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The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth
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The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  795 ratings  ·  111 reviews
One of Financial Times' Books of the Year, 2015

The trade in oil, gas, gems, metals and rare earth minerals wreaks havoc in Africa. During the years when Brazil, India, China and the other “emerging markets” have transformed their economies, Africa's resource states remained tethered to the bottom of the industrial supply chain. While Africa accounts for about 30 per cent o
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by PublicAffairs (first published February 26th 2015)
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Richard Derus
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

#ReadingIsResistance to the carefully engineered ignorance of the hideous human costs of living the way we do. My review is live now. PublicAffairs published this excellent modern economic "J'Accuse" and sent me a review copy at my request. Thank you. I think.
Mal Warwick
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Misconceptions abound in the public perception of corruption in Africa. Tom Burgis’ incisive new analysis of corruption on the continent, The Looting Machine, dispels these dangerous myths.

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 “Corrupti
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Omotola
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not often impressed by books about Africa. Many of them border on banality rife with trite oversimplifications about the continent. However, this one charts a reasonably thorough analysis of a complex web of geopolitical and economic interests and the various powers that control the vast majority of Africa's natural resources.

The characterization of the entities and individuals involved occasionally borders on Lampoonish and the book is largely silent on solutions for moving forward. Beyond
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Yves Gounin
May 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
L’Afrique, dit-on, va mieux. Tel n’est pas le constat dressé par Tom Burgis au terme du voyage auquel il nous convie dans un continent frappé par la malédiction des ressources naturelles (« resource curse »). L’Afrique subsaharienne possède 15 % des réserves mondiales de pétrole, 40 % des ressources en or, 80 % des ressources en platine ; elle ne représente pourtant que 2 % du PNB mondial. Ses richesses naturelles l’ont paradoxalement appauvrie. Cette causalité contrintuitive s’explique : l’expo ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
The legacy of Cecil Rhodes refuses to wither in the destitute yet mineral rich African continent.

There is little chance for the ordinary people when their governments and ruling cliques are hell bent on enriching themselves. Opinions of people do not matter in resource states where their governments economically rely on external corporations and countries for their sustenance. The only way for the ordinary is to pay tax to their government so that their voice can be heard. Obviously to pay tax
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Shawn
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is an overview of the widespread corruption on the African continent that keeps it impoverished. This book is rather poorly written, concentrating too much upon the specifics of corrupt deals and too little on potential solutions, but it is remarkable in its disclosure of shocking improprieties. The author seems to see himself as a whistle-blower and, to this end, he has accomplished his objective. This book is about why and how abject poverty persists, even though the African nations are i ...more
Bastiaan Huesken
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent.
Ian Vance
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Develops as its central thesis the economic phenomenon called the "Dutch Disease" aka the "resource curse." Why is it that a continent as mineral-rich as Africa contains the poorest, most violent countries in the world? According to the Dutch Disease, the discovery of an abundance of a key resources--oil, coltan, gold, natural gas, etc.--tends to retard the industrial diversity of a nation: the vast majority of economic energy is devoted to the extraction and exportation of said resource. (For a ...more
Claire
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely engaging and disturbing work of investigative journalism, The Looting Machine tells the tale of the systematic theft of Africa's natural wealth in the post-colonial world. Burgis is incredibly well-researched and thorough in his investigation of the 'looting machines' which make some of the wealthiest nations in the world, the poorest. This text is informative but engaging- and I've come away from it not only with an understanding of the mechanism of this corruption, but also a real ...more
Ellie Dottie
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
The writing was a little dry for my taste, but the content was extremely interesting!
Michael Munyaka
A thoroughly researched piece of work. A must read for all Africans. It gives context to our lives.
Max Nova
Full review and highlights at https://books.max-nova.com/looting-machine

For my 2018 "Year of Crime and Punishment," I've been reading about bank heists, insider trading, contract killing, and identity theft. But all of these pale in comparison to the scale of the financial crimes described in "The Looting Machine". Financial Times reporter Tom Burgis traces the illicit flows of tens of billions of dollars of African natural resource wealth to local dictators, Western corporations and financial e
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Nicole P
This was fantastic! Informative, enriching and so relevant. Living on the African continent myself, everything described and discussed in this book resonated with me greatly. Tom Burgis hit the nail on the head time and time again, and gives a clear picture of Africa's continuous failings. A great book that leaves a lasting impression.
Nic Adams
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book exposes corruption and gives voice to the millions of Africans who suffer the consequences of living under the "resource curse" aka "Dutch Disease" and is a great scrapbook of exploitation.
This is an investigative journalism piece by Tom Burgis and has managed to uncover a system responsible for the wholesale looting of Africa's mineral resources for the benefit of the French, Chinese, Americans, Russians, Israelis, Brits, Brazilians, not to mention small but rapacious African elites,
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Corey
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This one was a real thinker and a conversation starter in my household. It also makes you want to take action – if only there was an obvious way how – purchase from some oil companies over others? Do not buy diamonds, period? Nothing obvious springs to mind and the situation seems somewhat hopeless.

After years of reporting on financial affairs in Africa, Tom Burgis dissects and analyzes the current circumstances (2015) of African economies. With each chapter dedicated to a specific country, he l
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L.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
"What has happened to Nigeria is not the result of some innate facet of the African spirit, as some observers suggest with a shrug of casual racism. British members of Parliament have shown themselves willing to sell their right to ask parliamentary questions, and the pork-barrel politics of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, looks very much like a patronage system. Lobbyists in every major capital inject money into politics on behalf of vested interests. The difference between a corrupted resource ...more
Emelie Nestor
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Very informative and interesting book about how resources flow from Africa and have done so ever since the colonial time. Even before I read the book, I was aware of this problem, but Burgis explains how and to which extent the looting machine keeps Africa poor, and the facts are pretty shocking. The book is pretty heavy, even though not academic. I listened to a recorded version of it, which worked ok. I would however recommend other readers to read it instead, since it contains a lot of number ...more
Micheline
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a real and raw look into the reality of why some African States continue to fail. Western extraction industry does not incentivize Nation building and until there are sweeping changes, exploitation of this magnitude will prevent Africa from reaching deserved levels of economic freedom and market growth.
Karel Baloun
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Only 3-6% of the value of Africa's mineral and energy exports stays in Arica, and most of that is looted by oligarchs, militaries and corporations. Increasingly from China.

Burgis writes in overwhelming detail, and this will be valuable primary material for historians. For me it was just profoundly depressing.
Munkoo
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
good look into another world far away, with global implications for corporate responsibility and consumer awareness
Baratang
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All mankind
Recommended to Baratang by: Portia Maluleke
Cry the beloved continent - Africa! Cry!
Hana
Dec 03, 2016 marked it as to-read
I just came across this review. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/review...
Vincent
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well researched. Well articulated. Excellent investigative work highlighting the plunder of Africa by the west and China and how it is aided and abetted by its leaders.
Blake Jones
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Highly informative on why many nations on the African continent have not been able to grow. Important book for anyone wanting to understand'modern Africa' economies.
Love
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
I had high hopes for this book but ended up being disappointed by it. It gets bogged down in the details of specific backroom deals, repeatedly brings up certain multinational corporations, and individuals. Very turgid read. Misses the forest for the trees. It only discusses a couple African nations (Angola and the DRC). This is not what the title, subtitle, and book's summary had led me to believe. I was interested in gaining a general knowledge about how the African continent had been taken ad ...more
Adungo’si  Ikol
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finally finished reading “The Looting Machine” a book about how Western and Chinese companies, their middle men and their local African surrogates conspire with local African political players to build “Looting Machines” that siphon away African mineral resources at a great cost of African suffering while bringing little net benefit to African livelihoods. Africa, with 30% of the world’s oil and minerals and only 14% of the global population constitutes 43% of the world’s poor.

The question in th
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AJ P
Audiobook.

My one lament is having listened to this one rather than read it. The reading performance was good (and the pronunciation of the names and places was pretty good!) but there was so much data and information that I would have liked to be able to highlight and add notes and look up sources. With an audiobook, alas, you cannot do so. This might be one to buy for reference.

Anyway, packed full of great info on how corrupt regimes keep themselves in power through resources, shady deals, and
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Danny Truscott
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
The title and description of the book suggests it would be an overview of natural resources on the African continent, something which it is absolutely not. Instead the focus is on a few individuals and groups, predominantly dealing with Angola. It's incredibly in-depth regarding the businessmen and politicians it mentions, yet discusses nothing about the history of African resources, nor does it consider the North African states at all which is baffling given MENA states have often been consider ...more
Mustafa
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
I did not enjoy or learn much from the book. Overall, the accounts are well researched and explained. I would have liked more focus on analysis rather than accounts and stories. Some chapters are better than others from that point.
Ailith Twinning
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
It's not useless -- but, it certainly does feel like a kind of voyeurism, some condescending sort of corruption porn. There's this undertone to it, and the consistent focus of it, that really rubs me wrong. Maybe I jsut want to see some solutions offered, maybe I just want to see a more direct debunking of the 'resource curse', probably I just want him to (figuratively) stand on a table and shout "Imperialism is fucking evil. Colonialism is fucking evil. The IMF, World Bank and so on are fucking ...more
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Tales & Co.: NOVEMBER: History - The Looting Machine by Tom Burgis 5 26 Nov 30, 2018 01:52AM  
  • Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security
  • The Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavor
  • China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa
  • Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
  • Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest War
  • An Image of Africa
  • The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged from an African Forest
  • The Challenge for Africa
  • Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Relief Industry in Africa
  • The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa
  • Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World
  • Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire
  • I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation
  • The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa
  • Private Island: How the UK Was Sold
  • Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror
  • War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures, and Debt
  • The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn't Working
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Tom Burgis a journalist, who has worked primarily as a correspondent for the Financial Times.
“The Congolese are consistently rated as the planet’s poorest people, significantly worse off than other destitute Africans. In the decade from 2000, the Congolese were the only nationality whose gross domestic product per capita, a rough measure of average incomes, was less than a dollar a day.” 1 likes
“But often front companies’ ultimate owners are concealed behind layers of corporate secrecy. One reason why foreign resources companies conduct what is known as ‘due diligence’ before embarking on investments abroad is to seek to establish who really owns their local partners.” 1 likes
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