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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man [Hardcover]

John Perkins
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 9 2004
Economic hit men are highly paid professionals who cheat countries out of trillions of dollars. They funnel World Bank, government and foreign aid funds into the coffers of international businesses and a few wealthy families. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion and murder.
John Perkins was one of these hit men, and his first-hand account contains explosive revelations on Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American hotspots. He discloses the clandestine support received by Osama bin Laden as well as little-known facts about the relationship between the two most powerful dynasties in the world: the Bush family and the House of Saud. Confessions is a riveting book that reads like a classic spy novel.

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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man + The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World
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John Perkins started and stopped writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man four times over 20 years. He says he was threatened and bribed in an effort to kill the project, but after 9/11 he finally decided to go through with this expose of his former professional life. Perkins, a former chief economist at Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main, says he was an "economic hit man" for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business. "Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars," Perkins writes. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an extraordinary and gripping tale of intrigue and dark machinations. Think John Le Carré, except it's a true story.

Perkins writes that his economic projections cooked the books Enron-style to convince foreign governments to accept billions of dollars of loans from the World Bank and other institutions to build dams, airports, electric grids, and other infrastructure he knew they couldn't afford. The loans were given on condition that construction and engineering contracts went to U.S. companies. Often, the money would simply be transferred from one bank account in Washington, D.C., to another one in New York or San Francisco. The deals were smoothed over with bribes for foreign officials, but it was the taxpayers in the foreign countries who had to pay back the loans. When their governments couldn't do so, as was often the case, the U.S. or its henchmen at the World Bank or International Monetary Fund would step in and essentially place the country in trusteeship, dictating everything from its spending budget to security agreements and even its United Nations votes. It was, Perkins writes, a clever way for the U.S. to expand its "empire" at the expense of Third World citizens. While at times he seems a little overly focused on conspiracies, perhaps that's not surprising considering the life he's led. --Alex Roslin

From Publishers Weekly

Perkins spent the 1970s working as an economic planner for an international consulting firm, a job that took him to exotic locales like Indonesia and Panama, helping wealthy corporations exploit developing nations as, he claims, a not entirely unwitting front for the National Security Agency. He says he was trained early in his career by a glamorous older woman as one of many "economic hit men" advancing the cause of corporate hegemony. He also says he has wanted to tell his story for the last two decades, but his shadowy masters have either bought him off or threatened him until now. The story as presented is implausible to say the least, offering so few details that Perkins often seems paranoid, and the simplistic political analysis doesn’t enhance his credibility. Despite the claim that his work left him wracked with guilt, the artless prose is emotionally flat and generally comes across as a personal crisis of conscience blown up to monstrous proportions, casting Perkins as a victim not only of his own neuroses over class and money but of dark forces beyond his control. His claim to have assisted the House of Saud in strengthening its ties to American power brokers may be timely enough to attract some attention, but the yarn he spins is ultimately unconvincing, except perhaps to conspiracy buffs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for every human-being March 8 2005
By A Customer
One of greatest books written about the empire building. It'll just make you wake up and look around understand where we are heading as a society. Instead of brushing everything off as a conspiracy theory it's time to rise up and ask the right questions. John Perkins has put his life online by exposing the truth. I just hope more people read it and take some action to make this world better for everyone to live.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This book is at once an autobiography, a 20th century history of America and a call to action. These elements are balanced very well with a very readable narrative style.
The history in this book is somewhat controversial. It is the less-shiny aspects of history which may or may not be taught in US schools (I will not make assumptions here), but which is easily accessible if one only looks for it. It is also quite well-documented and supported by evidence. Perkins discusses American corporate and governmental involvement with Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador and many other nations from a first hand perspective.
What is interesting is that we see this history as the setting for a very personal story, through the eyes of a participant. As the title suggests, it is in fact a confession. Perkins was an important player in some of the darker aspects of subtle non-governmental foreign policy, and he is not an apologist.
He shows a little bit of the psychology of people who commit evil acts on behalf of organizations to which they belong. For example, structures set up to do harm can generally find people with the personality characteristics that can be capitalized upon - greed, ambition, etc. What this means is, rather than simply provoking hate towards individuals who are perpetuating exploitation, Perkins reveals the underlying broader issues, such as the consequences of the misuse of power and profit. I think he very effectively places the specifics of historical facts (as well as his story) in context in a way that historical texts typically do not.
Although it is not a prescriptive book as such, Perkins does offer some ideas and suggestions at the end as to what individuals can do if they believe in trying to ameliorate the situation he has presented.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for Americans Oct. 21 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book detailing all the money American companies have extorted from poor Central American and African countries. With the help of the world bank and U.S. government these companies convince countries that privatization and huge debts is the way to a country's prosperity. What is amazing to me is how governments could be fooled by this considering the same model has failed miserably in America.

My problem is that the author spends too much time on self pity. He knew what he was doing was wrong yet it takes him 30 years to finally quit. Maybe he was enjoying the money too much. The book would have been perfect if he would have spent less time telling us how badly his conscious hurt and giving more details on the corruption going on in these countries.

The book is also a required reading for all Americans who think terrorism exists because they are jealous of American freedom. B.S. Terrorism exists because America creates too many downtrodden countries.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject, badly written March 22 2007
By Erico
An economic hitman, according to John Perkins is a highly paid professional who's job is to force exorbitant loans down Third World country's throats. Then sit back and let the creditor, usually a large prosperous country or a corporate syndicate, extort them both politically and economically. It's loan sharking on a massive scale.

And Perkins reveals all in this book as he pours out all the secrets of the profession that used to be his career. He reveals his handiwork in Saudi Arabia, Central America, and South Asia and although it is at the least ten years after the fact it still has some impact.

However, Perkins delivery is horrible. He doesn't write badly but it isn't great either. Also the way he tells the story is scattered and uninteresting even though this should page turning subject matter.

All in all Confessions of an Economic Hitman should be an amazing expose on a dangerous form of modern day imperialism but Perkins butchers it with his prose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read Sept. 9 2011
This book is a must for anyone interested in knowing the truth between developed vs developing world and how the Americans are treating other countries as just means to achieve their own ends. Now the information is out in the open, it is time America treats others with respect to build a better world for our children.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book everyone should read. Full of anecdotes and in plain language it explains how we have gotten to the point where the world is in a state of perpetual war, where people and their concerns for health and economic happiness are not on the agenda of those who make the decisions. It explains why it is that Islam is the most recent target for ensuring that war and a state of high security continue to consume our resources and our attention.
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a really good book, glad I got this as i am more enlightened to the unbelievably bad bad controlling ways of the USA on the world. The world would be a better place if they stayed within their own borders. we are supposed to be civilized now but all what happens today is a modern version of empire building thru' dictatorship and dominance.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent incite into the interconnectivity of American foreign policy & corporate interests.
Published 1 month ago by Steve Tomajko
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Scary s***! And to think we're your next door neighbours.
Published 2 months ago by Bill Farley
5.0 out of 5 stars GOVERNMENTS
Published 4 months ago by Carol Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars confession of a economic hit man
great impression
Published 8 months ago by amir sohail
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly useful and enlightening book
This book provides incredible insight into the world we live in and how the leaders we think are in charge are actually puppets themselves. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Altman-Nakres
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth is finally coming out.
Concise, to the point. An easy read. This book confirms the so called "conspiracy theories" about global economic domination. It'll never get old.
Published 12 months ago by Paul Douglas Mehring
4.0 out of 5 stars How Perkins' job was to coerce national leaders to allow the...
Perkins confirms your worst suspicions that the world is actually run by the "corporatocracy", as he calls it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Concerned citizen
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitman answers a lot of questions
Makes sense of government seeming apathetic to people's plight around the world. I found this book is the only thing that makes sense as to what's really going on. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Sharon shumard
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a Serious Study of the Corporate World
This was one of the most disappointing books that I have ever purchased on Amazon.

If you are looking an objective study on corporate operations and capitalism in... Read more
Published on April 29 2012 by Avid Reader
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