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Customer Review

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does Not Ring True, July 21, 2008
This review is from: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (Paperback)
I am willing to believe that the US Government has done some awful things over the last several decades (in fact, we know they have done). And so, Perkins' story is somewhat plausible. However, in reading it, I did not feel that it has the "Ring of Truth" that I look for in such an account.

Perkins is making some fairly strong accusations/statements about our government. Carl Sagan often said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and of course Perkins cannot provide that -- we just have his unverifiable anecdotes. Perkins' narrative is framed in such a dramatic fashion, complete with quotes from conversations from the mid-to-late-seventies, that it feels slightly embellished or re-imagined. He includes details, like people taking significant pauses or how their smiles looked, that simply wouldn't be a part of any journaling/note-taking he would've done at the time. Those are details he's adding for color. And, in a work of this kind, I expect scrupulous attention to the truth.

Despite his unsavory role, Perkins always manages to describe himself as something of a hero in whatever circumstances he finds himself. Locals in every region take to him as being "the American who *gets it*", bring him in and share their secrets with him without reservation. It's too convenient. Perkins' NSA-ish contact, Claudine, is straight out of a Bond film. Why would the NSA put so much trust in a Peace Corps. volunteer with a BA in Business Management? Perkins says it's because his NSA screening test showed him to be dissolute enough to make the grade, but I imagine that there are a host of low-moral college kids that the government wouldn't bring in to the innermost cabals, straight out of school. Also, Perkins insists that Economic Hit Man is an actual job title... it makes no sense; usually, positions that people want to keep hidden are given *euphemisms* not titles that make them sound more incendiary than they actually are. Nixon's thugs were called "plumbers," not "political hit men," and actual hit men sometimes call themselves "cleaners" or such. Perkins' details seem off.

Finally, if we buy into the least part of Perkins' tales, we have to realize that he's admitting to the following: that he has for the greater part of his life acquired wealth and status by lying to people's faces, time and time again. I understand that people can change, and maybe Perkins has, but I think we must be open to the possibility that... he might be willing to lie for a buck just one more time.

I give this book one star because, while it's readable and enjoyable, and has some good information inside... I don't think it's honest. And a book of this kind must be honest, or it is worse than worthless -- it is a travesty.
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