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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man [Kindle Edition]

John Perkins
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,264 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"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 U. S. corporations. 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 New York Times bestseller exposes international intrigue, corruption, and little-known government and corporate activities that have dire consequences for American democracy and the world. It is a compelling story that also offers hope and a vision for realizing the American dream of a just and compassionate world that will bring us greater security.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
706 of 763 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No proof required April 26, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Many of the reviews here refute the truthfulness of this book because Perkins does not provide evidence for every one of his claims. But, this is precisely what makes the book an exciting and fast read. How can Perkins be expected to provide evidence for influencing events in other countries? Where should we expect to find documentation of these nefarious deeds? The inner workings of organizations like MAIN, Halliburtion, and Brown & Root are only ever known when a dissenter arises.

From my perspective, it all seems to add up. I lived in Ecuador in the 80s. I was young (18), and I didn't know much about politics at the time. I personally saw many of the projects that Perkins speaks of in this book. I heard the complaints from my Ecuadorian friends about how the U.S. was bankrupting their economy by "loaning" money for extensive construction projects. I saw the jungle along Rio Napo being deforested by unknown (to me) companies. I spent time in oil towns in the jungle -- like Shell. I saw the dam that Perkins speaks of in his book.

The only way to gather proof about the truthfulness of his claims is to see it first hand. Though I seriously doubt that most of us have the guts to travel to the places where these things happen. Denial, regarding these issues, seems terribly naive.
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199 of 217 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The personal illuminates the global November 20, 2004
Format:Hardcover
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.
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129 of 139 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
John Perkins gives a first-hand account of a world in which US corporations wildly overpredict the growth that will follow big infrastructure projects in the developing world, convincing aid organizations to give big loans for these projects, resulting in big projects (and big money) for American firms and crippling debt for poor nations.

Part of the book tells of his own experiences, generating false predictions and both giving and receiving bribes. The other part is a history of the role that US corporations (and, more subtly, the US government) play in eliminating hostile but strategically important leaders of developing countries and co-opting their nations' resources. (Those same leaders, hostile to US business, are often the champions of the poor in their countries.)

The history this book provides opened my eyes and made me want to read more on the subject. Thankfully, Perkins also provides extensive references for those who would like to read more on this, both providing an avenue for the curious reader and showing that he isn't the only witness to the new imperialism. The last few pages of the book also provide some practical suggestions for a reader to "do something" (and refuse to absolve us of collective guilt).

On the other hand, while the book claims to be a confession, massive page space is dedicated to Perkins's misgivings about what he was doing as he was doing it, to the point that it really feels like he's trying to let us know that he's not that bad a guy. That tone and the amount of time dedicated to it really wore me down as a reader. (Okay, okay, you were really torn, I get it.)

But overall, this was well worth the time, and I only hope I can carry some of its lessons with me.
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356 of 409 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
John Perkins was interviewed by Leonard Lopate on WNYC Radio in New York. You can listen to the interview and make your own decision about John's book.

[...]

Note: Although many other books have been written about how U.S. aid policy has been used as a means of manipulating foreign countries, the fact remains that John Perkin's book is from an insiders perspective. It exposes the truth behind how corporate greed has hijacked U.S. Foreign Policy. You can find many more books on the facts and history but for a sound, engaging critique read it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars g forced lending to poor countries of sums far in excess of their...
Absolutely fascinating, pulling back the veil of the inner workings of the IMF as it does. Confirms a lot of things people have long suspected and been shouted down for voicing. Read more
Published 1 day ago by gordon macgregor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 2 days ago by Ricky
5.0 out of 5 stars Corporate mentality take over. It is everywhere.
Everyone should read this book. Then maybe they wouldn't be so surprised when China becomes a super power. LOL
Published 5 days ago by Sunny
5.0 out of 5 stars learn what's going on. read this book. gives a clue to MONSANTO's...
truly a remarkable book that has been proven with events and facts that have come out since the book was written back in the day. Read more
Published 8 days ago by johnnyjohnny
5.0 out of 5 stars Very inlightening!
Amazing journey told in first hand. I found it very inlightening to learn the conspiracy theories behind some secular events do have some truth in them! Read more
Published 11 days ago by Susana Gaspar
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ
VERY INTERESTING NOVEL
Published 12 days ago by leakyleak
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!
Excellent book! A must read for any one who questions the corporate relationships with governments in foreign countries.
Published 14 days ago by James S
5.0 out of 5 stars Prophetic in a sense with what's been going on over ...
Prophetic in a sense with what's been going on over the past decade. I read it a long time ago.
Published 14 days ago by Kasia
5.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend this book for anyone interested in any sort of ...
I would recommend this book for anyone interested in any sort of development work or the corporate world. Interesting perspective of the influence that the powerful few have.
Published 15 days ago by Miles McGonigle
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Lots to think about
Published 15 days ago by David D. Beach III
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More About the Author

John Perkins website is www.johnperkins.org. His TWITTERID is economic_hitman. John Perkins has lived four lives: as an economic hit man (EHM); as the CEO of a successful alternative energy company, who was rewarded for not disclosing his EHM past; as an expert on indigenous cultures and shamanism, a teacher and writer who used this expertise to promote ecology and sustainability while continuing to honor his vow of silence about his life as an EHM; and as a writer who, in telling the real-life story about his extraordinary dealings as an EHM, has exposed the world of international intrigue and corruption that is turning the American republic into a global empire despised by increasing numbers of people around the planet.

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Welcome to the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man forum
A friend who was a senior economist with the world bank and is now a professor of economics has written to me as follows:

"I did not see anything which is not plausible. There are quite a few consultancy companies like Main headed by ex Pentagon, CIA and State department people and their... Read More
Feb 25, 2006 by John Whiting |  See all 42 posts
elementary school writing
And we have a president that speaks like a 6 year old, and a nation of people with a knowledge of current events approaching that of a 4 year old. So I agree, all in all a little too advanced for your average American. Oh, and the hardback is a little more pleasing to the touch. That cheap... Read More
Jun 7, 2006 by Amazon Customer |  See all 5 posts
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