- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (March 24, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1610394399
- ISBN-13: 978-1610394390
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#505,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #78 in Books > Business & Money > Industries > Energy & Mining > Natural Resource Extraction
- #103 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Trades & Tariffs
- #356 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > African
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The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth Hardcover – March 24, 2015
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"A great scrapbook of exploitation. It is written in a way that will appeal to the general reader, but still interest specialists...Burgis has the good sense not to present [the cruel contrast between individual poverty and national wealth] in an alarmist way, but with an understatement that is far more powerful...The Looting Machine is in part a means of self-exoneration, a way of making amends to those he ultimately could not help...[in this book] has done a service to some of the world's poorest people." Financial Times
"[An] excellent, finely reported book...The great value of The Looting Machine lies in its fresh detail, storytelling and the characters Burgis introduces. The Looting Machine is crammed with colour and lively investigative reporting." Literary Review (UK)
"Revealing...Burgis explains lucidly how the oil and mineral bonanza subverts societies and corrupts western multinational companies trying to cash in...[He] is particularly acute in analysing how multinationals connive in this institutionalised theft This intelligent book should give us all pause for thought when we fill our cars with petrol." The Sunday Times (UK)
"...a brave and defiant book." New York Times Sunday Book Review
"...powerful new book." Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist
[an] impressive study It is to Mr. Burgis's tremendous credit that he writes with such tenacity.” Wall Street Journal
"[Burgis] presents a lively portrait of the rapacious 'looting machine'...a rich collage of examples showing the links between corrupt companies and African elites."The Economist
[Burgis] brings the tools of an investigative reporter and the sensibility of a foreign correspondent [He] transcends the tired binary debate about the root causes of the continent's misery.”Howard French, Foreign Affairs
"Essential for understanding the colonial Africa of the past and, even more so, the diverse Africa of today." Library Journal
"A brave, excoriating exposé of the systematic ruination of resource-rich countries of Africa, leaving "penury and strife" for its millions of inhabitants...An earnest, eye-opening, important account for Western readers." Kirkus Reviews STARRED
"[Burgis] makes a powerful case, through anecdote and evidence, that the dirty trade in raw materials serves individuals' own enrichment and the demands of oligarchic and state interests worldwide." The Times (UK)
"After nine years reporting on Africa for the Financial Times, Tom Burgis exposes how the extractive industries have turned into a hideous looting machine [an] informative book.” The Guardian (UK)
"Burgis shows how even the World Bank is linked to this looting [of Africa, and he] makes an important case colourfully, convincingly and at times courageously as he confronts some of those involved in the pillaging." Observer (UK)
"Brilliant fascinating detail The book lives up to its colourful subtitle Warlords, tycoons, smugglers and the systematic theft of Africa's wealth”. Showing the finesse and determination that has won him awards at the FT, and at considerable risk to his own well-being, Burgis tracks down and confronts the people at the centre of this plunder." African Research Institute
"A rollercoaster read. Filled with vignettes on spooks, smugglers and kleptocratic warlords with suitcases of cash, it reads like a crime thriller, while at the same time being a well-researched, accessible account of the extractives industry; the privatisation of power in Africa and its impact on the continent's people." African Arguments
"This fine book...catalogues the grotesque self-enrichment of the callous rulers of Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeriacountries that should be immensely wealthy, but which remain poor, even by African standards. In each case, this theft of national treasure would be impossible without non-African facilitators. ... Burgis's book is essential to understanding why poverty, ignorance and conflict persist in Africa." Independent Catholic News
"An excellent book. Despite Africa's impressive economic 5% growth rate, Tom Burgis ensures that we don't stop wondering who does what in Africa and how we are all party to what Western investors” are up to. The post-colonial corruption and rape of African resource to the benefit of western consumption is still alive and horribly well.” Jon Snow, presenter, Channel 4 News (UK)
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For starters, corruption is mistakenly believed to reign supreme in every country on the African continent. (There are 48 nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a combined population of more than 800 million.) Of course, it’s true that some African countries rank very low on Transparency International’s “Corruption Perceptions Index” (CPI) — after all, Somalia merits the very lowest score, with Sudan and South Sudan not far above it — but only Eritrea and Guinea-Bissau rank at all close to them. In between them are many other countries: Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Caribbean, South Asian. And three Sub-Saharan African nations rank in the top third of the 175 countries in the CPI: Lesotho, Namibia, and Rwanda, with Ghana close behind. Ghana scores better than Greece, Italy, and several other European nations.
Second, corruption in Africa is viewed as intractable. It’s widely believed that nothing can be done about it. Nonsense! One of the largest and most potent sources of the cash that fuels corruption is foreign aid. Institutions like the World Bank, USAID, and other national and international agencies direct most, if not all, their support to governments. This, despite the obvious evidence on the ground that a huge proportion of this aid goes straight into the pockets of the ruling elites. If foreign aid were doled out more selectively to community-based organizations, local agencies, and NGOs with grassroots operations, the picture might be very different. As things stand, only a trickle of foreign aid gets to the people who need it most: the poor.
Lastly, and most significantly, too many observers characterize African corruption as a uniquely African phenomenon that grows out of ethnic rivalries and the failure of European colonists to establish stable native governments. Those factors, while present, are only part of the story. Equally, if not more, consequential is the role of foreign investment — principally from China, the US, and Western Europe — in exploiting the continent’s abundant resources, often paying through the nose for the privilege. Corruption is a two-way street: briber and bribee need each other. And those Western investors include some of the world’s biggest US- and European-based multinational corporations — most prominently, Big Oil and the major mining companies. Chinese companies are even worse because they’re not constrained by legal restrictions at home. Prominent foreign aid cheerleaders like Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University do the African people no favors by advocating huge increases in official aid, rationalizing that some of it will actually do good. Just ask the first ten Africans you meet on the street in Lagos or Nairobi or Luanda. Unless you happen to run into a member of the privileged elite, you’ll get an earful about Western-enabled corruption.
The Looting Machine spotlights this two-way street, with an emphasis on commerce. The role of foreign aid receives little attention. The principal source of corruption in Africa, Burgis contends again and again, is its wealth of natural resources: oil, gas, gold, diamonds, copper, iron, and many other materials essential to the rich nations’ consumer economies. Citing an analysis by McKinsey, he reports that “69 percent of people in extreme poverty live in countries where oil, gas, and minerals play a dominant role in the economy and that average incomes in those countries are overwhelmingly below the global average.” This is one of the most tragic consequences of what economists refer to as the “resource curse.” Burgis asserts that “An economy based on a central pot of resource revenue is a recipe for ‘big man’ politics.”
It’s no accident that the resource curse finds its fullest expression in Africa: the continent accounts for 13 percent of the world’s population and just 2 percent of its cumulative gross domestic product, but it is the repository of 15 percent of the planet’s crude oil reserves, 40 percent of its gold, and 80 percent of its platinum — and that is probably an underestimate.”
The scope of the corruption this cornucopia of resources makes possible is difficult to comprehend. For example, “When the International Monetary Fund examined Angola’s national accounts in 2011, it found that between 2007 and 2010 $32 billion had gone missing.” That’s billion with a “B.” And this, in a country of just 21 million people — a population roughly equivalent to that of Sao Paulo, Seoul, or Mumbai.
If you want to gain perspective on poverty, war, and corruption in Africa, read this book.
The emphasis in The Looting Machine is on those countries Burgis knows well: Angola, Nigeria, Congo, with less intensive reporting from several other nations.
Tom Burgis has worked for the Financial Times in Africa since 2006, covering business, politics, corruption, and conflict. On his LinkedIn page, he describes his reporting as encompassing “Oil, mining, terrorism, the arms trade, corporate misconduct, intelligence, money-laundering, the underbelly of the global economy, forgotten warzones, tales of the human soul.” He is currently the Investigations Correspondent for the Financial Times, no longer limited to Africa.
This is a great book about the inequalities in Western and Chinese business in Africa. If you need to understand the continent, this is a nice book to start with.
executives, government personnel and middle men/women involved in corruption of contracts
for resources between governments, companies and their cronies and the devastation they
wreak with looting the masses in African countries. Although with his journalism background
he is no sociologist or political scientist, he tries to draw parallels between countries on
the strategies and dynamics that maintain the hoarding of wealth to the detriment of the
majority who produce it.
The book is composed of three elements. The first element is the acedemic information. The book does this ok. The information is there, but there's better ways of presenting it. The second element is the anecdotal stuff. For some books this provides a wonderful human element that you wouldn't get otherwise. This book doesn't really do that very well either. The third element is the explanatory stuff. This is where the book knocks it out of the park. The writer's explanations for stuff are fantastic. He's able to word things in such a manner than anyone can get it. The only problem is that the three elements are all woven together and spread throughout.