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"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.
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.
32 of 33 people found this review helpful
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.
24 of 25 people found this review helpful
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.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
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.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
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.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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".
22 of 25 people found this review helpful
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.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
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.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Confessions of an Economic Hitman raises some very interesting questions about the American empire, if I may call it that.
The book suggests that in pursuing profits, large US construction firms and other companies, with the collaboration of the US government, short-sidedly assume other nations need or should want to be Americanised and that they should be pleased with whatever manner and however much it costs those nations (financially and socially). They go into undeveloped countries, extract their profits, and leave the vast majority of those countries’ people in arguably much worse shape. There is probably a fair bit of truth in that.
This behaviour, coupled with US intervention in the affairs of sovereign nations by, for example, supporting dictators or paramilitary forces that the US believes furthers the its immediate interests with no regard for ramifications for people living in the affected region does seem to explain much of the anti-Americanism and terrorism the US faces.
The likely results of America’s indifference for the effects it has on non-Americans is fascinating grist for the mill and made me want to learn more about this side of international business/politics. There’s another aspect to this book though, and that’s its autobiographical angle.
While the author’s life story makes for a very entertaining read, it is at times a bit hard to swallow. The idea, for example, of shadowy and beautiful women training economic “hit men” employed by construction companies to go out and trick third world leaders into so much debt, their countries are shackled to the US stretches credibility. Not to the breaking point, but close. I got the feeling the author was providing a sexed-up version of his life, career, and international significance. Even the term “economic hit men” seems a bit over-dramatic. If that was a term of art in the world of international business, you’d think this author would not be the (seemingly) first person to use it.
I still recommend this book fairly highly if you, like me, have never consider the issues the author raises about the undesirable effects of doing business overseas.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Confessions of an Economic Hitman again? Why?
I'll probably listen to it again, although I got most of it on the first pass.
What did you like best about this story?
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.
What about Brian Emerson’s performance did you like?
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.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
None leap to mind - it was all so very compelling.
Any additional comments?
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
When l was introduced to this particular work of John Perkins, it piqued my interest immensely. As soon as l heard the first account, l knew that l was lead to a space of truth and truth-seeking.
John Perkins repartee and reality shun through. His soul searching touched me unlike those of the contrived ilk. This book filled in so many blanks for me. The countries l had connected to were victims of the EHMs and all that came with them. l applaud John for his courage. The narrator made this hard story palatable.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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...'
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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!
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
excellent book with new perspective of world economy and politics . many of these clearly can be correlated with events around us
narrator was great but Perkins constant moaning was too much! he should have left Maine years ago! bit of a hypocrite if you ask me!
Ramblings from a fantasist. If you're coming to this books for facts you'll be disappointed.
A book, that criticises capitalism without giving arguments or proposing concrete alternatives. A book advocating against free trade and encouraging to spread this propagandistic view in your local community.