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Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army Hardcover – March 8, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 1st edition (March 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560259795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560259794
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (422 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scahill, a regular contributor to the Nation, offers a hard-left perspective on Blackwater USA, the self-described private military contractor and security firm. It owes its existence, he shows, to the post–Cold War drawdown of U.S. armed forces, its prosperity to the post-9/11 overextension of those forces and its notoriety to a growing reputation as a mercenary outfit, willing to break the constraints on military systems responsible to state authority. Scahill describes Blackwater's expansion, from an early emphasis on administrative and training functions to what amounts to a combat role as an internal security force in Iraq. He cites company representatives who say Blackwater's capacities can readily be expanded to supplying brigade-sized forces for humanitarian purposes, peacekeeping and low-level conflict. While emphasizing the possibility of an "adventurous President" employing Blackwater's mercenaries covertly, Scahill underestimates the effect of publicity on the deniability he sees as central to such scenarios. Arguably, he also dismisses too lightly Blackwater's growing self-image as the respectable heir to a long and honorable tradition of contract soldiering. Ultimately, Blackwater and its less familiar counterparts thrive not because of a neoconservative conspiracy against democracy, as Scahill claims, but because they provide relatively low-cost alternatives in high-budget environments and flexibility at a time when war is increasingly protean. (Apr. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Scahill provided me information...which I have not been able to get from the U.S. military...I have read more from Mr. Scahill, than I've got from our own government."--Representative Marcy Kaptur, Defense Appropriations Committee"[T]his is no uninformed partisan screed...Meticulously documented and encyclopedic in scope...it's a comprehensive and authoritative guide...this book serves as a provocative primer for advancing the debate."--Bill Sizemore, Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist, "Virginian-Pilot""Andy McNab couldn't have invented this prescient tale of the private army of mercenaries run by a Christian conservative millionaire who, in turn, bankrolls the president. A chilling expose of the ultimate military outsource."--Christopher Fowler, "The New Review"'s "Best Books of 2007""Fascinating and magnificently documented...Jeremy Scahill's new book is a brilliant expose and belongs on the reading list of any conscientious citizen."--Scott Horton, International and Military Law Expert, Columbia University Law School

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Customer Reviews

I liked the book, but not the author's agenda.
Patrick McHugh
In his new book, Jeremy Scahill traces the explosive growth of Blackwater, USA, a private and secretive mercenary company based in the backwaters of North Carolina.
Mark Biskeborn
Side note, this book could be about 100 pages shorter, as Scahill rewords and repeats much of the information from chapter to chapter.
Mathew Hayes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

669 of 801 people found the following review helpful By Julia K. on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in one night after hearing Mr. Scahill speak in Washington DC. The book is a remarkable and bracing wake up call about the privatization of war and how that subverts even basic notions of democracy. I find it remarkable that people criticize Mr. Scahill for using terms like "radical Christian right" - as if these terms are caricatures and ad hominem attacks. Hardly. In fact Schaill then spends hundreds of pages breaking down exactly what is so "radical Christian right" about Blackwater. He is a serious journalist who has uncovered a story that is both illuminating and frightening. It's hard to have any respect for people who say "I didn't even get to the first page" and then feel like they can write a review on its content.

Last point: As good a writer as Scahill is, he's a better public speaker. People should go hear what he has to say. These aren't easy truths to consume, but they are truths that define and explain the current calamaties unleashed on the world
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570 of 689 people found the following review helpful By Alan B. Maass on March 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Don't believe the reviews on this page smearing this book. Jeremy Scahill has written a meticulously documented book about an all-too-real threat to democracy. And not just in war zones, where Blackwater operates in concert with U.S. forces, but without the accountability, however flawed, of the official military. They appeared, as Scahill documents, on the streets of New Orleans and around the Gulf Coast as a security force. This was in a situation where what was desperately needed was more humanitarian operations--food, rescue, emergency housing. But the Bush administration decided to devote funds to their colleagues from the war zone. Scahill exposes all of this, based on his own eyewitness reporting and on a meticulous analysis of Blackwater's history and operations.

By the way, I'm a reporter and editor who has found Scahill's articles extremely valuable, and in any of my following and checking of his stories, I've never found a single point that didn't hold up. The reviewers here may not like the facts he presents, but they are facts.
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391 of 476 people found the following review helpful By Loribee VINE VOICE on March 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I almost didn't buy this book because of the poor reviews (many written almost before the book came out, I must add), but decided to purchase it anyway, and I'm glad I did. It is well-written, thoroughly researched, and it is an expose of a company that every American should be aware of. I highly recommend it.

Blackwater scares me. One of the blurbs on the back of the jacket says they are just like Saddam's Republican Guard, and while I disagree with that, if they continue on the road they're on, it could happen.

They are fighting our wars, lobbying for fighting other wars, and for "peacekeeping" (something they're not very good at) missions in places we have not yet interceded. They were first-responders in Katrina, bringing guns and ammo, not supplies, for desperate people.

The scariest part is that they can kill with impunity, and I'm quite sure they do. It is also difficult to tell where the government ends and Blackwater begins, as people travel back and forth from high-level government positions to high-level Blackwater positions.

There is no accurate record of how much money Blackwater is actually making in our military conflicts, but through the maze of contractors, sub-contractors, sub-sub, etc., it is very difficult to imagine they are saving the government money as they claim.

The lack of oversight is the most frightening. No one seems to know what they are REALLY doing in Iraq or Afghanistan. If we are going to be outsourcing our wars, there needs to be oversight and accountability.
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135 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Andrew E. Cox on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jeremy Scahill's "Blackwater" is a passionate, if one-sided, condemnation of Blackwater USA, the military contractor firm located in rural North Carolina. "Blackwater" is the latest in a long line of books condemning the Bush administration's (mis)management of Iraq War. Scahill's book begins with a recounting of the infamous lynching of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in 2004 and works through the company's various exploits since the invasion Iraq. The book's purpose is use the birth and evolution of Blackwater to call attention to the broader trend towards privatization of traditionally military functions. Scahill is effective in impressing upon the reader the value of Washington connections in winning Federal contracts and he focuses heavily on the lack of accountability applied to private military contractors---mercenaries--during the last several years of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Blackwater is less an analysis of policy than a revealing piece of journalism serving as an ideological appeal for readers to oppose privatization of military functions. Just as Scahill rightly points out the weight that ideological rather than practical considerations have carried in the Iraq war's prosecution, it is important to understand the Scahill's ideological background as well. Scahill cut his teeth with leftist journalist Amy Goodman whom the LA Times referred to as "radio's voice of the disenfranchised left" ([...] In addition, Scahill mentions various independent journalism outfits in the acknowledgement section of the book. One example, the Z-magazine website which hosts a "subsite devoted to the anti-corporate globalization movement" is representative of the progressive political perspective that Scahill has adopted.
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