"Economic hit men," John Perkins writes, "are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder."
John Perkins should know; he was an economic hit man. His job was to convince countries that are strategically important to the U.S., from Indonesia to Panama, to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies. Saddled with huge debts, these countries came under the control of the United States government, World Bank, and other U.S.-dominated aid agencies that acted like loan sharks, dictating repayment terms and bullying foreign governments into submission.
This extraordinary real-life tale exposes international intrigue, corruption, and little-known government and corporate activities that have dire consequences for American democracy and the world.
Listen to John Perkins discuss the book on To the Best of Our Knowledge.
©2004 John Perkins; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
I listened to the entire story before even looking at the reviews. While I felt the story did repeat a couple of parts and could have been condensed a tiny bit that was not what any of the complaints were even about. As someone who has spent 8 years traveling all over the world with the vast majority of that time being in asia for a large corporation, I can completely buy into most of this book. Given what I have seen and experienced first hand along with the time frame the story takes place it does not seem to be outlandish or unbelievable as was commented. In fact I find the opposite to be true. It explains things to me I have seen in a way that makes sense. I can not confirm that the story is 100% true but it is worth your time to read. It will help you open your mind to outside thought from the mainstream media. I would overall give this a 4* review but I felt it was worthy of the bump due to all the 1* which were based on not even listening to the entire thing.
The narration is not suited to this text, and, it seems, detracts from the force of the words. The content is so bold in its claims that it leaves one wondering how much is real and how much is embellished. At all rates, this work offers an intriguing framework for critiquing corporate interests in global politics.
This is an eye opener for all those people that think the US is only trying to help the rest of the world. These "confessions" show how we manipulate countries in development so they can't grow.
Don't get me wrong, the US has done MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY to rid the world of invasionist countries and we can be very proud of that, but we also have an Imperialistic side that is not disclosed inside the US.
Not an American textbook, however. Instead, this enlightening and disturbing book relates a history of the world since World War II that demonstrates how the United States has become a new kind of Empire. This Empire is based not on military might -- although as we see in Iraq, this is always an option -- but on the power of giant U.S. engineering, construction and oil corporations to induce nations around the world to borrow heavily from entities like the World Bank and USAID for economic development. Once these nations join the list of debtor nations, these staggering debts are used to get them to accede to a variety of U.S. political and corporate interests.
"Confessions" is John Perkins' personal account of how, as an "Economic Hitman" or EHM, he and others like him spearheaded this new kind of imperialism. The corporations EHM's worked for are almost quasi-governmental and have supplied our government with officials like Dick Cheney (Halliburton), George Schultz and Caspar Weinberger (Bechtel) and Geoge H.W. Bush who started in oil, became a Congressman, U.N. Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President, President and is now associated with the highly-influential Carlyle Group.
But it is the close association of all these people, agencies and corporations with events of history that is so striking. It was the corporatocracy that wanted the legally elected democratic leaders in Guatemala, Iraq, Chile, Panama and Equador assassinated. Their sins? They wanted the profits from the oil, minerals and produce from their countries to help advance the standard of living of their own people. The corporatocracy felt otherwise, as maximum profits are its only raison d'etre.
But it is the story of the corporatocracy's relationship with Saudi Arabia and the House of Saud and that is most revealing. World events will not be seen in the same light after reading this book.
This isn't an American textbook, but should be required reading for all Americans.
I don't know whether or not this book is "true" in an autobiographical sense. I don't care. I also don't care that the EHM in question is often arrogant and annoying. What's important is that the economic techniques detailed and their results *are* going on in the world. This book is a good narrative for pulling together a bunch of information that is neither new nor secret so that more people can understand what's going on and how it affects them. As when banks and payday loan companies realize that they (or at least their top executives) can make more money when customers default on loans. And when people in other countries get pissed off at us because our corporations have made their lives more difficult.
John C Dvorak recommended this book on the TWiT podcast, and I can see why. If you follow current events around the world, this book will fascinate you. If you work for a large company, this book will horrify you. But face the facts, and learn from another man's story.
After reading some of these reviews and listening to the book, it appears to me these 1 star reviewers are the ones who are "arrogant". I admit that Perkins does come off with a bit of an ego. I try to look past such flaws in people and focus on the actual content. I have seen many documentaries based on the corporate exploitation of the Third World. I by no means claim to be an expert on the subject, but I like to keep an open mind. To sit back and dismiss Perkins as "delusional" without knowing anything about the situation at hand, to me, is extremely arrogant. If you think that stories like this are false, then I challenge you to visit these countries and find out for yourself.
There is something quite wrong with this world and I think a lot of people can feel it. This story is just the tip of the iceberg. This book highlights the fact that so many wrongs are done in this world, and just as Perkins did, those that commit wrongdoing justify it to themselves as doing good. I just hope that enough open-minded people read this book and open their eyes to the injustices. If you do enjoy this book then I highly recommend the documentaries "Life and Debt" and "Zeitgeist: Addendum".
Unfortunately, I believe all of the facts in the book to be true. As for those who want to doubt it, look around the world. Talk to people outside of the US and hear what is being said and felt. As for the audiobook part, the narration (as most are) is dry.
Overall, enjoyed it.
A disturbing and enlightening first-person account of the principles and strategies of American corporatocracy from 1971-2004. The book is a tonic to cut misleading election-year rhetoric about American principles of democracy and contributions to peace and international prosperity. The book sheds new light on conflicts in Panama, Ecuador, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere, and on the nature of the traffic through the revolving door between the US administration and corporate board rooms. An excellent complement to Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes.
This compelling personal account confirms various truths for me about what really goes on in the world today. It's like that common saying - "Where's there smoke, there's fire" and I've been seeing a lot of smoke recently and known there's been fire...well this book shows you size and color of that fire!! Awesome book! Well worth it!
"Self-indulgent and unsurprising"
This guy is so far up his own butt, his anus must be a non-Euclidean space. Corporations do crappy stuff around the world, the author took part in it, and will tell you so through ridiculously over-dramatic conversations (I'm sorry, no one really talks like the people in this book - "we need to do it for the grandchildren I hope to give you one day" from his 20-something daughter? Really?) and constant self-congratulation for reforming himself. Half the book is about WRITING the book. There's even a chapter called "September 11th and its aftermath for me, personally".
What a douche.
Half truths and simplistic drivel of the worst kind. Makes me wish I could get a "refund" of the time I wasted listening to it. Avoid!
"Amateurish, and poorly narrated."
John Perkins appears to be a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur. The conspiracy of which he writes is backed up by one conversation with a character that is presumably there only as a plot device, and no evidence beyond what he just 'knows'. What worries me more is that, like any good lie, much of this book is true, and so people may actually believe it. The CIA did bad things. Large (often, but not exclusively) American conglomerates also did bad things. Organisations may have had ulterior motives, and they also wanted to profit. But that's it, and it is very well documented. That may be unlovely, but it is not a conspiracy. Only at the beginning of the last quarter of the book is the cold war (against which much of this activity was taking place, rightly or wrongly) even explicitly mentioned, and summarily dismissed. And Mr. Perkins anti-globalisation worldview and his change to environmentalism (conveniently after his millions were made) assumes that the poor around the world would much rather be living happy stone age existences than be burdened with medicine, progress, jobs, and opportunity. What patronising nonsense. It isn't even written well. A last word on the narration: Brian Emerson is execrable. He has a cadence which makes you wonder if he isn't just a particularly sophisticated computer voice as the emphasis is frequently wrong and it is all reminiscent of a liturgical chant. His pronunciation of non-English words belies the author's stated linguistic abilities and interest in travel. All told, my first (and hopefully only) one star review. Avoid.
"not the great uncovering of evil I assumed it was"
this book was mildly entertaining, I didn't really get enlightened, enthralled or revolted by it's revelations.
I found the authors constant self questioning about the morality of his actions to be at odds with the fact that he assumed his role for two decades before writing the book.
the main message is: America is an empire, which extend its sphere of influence three different way:
first, the EHM way, it lends vast amounts of money to countries based on over optimistic estimates in regard to the effect on the GDP of the country of such a loan. Then it loans the money on the condition that american firms will get the enormous contracts involved like power plants or infrastructure, and it relies on corruption to get the leaders to be benevolent towards them. The main purpose of this scheme is the leverage it gives the US over the indebted country, which will never be able to repay said debt.
second, the jackals way, CIA, spies, coups, assassinations of non cohoperating leaders...
third, the military option
interesting overall, but again I would have preferred if the author had just been straight forward and assumed his evil role rather than trying to convince us that really, he was a good guy all along...
I'll probably listen to it again, although I got most of it on the first pass.
It is a tale well told. The writing style is polished and experienced - you can tell this is far from Perkin's first book. It is seldom that I have to draaaaaag myself away from a book, but this one was like that - I found myself stealing minutes to carry on listening. Well explained, never too technical to follow, but also never dull. It really is more like the type of thing we expect from the Graham Green he recounts meeting in the book than a non-fiction tale. It reads like a spy drama, but this mia-culpa is very much an act of confession, a catharsis of some sort.
I enjoyed his style, the moments of real urgency he brought into the telling. I enjoyed his tempo and tone. He did an excellent job.
None leap to mind - it was all so very compelling.
If I was to offer one item of critique, if Perkins was to ever revised this work, I would be very interested to see a slightly wider take on the effects of EHM's on the third world. He takes it all onto his own shoulders, and it is clear makes absolutely NO attempt to share the blame around. Whilst this is humbling and admirable, it is maybe a one-dimensional take on a very complex social interaction. Thomas Malthus' Essay on the Principles of Population would draw a trajectory line on the distribution of finite resources within a society being spread more thinly as the population expands but resources do not. Whilst the EHM's were offering a panacea for that very situation, and promising massive wealth for all yet not delivering on that, would a hypothetical control society not have also become more impoverished without the interventions detailed in the book? It's not to let the EHM off the hook, but to maybe explore that nexus of different vectors happening on a society. Perkins may (with good reason) contend that this would be beyond the scope of the book, and muddy its beautiful clarity, but in some ways the failure to even touch on these considerations is, to my mind at least, an oversight.
"This book gives hope for a better future"
Where Hegemony and Survival by Noam Chomsky scratches the surface of the problem, Confessions of an Economic Hitman opens the lid and shows the truth in depth. It is the book that Hugo Chavez should have waved from the UN tribune. It is truly amazing to discover that the people that realise what is really happenning or want to know what is really happenning are so many. The high position of this book on Audible bestsellers is both deserved and encouraging. The arguments against Noam Chomsky are known and he is easily discredited in a PR campaigns as 'leftist'.
Now, what are they going to say to John Perkins?
'The missile is not invented...'
"Prepare to be gobsmacked!"
You really owe it to yourself to listen to it. My jaw just dropped - I thought that things in the world of power were manipulated, but this is truly staggering.
The book is well paced and has the ring of truth about it. Narration is poor, but once you shake that off it shouldn't matter.
Drops off a bit at the end, but a great listen.
The it's an interesting book. The thing that bugs me about it is how it seems that John Perkins is excusing himself with this book, like he didn't know what he was doing but now he does.
The most fun part of the book is when he describes his travels across countries like Panama, Iran, Indonesia and such, then you really listen.
If you want a good book on this subject, try The Shock Doctrine. I recommend it over Confessions of an Economic Hitman
"See world events differently"
I downloaded this book on the recommendation of a tech podcast I listen to called This Week In Tech (sponsored by Audible). I really enjoyed it. You'll question what you hear on the news and what certain countries say in the future and find quite alarming and resonating parallels with some of the events in this book. It's worth it, just to question history.
"What a world we live in"
Everybody should know this. It should change your life and certainly open your eyes.
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