engrossed and even entranced by his facility with words and narrative structure, even though I still have reservations about his taking a moral high ground. The book offers an overview of world history over the past half century that affords a fresh perspective on American (and corporate) involvement in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. I was particularly intrigued with Perkins's recounting of our handling of Panama, his sympathetic evaluation of Omar Torrijos as an independent Latin American leader, and his approval of the goals of Jimmy Carter's foreign policy. And I will more carefully read news about Latin America where and when I can find it. Indeed, as indigenous Ecuadorians are presenting their strong case against Chevron in court, I can read the reports with enlarged understanding, thanks to Perkins.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alanoud

    Ok, so as I finished reading this book, I can say I successfully landed on 3 main conclusions! Yet, before I share them, let me brief you on what this book talks about. Interestingly enough and as the title suggests, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a real-life story of a person who played a role in reinforcing and mushrooming the system of marching into a global empire of America. Nonetheless, trapped in consciousness, guilt and willingness to save the next generations-as he puts it-Perkins Ok, so as I finished reading this book, I can say I successfully landed on 3 main conclusions! Yet, before I share them, let me brief you on what this book talks about. Interestingly enough and as the title suggests, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a real-life story of a person who played a role in reinforcing and mushrooming the system of marching into a global empire of America. Nonetheless, trapped in consciousness, guilt and willingness to save the next generations-as he puts it-Perkins chooses to unveil the truth that many are not aware of. Economic Hit Man refers to the unofficial title a number of economists who work for big-shots American corporations, and whose role is considered to be double agents for both those commercial corporations and the U.S Administration and specifically the CIA. The job of those EHMs is to make overestimated-yet-scientifically-proved economic forecasts and statistics to convince 3rd world countries to start investing in their resources and lunch national projects. Those EHMs work for huge American corps. specializing in construction engineering..etc as well as Oil companies. Such a so-called “humane” action initiated by the States is done on a condition that the ones carrying out the national projects should be its own American corps. and companies. Of course with the help of-again-with the U.S humane and financial aid from its World Bank and IMF. The scenario ends with a country that’s drastically in huge debts to the U.S which leaves its –usually corrupt- government to be an official puppet of the U.S allowing the American imperialism to expand further. Such an imperialism would be reflected in U.S military installations that exist everywhere, controling UN votes and many more that result in controlling world economic and political system! Additionally, Perkins condemns and blames the capitalistic increasing approach-promoted mainly by U.S- which does nothing but leaves the rich much richer and the poor way much poorer; a system that successfuly creates a new form of slavery. This is a rough idea about what was the major talking of this book; of course the story has many more dimensions. Now whether the concept of EHM truly exists or not, whether the author was truthful in what he has said or not, any one pays a close attention to the U.S Administration and foreign policy over the past decades he won’t find the content of this book to be surprising! And no ! it’s not a conspiracy-like analysis but a true discloser of the dirty way of getting business done by U.S and its puppet governments elsewhere. The book is a very interesting read and brings lots of interesting issues and events to the table although reliability sometimes might be questionable. One of the most parts I liked was the way he looked at the event of 9/11. I personally share his views in this regard. One thing I didn’t like was the author way of dramatizing things especially when it comes to his past. But truth be told, his writing style is extremely good, and he’s so smart in the way he plays on the reader’s emotions especially the American one, I believe. Now come to my 3 conclusions that I still didn’t share after all this bla-blaing.. Con#1 : the book is very inspirational read to rebel against corruptive systems and say NO even if those systems are the hands that feed you. Fighting for freedom, equality and humane living is way much worthy than the rewards-or the so-called ones- gotten from turning a blind eye to or serving those corrupts. Con#2 : we don’t live in a rosy and bubbly world where everyone does everything for the good deeds! Humanitarian aids and support..!! please go wash your face and wake up !! Yet, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories and I believe no one should. The thing is: everyone has his owns hidden agenda that suits his own interests. So, sorry to break the news to you but no one serves the other for the apple of his eyes ! Con#3 : many 3rd world countries had its blood soaked up by the U.S because those countries lacked the needed knowledge, technologies, industrial capabilities..etc where the U.S has it. So no wonder such countries would be trapped in the U.S modern empire as they needed to progress and modernize. I felt utterly depressed; is a gap that until now we couldn’t fill in and until we do, we will be always trapped, dependent and extremely weak. ياريت دعاتنا اللي فلقونا بوعظهم البائس و تحذيرهم الساذج من "التغريب" والمؤامرات العالمية علينا.. يركزوا طاقاتهم و جهودهم على دعوة المجتمع انو يخرج مهندسين طاقة وعلماء اقتصاد وسياسيين وباحثين في كل العلوم متفوقين في مجالهم واهم من كدا مؤمنين في قدراتهم بإنهم يقدروا يغنوا مجتمعاتهم عن الاستعانة بالخبرات الاجنبية نحتاج يكون عندنا اكتفاء ذاتي ، نحتاج يكون عندنا خبراء و باحثين محنكين ، واهم من كدا نحتاج يكون عندنا حكومات تثق بالسواعد المحلية ! Wow ! this book triggered A LOT !!!!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Darran Mclaughlin

    John Perkins lifts the lid on the workings of what I am convinced is the American Empire. Perkins worked as an 'Economic Hit Man' for years pursuing the coordinated interests of the American State and Corporate sector. This involved visiting 3rd world countries, performing an inflated economic assessment of their future growth prospects, persuading them to take out enormous loans they will never be able to afford to repay to pay American companies to build massive infrastructure projects that wo John Perkins lifts the lid on the workings of what I am convinced is the American Empire. Perkins worked as an 'Economic Hit Man' for years pursuing the coordinated interests of the American State and Corporate sector. This involved visiting 3rd world countries, performing an inflated economic assessment of their future growth prospects, persuading them to take out enormous loans they will never be able to afford to repay to pay American companies to build massive infrastructure projects that won't deliver the promised results. The local elites and politicians get rich, the American corporations get rich, the poor get trampled over and then get left footing the bill for the loans they had nothing to do with taking and which they receive no benefit from. When they inevitably cannot afford to repay the loan they become the pawns of the American state, who can then force them to vote their way at the UN, or accept American military bases on their soil, or get them to imprison and torture their enemies. This quote demonstrates the premiss nicely:- For every $100 of crude taken out of the Ecuadorian rain forests, the oil companies receive $75. Of the remaining $25, three-quarters must go to paying off the foreign debt. Most of the remainder covers military and other government expenses - which leaves about $2.50 for health, education and programs aimed at helping the poor This book rings true to me. Everything I have read about Iraq supports what this book has to say, and it also resonates for me because I've been reading a lot about the Roman Empire recently and it sounds an awful lot like what they did in their day. This book also put me in mind of The Names by Don Delillo, which explored similar themes in 1981, over 20 years before this was published (because he's a brilliant and prescient genius), The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohson Hamid, and the work of Graham Greene (who makes an appearance in the book when the author meets him in Panama).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    This book has a story everyone should know, even if it's not something everyone must read. It chronicles the exploitation of politically poor and oil-rich nations by economist hired by private firms working at the behest of the NSA to secure America's international sovereignty. The reality is that if these nations were organized, as OPEC was in the seventies, they could bring the first world to its knees. To prevent that from happening, economists are sent to create optimistic-biased forecasts t This book has a story everyone should know, even if it's not something everyone must read. It chronicles the exploitation of politically poor and oil-rich nations by economist hired by private firms working at the behest of the NSA to secure America's international sovereignty. The reality is that if these nations were organized, as OPEC was in the seventies, they could bring the first world to its knees. To prevent that from happening, economists are sent to create optimistic-biased forecasts that will lead the countries to borrow American money to pay American companies for oil-related infrastructure projects for which they will be hopelessly in debt. Americans don't like to think of ourselves as an oppressive global empire, but the reality is we all want cheap gas prices and we don't really care to know how we get them. This book explains that part. This is how the third world sees America.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    To Brian Thanks for sending me this book: definitely a food for thought, although I don't necessarily agree with it 100%. WARNING: This review is opinionated, political, long and probably somewhat naive because of my rudimentary understanding of international economics, CIA covert operations, and the effect of seductive blondes on susceptible males. It took me quite a while to finish this book. I’m familiar with the gist of the argument, since I’ve read excerpts of it in the Indonesian media before To Brian Thanks for sending me this book: definitely a food for thought, although I don't necessarily agree with it 100%. WARNING: This review is opinionated, political, long and probably somewhat naive because of my rudimentary understanding of international economics, CIA covert operations, and the effect of seductive blondes on susceptible males. It took me quite a while to finish this book. I’m familiar with the gist of the argument, since I’ve read excerpts of it in the Indonesian media before. And I basically agree with the basic concept that Perkins proposes to the American government and businesses: stop being an imperial power and take unfair advantage of developing countries. But it reads like a bad airport novel, and so permeated with self-justifying victimhood that sometimes it’s difficult to take it in with a straight face. And what’s with the Jesus/New Age/Revolutionary War mumbo jumbo? Aside from the quality of the writing, I would like to comment on certain contentions made by the author, as follows. 1. There is a conspiracy between the US government, international banks and MNCs (“Corporatocracy”) to undermine developing countries by ensnaring them in odious debt. It is no secret that a significant portion of the ruling elites in developing countries are corrupt, and that they occasionally collude with MNCs to plunder their own countries’ resources. In my former line of work, during the twilight years of the Suharto era in Indonesia, I happened to have the dubious honor of witnessing such deals first hand. There were grossly overpriced power plants (financed by a consortium of foreign lenders) that the state electricity company must buy power from --- at an astronomical rate compared to virtually anywhere in the rest of the world, not to mention a developing country such as ours. There were mining companies that, by the virtue of their inordinately powerful “Contract of Work” with the government (and vast sums paid to the military and politicians of all stripes) were able to act with impunity. There were construction companies that got jobs building the country’s infrastructure by giving free shares to members of the bureaucracy that had the power to award such contracts --- no need to enter into a tender, which would have been a sham anyway. Certain contracts were convoluted by design --- to obscure features that might raise certain issues in relation to the FCPA(1). Others involved paper companies that did nothing other than serving as cash conduits for various well-connected rent-seekers. The plain fact is that it was not possible for any company, MNCs or otherwise, to be involved in these kind of projects without giving some sort of kickback to the powers that be. But was there a vast, shadowy Corporatocracy behind these activities? Did the NSA deliberately trained EHMs to push developing countries into accumulating odious debts that they wouldn’t be able to pay, thus putting such countries under the thumb of Pax Americana? Did sexy blondes seduce naïve young men with a bachelor’s degree in economics into EHM-hood? I’m not an expert in international relations or economics, but it seems to me that such deals were a byproduct of a corrupt, authoritarian rule in a developing country with rich natural resources and exploitable market, rather than the end result of a conspiracy between the US government, international banks and MNCs. Sure, some of these MNCs bribed their way into the job: there really was no other way to do it if you wanted to get a piece of the pie. Even if your company came up with the lowest bid in the tender, or offered the best deal in the Production Sharing Agreement, you wouldn’t have gotten the contract if you didn’t provide kickbacks. But they also compete against each other, instead of conspiring with each other. Some of the CEOs of these companies were well connected, or even became US government officials themselves, who might have had a hand in pressuring developing countries’ governments to enter into agreements that benefit their companies. But again, is this not an effect of unfortunate, conflict-of-interest ridden concurrence rather than a deliberate, sustained US government program to undermine developing countries? 2. Economic development benefits only a few wealthy families in a developing country. A power plant that causes the state electricity company to charge exorbitant rates to its consumers is nothing but an odious burden to the people. And so is a highway that is financed with crippling foreign debt. But infrastructure projects that are sustainably financed and built are vital to developing nations. And yes, economic development is desperately needed to feed their people, hundreds of millions of mostly uneducated, unskilled people who cannot depend on traditional livelihoods anymore. It is patronizing and unrealistic to say that people in developing nations should just remain in the backwater because economic development is inherently bad. Aside from certain indigenous people who are content to live traditional lives in their jungle abodes, the majority of people in developing countries want the same things that people in the First World do. We want reliable electricity supply at reasonable rates. We want modern transportation systems that enable us to move around with ease and safety. We want roads that are not potholed and turn into mud in the wet season. We want decent hospitals and schools. We want modern drainage systems that can properly rid of our cities of raw sewage and monsoon flooding. We want cars and computers and comfortable homes. And we cannot get any of these without economic development --- or foreign loans. Why not, if the terms are acceptable and the interest rate reasonable? Xenophobia and isolation from the global economy is not the answer. My parents’ generation remembers the economic desperation of the Sukarno (“Go to hell with your aid!”) era, when Indonesia quitted the UN and went to war with its “imperialist puppet” neighbor Malaysia. My Venezuelan friend couldn’t find milk and other daily necessities because of Chavez’s misguided populist economic policies. All sort of things go wrong in developing countries and not all of these are caused by the Corporatocracy. So I think the answer is to plug in into the prevailing economic system, negotiate an acceptable term for such participation and if possible, beat the West at its own game. China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan did. If there was a conspiracy to subjugate foreign countries through debt, isn’t it incredibly ironic that the US’ external debt now stands at 97% of its GDP, while Indonesia’s is now merely 28% of its GDP (2)?. 3. Islamist terrorism is caused by American imperialism and economic exploitation by the corporatocracy. The Islamists surely have plenty of grievances arising from the current situation in the Middle East. But like Christian fundamentalists in the West, the Islamists are also motivated by identity politics and religious chauvinism. In many cases, their violence is not aimed toward the West, but toward those whom they consider to be kaffir or infidels. This designation applies to non-Muslims as well as Muslims who do not share their ideology. Hence the church/temple bombings, killings of people that belong to minority Islamic sects, attacks on the police and other government officials, and the imposition of sharia-based laws on the general population. This is garden variety fanaticism, not an anti-imperialist movement. (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_... (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anno Nomius

    I don't normally read biographies however this one was different. The author is interesting as he is an economic hit man. I don't want to give too much away however this is a story of US policies abroad fueled by business interest of a select few. Typically for profit, typically for energy (oil) and major infrastructure construction. The author takes you on a journey from Panama to Indonesia to the middle east. You learn why we look the other way with anything involving Saudi Arabia. You learn a I don't normally read biographies however this one was different. The author is interesting as he is an economic hit man. I don't want to give too much away however this is a story of US policies abroad fueled by business interest of a select few. Typically for profit, typically for energy (oil) and major infrastructure construction. The author takes you on a journey from Panama to Indonesia to the middle east. You learn why we look the other way with anything involving Saudi Arabia. You learn about Iran, Iraq and the role the US played there. You learn about the jackals (CIA) and the role they play and when sometimes the military is called for unnecessary wars. It is a good book and will leave you questioning your country and your motives. Good book. Read it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    If nothing else this book is a time line of geopolitical/military events that the US was involved with from the 70s through the 2000s. It was a basic review of the US in Indonesia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Iran, Saudi and Iraq. It was not an 'eye opener', nor was it sourced very well. His references were journalists - the same journalists that he links to the corporatacracy he so loathes (and blames). The author illuminates the underground world of the Economic Hit Men that were basically recr If nothing else this book is a time line of geopolitical/military events that the US was involved with from the 70s through the 2000s. It was a basic review of the US in Indonesia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Iran, Saudi and Iraq. It was not an 'eye opener', nor was it sourced very well. His references were journalists - the same journalists that he links to the corporatacracy he so loathes (and blames). The author illuminates the underground world of the Economic Hit Men that were basically recruited by the NSA to economically infiltrate underdeveloped nations, get them hooked on our loans and keep them hooked, so that the US could 'call on their pound of flesh' - his favorite term - whenever we needed it. This was by no means hard to believe. But the part that was so damn annoying was his droning on about his 'guilt' about the whole thing. For. Thirty. Years. The man loved money, first class travel, ladies and bonuses too much to give up on the horrible behavior he was having such a hard time living with....while sailing on his boat in the British Virgin Islands. Of course, if you were to believe him, he was also Mr. Popular. In all of the nations he worked in, he was befriended by someone, a local, an insider, someone...they would share with him their struggles - because they trusted him - and he would listen, feeling even more guilty, but putting the plan into action. The plan, to manipulate all of these nations, primarily the indigenous populations whose homes were being lost to land devastation by the large oil companies that were moving in. He then went on an on about how the average American just couldn't understand it. It was too complex to know that the shit that was going on in South America was not on the up and up. Right. Sure, the NYTimes, LATimes and Washington Post readers are all obtuse Americans that just took the geopolitical and military movements of the US Government at face value. Does everyone pay attention, certainly not, but clearly people in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s were capable of questioning (and many did) the moves of our nation. And to top it off, not only did he call us stupid for the first 200 pages, he decided to become a complete and utter raging self righteous asshole for the last 20. He lectured the reader about how they basically need to pick up the slack and fix this problem by improving their way of life, becoming green and taking care of the environment. Excuse me? His intermittent apology throughout was vapid, to say the least, but the closing of the book clearly illustrated the mans struggle with reality. The real kicker - the corporatacracy that he so loathes, yet helped to build - is all of us. He says, on page 217: "It would be great if we could just blame it on a conspiracy, but we cannot. The empire depends on the efficacy of big banks, corporations, and governments - the corporatacracy - but it is not a conspiracy. The corporatacracy is ourselves - we make it happen - which, of course is why most of us find it difficult to stand up and oppose it." What is this, so new aged mumbo jumbo about how we are to better ourselves? Is he some shaman that tells it like it is, gives us the tough dose of medicine and then wipes his hand of any involvement? It gets better, on page 219, I believe he is comparing himself to Paul Revere when he says: "I thought again of that other man, that lone rider galloping through the dark New England countryside, shouting out his warning." What? What? I guess it's a good thing Revere didn't wait 30 years to warn the patriots. This man is delusional, not in his assessment of how the US 'supposedly' has acted; but in his culpability. He's all of a sudden contrite and confessional and boom - he's our savior. He even goes on to write: "Now it's your turn. You need to make your own confession." The author needs to get off his high horse. Some of us, practically all of us, had nothing do with the crap HE perpetuated on millions of indigenous peoples in the name of corporate oil profits.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    (3.0) Had a tough time rating this one, it's informative, but I don't empathize at all with Perkins On the one hand, I appreciate the insight into many of the actions our (Republican) administrations have made in recent history...that much of it was actually part of an orchestrated strategy of forcing developing nations into indentured servitude to the US and its large (particularly energy and engineering) corporations. Perkins worked for MAIN, an engineering consulting firm, as an economist, mak (3.0) Had a tough time rating this one, it's informative, but I don't empathize at all with Perkins On the one hand, I appreciate the insight into many of the actions our (Republican) administrations have made in recent history...that much of it was actually part of an orchestrated strategy of forcing developing nations into indentured servitude to the US and its large (particularly energy and engineering) corporations. Perkins worked for MAIN, an engineering consulting firm, as an economist, making insanely optimistic growth projections for developing nations if they underwent massive infrastructure investment, justifying enormous loans to fund such projects (which were of course given to US corporations such as Bechtel, Halliburton (sound familiar yet?)). The inevitable result was default on the debt and the corruptible heads of state would be beholden to the US government and corporations (think UN votes, trade negotiations etc.). He played a key role in making the whole charade work, so he knew what was going on and thankfully has come forward to share what he did and what he knows. On the other hand, I found his contriteness unconvincing as he agrees time and again with people trying to convince him that what he and his government are doing is very wrong...yet doesn't change anything. I also felt little sympathy as he was torn between making tons of money and doing the right thing (while on a pristine beach in the Virgin Islands (poor torn soul)). The writing suffers as he tells us time and again how bad he felt about what he was doing and it feels insincere. I almost choked when in the 'what can you do' section, he encouraged people to form a book group and discuss his book...he even provides a link to his personal website. I mean, sheesh. His writing is bad for other reasons as well. Perhaps because he has been writing the book for over a decade (wrote bits to assuage his guilt, with no intention of publishing for the longest time I suppose), but he has no problem repeating himself (or over using "euphoria", "pound of flesh" and "shackled"). Such as (and this is just the one I happened to track down): p 84: "Surely, [Torrijos] knew that the foreign aid game was a sham--he had to know. IT existed to make him rich and to shackle his country with debt. It was there so Panama would be forever obligated to the United States and the corporatocracy. It was there to keep Latin America on the path of Manifest Destiny and forever subservient to Washington and Wall Street. I was certain that he knew that the system was based on the assumption that all men in power are corruptible, and that his decision not to use it for his personal benefit would be seen as a threat, a new form of domino that might start a chain reaction and eventually topple the entire system" p.122: "At the time, I had assumed that Torrijos knew the foreign aid game was there to make him rich while shackling his country with debt. I had been sure he knew that the process was based on the assumption that men in power are corruptible, and that his decision not to seek personal benefit--but rather to use foreign aid to truly help his people--would be seen as a threat that might eventually topple the entire system. The world was watching this man; his actions had ramifications that reached far beyond Panama and would therefore not be taken lightly."

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