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The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

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Shocking The original version of this astonishing tell-all book spent 73 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 1.25 million copies, and has been translated into 32 languages.

New Featuring 15 explosive new chapters, this expanded edition of Perkins's classic bestseller brings the story of economic hit men (EHMs) up to date and, chillingly, home to the US. Over 40 percent of the book is new, including chapters identifying today's EHMs and a detailed chronology extensively documenting EHM activity since the first edition was published in 2004.

Former economic hit man John Perkins shares new details about the ways he and others cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Then he reveals how the deadly EHM cancer he helped create has spread far more widely and deeply than ever in the US and everywhere else—to become the dominant system of business, government, and society today. Finally, he gives an insider view of what we each can do to change it.

Economic hit men are the shock troops of what Perkins calls the corporatocracy, a vast network of corporations, banks, colluding governments, and the rich and powerful people tied to them. If the EHMs can't maintain the corrupt status quo through nonviolent coercion, the jackal assassins swoop in. The heart of this book is a completely new section, over 100 pages long, that exposes the fact that all the EHM and jackal tools—false economics, false promises, threats, bribes, extortion, debt, deception, coups, assassinations, unbridled military power—are used around the world today exponentially more than during the era Perkins exposed over a decade ago.

The material in this new section ranges from the Seychelles, Honduras, Ecuador, and Libya to Turkey, Western Europe, Vietnam, China, and, in perhaps the most unexpected and sinister development, the United States, where the new EHMs—bankers, lobbyists, corporate executives, and others—“con governments and the public into submitting to policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”

But as dark as the story gets, this reformed EHM also provides hope. Perkins offers a detailed list of specific actions each of us can take to transform what he calls a failing Death Economy into a Life Economy that provides sustainable abundance for all.

384 pages, Paperback

First published February 9, 2016

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About the author

John Perkins

126 books1,067 followers
John Perkins is an activist and author. As a former chief economist at Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main, Perkins says that he was an "economic hit man" for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinational corporations cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business.

However, after several years struggling internally over the role he was playing in crippling foreign economies, he quit his consulting job. In the 1980s Perkins founded and directed a successful independent energy company, which he subsequently sold. Since then he has been heavily involved with non-profit organizations in Ecuador and around the world. He continues this work today, in addition to his writing.

His new book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, 3rd Edition: China’s EHM Strategy; Ways to Stop the Global Takeover, a follow-up to international best-seller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, will be released on February 28th, 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 707 reviews
Profile Image for Athan Tolis.
309 reviews581 followers
November 11, 2016
My friend Stan is approaching his 50th and in his old age is becoming a bit of a conspiracy theorist. He emailed me a list of books to read, most of which are not easy to find, but Confessions was on it, so I ordered the new, expanded book to see what the fuss is all about.

For starters, the “15 explosive new Chapters with new Revelations” are a waste of time. Whereas in the original you find yourself riding with John Perkins in Ecuador, Panama, Iran, Boston, Jakarta and Washington, in the second part you’re reading his interpretation of public information and it’s got to be said that this particular reading is covered much better by authors like Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, John Mackey, Jeff Sachs etc. The man has little to add.

The first part’s alright, on the other hand.

In what is quite a tight narrative, you find out about the life and times of a Robert McNamara / Indiana Jones wannabe as he jumps from the Hilton to the Intercontinental, from Panama to Indonesia, from his wife to his clandestine girlfriend, leaving behind him a trail of destruction. Not quite, but not too far from it either.

It’s cool. But it’s also grumpy. It’s basically like that Jim Rogers book with the yellow Mercedes on the front cover, except the guy swaps girls and uses the plane a lot. And rather than buy stocks along the way, he sells electricity projects, basically, and feels very bad about it because these people don’t need electricity, apparently.

Oh, and he’s so negative about everything. That’s the downer. The guy feels so guilty, you know. Not guilty enough not to idolize the mythical “jackals” who hop from town to town to execute non-compliant dictators, but, you know, guilty.

Which he needn’t be, since none of his actions really matter. The book was fun, but in truth the “Economic Hit Man” was a nobody. Allow me to elaborate on that, through the story of my own country.

I was raised in Greece, which was quite genuinely on the frontline of the cold war. Athens was held by armed communists after WWII and the UK military quite officially (NOT clandestinely) joined the defeated Greek nationalist forces to drive the communists out. The “reds” who briefly took over my country were not a figment of somebody’s imagination, they had flesh and bones and Russian weapons.

As soon as the civil war ended in favor of the Nationalists, my country was put on a strict diet of US aid, good and bad. Greece became the world’s #1 per capita recipient of Marshall Plan aid. Same as in Latin America, industries were pretty much “given” to the business aristocracy of the land. Loans were extended to Greek businessmen to buy cast-off American manufacturing equipment, for example, with the protection of gigantic tariffs taking care of the fact that the end products would not exactly be cutting edge.

Never having originated in Greece, these businesses did not take advantage of my country’s idiosyncrasies and advantages. Extreme examples include a bauxite processing plant in beautiful Delphi (which incidentally still operates thanks to a grant of free energy), refineries and shipping docks in ancient Eleusis, fabrics in Patras etc. The only thing that saved us from the discovery of oil destroying the beautiful Aegean was that the equally enlightened Turkish government laid claim to the discovered oil, thankfully leading to the sensible decision to leave it under the ground where it belongs.

Greece was forced to spend an unconscionable percent of GDP on NATO-procured armaments (and remains to this day one of the few members that allocate in excess of 2% to defense) and had a military dictatorship imposed from 1967 to 1974. We even had the odd extrajudicial killing of the kind Perkins describes, with two prominent members of the left (Labrakis and Panagoulis) perishing in suspect traffic accidents immediately before and after this period.

In 1974 the US “military industrial complex” failed my country completely. Much as the CIA’s leadership was in cahoots with our military government, it was caught napping by Henry Kissinger as the State Department organized the Turkish invasion of Cyprus without consulting with President Ford or with anybody else until the facts on the ground were fully shaped.

Retribution was swift. Greece not being a banana republic (at the time) or geographically located within the mandate of the Monroe doctrine, we proudly kicked out our US-backed dictators, withdrew from NATO and there was very little Uncle Sam could do about it as we went straight into the embrace of the European Economic Community (and then back into the NATO fold, but from a position of relative strength.) In 1981, five months after our new French (pay-)masters, we proudly elected a Socialist government, even.

The story since then has of course not been a proud story at all. EU membership afforded to populist governments the funds to nationalize the collapsing hitherto tariff-protected industries, rather than shut them down. Funds meant to be invested in infrastructure transmogrified into several massive entitlements programs that persist today, IMF memoranda notwithstanding. The size of government rose 4-fold. As I’m writing this, the US Federal government only employs twice as many people as the Greek government (yes, that’s very far from a like-for-like comparison, but still!) Finally, membership in the Euro currency union allowed Greece to borrow more money than it will ever be able to repay.

What’s the Economic Hit Man got to do with this all? How does my country’s story and the way I lived it counter John Perkins’ simplistic narrative?

Every which way, is the short answer.

I’ll choose letter N to answer this one.

I have three friends called Nikos whose parents would have been direct interlocutors for John Perkins in Greece, had his work for the “military industrial complex” brought him to our shores. Nikos N’s daddy was in the energy industry and the engineer behind several electric power projects, of the kind that electrified my grandparents' house when I was a boy. Nikos K’s daddy was in the tobacco industry and a major beneficiary of the mercantilist economic policies, but also a generous contributor to causes and a very solid employer until tariffs collapsed with our entry to the European Community, laying waste to his empire. Nikos S’s daddy, finally, was by general admission a CIA operative. He had a steady job, but we all knew he was reporting back to his American masters. All are fervent nationalists, excellent family men and have spawned successful children, all of whom received their high school education in Greece, all of whom did some of their studies in the US and more than half of whom now live abroad. None of them has a fortune to show for his efforts or much to answer for, as far as I’m concerned, and that probably includes the CIA informer.

With that out of the way and with no further ado, here’s a short list of how John Perkins' findings and confessions collide with my country’s story and my friends’ parents’ stories:

1. The country’s Debt/GDP ratio when we kicked out the Americans was 18%. I’m not saying that’s zero, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the 250% it reached later. Bottom line is because it’s American private companies that sell you the sundry projects / weapons, not the government, it is NOT in the interest of the US to see its allies over-indebted. Au contraire, if you place an order to buy Phantoms in five years’ time, you’d better look after your finances between now and then. By the way, that’s true everywhere, not just for the US. When horrible communist dictator Ceausescu died, there might have been an army of AIDS babies in Romania, but the state was pretty much debt-free. That was almost a condition imposed on its client state by the Soviets. SUMMARY OF THIS POINT: The US has never had a policy of controlling its client states through debt. To the extent that overborrowing occurred in Latin America it was a mistake made by the money center banks and they paid for it dearly.

2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with building roads and electrical plants in poor countries. Electrification is as close as you can get to a “fundamental right” in our days. I remember life in my grandparents’ house before electricity and I’ll sum it up in one word: dysentery. Similarly, India’s progress today is mainly halted by the absence of a road network. The Chinese are having to choose between the environment and electrification and it’s no contest. If somebody is offering you a loan to build your first electrical plant or an important trunk road, TAKE IT. And my friend Nikos N’s daddy is a national hero, as far as I’m concerned, for designing and building those plants.

3. Absolute right and wrong is a luxury in a world of scarcity and limited choice. Yes, my country did not only benefit from being a US semi-protectorate between 1948 and 1974. We took the rough with the smooth. But a quick look at the lasting predicament of our northern neighbors (Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria) and the Yugoslavian civil war of 1992-94, especially, makes it patently clear we got by far the better of the two deals available. And if that meant we had to do some things to appease the military industrial complex, if that means a few of us had to work for the CIA, even, it’s a sad state of affairs, but you are only allowed to consider in the context of your alternatives.

4. How is proud, sovereign, European Greece doing right now? How did Sarah Palin put it? The hopey-changey thing did not work out for us, did it? Under the Americans we knew what we were giving up, of course. But the EU was not exactly something for nothing. A priori, what Perkins is saying sounds wonderful. Hell, in principle I agree with him. In practice it looks very different. We wasted our sovereignty.

With this little rant over, I must say I enjoyed his “Grumpy Jim Rogers” thing and I actually learned tons from it. Like, I don’t for one second doubt that his employer and Bechtel and Halliburton were at some point in time the tail wagging the dog of American foreign policy. Even if that’s mainly because foreign policy is not very important to the US, it is regardless quite interesting and the detail offered here is quite extensive. Names and addresses! And perhaps when the original book came out it was a surprise for people to hear that the US made the Bin Ladens.

Also, I know terribly little about Latin American politics. I had no idea Panama was once the northern tip of Colombia. Manuel Noriega was to me a villain with bad acne who once did terrible things with a Coke bottle. Now I know he was a CIA informer for 20 years and that the CIA disposed of him rather ruthlessly when he turned against his masters. My feelings toward him and his acne are not much changed, but my bank of knowledge has expanded.

In summary, the first part of this book is a fun read if you can stand the author’s negativity, but it’s not all it’s trumped up to be. The second part of the book you should skip.

P.S. If I never hear about the Pachamama Alliance again, it might still be too soon
Profile Image for Bookshark.
207 reviews6 followers
July 7, 2016
I'm fairly sympathetic to the author's apparent political persuasions, and I'm sure at least some of this book is true, but it comes across as exaggerated and even paranoid. For instance, it was clear to me that what he portrays as a conspiratorial industry payoff (the cushy consulting job offer supposedly in exchange for his silence) is just him being paranoid about his employer wanting to protect the company's reputation. Is attempting to pre-empt whisteblowing with non-disclosure agreements yet another way that mega-corporations obscure their wrongdoing? Undoubtedly. But it's hardly a conspiracy and it seems unlikely the he was offered the job specifically in order to bribe him into silence. In general he attributes too much calculating intentionality to the other actors in this story, when self-interested pursuit of wealth unchecked by conscience, unintended consequences, and problematic institutional structures seem to explain most of it pretty well without requiring recourse to any more sophisticated motives. He never really overcame my initial skepticism. The author himself does not come across as terribly likeable - he does horrible things and then feels guilty but he keeps getting drawn back in and seems to think writing a book will fix everything; he plays up his own importance (I wonder if the world leaders he met even remember him? Also I doubt the CIA/black ops "jackals" give a shit about his book); he is overly credulous; he got ahead not by talent but by being willing to be more dishonest than everyone else; he tries to present himself as special because he deigned to talk to the locals. It also doesn't seem like this book needed an update - I kind of regret contributing to his transparent money grab by buying the audiobook. There were some interesting anecdotes here but honestly I think you're better off reading a real history that would cover global politics, U.S. intervention, the misdeeds of international institutions like the IMF and world bank, corporate malfeasance, etc. in a more evidence-based and comprehensive way.
Profile Image for Mal Warwick.
Author 29 books404 followers
April 6, 2017
No one but the most hard-bitten defender of U.S. foreign policy would deny that the United States dominates a global empire bigger than any other in human history and that we have employed highly questionable and often illegal means to build it. In The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, author John Perkins explains some of the tactics at the root of America’s empire-building project. His book is based on decades of personal experience. Perkins analyzes those tactics — in a word, the insidious application of economic pressure backed by the threat of military action or even assassination — in a truly compelling account of his personal history. Anyone who seeks to understand how the United States came to have its far-reaching role in global affairs today should read this book.

Latter-day colonialism

Early in the 1970s Perkins was recruited by the National Security Agency but, at the urging of his recruiter, elected instead to take a job in private industry with a low-key Boston-based international consulting firm. There he played the role of an economist, although his only academic qualification to do so was an MBA. Perkins thrived in the new job, quickly rising through the ranks to become Chief Economist and the youngest partner in the firm’s 100-year history.

As Perkins explains, his job was simple: to inflate the numbers in his projections about the economic benefits that would accrue from the construction of massive electrical generating projects designed by his company. As his mentor explained to him in the clearest of terms, he would become an “economic hit man” (EHM), one of a number of “highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars.” He would accomplish this by encouraging “world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes US commercial interests.” Perkins adds that “[i]f we faltered, a more malicious form of hit man, the jackal, would step to the plate. And if the jackals failed, then the job fell to the military.”

The specific purpose of Perkins’ exaggerated projections was to induce developing nations to sign up for enormous loans from the World Bank, USAID, and other U.S-controlled financial institutions. These loans would be used to pay high prices for construction and consulting services by U.S. companies, thus ensuring that virtually all the loan money came right back home. Since the projections would inevitably prove to be faulty, the loans would become unpayable after a few years, leaving the leaders of those countries in hock to the United States and incapable of denying its wishes. The result was that, against their will, the affected countries would be forced to host military bases, vote with the U.S. at the United Nations, and otherwise act much the same as they would if they were colonies of a European power.

Updating the story

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an updated and enlarged edition of Perkins’ 2004 New York Times bestseller, which sold 1.25 million copies and was translated into 32 languages. The new version is significantly different from the original. Thirty-three of the book’s 47 chapters are in Parts I through IV, which describe the author’s life and work from 1963 to 2004. These chapters are substantially the same as they were in the original, although Perkins has added detail that was lacking.

Chapters 15 and 16, which describe the Faustian bargain between the United States and Saudi Arabia, strike me as especially important. If you’re wondering why the U.S. ignores the inexcusable mistreatment of women in Saudi Arabia, or why our government secretly flew all the members of the bin Laden family back home immediately after 9/11, you’ll understand once you’ve read these chapters.

The concluding 14 chapters, Part V, 2004-Today, are entirely new; they add nearly a third to the book. Although Part V includes a fair amount of narrative about Perkins’ own experiences since 2004, it’s dominated by the concluding six chapters, which consist of Perkins’ analysis and his recommendations for “Things to Do.” It was in Part V that I found myself disappointed.

When does a writer know when to stop?

Perkins’ account of his experiences as an economic hit man is compelling. The details he relates about face-to-face meetings with coworkers and dissidents alike are impossible to dismiss: I too have traveled a good deal around the world, especially in developing countries, and I’ve had similar experiences along the way. And I’ve observed first-hand some of the diabolical practices he describes. However, when Perkins strays from his story and struggles to place it in a larger historical context, he comes up short. Parts I through IV tell a great story, and it’s well told. A few of the chapters in Part V help bring that story up to date. Perkins’ use of the term “economic hit man” beautifully points to the truth behind the work he did, work that so many others have engaged in. However, Perkins expands the definition of EHMs to include corporate executives, investment bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists at work in the United States today. This exercise stretches the term beyond the breaking point.

Without question, our society suffers greatly from “skyrocketing student debt caused by state and federal cuts in public education, the constantly increasing medical debt resulting from deficient national health care and insurance policies, predatory payday loans, tax laws that subsidize a few of the richest at the expense of the many, and the outsourcing of jobs to other countries.” But to claim that all these problems result from the work of economic hit men makes no sense. Our society is far too complex, and our problems can’t be explained away so easily. Perkins would have been better advised to stick to his story and avoid reaching into areas where his personal experience is lacking.

The concluding chapters “What You Can Do” and “Things to Do” compound the problem by suggesting a laundry list of irrelevant or trivial suggestions that readers might follow to right the world’s wrongs. For example, Perkins recommends that students “Understand your passions” and “Join organizations.” The book would have been stronger without this sort of thing.

Disclaimers (plural)

John Perkins and I go back a long way. When he arrived in Ecuador with his first wife in 1968 to begin service in the Peace Corps, I had been in-country for nearly three years. I even have a vague memory of meeting him sometime during that last year of my Volunteer service. We reconnected, probably in the 1990s or early 2000s, when we met at a conference of the Social Venture Network, of which we were both members. We found ourselves in the same room again in 2003 or 20004 at Berrett-Koehler, the publisher we share, in the run-up to the publication of the original Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. John was there to meet with the publisher’s staff in preparation for the book’s release, and I was working on a series of books about socially responsible business. Then, last year, I was retained by Berrett-Koehler as one of several advance reviewers to critique a draft of the book. The final product is different from the version I read then, but not nearly enough to suit me, since I criticized the manuscript in much the same manner as I have the finished book in this review. (I had a few additional complaints that I won’t share here, because I’ve said enough.)

Relating all this information serves two purposes: first, to make my bias clear; and, second, to attest to John’s credibility. His book might seem a stretch, but knowing him as I do, I would be astonished if it weren’t all true, a few errant memories and minor errors of fact notwithstanding. I find fault with the book only in his free-wheeling historical analysis. The loud objections that issued forth from establishment circles in response to the original edition of the book only served to confirmed the essential truths behind his story.

About the author

John Perkins has written or edited four nonfiction books about the experiences and issues described here, plus five books about shamanism and indigenous cultures, largely based on his experiences in the Amazon and the Andes.
Profile Image for Charlene.
875 reviews505 followers
October 2, 2017
Far too sensational and the author blames his parents for everything. He whines * a lot*. Overall, the book had some interesting parts but it was just far too annoying to be enjoyable. I think this book would appeal to people who prefer fiction over non-fiction.
March 23, 2019
The Hitmen and the Jackals

This is a mixed bag for sure. I came close to giving it a three star, but pulled back after reading the documentation record at the back. I'm glad I stay by my own motto when it comes to reading: there's always something to be learned.

The positives and negatives are pretty polarising here, however, the former of the two stand out a mile ahead than the later. At least in my view.

Perkins was an insider, you really can't get closer than that when it comes to reading about concentrated power. As such, there's some real gems here that are very insightful and useful when it comes to understanding what's being implemented up in the echelons of multinational corporate power. This expanded addition really opens up more on what's happening in this decade also, the rise of China being a big one.

The negatives are that Perkins is - to be truthful and blunt - not a great writer. I say this from the heart as I have never written a book, so can't really throw stones from my glass house, however it does play a factor within these pages with regards to trusting and recommend this to others.

There are moments when reading this book that I found myself slightly overwhelmed by Perkins apparent omnipotence to events taking place in his life. He infuses a lot of sensational and borderline psychic aspects to his chapters, and it does feel as though he is trying to achieve two things.

1. Redemption through writing.
2. Convey the horror of 'the system' as simply as possible to uninitiated readers (people he clearly wants to read his book the most).

As such, it does take some wilful ignorance to just act as though every encounter he describes in this book was an eye opening experience for himself, or that (for the hundreth time), he felt debilitating guilt at every turn and day that went by during his former EHM years. It made me sceptical of this account especially when he recreates dialogue that practically sounds James Bond villianesque at times (see point 2. above as to why I think this is). It gets in the way of telling a conciece, unexposed truth, when, as an author, you are unable to withhold your desire to remind your reader how guilty you feel within nearly every chapter of your book. It's exhausting.

However, this IS something I can see myself recommending to a few people who really don't follow anything remotely like what Perkins highlights. Also, the documentation at the end of the book - as mentioned above - is a treasure trove of interesting articles regarding corporate greed, indebted nations and banker swindling that I will be looking at well after closing this.

Other recommended books to present to people who may be in need of a wake up:

1. Against Empire - Michael Parenti
2. A Peoples History of the United States - Howard Zinn
3. America: The Farewell Tour - Chris Hedges
Profile Image for Feyzan - The Raven Boy.
166 reviews28 followers
November 10, 2018
Make America great again? Well, this book is a written prove that America was never great. It tells the tale of how America spread capitalism and her self serving ideologies by sword in the rest of the world, and how capitalism has become the bigger evil than America that will stop at nothing until it has swallowed everything in its way.

For most of history America believed that it was controlling the world without realizing that by forcing her supremacy she was too getting entangled in the web of chaos and destruction that is corporatocracy - a group of world's most powerful organizations using unethical, immoral tactics to exploit developing nations for their resources.

There is an invisible hand at play that is controlling every part of our lives. John Perkins was part of the system, controlled by the invisible hand, and therefore this book holds credibility. 

It is one of the most great exposé of our times. It's a book that everyone should read and pounder over. We are on the brink of extinction and America has played a greater role in bringing us here. It's time for us to stop and think how we are letting this big corporations and powerful nations exploit us. It's the only way we can save humanity. The rise of China is a threat to entire world cos she is replicating a crippled American system to achieve world dominance and it will only take us deeper into the pit of economic hell.

There are two type of people in this world: one who believe in whatever politicians and media is feeding them and second who question everything. This book is obviously for the latter.
When we can't tell the difference between truth and conspiracy theory we look towards media to reveal the truth but even  media is being  controlled by corporatocracy. The game is rigged and we couldn't do anything about it until now.
Profile Image for Elena.
130 reviews40 followers
February 27, 2017
The "confession" does not sound to me as a sincere one. The arguments are vague and weak. Abandoning the book on 15%.
49 reviews
February 13, 2022
This is a thought provoking book. An updated (2016) version of the 2004 original tells the story of John Perkins, an „economic hit man“ (EHM) active in the 70s-90s. Perkins, supposedly hand picked by the NSA for this role, was responsible for encouraging/pressuring/forcing countries to take on huge debts (usually in the shape of IMF, World Bank or USAID loans) to fund infrastructure and energy projects that would be implemented by US companies. Once saddled with debt, the leaders of these countries were beholden to US/corporate interests and forced to relinquish precious resources and general sovereignty.

He shares anecdotes from his time with leaders in Indonesia, Ecuador, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and about a dozen more countries who came under the influence of „EHMs“. The book also covers secondary characters called „jackals“ and what happens/can happen if EHMs aren’t successful in convincing governments to agree to these large scale projects and the loans that come with them. Perkins is clearly heavily influenced (and guilted) by his close personal relationships w/ former Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos and Ecuadorian president Jaime Roldos, both who refused to cooperate with the EHMs and both who, just months apart, died in plane crashes.

The book is highly conspiratorial and there is quite a lot of skepticism online over the validity of Perkins‘ claims. If I had to guess, the truth is somewhere in the middle but what’s clear is that US interest and influence is incredibly widespread and was quite eye opening for me in a lot of ways. Despite being a relatively short book, I was constantly stopping to read more about the events he mentions including an attempted coup in the Seychelles, the history of the Panama Canal and the „school of the Americas“ or Petrodollars. (He also includes an incredible 75 pages of sources and additional notes with links to other articles, reports, websites, etc)

One thing I found quite odd (and annoying) is that he talks at length about his guilt about the role he played in this system he calls the corporatocracy that led to all these horrible things, yet he still claims some moral superiority over the EHMs of today (who are apparently much worse). This was a big undertone in his section about 2004-2016 (the updated section) and gave a feeling that he thinks „at least in my day we were honorable criminals“.

Overall, an interesting and quite troubling book which needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Profile Image for Youghourta.
129 reviews205 followers
September 12, 2017
الكتاب أقرب ما يكون إلى الخيال وإلى سيناريوهات أفلام هوليود. يحكي كيف يقوم القتلة الاقتصاديون المأجورون باغتيال الدول الناشئة اقتصاديًا حتى تبقى تبيعة لنظام اقتصادي يخدم مصالح مجموعة ضيّقة من الشّركات والأفراد بشكل عام والحكومة الأمريكية بشكل خاص.
الكاتب الذي كان يلعب بنفسه دور القاتل الاقتصادي المأجور لسنوات طويلة، يحكي خبرته وتجربته مع دول عديدة، من الإيكوادور وهوندوراس وبنما، إلى السعودية وإيران. كيف أنه استعمل سلاح الترغيب تارة والترهيب تارة لدفع دول وحكومات للموافقة على قبول ديون البنك الدولي، ديون لن تتمكّن تلك الحكومات من سدادها، ديون مبنية على دراسات نمو اقتصادي وهمي مُضخّم، ديون تصبّ مباشر من حسابات البنك الدو��ي إلى حسابات الشركات الأمريكية التي ستقوم بتنفيذ المشاريع الاقتصادية التي تستدين تلك الدّول لتنفيذها، ديون تتسبب في رهن ثروات البلدان التي تطلبها لتصبح رهينة لشرذمة قليلون، تخدم مصالحها وتجعلها تحت الرحمة الأمريكية.
الكتاب سيتعرض أيضًا كيف أنه ولما لا يُجدي سلاح الترغيب والترهيب فائدة مع بعض القادة خاصة في أمريكا اللاتينية، كيف أن وكالة المخابرات الأمريكية تتدخل للتخلص منهم، عبر عمليات تبدو وكأنها مُجرّد حوادث عارضة (مثل إسقاط طائرة الرئيس البنمي عمر توريخوس).
الكتاب أيضًا يعالج ما أطلق عليه عملية تبيض الأموال السعودية، كيف استطاعت الشركات الأمريكية أن تحجز لنفسها مكانة في الاقتصاد السعودي، هذه المرة ليس عبر الترهيب (لأن السعودية لم تكن في حاجة إلى تمويل البنك الدولي) لكن باستعمال طرق أخرى كاستغلال نقاط ضعف بعض أفراد العائلة الحاكمة، وخصّ بالذّكر أميرًا (لم يذكره بالاسم) استغل نقطة ضعفه المُتعلقة بالرقيق الأبيض ليقضي مآربه.
لم يسبق أن شعرت بهذا الإحباط والعجز بعد قراءة كتاب مثلما حدث معي مع هذا الكتاب. بعد الفراغ من هذا الكتاب ستشعر بحالة "ضياع" تام، رغم أن الكاتب أرفق فصلًا في آخر الكتاب حول ما يُمكن القيام به حيال الأمر، لكن بدا لي وكأنه مجرد ذكر لنقاط مُختزلة لا يُمكن اعتبارها حلولًا حقيقية.

Profile Image for Steve.
150 reviews6 followers
August 12, 2016
Stunning book. If one of your questions to the world is 'what is wrong with you?', this book is the answer. I'm sure other reviews will give you some spoilers, but this is a fantastic update from his original blockbuster that gave the inside scoop on globalism. There is something great about the ability to 'fast forward' from a decade ago and see how Perkins has matured, what he has done since then, and his recommendations going forward, since back then there didn't seem to be too much one could do.
Profile Image for Debbie.
602 reviews
April 5, 2018
Wow!!!!! It is difficult to condense this book into a precise review. I will say that as funny as it sounds, this book was a life changer for me.

The first two thirds of Perkins writing are detailed accounts of his life and career as an Economic Hit Man. I found a strong connect to Perkins for a couple of reasons. #1 While I was a young teen attending Jr. High School in the Panama Canal Zone, Perkins was working to persuade General Omar Torrijos of Panama to align himself with the U.S. When Torrijos didn't cooperate, he suddenly died in a fiery plan crash. #2 In retrospect, I, like Perkins, have realized that my career was driven by greed, ego, and so many other facets that I now regret.

The last third of this book is the most inspiring. Perkins tells us the difference between a death economy and a life economy. He lists ideas for us to contribute to a life economy. I finished the book feeling challenged and even more revolutionary than ever.

I highly recommend the audio version. It is narrated by the author himself.

I plan to read more of his work.
Profile Image for Wesley.
51 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2016
I don't typically rate books, but this book does a phenomenal job at explaining the current state of the world. It connects the dots that some have tried to do, but lack the insight and first hand experience of Perkins.

Not an author/journalist by trade, there a couple "that could have been stately much better" moments.
Profile Image for Kacper.
261 reviews5 followers
November 2, 2017
the author suggests we all chip in to save the environment. okay, dude, good thinking, I wish I thought of it.
Profile Image for Ubaid Talpur.
182 reviews
October 2, 2021
John Perkins deserves credit for writing such a good, informative and interesting book about the work of an economic looter. Even though he's a resident of the United States but he makes it clear to the world what his country's higher authorities are doing against the world it's great quality & virtue of a open minded writer, he also clarified how many threats & difficult situations he faced while writing & publishing this book,nevertheless, the book has been published & translated in many languages as well & the author of book is still alive & he is roaming freely in different areas of world, this is the sign of a free country a real democratic country.
In this book, John Perkins outlines the way America works to takeover on other countries, the way it did in the past, what it is doing now & what the future holds...
He writes about his country but the methods of all the powerful governments in the world are similar.
Economic looters are valuable professionals who are involved in swindling trillions of dollars from countries around the world. Their weapons in this work are fake and fictitious social reports, fraudulently winning elections, bribery, forced exploitation. , Including illicit sex and even murder.
This is the problem of the whole world, The history world tells us that if we don't change & modify it, its tragic end is certain.
These empires destroyed many civilizations & eventually they destroyed themselves as well,no country or group of countries can prosper for long by exploiting other countries, author of this book believes by writing this book people will know how the economic system is destroying the world and how to prioritize and develop a system based on slavery. He also makes it clear that in a world where few people are swimming in the ocean of wealth & while the majority are drowning in poverty & violence, he wants people to understand this dangerous & sinful system & Become supporter of love, democracy & social justice & fulfills the dream of building balanced & dignified societies.
217 reviews11 followers
March 8, 2020
This book was a bit too conspiratorial and melodramatic for my taste, in a way that often made John Perkins seem less credible, but many of its broader themes ring true. In this memoir of sorts, Perkins claims to have been hired by an NSA contractor to be an "economic hitman" in charge of ensnaring developing nations in debt for the benefit of multinational corporations. He views the IMF and World Bank as evil institutions designed by corporations to plunder poor countries by any means necessary.
I've read enough Noam Chomsky to understand how institutions like these can serve a neocolonial purpose, and Perkins is certainly correct about the United States' history of undermining democracy abroad by sponsoring coups and assassinations. However, the massive conspiracy of malevolent actors that Perkins describes seems more like something designed to sell books than to reflect reality. Many of the real actions that Perkins discusses can be adequately explained with aims to "protect American interests" or, in countries receiving aid, to "promote fiscal responsibility." I think that these goals are sometimes over-prioritized at the expense of, say, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability, that efforts made to promote these goals are often counterproductive, and that corporate greed unduly influences many of these decisions. I remain unconvinced that this represents a coordinated "economic hit man system" where all of the perpetrators (corporations, intelligence agencies, NGOs, etc) are in cahoots to leech off the rest of the world.
Profile Image for Alimanzoor.
63 reviews1 follower
July 5, 2022
The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a quick fix of its previous version. In this book, Perkins again presents some unignorable insights to comprehend the US foreign policy and its capitalistic corporatocracy blunders. The author’s stories of the US in Indonesia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Iran, Saudi, and Iraq are fictionally catchy and relevant today.

“Infrastructure Development” is a meticulous manipulation used by the US in developing nations to exploit resources. Backed by its lobby, arsenal and media, the race of the US will continue in countries where they see resource opportunities, geopolitical significance, and capitalistic interests. To make a country ally, if necessary, they would export wars, overthrow “unfavorable” leaders, promote the concept of “freedom” or any other nonsense ideologies.

Perkins puts extensive efforts to lament his “confessions” of working as an Economic Hit Man. We should pity those countries who got convinced by his bogus developmental proposals. The author touches a relevant subject, but his arguments are relatively vague with indecisive references. Mostly. He attempts a few quick fixes in this latest version - yet flopping.

It’s a good read to know a bit about the US foreign policy and geopolitics.
Profile Image for Reisa.
62 reviews
May 17, 2016
read the translated version of The Confession of an Economic Hit Man in college and, with my practically zero knowledge of economy and politics at the time, failed to understand nearly half of it. Decided to try again now, in its original language in hope to understand it better, and found this newer, revised edition.

This book exhausted me, both physically and mentally. it's only half-biography so i guess it's excused from its far too detailed recollections like the color of one's suit in an encounter nearly 10 years in the past or how one's expression changed as they speak of particular subject. At certain point, the fiction-ish narrative makes the content easier to digest, but furthermore it watered down the "true story" sense of it. This is a great book for understanding the basics of corporatocracy, but it feels much too dramatized, too much coincidence to be entirely true.

Still an interesting book tho.
Profile Image for Bennett Reiss.
34 reviews
August 21, 2016
I personally found this book riveting from start to finish. John Perkin's is an incredible writer who has some amazing experiences. I would highly recommend anyone struggling with the accepting the way the modern world and institutions function to give this book a read. Keep an open mind and realize Perkin's is speaking / writing to you from the heart.
Profile Image for Douglas Grant.
Author 2 books716 followers
August 30, 2016
Every American citizen should read this book. Some people find it too far fetched; I'm not one of them.
Profile Image for Ana Maria Torres.
31 reviews6 followers
April 6, 2017
Every single human should read this book, but beware, it will completely alter how you see the world after.
58 reviews
October 19, 2021
I have mixed feelings about this book.

I picked three books about economics to read: The first was Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth, the second was Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang, then there was this book. Each of the three books I thought would add a slightly different perspective on the same issues. What attracted me about this book was that it wasn't just theory and arguments, but one person's lived experience, and hence more credible.

I was particularly interested in this book in the sense of resolving the whole "Is there really a conspiracy going on within capitalism? Have those on the hard left been right all along?"

To lay my own cards on the table, I studied Politics at the University of Leeds, which with hindsight I would say was a very left-leaning politics department. At the time, I myself whole-heartedly bought into the "there's a cover up going on and it's unjust!" righteous anger that many on the left subscribe to. But over time I got tired of always playing the position of armchair critic, and never being able to actually advocate alternative better solutions that work. I became very interested in economics for precisely that reason, and over time I'd say my politics became less left-wing. I'd still describe myself as left of centre, but I feel overall my politics these days is pretty centrist rather than anything too far left.

This said, I feel my own inner political pendulum is perhaps swinging slightly more to the left again. I feel that in my frustration with left-wing impractical solutions, I was quick to embrace economic theory. To be fair to myself, I've always been critical about Neo-liberal economic orthodoxy, but I've just preferred to couch my criticism within economic and policy terms, rather than more "political" attitudes - or talk of conspiracies and good vs evil.

However, I do feel that there is a lot of shady stuff that goes on in politics, and I do believe that a lot of the Neo-liberal orthodoxy that market solutions are always the best medicine is often recited uncritically almost as a badge of membership to the clever/sensible club (and of course everyone wants to be a member of that :-)).

Anyhoo, I was genuinely intrigued to read about John Perkins' experiences. The title of the book does indeed promise a lot...

....But like so many non-fiction book titles in my opinion, it under-delivers.

I felt that Perkins does share some genuinely interesting behind-the-scenes insights into the shady relationships between international business, international financial institutions (like the World Bank), and government agencies; his focus is mainly on the US situation, as he's a US citizen. But I feel he takes these insights and "multiplies them" uncritically to then go on to make very big assertions.

For example, the term "Economic Hit Man" is very loosely defined, and by the end of the book, he's used it to refer to essentially anyone who takes an action that could manipulate anyone else (inside or outside the USA) into a coercive relationship, usually (but not always) based around tricking that person into debt. Secondly, Perkins claims not to be a conspiracy theorist but a conspiracy "factualist" - as in he believes in facts not conspiracies. But a lot of his writing is based on conspiracy thinking - i.e. he can't actually present any evidence to prove his assertions, but instead relies on the reader agreeing with him that it looks fishy. For example, right at the start of the book, he makes the core implication that there IS a conspiracy, and that private companies (like the engineering consultancy he worked for) ARE in cahoots with agencies like the NSA and CIA to open up foreign economies to US investment. But throughout the whole book, there's pretty much no solid evidence of this.

Indeed there is a chapter entitled "Was I poisoned?" where again, the circumstances are very fishy, but the evidence is in-conclusive.

To be clear, I'm not saying Perkins' is wrong to be suspicious and to make these connections. To me it does all sound highly likely / plausible. But it's just the absence of nuance that bothers me - i.e. this doesn't read like someone who's dispassionately constructing an argument, examining both sides and bringing to bear evidence as he goes along. This feels more like a man who has seen and heard shady things, more than you average person, which has persuaded him of the veracity of his belief, beyond the need to cogently argue it.

It might be, for example, that during his "Economic hit man" career, Perkins was party to a lot more shady stuff than he's included in the book. So he might know things he doesn't let on to the reader, and so there's an element of the reader having to take this on trust. But the book does take "2 + 2" in terms of evidence and sometimes come to 444,444.

And there's another thing that bothered me about this book. This might be unfair, but I can't help but detect more than a hint of narcissism in Perkins. He does what a lot of non-fiction "expert writers" do, and subtly (and sometimes unsubtly) big up his own credentials. For example, when he talks about his academic career, he's at pains to mention that he COULD HAVE got into an Ivy League university, even though he ended up going elsewhere. There is something about this book that feels narcissistic too in the sense that Perkins seems to have a very grand sense of self-importance - talking about how much money he made as an EHM, how he could've been a millionaire by 40, how he did well setting up his own energy company, how he launched his own NGO, how he speaks in lots of countries, etc. etc. He even in places shows self-awareness of his own ego - in that what allowed him to be recruited as an EHM was his own desire for self-importance, and what sometimes makes him paranoid (about being poisoned, or spied on by security agencies) is again his own sense of self-importance.

And I feel there's a really annoying hypocrisy about this book too. I.e. Here is a man who totally profited from this system, and I would assume made a lot of money. And now here he is in his later years preaching (and he is quite preachy towards the end) about doing no harm, and following the path that gives you "bliss", when he (I would imagine) can AFFORD to do that because he totally sold out for most of his career.

This book feels to a large extent like a man a) clearing his guilty conscience, and b) still being hugely egotistical and self-centred in his latter years. It also gets very hippy-ish and over-simplistic in terms of what = good actions. (E.g. organic in Perkins' eyes is unequivocally good for the environment..... And yet takes more land to produce the same amount of food, for example. This is an example of nuanced, critical thinking the book lacks....)

Wow, I seem to be writing a scathing review! I did not set out to do this, but I did want to air these irritations.

These aside, though, I would say the book for all its flaws is interesting. Perkins does offer some revelations from his career and insider insights into shady practices. I did enjoy reading it, and I do feel like it's given me a useful additional "political" perspective on the issues I care about.

It is also educational, in the sense that alongside Perkins' own first-hand testimony, he also writes on wider contextual stuff about what was going on with the US government's interference with particular regimes.

And to be fair, he does bring evidence and examples to bear to his argument. I just feel like he over-claims based on the evidence he does bring to bear, and it does feel to me that he has deliberately inflated his own insider status SO he can write and sell this book. It's clear he's a good salesman.

He's clearly passionate about his topic. There's no question of that. I just feel that much of the book was problematic for me.

Should you read it?

I think if you are of a conspiracy left-leaning mindset, you'll LOVE this book. If like me, you consider yourself left of centre and care about these issues, but are critical, and sceptical of big, un-nuanced claims, you'll probably find parts of this book interesting and enjoyable, but be slightly irritated by others.

So there you go, a solidly mixed review. :-)
Profile Image for Dmitry.
699 reviews68 followers
July 12, 2019
(The English review is placed beneath Russian one)

Хороший образец классической конспирологи. Так как в XXI веке писать о евреях уже как-то неприлично, то авторам подобной литературы пришлось поломать голову над тем, кого же выбрать в качестве главных злодеев. И такого героя быстро нашли, не смотря на то, что пластиночка вообще-то уже заезженная. Однако благодаря вполне реальным корпоративным скандалам, нашёлся и повод и благодарная аудитория. В общем, вместо зубастого капитализма как системы и евреев, пришли конкретные ТНК (Транснациональные корпорации). Чувствуется в этой фразе что-то гигантское, гранитное и в целом навивает нам историю Standard Oli.
Если честно, если бы автор ещё больше шагнул в сторону художественной литературы, то получился бы неплохой такой триллер в стиле Дэна Брауна. Однако автор решил всё же пройти по ещё непроторенной дорожке и повесил ярлык «non-fiction». На документалистику сие произведение, однако, совсем не тянет. Ну вот совсем. Тут действует правило «верую – не верую». Если читатель уже изначально считает, что всё (или почти всё) зло от больших корпораций, которые (ну разумеется) тесно связаны с высшими политическими лицами, то книга зайдёт. Если читатель – скептик, то книга с треском провалится. Причина? Абсолютно полное отсутствие хоть какой-то доказательной базы. Автор просто пишет, что он встречался с тем-то и тем-то, и он рассказал ему то-то и то-то и далее, собственные размышления автора, как это якобы всё происходит. Конечно, автор не настолько глуп, как это может показаться из моего текста, поэтому я хочу сразу обозначить, что автор добавляет в книгу и реальные исторические ситуации. Поэтому возникает так неприятная для меня ситуация, когда выдумка переплетена с реальностью и тебе нужно отделить одно от другого. И я бы хотел сказать, что это было трудно сделать, но, увы, автор допустил одну большую ошибку - он слишком увлёкся художественной составляющей. Вот как автор описывает себя, как главный герой (автор) из не осознающего человека, который попал в дьявольские сети, шаг за шагом начинает постигать страшную тайну ТНК (чистый Голливуд). Как он, не больше и не меньше, продал свою душу (уж не знаю кому и за сколько). Т.е. вот эта вся игра в правдоруба, она оказалась фатальна, ибо слишком фальшива. Или его месседж, что он, мол, так долго работал на корпорацию, чтобы потом раскрыть правду всему человечеству (жаль человечество не впечатлилось его «правдой»). Это тоже наивно и напоминает объяснения бывших советских членов партии, которые говорили всем, что они состояли в партии, чтобы разрушить её изнутри. Или возьмём эти драматические описания простого народа, который влечёт жалкое существование под пятой американских корпораций. Вот это зачем? На кого рассчитано? В Южной Америки никаких американцев уже давно нет, как нет их на Кубе и в Северной Корее, однако жизнь как была там ужасной, так и остаётся. Вон, Чавес и Кастро сколько правили и никто их не трогал, но жизнь как была на нищенском уровне, так и осталась. Но, конечно, автор не утруждает себя такими противоречиями и рубит правду матку: американцам нужна нефть и они пойдут ради этого на всё. Для человека, который ничего не знает о сегодняшнем бизнесе, подобная картина мира, которая была свойственна 18-19 вв., кажется естественной, но для тех, кто следит за миром бизнеса и видит, как развиваются технологии и какие компании находятся в тренде, тот понимает, что нефть уже не является тем ресурсом, которым раньше (до XXI века) были природные ресурсы, ради которых нередко устраивались войны. Сейчас же, это так же ценно как серебро, лес, уголь, железо.
В общем, у меня возник образ автора, который пишет собственные фантазии, созданные в процессе путешествия по разным странам, в перерывах между работой (написание аналитических записок). Конечно, когда главный злодей – США, это всегда безопасно. Вот одно только неясно, почему его никто не трогает? Вон, сколько шума из-за WikiLeaks и Сноудена. Тут сразу видно, что там есть что-то реальное. А тут что? Тишина. Точно такая же, как на болоте в лесу.

This book is a good example of classical conspiracy. Since in the XXI century it is indecent to write about Jews, the authors of such literature had to puzzle over who to choose as the main villains. And such a hero was quickly found, despite the fact that the theme is quite old. However, thanks to real corporate scandals, there was an occasion and grateful audience. In general, instead of capitalism as a system and the Jews, came the transnational corporations. Something giant, granite is felt in this phrase and in general reminds us of the history of Standard Oli.
To be honest, if the author had taken a bigger step in the direction of fiction, it would have been a good thriller in the style of Dan Brown. However, the author decided to go along the still untapped path and hung the label "non-fiction". However, this work does not look like a documentary at all. Here the reader either believes or not. If the reader already initially believes that all the evil from the big corporations, which (of course) are closely connected with the highest political figures, then the book is a thrill in him. If the reader is a skeptic, the book will be a waste of time and money. Cause? Absolutely no proof of any kind. The author merely writes that he has met someone and they have told him something. And then, the author's own reflections on how it supposedly all happens. Of course, the author is not as stupid as it may seem from my text, so I want to say at once that the author adds real historical situations to the book. That's why there is such an unpleasant situation for me, when fiction is intertwined with reality and you need to separate one from another. And I'd like to say that it was hard to do, but, alas, the author made one big mistake: he was too obsessed with the fictional component. That is, how the author describes himself. As the protagonist (the author) from an unaware person who has fallen into the devil's net, step by step he begins to understand the terrible secret of transnational corporations (pure Hollywood). As he, no more and no less, sold his soul (I do not know to whom and for how much). That is, this whole game of "truth-teller", it was fatal, because it is too phony. Or his message that he had been working for the corporation for so long that he would then reveal the truth to all mankind (it's a pity that mankind was not impressed by his "truth"). This is also naive and reminiscent of the explanations of former Soviet party members who told everyone that they were members of the party in order to destroy it from the inside. Or take these dramatic descriptions of the common people who are leading a miserable existence under the heel of American corporations. Why? Who is it designed for? There are no Americans in South America for a long time, just as there are no Americans in Cuba and North Korea, but life has been terrible there. Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro have ruled all their lives and nobody has touched them, but life in their countries is as miserable as it was. But, of course, the author does not bother himself with such contradictions and reveals the most important secret: Americans need oil and they will do anything for it. For a man who knows nothing about today's business, such a picture of the world, which was characteristic of the 18th-19th centuries, seems natural, but for those who follow the business world and see how the technology develops and which companies are in the trend, he understands that oil is no longer the important resource for which wars were often fought. Nowadays, this is just as valuable as silver, wood, coal and iron.
In general, I have an image of an author who writes his own fantasies, created in the process of traveling to different countries, in between work (writing analytical notes). Of course, when the main villain is the USA, it is always safe. Only one thing is unclear, why nobody touches him? There's a lot of noise from WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. It is clear that there is something there. What about here (the book and the author)? Silence. Just like in the swamp in the woods.
Profile Image for Sivasothi N..
168 reviews9 followers
January 13, 2020
John Perkins shares his experiences as a series of short and readable chapters, without suffocating you in the complexity of the economics. The referencing allows you to catch up. So it's manageable and engaging – I finished the 47 chapters in a day and loved the sweep suggestions at the end; it makes it just a little less depressing.

If you lived through the 80's to the present, and are politically aware, you will read this with both indignation or resignation as it all makes sense. It explains the disparate incidents, urbanisation and environmental destruction, assassination and blatant invasions - all in a nice package. I had felt at the time that the invasion of Panama was the most ridiculous and everything after just got worse. But I was not clear about shenanigans in South America and this caught me up.

The US reputation at the end of WW2 was very solid. Then came the greed of empire building through predatory capitalism. The application of 'fear and debt' as the two powerful tools of an empire deployed by economic hitmen who were the first layer in a three prong approach of increasing overtness: assassinations or coups and war. All this simply replaced colonialism as human nature makes history

John Perkins uses a few phrases to describe all this - a death economy which ravages environment and culture through a strategy of predatory capitalism because people believe ‘trickle down economy works’, to the joy of the corporatocracy.

His last section is the "new" bit, covering the period from 2004 to 2016. And if anything, he is amazed by the blatancy and aggression of modern EHM right to the doorstep of the average American. I think its a worthwhile catchup up for readers of the original book.
Profile Image for sarah.
8 reviews2 followers
June 19, 2022
It goes without saying that the contents of this book are not just important, but crucial for anyone who seeks to understand the world order. Perkins does a good job at stating facts in a way that is engaging and informative – highlighting key events from the late 20th century to date this new edition was written (2015). However, the more you read, the more clear it becomes that he is writing to an American audience. His use of 'we' and 'us' make that very blunt. This is not to say that he has a Americentric perspective, but his focus on how this is 'happening at home' in a way that's supposed to surprise the reader left me emotionally unmoved lol. He additionally seems to emphasize his guilt more and more that, by the end of the last chapter, it just sounds forced and apologetic. Nonetheless, Perkins' book is a necessary read. It's credible and easy to understand. You don't need to know economics, politics, or be well versed in history. You can pick up this book and get an accessible path to knowledge that forms a crucial lens to how you see the world we're living in. But this book is not enough. His final chapters (of the new version) seem overly optimistic and kind of cliche in my opinion. Which I found ironic, given his direct involvement with such a violent system that literally resorts to murder when people choose to act against its interests. The 'Things You Can Do' chapter sings that same song. Its nothing I haven't heard or read before.

The book was 4 stars for me until I got to the last third. But still, it's a valuable read and I'd recommend it.
Profile Image for Nathan Shuherk.
255 reviews2,025 followers
May 11, 2022
It’s hard to know what in this is factual, but the message is true. 4.5
Profile Image for Makki.
3 reviews2 followers
February 27, 2020
This book is a must read. Not only does it explain the U.S’s tactics to control sovereign states, but it also exposes readers to so much happening in the world from an entirely different perspective.
6 reviews2 followers
December 20, 2022
Incredibly detailed insights into how the military industrial complex makes the world spin

Heart breaking. Intense. A must read.
Profile Image for Philip.
359 reviews34 followers
January 31, 2023
I read the original book back in the day and I thought I'd touch back with Perkins when I saw he gave out an updated version. The book is pretty good, -ish - I can't quite say that I liked it but it's better than just ok too, so maybe a 2.5 star rating would have been more appropriate. I recall enjoying the original better though.

The book is super-easily digestible. There's nothing complicated at all about the language or the structure. It's easy to follow, and along the way you kind of stumble on some world-dominating conspiracies... you know, no biggies.

The problem with the book is the very same issues Perkins found in himself - or, rather, that NSA found in him - when embarking on the crazy roller-coaster of his life. He's kind of gullible, he's equal part idealistic and naive, impressionable, loyal to a fault, and easily influenced. Add to that a thirst for self-importance, and it's a pretty deadly combo. More on that later though, let's move on.

His original account of the US' new global quest for dominance, the new tactics for owning loyalties and debts instead of parking gunboats in enemy harbors (not that the US stopped that entirely, but still), the stick of subtle intimidation via threat coupled with the carrot of great riches, etc., that's the real story of the book; How Perkins himself was party to the hostile take-overs of entire countries, by way of smiling promises of progress and not-always-metaphorical showers of cash.

It's a cool and terrifying story. The problem is that it's much better told in other books.

The new bits in this book is where we re-visit the problems I mentioned. The very same shortcomings that made Perkins so attractive to the NSA, have to be accounted for in his take on the world since he got out. In short, he's got all the hallmarks of a zealot. This makes his accounts unreliable at best.

Don't get me wrong, he makes some really good points. I just can't take him at his word. He has repented, yes, but he has also sunk himself into a new cause. A cause of personal redemption. And that, coupled with the previously mentioned personal characteristics, does not instill much confidence.

Still, for a personal account of the underbelly of the post-Korean War global order, this is a solid read. Not only for masochistic westerners who want to atone for their countries' faults, but also for anyone with concerns over China's copying of the very same predatory tactics employed so successfully (primarily) by the US.
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