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Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army [Revised and Updated] Paperback – May 27, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 491 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scahill's liberal horror story is about the company that has deployed many of the private contractors who have assisted the U.S. military in Iraq and been responsible for more than its share of death and disorder. Scahill, a regular contributor to the Nation, amps up the scare language in his study of both Blackwater and the wealthy, ultra-conservative Prince family that founded the company, but luckily, Weiner does not. With his booming baritone reined tightly in check, Weiner coolly and calmly delivers the bad news. The parade of scaremongering may grow wearying, but Weiner maintains his composure throughout, offsetting Scahill (to a degree) by virtue of his unyielding temperateness.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"Thanks to Jeremy Scahill and other reporters of conscience and courage, 'independent journalist' is not an oxymoron." -- Ray McGovern

"From Belgrade to Baghdad, from Nigeria to New Orleans, Jeremy Scahill leads a new generation of muckraking journalists. Scahill is exposing the dark, violent and secretive world of the neo-mercenaries Washington is increasingly deploying in its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and at home in the US. His investigative skill, coupled with his graceful style make this book essential reading." -- Amy Goodman

"A crackling expose of the secretive military contractor Blackwater."--"The New York Times Book Review"

"[Scahill] is a one-man truth squad."--Bill Moyers

"[An] utterly gripping and explosive story."--Naomi Klein, "The Guardian"

"The biggest book of the year...an amazingly researched and well-told story."--Matthew Rothschild, "The Progressive"

"Scahill's page-turning collection of intrigue and insight into the underworld of privatized warfare is well researched, thoroughly documented, and as a result extremely frightening."--"The Globe and Mail"

"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

"Virginian-Pilot"
"At Blackwater USA, Jeremy Scahill's is the face they love to hate... [He is] perhaps the private military company's most dogged critic."

Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time"
"[Scahill's] book is so scary and so illuminating."

"The Guardian" (London)
"Blackwater being rarely out of the news lately, this is a very useful survey of modern mercenaries - or, as they prefer to be called, 'private security contractors' in the 'peace and stability industry'...Scahill is a sharp investigative writer."

Scarlett Johansson, actor
"It should be mandatory reading. It's very interesting - and scary."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Rev Upd edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156858394X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568583945
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (491 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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