Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
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Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  3,857 ratings  ·  502 reviews
On September 16, 2007, machine gun fire erupted in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, leaving seventeen Iraqi civilians dead, among them women and children. The shooting spree, labeled “Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday,” was neither the work of Iraqi insurgents nor U.S. soldiers. The shooters were private forces working for the secretive mercenary company, Blackwater Worldwide.

This is the e...more
Hardcover, 550 pages
Published March 8th 2007 by Nation Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Eric_W

Addendum 8/6/09: Erik Prince accused of murder. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090817...

I had no idea the depth of antagonism toward the Clinton election evinced by such stalwarts as Scalia, Colson, Dobson, et al who, in public statements, suggested that any ruler, elected or otherwise, who was not following the divine mandate as they understood it to be, deserved to be overthrown, violently if necessary. The level of their vitriol is astonishing. Place the rise of Erick Prinz's private army, th...more
Joshua
Jul 11, 2007 Joshua rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with a conscience
Okay, first some literary criticism. And I hate to do this, because I saw Jeremy Scahill speak a few months ago and I genuinely liked him. He's brilliant, he obviously knows what's going on in the world, he's a first-class investigative journalist, a crusader for the truth, and I sincerely applaud him for what he does. But, though the story of Blackwater is gripping, chilling, and more than just a little sinister (more on that later), I have to honestly say that carrying around this book and rea...more
Chad Walker
First, a little background on my own biases: I saw September 11th with my own eyes, and fully supported a military response (of whatever form necessary) to capture Osama bin Laden and break up Afghani training camps for Al-Qaeda. I opposed the invasion of Iraq from day one, though was happy to see one less dictator in the world who had committed genocide against a portion of his own population. I used to subscribe to The Nation, but eventually found its "reporting" to be wildly simplistic, dogma...more
Jeremy
Yes, I read the whole book. Painfully so.

No, I don't think it was worth my time or money.

Like many other reviewers, I bought this book hoping to get a historical perspective on the Blackwater company. Instead, I got a heavily biased opinion piece on the US Government's use of military contractors. Scahill cites many quotes and facts in his book, but most of these are from heavily biased liberal writers or publications, and most of these cited works are opinion pieces, not factual evidence. Worse...more
Wes
Apr 06, 2008 Wes rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
I picked up this book hoping it would provide some good basic information about Blackwater, with the understanding from the dust jacket that it likely would reach certain ultimate conclusions I might not agree with. In reality, the book provides only superficial information, merely regurgitating the reporting of several already-public incidents, then quoting supporters and detractors of Blackwater and similar private military companies. Mr. Scahill almost invariably characterizes statements from...more
Cwn_annwn_13
This gives a history and account of various misdeeds by Blackwater and their born ultra-rich right wing Christian kook founder Erik Prince. It goes in depth with the infamous Fallujah incident where "civilian contractors" (actually they were former Special Forces guys working for Blackwater) were ambushed, yanked out of the car, burnt alive and their corpses were hung from a Fallujah bridge. It looked like an inside job set up to me when I first saw the incident in the news a few years back and...more
Trevor
There is little need for me to do a review of this one as the review that encouraged me to read it in the first place pretty well sums up my feelings about it too: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/.... Another excellent review by my mate Eric.

Now, one of the recent books I have read called Mistakes Were Made, but not by me points out that the most dangerous people in the world are people who have high self-esteem and they are at their most dangerous when they are forced to do bad things to p...more
Valerie
Nov 30, 2008 Valerie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Valerie by: Jon Stewart
This book covers Iraq and mercenaries in great detail. However, I was unprepared for the section on Blackwater and Hurricane Katrina. The author makes the point that guns were on the ground long before humanitarian aid was deployed. I checked Blackwater's website and they claim to have donated time and effort, although they hide behind wording like 'in the first few days', leading one to believe this book's claim that they were well paid after those first few days. I was also disturbed by the po...more
Phil Smith
Perhaps the greatest enemy to the United States is its military-industrial complex. Add Christian fundamentalism into that mix, and a dash of stupid president, and one has the ingredients for our own downfall.

This book is already scary, and I'm only 20 pages into it. The author clearly has a liberal slant, but it is also clear he has done his homework (one can also compare his conclusions with current news on Blackwater).

In college, I once wrote a short story called Battle Corp. that dealt with...more
Jerome
Not a book for the conservative/republican reader, but very informative as to the privatization of the military. A real expose of corruption at the highest levels of government. As a past member of the USMC, I believe the privatization of the military to be a cancer on the real military and it should be exterminated post haste.

"OF all the insane Bush privatization efforts, none is more frightening than the corporatizing of military combat forces." - Michael Moore.

"Blackwater is the utterly gri...more
Todd
This book is full of double standards and petty fault finding. I do believe there is an issue with rampant government contracting, but Scahill picks at Blackwater like a sibling annoyed with his little brother-- EVERYTHING they do is WRONG.

He condemns Eric Prince for being a "theocon" who wants to make God have more of a roll in government, but then sees nothing wrong with Iraqi's praising God and talking about how God will kick the Americans out. The feeling I go is that religion is okay in a s...more
Odai Alsaeed
غض النظر عن البالغ التي تدفعها الحكوة الامريكية لهذه المنظمة التي تتاجر بالبشر من خلال اقحامهم كجنود وحرس خاص للشخصيا البارزة ومأجوري اغتيالات لصالح هذه البلد الا أن المضوع بات جليا وواضخا عن مدى العنصرية والاستهانة بالنفس البشرية فهولاء القتلة المأجورين ذوي المؤهلات الاجرامية يتم استيرادهم من الدول التي تعودت على الاجرام والاتجار بالمخدرات سواء من البيرو أو السلفادور ..الهندوراس او البلدان الفقيرة التي تشكو الفقر المدقع كالفلبين وغيرها ...وبذلك تزج بهم في حروبها المادية خارج البلد كي تقى ابناءه...more
Jerome
A good book about subject matter that raises a lot of questions, but Scahill doesn't always do a satisfactory job of answering them.

Scahill has done his best to penetrate the veil of secrecy that surrounds Blackwater and its operations, and has probably done as good a job as anyone could in the circumstances. But he's better at the small-scale stuff (the story of how a bunch of Chilean Blackwater recruits ended up fighting an American war in Iraq, for instance) than he is at the big-picture cont...more
Huyen
I'd quite like to like this book. I mostly agree with what the author is trying to say, but don't like his sensationalist style. And I have this awful nagging feeling throughout this book that it’s terribly biased as Jeremy Scahill makes it quite clear from the start. It is biased along what I already opined, but I’d be much happier to see something more balanced. It is one thing to have a strong opinion, but quite another to let that brilliant idea cloud your judgment and from his style, I am r...more
Cara
Seemed to run out of steam toward the end when it shifted from recounting of major events to personnel profiles. My major issue with this book was that it was a bit of a disjointed read. From a literary perspective, there were odd tense-issues, the pacing was off, and I did not come away with a clear feeling of the narrative. From a message/content perspective, the juxtaposition of the inundation of fact with the author's entirely subjective tone was weird for me. But, even though it took foreve...more
Elizabeth
Jul 13, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to understand what's really going on with our foreign policy
This was great; very thorough and well-researched addition to the discourse on Iraq and military policy. Scahill makes no secret of his opinions, but backs them up with enough evidence that the reader can draw her own conclusions (and it's hard not to be equally alarmed at the rise of these private military companies). Very informative and disturbing read.
Dennis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caitlin
Jeremy Scahill has an ax to grind and a certain amount of bias shows through in this expose of Blackwater's corporate army. That said, the book is well-researched, reasonably well-written and will definitely switch your paranoia on.

The book takes you through the creation of Blackwater and the background of its CEO, Eric Prince, a neo-conservative Evangelical Christian who believes that he is fighting the Crusades. It's clear that Scahill believes that Blackwater is evil and I can't say that I di...more
Mike
This is a tough book to review: it's clearly the best-researched and most-complete work on its topic, but it is also very biased. Jeremy Scahill is a first-rate investigative journalist, of that I have no doubt, but he also has a clear anti-Blackwater, anti-Prince family agenda to sell, and he wastes not a single word selling it here. While Scahill claims he requested interviews with Erik Prince and other Blackwater executives and was refused any such interviews, this is about as close to approa...more
Andrew O
Well this is the history of Blackwater. Formed by Eric Prince and man that feels he is performing his religious duties as a Roman Catholic. He is keeping peace by waging war.

Now let me list the way he follow the religion he claims to strongly uphold.

1. He strongly applies Thou Shalt no Kill, by forming a mercenarily army to kill people for money.

2. He sternly applies Thou shall not commit adultery, by supporting a married pastor that had children by many women while married and another poster...more
Ashley
From my Cannonball Read V review...

Just to make sure we're all on the same page: Blackwater is a horrible, horrible, horrible company, right? Like, everyone with a conscience is aware of that fact? Everyone who works there is not a horrible person (many are just trying to survive), but we all know that the organization is bloody awful, yes?

Okay, so starting from that premise, why read a book that tells you in detail about how horrible it is? Because it's good. Really good. It is very well resea...more
Nate
Nation contributor Jeremy Scahill gives readers a terrifying examination of Blackwater, one of the world's largest and most powerful mercenary companies. Run by the Christian neocon Erik Prince, Blackwater has numerous ties to the Bush administration and has thousands of mercenaries operating in Iraq.

As the US army and public support for military operations are increasingly stretched thin, Blackwater has positioned itself as the perfect solution for the neocons...guns for hire that are not ac...more
Tinea
This is a fucking fantastic book. It is so huge and dense with research but it skips along in intense narration. Classic muckraking on the mercenary, military contractor, "peace and security" industry, focusing on Blackwater's story in particular.

Blackwater began as a couple extremely rich ex-Navy Seals who built a training ground and used their expertise to train military and police in the US. Then they realized they could take all the other ex-special ops dudes like themselves, except poorer,...more
DoctorM
When I was a boy, I did want to be a mercenary soldier one day--- I'll admit that. And in grad school I wrote extensively about Fritz Redlich's idea of the "military entrepreneur" in the late 16th/early 17th.-c. So I dislike seeing "mercenary" always used as a pejorative. That said, I'll say that Jeremy Scahill's "Blackwater" gets points for reportage, for his interviews and legwork. "Blackwater", unlike P.W. Singer's "Corporate Warriors" sets out to be an expose rather than a work of analysis,...more
Jon
This is a frightening and erudite expose of the rise of the mercenary in U.S. "total force" projection. Written from a clearly liberal perspective did not bother me because Scahill was also critical of certain democrats and did mention certain republicans like Gasserly and McCain who are troubled by as quoted by Eisenhower, "the danger in the rise of military industrial complex". As I am libertarian, I do believe in free market enterprise but not when it comes from favoritism from certain electe...more
GoodReadsAccount
Jeremy Scahill is hands-down one of the most knowledgeable and well-studied people on this subject on the planet. This makes it all the worse when he so flagrantly misstates, misrepresents, and intentionally misleads. I really wanted to finish this book, but between his factual unreliability and his constant rubbing the reader's nose in his obscenely blatant political slant, it was not possible. He is anti-military, anti-government, anti-Catholic, anti-Republican, anti-upper class, and that was...more
Dietrich
Finally finished this book, and I must say I was a little disappointed. Blackwater is basically a private military who does not have to abide by the same rules as an actual military force would. I had the so called "privilege" to meet a few of their members while serving overseas.... Their reputation definitely precedes them for sure.
A majority if not all of the ones I met were ex-special operations, law enforcement or counter intelligence specialists.
Needless to say a private military may not s...more
Ray
Feb 02, 2009 Ray rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Someone who seriously wants to learn about Blackwater
This was a difficult book to read. I don't think of myself as a Pollyanna, and I knew, in general, about Blackwater, but I wasn't prepared for the amount of money we taxpayers are paying to mercenaries. Nor was I prepared to learn how many people WANT to go to war and make money doing it . . . . it doesn't seem too much about fighting for good. I guess I am a Pollyanna.

I believe that the book was very well researched, and sometimes I felt like I was slogging through facts. The facts certainly o...more
Robert
The company name "Blackwater" was one I had often heard being thrown around the dinner table or on the news programs of the not-so-distant past, but I had never before looked into the actions of the infamous organisation. Though I did not necessarily agree with all of the stances and accusations made by the author, I found the book a profoundly interesting read, one which made me reanalyze my perceptions on how wars are fought and portrayed in this modern era. Very well researched and written, t...more
Carli
I give this book four stars because the subject matter is essential to anyone interested or concerned about the state of current affairs in the world. It's not the most eloquently written book, but Jeremy Scahill researches important aspects of the military-industrial complex. He furiously admonishes we Americans for hiding our heads in the sand, and rightly so.

What we are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is often illegal and almost always wrong, and it is up to us to stop it. Start by...more
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Jeremy Scahill is an American investigative journalist and author whose work focuses on the use of private military companies.

He is the author of the best-selling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, winner of a George Polk Book Award.

He also serves as a correspondent for the U.S. radio and TV program Democracy Now!. Scahill is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow a...more
More about Jeremy Scahill...
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