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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man [Hardcover]

John Perkins
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 9 2004
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man reveals a game that, according to John Perkins, is "as old as Empire" but has taken on new and terrifying dimensions in an era of globalization. And Perkins should know. For many years he worked for an international consulting firm where his main job was to convince LDCs (less developed countries) around the world to accept multibillion-dollar loans for infrastructure projects and to see to it that most of this money ended up at Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies. This book, which many people warned Perkins not to write, is a blistering attack on a little-known phenomenon that has had dire consequences on both the victimized countries and the U.S.

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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
Format:Hardcover
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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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
By WKP
Format:Paperback
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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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
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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5.0 out of 5 stars GOVERNMENTS June 15 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
THIS WILL OPEN YOUR EYES AND GET YOU WONDERING JUST WHAT IS REAL
WHO DO YOU TRUST MEDIA? OR GOVERNMENT? BIG PHARMA?
THIS WILL WAKE YOU UP
FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO EDUCATE THEMSELF ON THE WORLD STAGE
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly useful and enlightening book Jan. 15 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book provides incredible insight into the world we live in and how the leaders we think are in charge are actually puppets themselves. Brilliantly written from someone who did the dirty deeds back in the day.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The truth is finally coming out. Oct. 5 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Concise, to the point. An easy read. This book confirms the so called "conspiracy theories" about global economic domination. It'll never get old.
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By Bey
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Perkins confirms your worst suspicions that the world is actually run by the "corporatocracy", as he calls it. He explains that a small group of elite American and UK banksters, who directly or indirectly own or control most of the giant multinational corporations, determine who is allowed to be elected as President of most countries, including America. Their goal is to plunder the resources of the world's resource-rich nations while giving the appearance of "helping" those nations. Perkins job was to persuade the leaders of many nations to allow the plundering of their countries by the corporatocracy using bribes, offers of military equipment and support or outright threats. Leaders who failed to allow the plunder were usually removed from office by the corporatocracy's "jackals" were called in where Perkins' persuasive methods failed. The jackals job was to assassinate the obstinate leaders so that more amenable leaders could be put in place by the corporatocracy.

The book "The Creature From Jekyll Island" by G. Edward Griffin explains how the world's elite banksters have increased their power and control globally since they created the US Federal Reserve in 1913 in order to give themselves the sole authority to print or create electronic US Dollars and thereby indirectly control most of the world's money supply. Griffin's book provides the high level overview of what these elite banksters have done and are doing to Americans and others to strip them of their wealth and turn them into economic serfs of the corporatocracy under a "New World Order" run by them.

Perkins book provides many of the "gruesome" details of the corporatocracy's methods in achieving their goal(s).
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Many of my friends and clients regularly travel to dozens of countries. Seldom does such a trip end without finding a weird example of a so-called economic development that has been funded by the World Bank or some other economic development agency. One of my favorite loony examples is a multi-hundred-million-dollar paper mill built high in the Andes far from any trees that can be used to make good paper and the water that is needed to make paper. What were they thinking about when this project was authorized and built? Perhaps the purpose wasn't to make paper.

In this memoir, John Perkins describes his covert role in expanding American economic influence by encouraging foreign governments to take on so-called development projects that they didn't need, couldn't afford and which wouldn't pay off for them. When the bill came due, the nations couldn't pay the loans and Uncle Sam was able to muscle the countries for concessions that independent countries probably wouldn't otherwise have made. Panama and Ecuador are the best developed examples in this scenario in the book.

Mr. Perkins performed this role ably on behalf of Boston-based engineering and construction firm by creating inflated estimates of the economic benefits of potential projects. In part, this wasn't hard to do because he didn't have the educational background to do the work correctly. But no one in his firm cared. His career advanced because he was so malleable in his upward estimates.

Who benefited? In the short term, such projects create lots of profits for U.S. manufacturers and engineering and construction firms like the one Mr. Perkins worked for and those that have employed so many people in the three Bush administrations (such as Bechtel, Halliburton and the rest of the usual suspects).
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Most recent customer reviews
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 20 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial page turner through history that makes you think and...
Controversial non-fiction or fiction, depending on your point of view, account of the author's own involvement in promoting and securing American interests through economic... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2011 by Brad Mattson
4.0 out of 5 stars eye opener
This is a must read book to get the full picture of American economic intrusions around the world. This book and Shock Doctrine are wake up calls to the way the federal government... Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2011 by sparky
4.0 out of 5 stars A Confession Worth Hearing
John Perkins' book deserves to be the bestseller it is. It is a personal and engaging account of his time as an Economic Hit Man (EHM), ensnaring unsuspecting or corrupt... Read more
Published on March 14 2010 by Ian Robertson
4.0 out of 5 stars Very satisfying read!
I wanted to read this book after seeing Perkins interviewed in the Zeitgeist Addendum movie, but almost didn't because of the bad reviews others had given it. I'm glad I read it. Read more
Published on May 14 2009 by C. Kirby
5.0 out of 5 stars Method of Madness
Here is yet another scathing expose on the US government's role, under the guise of the CIA and the World Bank, to infiltrate and subvert a number of national economies around the... Read more
Published on April 26 2009 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Insight into Post WWII American Policy
This book attempts to explain modern American foreign policy. I did not agree with everything Perkins had to say. Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2008 by Patrick Sullivan
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