Meet Blackwater USA, the most secretive, most powerful, and fastest-growing private army on the planet. Founded by fundamentalist Christian mega-millionaire Erik Prince, the scion of a conservative dynasty that bankrolls extreme-right-wing causes, this company of soldiers is now being sent "to the front lines of a global battle, waged largely on Muslim lands, that an evangelical president, whom Prince helped put in the White House, has boldly defined as a 'crusade'."
Ranging from the blood-soaked streets of Fallujah to Washington, D.C., where they are hailed as heroes, this is the dark story of Blackwater's rise to power.
©2007 Jeremy Scahill; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"A crackling expose." (New York Times Book Review)
"Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater would be a masterpiece of the genre of futuristic sci fi were it not so regrettably real....It's got all the twists and turns and secret corners of a Hollywood thriller....[A] horrifying but necessary read." (Daily Kos)
As most folks know, Blackwater has been much in the press during the fall of 2007. Journalists tended to say little is known about Blackwater. Maybe they hadn't been doing much reading.
In early 1987 Scahill wrote this investigative book laying out the backstory about the rise of this band of mercenaries and its entanglement with the establishment neocons and what is often called the "radical religious right."
One's reaction to this book will likely be determined by the reader's political point of view. The further to the political left the reader is, the greater the anger the book will spark. The further to the right, the more scepticism the tale will surely fire. But I suspect, for most readers, the tale will be viewed as horriffic-if-true.
This story may not bode well for the direction our government/culture/country is headed.
I can't stop without mentioning the narrator who reads the text with the deep scarey theatricality so stereotypic of movie trailers. That's a pity as it unnecessarily creates a sense of danger, something the text itself is plenty able to do.
I have to say, i dont think most of the reviewers read the book. Perhaps they saw an interview on tv and from that they decided they didnt like the subject of the book, because the book is not "a factless rant","anti-christian", "anti-troop", or "anti-american".
The book references christian mercenaries and their financers. Now perhaps calling them mercenaries sounds harsh, but that is the truth. If you are fighting for the money, then that is what you are. I suggest if you really care about your country then you should inlist instead. That they are christian mercenaries may give some comfort. But not me. And especially not in a war that already has too much religion in it. And to that point the book is certainly not "anti-troop". It is anti-mercenary. Finally it is not 'fact-less'. It is so fact filled i was shocked. It was page after page of interviews and statistics. Only after pages and pages of facts would it draw a conclusion. Which you probably already drew yourself just by listening to the facts. I would say that I think that it may not be as non-partisan as I would have liked. Sometimes I would hear a clearly partisan group or politican referenced as if they were an objective witness and other times I would hear just as partisan conservatives referenced as "far right" or "ultra conservatives". But on the whole I think this is a real wakeup call and I hope that people are reading this.
This story of Blackwater is an important and scary read. As a reader of many, many other books on the Iraq conflict this is just another confirmation of failings in a very sad story.
An issue I have with this book is the narrator. I have been an Audible listener for years and this is the first time I've found a narrator almost too irritating to listen to. The over the top attempt to be sonorous and profound would be laughable if it weren't in the telling a very important story.
This is quite revealing. I had to take a break from it several times-the information contained was overwhelming to listen too.
There were many things in government that provoke the imagination-but this puts it out there. It is revealing as it exposes the workings of the war machine of the Bush administration.
although we hear less and less about the privatization of the American military, this books provides a great reminder of what is going on behind the scenes.
Although the author shows his political bias and did not write well, it is a facinating report. It is very troubling that our defenses must include private armies.
My comment about poor writing concerns the copying and pasting of earlier text by the author in later parts of the book. I think some identical text was used at least three times.
Also, my download copy did not include the final chaper(s).
If you like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein or William Blum you will love this book. The link between massive corruption and privatization is shown in startling relief. Bringing extreme Christianity into the mixture is a nice addition.
Something about myself...happy now?
It's not often that I'm dying to get to the end of an audiobook. This one, however, has everything going for it. Great writing, a compelling story and, for the most part, flawless narration. My small complaint with the narration is the occasional accents he uses. His Arabic accent is downright embarassing. However, I've never heard better "voice-quoting"
The book itself is a straight-forward history of Blackwater. If you don't have a problem with a private army funded by your tax dollars that operates with no oversight and bleeds jobs away from the US Military, the book will infuriate you. If you do have a problem with it, you'll be even more infuriated. Rather than giving American troops money for armor, training and benefits, the Bush adminisistration prefers to throw money at private contractors which inflates the cost of the "War on Terror" and makes its buddies rich.
The Fallujah section boggles the mind - an understaffed group of four Blackwater mercenaries are sent to guard a shipment of utensils get killed and hung from a bridge. The media not only treats them as if they were soldiers but refers to them as if they worked for the Red Cross. And the military needs to revenge the deaths of *contractors*?
If you ever wondered why the US Military isn't good enough to guard the likes of Paul Bremer, this book will tell you why - Blackwater has better guns because the US taxpayer is getting bilked.
While there's a lot of interesting material in this book, it wanders for hours and is often more a discussion of the Iraq war than about Blackwater.
And the narrator . . . awful. For the first time, I'm going write down his name to make sure I never download another title read by this man.
I teach Business, Economics, and English at a university in Tokyo. My interests are in politics, economics, and philosophy. I hold a BA in English Literature, and an MA in Political Science.
I think the author forgot his point while writing this book. There is a lot of really pertinent information, and when coupled with some other really good books on the contracting issue, you start to get a really good idea of what it means to be a Libertarian or Neocon.
The book loses focus in many parts when it focuses too much on the political machinations in the Bush Administration. The whittled down objective information is enough to make you scream...even if the author's adjectives weren't in the way.
The narrator is really grimmy though. He made me want to wash my ears. I think he was trying way too hard to sound like a bad guy telling a story.
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