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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004)

by John Perkins

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3,362783,651 (3.54)30
A real-life tale of international intrigue and corruption, this work reveals the hidden mechanics of imperial control behind such major international events as the fall of the Shah, the death of Panamanian president Omar Torrijos, and the invasions of Panama and Iraq, as well as provides an inside view of the corrupt US-Saudi Arabian relationship.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
One of the most interesting books I've read in a long time.

Now, in the interests of the other side of the story, the Department of State has referred to a lack of documented evidence while economic columnist Mallaby for the Washington Post and others disagrees with Mr. Perkins overall understanding of the workings of international finance.

Given the above caveats above, it was still an interesting book and the author certainly, given the current political climate, would not be found anywhere near the Republican camp; at best I'd classify him as an older style Democrat; none of this bares directly upon the events in the book, but does influence, perhaps, his interpretation of those events.

International Finance is a whole other level way beyond our common mundane interactions with Commercial Banks; and one which interacts between the connections of Central Banks, major international corporations, and major world governments. Just look at the recent interaction reported in 2022 of the IMF negotiation with Argentina for continued loans for an example of the reality of this assertion. (This book was published in 2004)

Anybody who has grown up during the two Gulf Wars and recalls the "Blood for Oil" mantra during those events will find this book an interesting take on those events, and the current, and past, situation in the Middle East.

There is proverbially more than one to skin a cat, and certainly - throughout history - economic warfare has been just as deadly, and certainly more stealthy, than open military conflict.

Worth a read; especially for a unique viewpoint on relatively recent history. ( )
  MusicforMovies | Jan 29, 2022 |
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!

It is often the personal stories that tell the bigger truths. As with Barbara Ehrenreich's intensely personal Nickel and Dimed, Perkins' story illuminates a larger picture in a way that more scholarly treatises cannot match.

I value the perspective I get from Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson and many others who have written about our modern empire. None of these works, though, explains it from the ground up. Perkins does that.

In this book, written in spurts since the early 1980s, Perkins really does tell it like it is. This is the book I have been waiting for, the book that fills in the blanks left behind by the writers of global theories, the book that tells us how it really happens. It is one thing to read that the United States engineered ousters of democratically-elected leaders who did not do the bidding of our corporations. It is another to read of the actual steps that led to these actions. As one who likes to be able to visualize all the steps, I found great comfort in reading a well-written personal story that allows me to do this.

In this rightly-named confession, Perkins puts on his hair shirt and chastises himself as he explains how he gave in to temptation again and again over several decades, while he worked to build an American corporation's profits at the expense of third-world countries. He does not describe in detail the benefits he accrued from being Satan's handyman. We do not hear stories of his exploits with women, of his flaunting his power, the meat of a LifeTime movie. These fruits of his labor are glossed over in favor of greater descriptions of the occasional pangs of conscience.

Take it as a given, then, that Perkins was right for the job of economic hit man because he was so easily tempted by material wealth, power, and adulation. There was, in his character, though, a little hint of conscience. He was interested in the world's people, happy to learn other languages and ways of living, open to old as well as new ideas. Thus he was able to make a more honest comparison of the world according to global corporations and the world as seen and lived by indigenous people. And he was able to see that his work only benefitted the few.

There was in him, as well, the radical view that a benefit to the few was not much of a benefit. I can see this story translated successfully to the big screen; either as a documentary or as the story of one man. Two very different films; either would be dramatic and informative. There are scenes in this book that could have come from a Graham Greene novel (and let's not forget that Greene tells the truth through fiction): clandestine meetings, sudden flights to escape uprisings, epiphanies on the beach.

By its nature, a memoir of this type cannot fully be documented. To the extent that it could be, it is, with many pages of notes and references. These private memories, though, may never be proven to be either true or false. It is my greatest wish that Perkins is telling the whole truth all the way through. Even the smallest of fibs could tarnish a work of great importance, given our media's inability to see bigger pictures. The real message, though, is clearly written and inescapable: this is not the story of "they", a "they" that can simply be removed from power. It is the story of us. [originally written in November 2004]
( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
4 stars only, because the narrator sometimes really got on my nerves. The book is very interesting, though, so I have already downloaded the sequel...it can make quite a depressing read/listen, however it is sadly true. ( )
  MissYowlYY | Jun 12, 2020 |
This book stands testament to the fact that it doesn't matter one wit what you think, or how you feel. What matters is what you do.

John Perkins simpers his way throughout the third world, undermining democratically elected regimes for various corporations and International Financial Institutions. Each time, he regrets what he is about to do, and then curses himself for doing it. Each time, the easy way out is taken: the route that wins him more money, keeps his job, and is the most exploitative of already impoverished people.

That there are actual economic hit men, and after them jackals, and after them the US government sends in troops to murder and oppress make it sound like it is a conspiracy by a tiny group of controlling individuals. Perkins feels like a pawn of these controlling elites, until one day it is found that there isn't anyone on top: he has been following orders, sure, but his work has opened entire new paradigms of exploitation. Sure that someone was pulling the strings behind him, he ended up pulling plenty of strings himself.

And that is where the strong suit of this book comes in. It's pretty repetitive, and sometimes the insights are pretty mundane (the American Revolution was an anti-colonial fight, and so was the Vietnam War). But it provides concrete evidence of the banality of evil, and the insatiable greed of the system of global capital. He stresses constantly that it's not a cabal of bankers somewhere controlling everything, but the economic system that pervades every level of our society that is to blame for the massive oppression dealt in the world from this nation.

Read next to The Shock Doctrine for best results. ( )
  magonistarevolt | Apr 29, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Perkins' tale is a gripping one and the international and political intrigue involved gives the non-fiction book the feel of a suspense thriller. The narrative is very well written and fast-paced. I do highly recommend Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man. Whether you like Mr. Perkins or not, he has some very valuable information and insights to share. One cannot help but benefit.
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To my mother and father, Ruth Moody and Jason Perkins, who taught me about love and living and instilled in me the courage that enabled me to write this book.
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Economic hit me (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A real-life tale of international intrigue and corruption, this work reveals the hidden mechanics of imperial control behind such major international events as the fall of the Shah, the death of Panamanian president Omar Torrijos, and the invasions of Panama and Iraq, as well as provides an inside view of the corrupt US-Saudi Arabian relationship.

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