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The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption Hardcover – June 5, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having made a splash with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins offers similarly entertaining but disturbing accounts of the American government wreaking havoc around the world in support of American business. In Perkins's view, American presidents willingly comply with their CEO masters, distributing foreign aid to corrupt Third World leaders who keep a share and return the rest to U.S. business for major projects, leaving their nations poor and massively in debt, and requiring more loans and slavish obedience to U.S. policy. If any leader objects, the CIA destabilizes his government, by assassination if necessary. Gathering evidence is not Perkins's strong suit. Typically, a shadowy figure pulls him aside, insists on anonymity, then reveals all. Critics will rightfully accuse Perkins of dreadful journalism and a taste for conspiracy theories. Yet economists admit that loans and "expert advice" to poor nations are often harmful. Few deny that America has ruthlessly undermined uncooperative governments and supported dictators including Saddam Hussein. Perkins's assertions that the U.S. assassinated Ecuador's reformist president and connived at genocide in Timor and Sudan are not absurd, merely unproven. This book's greatest value may be to encourage a competent journalist to cover the same ground. (June 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


A sweeping, bold assault on the tyranny of corporate globalization, full of drama and adventure, with devastating stories of greed run wild. But Perkins is undaunted, and offers imaginative ideas for a different world. -- Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

John Perkins' new book is both an eye-opening expose of global corruption and a fascinating story of adventure and intrigue. This devastating indictment of current economic policies also offers hope by showing the power of the growing movement toward a caring economics worldwide. -- Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and The Blade and The Real Wealth of Nations

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052595015X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950158
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a fifty-five year old man, my own history runs from a youthful idealism born in the frenetic 60's to a current disillusionment derived in part from a Supreme Court coup, a piecemeal destruction of the Constitution and a criminal Executive Branch that creates its own laws and ignores legislated ones.

When I read "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" a year ago, the questions we all have about how the world got to this point in history suddenly became much clearer.

From a first-person perspective, Perkins exposed the seedy underbelly of the economic giant called the United States.

As Americans we've gotten used to angry epithets being thrown at us from around the world; by "dirty commies", by "tinhorn" South American dictators, by various types of anarchists and by "ignorant" peasants.

And the chant they repeated most often over the years was that the US was an IMPERIALIST nation.

The asbsurdity of this accusation was enough to make make most Americans ignore whatever else these people might have been trying to communicate to us.

But after reading this new Perkins book about the seriously evil deeds our national government and closely allied corporations have been up to for the last sixty years, we are forced to conclude that Empire is perhaps the kindest way to describe "unofficial" American foreign policy since World War II.

Perhaps the most intriguing section of his book--and most pertinent to today's most unsettling issues--is his discussion of the the Mideast's modern history as planned and executed by the major Western powers.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Secret History's" Prologue provides an outstanding summary of the dark side of American generosity as exemplified by the World Bank's actions. The U.S. holds veto power over major World Bank decisions, and its president is appointed by the U.S. president. Perkins asserts that the World Bank's mission quickly became synonymous with proving the capitalist system superior to communism, and to further this role, its employees cultivated cozy relationships with multi-national corporations. This opened the door for economic hit men (EHM) to channel funds from the Bank into schemes appearing to serve the poor while primarily benefiting a few wealthy people.

In the most common scheme, staffers would identify a developing country possessing resources our corporations desired (eg. oil), arrange a huge loan for it, and then direct most of the money to our own corporations and a few collaborators. Infrastructure projects (eg. power plants, airports, industrial parks) would then spring up - however, they seldom helped the poor, and the nation was unable to be able to repay the loan about 50-60% of the time. The EHM could then demand eg. cheap oil, U.N. votes on key issues, and/or troops for eg. Iraq.

Perkins substantiates his "American Empire" label by asserting that the U.S. is run by a big group who collectively act much like a king. They run our largest corporations, and through them, our government. They cycle through the "revolving door" back and forth between businesses and government, fund political campaigns and the media - resulting in a great deal of control over elected officials and the information we receive, regardless of who is elected.

National disasters, like wars and aid projects, are highly profitable for big businesses.
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Format: Hardcover
Funny how all the deniers and thos who rate this author's books as "impossible" or "a fabrication" do so, I am willing to bet, from the comfort of having never left their own zip code. How can it be, if their scred "free market" and the government are forces of "freedom and justice"???

As a fomer officer of the Guatemalan Army, charged at one time with guarding those "advisers" and "experts" recommended by the US Embassy, witnessing the granting of unfathomable amounts of money and visas to the US for ministers and their families, as rewards for granting this or that contract to a selected few companies, I can assure you everything Perkins says is true. For those who ask for ironclad proof, it should be an invitation to get off their behinds and do some research of their own, the facts are out there but that would be too much to ask. There is a saying in Guatemala: No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver. "The worst kind of blindness is the one that refuses to see"
I really despair when I see the situation the country and the world are in nowadays and still there are those who claim it's all good. But as far as these books, they are an eye opener to how business is REALLY done outside the golf and country clubs of the US.
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Format: Hardcover
My mind reels as it did after reading "Confessions of an Economic Hitman." The obvious greed and lust for power of the American "corporatocracy" grows and continues. Can this be accurate? Can the United States have fallen so far as to rape and pillage the rest of the world?

Looking at conditions around the world, feeling the hatred that so many hold for "the Americans," I am forced to believe the witness of my own eyes.

Africa, South American, Middle East - American economic traps span the world. American embassies tote home the loot. America's reputation grows darker. Should we continue to wonder why they distrust and hate us?

Without doubt, the events related in this volume are filtered through the mind of a single participant. Therefore, they do not and cannot reflect the whole truth. But should they be as much as 50% accurate, the implications are chilling and shameful. The United States corporatocracy is guilty of immoral and illegal acts.

Like "Confessions," this volume will undoubtedly come under attack by NeoCon shills. Do yourself a favor. Ignore them. Ignore me, too. Read this book for yourself, painful though it will be, and then draw your own conclusions. Should you choose to accept the mission, Perkins suggests concrete ways you can change the world. America's can-do spirit is still alive.
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