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The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals & the Truth about Global Corruption

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The author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man presents a dramatic exposé of international corruption activities as reported by some of the world's top assassins, journalists, and activists, in a cautionary report that makes recommendations for safeguarding the world. 150,000 first printing.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published June 5, 2007

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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 240 reviews
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
June 10, 2011
Even if John Perkins addressed this book to Americans, I found it worth every minute of my time.

Using first person narration, Perkins recounts his experiences as an American economic hit man (EHM). By definition, EHMs are highly-paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, USAID and other foreign "aid" organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization. Perkin’s theory is that huge corporations form the bases of what he calls a corporatocracy which is a system of government that serves the interest of, and may be run by, huge corporations and involves ties between government and business. Where corporations, conglomerates, and/or government entities with private components, control the direction and governance of a country, including carrying out economic planning notwithstanding the 'free market' label.

The bulk of the book talks about the different countries Perkin went as an economic hit man. It started in Indonesia, Nepal, Bhutan, Iraq, Kuwait, etc in Asia then to countries in Latin American and ended in Africa. Some of these, like the assassination of political leaders and controversies are not new to my ears. However, you would feel that Perkins is not taking you for a ride because of the details that he incorporated in these confessions.

What I really liked about the book is that, despite his supposedly controversial exposes as a whistleblower, gloom and doom are not the main focus of the book. Towards the end, he recalls one of his speaking engagements where a lady asks him what she could do as an individual to change this corporatoracy. Perkins explained that all of us can do our share by not making these huge corporations to be more socially aware and responsible especially on the flights of the people in the developing third world countries..

As I said above, Perkins written this book with the American people as target readers. He explained that America is an empire because (1) the country is only 5% of the total world population yet it consumes 20% of earth’s natural resources; (2) it has the most powerful military in the world; (3) its culture and language are not only influencing other countries’ but to some extent are adapted by some; (4) its money, the US Dollar, has been the base currency of all the other world currencies since the end of World War II and (5) as an empire it is governed by an emperor but this emperor is not a single individual but a corporatocracy composed of the government, huge corporations and media.

This book calls for the American people to be more proactive and socially-aware of what is happening in the world and not be contented with their comfortable lives. As Perkin stressed in one of his talks: “our children future will not be bright if the children of other less fortunate countries will not be bright too.”
Profile Image for Michael.
4 reviews
March 19, 2008
Wow...where to start. John Perkins follows up his initial offering, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", with more chilling stories and heartwrenching insights of the activities of the American empire in 3rd world nations in the 70's and 80's. Much of the information in the book was not new to me; I was familiar with the overthrow of many of the Central and South American regimes, as well as those of the Middle East. What I didn't realize was the perspective and thoughts of someone in the middle of it all, viewing these horrible actions at the mercy of great pay, scenic views, and beautiful women.

Perkins opens up the eyes of the reader to a world that is only talked about in spy novels and fanciful fiction, but these facts and firshand accounts had me on the edge of my seat, and enraged at the behavior of the country that I was birthed in.

A great read, a real eye-opener, an outstanding journal of corporate greed, and despite the obvious agenda of a weathered and bitter man, an excellent book.
Profile Image for Jay.
174 reviews14 followers
February 22, 2018
Interesting and compelling, but somewhat dated. Unless you’re a student of recent American history, you’ll probably find a lot of this information “yesterday’s papers”. The optimism expressed in the last section of the book probably had more traction at the time this book was written (late Bush II, early Obama) for serious social change. However, the ways in which the “corporatocracy” (formerly known as the “Military/Industrial Complex” that Eisenhower warned against) and our government (with the wiling cooperation of corrupt “strong men”) are to this day happily and busily screwing the huddled masses in Asia, Latin America and Africa I just don’t think is a pressing concern with most American citizens, even those who are not fixated on Making America Great Again. Particularly people who don’t want to acknowledge at all, assuming they even know, the degree to which the USA is both complicit in and the “puppet master” for much of the ongoing strife and political upheaval (and the human misery it creates) of the world - which was as rampant in the Clinton (NAFTA anyone?) and Obama administrations as in the Bush II and Trump regimes. I mean, who wants to be reminded how our own “standard of living” has been paid for in large part by the impoverishment and oppression of others? “Sorry, I gave at the office.” One of the glaring anachronisms in this book is Perkins’ undisguised sympathy for Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who was still riding a wave of international popularity about the time this book was written. Well, we all know what happened to his brand of populism and where Venezuela is now. Nevertheless, one warning in the book that rings true and timely is the concept expressed by many activists and NGO founders that “unless all children have a future, no child has a future.” That, in itself, is a call to action if you’re at all concerned about global warming, environmental spoliation, and human exploitation. Perkins is a valuable voice, but you have to be willing to listen and sort the wheat from the chaff. In these times, that’s not a popular pastime.
Profile Image for Tarum.
365 reviews29 followers
March 28, 2010
Buku The Secret History of The American Empire karangan John Perkins ini menyambung pembicaraan dari buku sebelumnya Confession of An Economic Hit Man (recommended untuk dibaca lebih dulu), mengisahkan lebih banyak sepak terjang Corporatocracy diseluruh dunia (di-Indonesiakan menjadi korporatokrasi). Korporatokasi adalah jaringan kolusi dan koalisi antara Pemerintah AS, lembaga-lembaga keuangan dunia dan korporasi-korporasi besar AS. Kekuatan dan Pengaruh korporatrokasi ini sama seperti Kebesaran sebuah Imperium. The American Empire. Sebuah Imperium tak kasat mata.

Pasukan dan kaki tangan Imperium ini bermacam-macam, cara menjajah negara-negara didunia juga berbeda-beda. Untuk menjajah sebuah negara berdaulat, biasanya para Bandit Ekonomi (Economic Hit Man) yang merintis jalan, dengan usaha-usaha untuk membangkrutkan Negara tersebut. Skenario yang dipakai adalah bantuan utang untuk membangun 'under developed country'. Menjadikan negara-negara dunia ketiga terjerat utang yang hampir mustahil dilunasi, berkolusi dengan beberapa keluarga berpengaruh di negara-negara tersebut, menjalankan proyek-proyek yang salah sasaran sekaligus menciptakan masyarakat yang korup.

Jika skenario ini tidak bisa dijalankan, karena kebetulan negara tersebut memiliki pemimpin yamg tidak bisa dibujuk untuk memelaratkan rakyatnya sendiri dengan pinjaman, atau menjual kekayaan alamnya dengan harga yang murah, maka dibuatlah operasi intelejen. Didukunglah lawan politik mereka, mengusahakan pemimpin-pemimpin yang pro-rakyat ini, untuk dilengserkan, seperti PM Iran Mossadegh, Presiden Allende di Chile. Atau mengirim para Jakal untuk mengeksekusi mereka seperti yang terjadi pada Presiden Panama, Omar Torrijos, dan Presiden Ekuador, Jaime Roldos.

Jika para Jakal ini gagal atau tidak bisa dilibatkan, maka disusunlah skema untuk menginvasi negara-negara tersebut. Contoh kasus Saddam Husain dengan skema adanya senjata pemusnah biologis, atau Noriega dengan skema kartel obat bius. Invasi AS terhadap negara-negara merdeka ini, didukung oleh orang-orang di Pemerintahan dan Kongres AS yang merupakan bagian jaringan Imperium Korporatokrasi. Banyak dari Menteri dan Anggota Kongres AS yang tadinya adalah eksekutif2 puncak atau pemegang saham di korporasi-korporasi Imperium.

Sepak terjang Korporatokasi ini membuahkan kerusakan yang teramat parah untuk bumi yang kita tempati yang tidak pernah tejadi sebelumnya dalam sejarah. Penguasaan dan pengurasan sumber daya alam yang berlebihan untuk keuntungan segelintir orang, menyebabkan kerusakan lingkungan hidup yang masif. Negara-negara dunia ketiga menjadi semakin terpuruk, dimana setengah populasi dunia tergolong sangat miskin, hidup dari $2 sehari. 24.000 orang meninggal setiap hari karena kelaparan dan penyakit akibat kelaparan. Ancaman terorisme internasional sebagai implikasi dari ketidakadilan.

"Imperium sudah memperbudak lebih banyak manusia, Kebijakan serta tindakannya telah menimbulkan lebih banyak kematian daripada kematian dibawah Imperium-imperium Roma, Spanyol, Portugal, Perancis, Inggris dan Belanda. Bahkan di tangan Joseph Stalin dan Adolf Hitler..." (hal 357).

Buku ini selain membuka mata kita tentang keberadaan sebuah Imperium yang tidak disadari eksistensinya oleh sebagian besar orang, juga tentang apa yang telah terjadi secara global, tentang tantangan-tantangan yang kita hadapi bersama sebagai Citizen of the World, penghuni kolong bumi ini. Buku ini juga memberikan inspirasi pemecahan apa yang dapat kita lakukan sebagai individu-individu yang memiliki PILIHAN untuk menyelamatkan ruang hidup kita. Beberapa contoh diberikan pada halaman 443-445. Buku ini juga mendorong anda kreatif melakukan hal-hal yang bisa anda lakukan, sesuai posisi dan kemampuan anda, untuk mendukung penyelamatan dunia kita.

Maka untuk itu, satu hal kecil yang dapat saya lakukan sebagai bagian dari komunitas GRI adalah merekomendasikan buku ini kepada sidang pembaca GRI yang budiman. Sebagai upaya menyampaikan pesan penting dari Buku ini. Mudah-mudahan banyak yang mau membacanya, syukur-syukur dijadikan Buku Pilihan "Baca Bareng" :)

5 reviews2 followers
November 5, 2010
The long and short of how America became an empire. Until the recent declassification of the CIA's "Family Jewels" I would have said that this book is a pile of conspiracy theories held together by a sloppy narrative. In light of the CIA's addmittance to their illicit involvement in South America, this book shines a bright light on all the dark corners of capitalism.

The Secret History of the American Empire doesn't cease to shock and amaze. From the sweatshops of india, to the pollution of the jungles of Bolivia you will cringe in horror from the atrocities committed by US corporations.

Interesting fact - did you know US engineering firm Bektel owned all the water in Bolivia? They could charge peasants for drinking rain water. When the Bolivian government got rid of Bektel, Bektel sued the Bolivians for lost profits!
Profile Image for Francis.
24 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2008
John Perkins's globe trotting adventures as a self-described Economic Hit Man (EHM) in "The Secret History of the American Empire" is a one of a kind history lesson in U.S. international affairs and economics over the last 40 years. Perkins sheds light on the discomforting close-knit relationship between the U.S. government and corporate America and shakes off any naive, preconceived assumptions Americans may have that their government officials are out to spread democracy abroad for purely the noblest of intentions.

Perkins's job as an EHM was to secure loans for developing nations in Asia, Latin America, The Middle East, and Africa in order to pay for large infrastructure projects (ex. hydroelectric dam). The loans financed through the IMF or World Bank were intended to supply a developing nation’s citizenry with energy in order to upgrade their lives and improve the country’s economy. In Perkins's experiences, however, the poor never benefited from the project. The money went to a few wealthy individuals and to large Western corporations that oversaw the construction and operation of the projects. The corporations saw the projects as cash cows, funneling profits back to their headquarters located outside the developing nation. Also, the loans were provided knowing full well that the nation would not be able pay them back (think sub-prime mortgages during the housing bubble). It produced a debtor nation, one subservient to the country that provided the loan. The foreign government that supplied the cash would then ask for resources at a reduced rate as payment, resources such as oil and minerals that a foreign corporation would then extract with little regard to the local people or environment. The EHM would sell the loan to government officials by any means necessary, including bribery. If an EHM failed to convince a national leader of his need for the loan, jackals (paid assassins) were then sent in to remove that person from power.

The stories initially sound far-fetched to those of us not privy to the discussions in the halls of congress or in the boardrooms of corporate America, but historical examples of U.S. meddling in foreign affairs provides credence to Perkins's stories. For example: Iran-Contra during Reagan's administration; the U.S. sponsored coup to overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh; U.S. backing of Saddam Hussein on his rise to power and during the Iraq-Iran border war, only later to be removed from power by U.S. armed forces; CIA leading the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende in a military coup that brought to power Gen. Augusto Pinochet; The P.R. campaign United Fruit launched to convince the Eisenhower administration to depose the democratically elected government led by Col. Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatamala.

Perkins does an excellent job sharing some of America's ulterior motives for overthrowing governments and deposing foreign leaders, ulterior motives that have less to do with communism and unjust rulers then oil and corporate influence. In most cases the people of the nation under siege would have been better off if America had stayed out.

Perkins spends most of "The Secret History..." bringing us low, supplying us with philosophical ammunition to wrack our brains with. But over the final few chapters he provides inspiration and a path to lasting change. He says,

"At times like these, it is important to be philosophical and to investigate the ethical implications of what we do; however, it is essential that we also apply ourselves in down-to-earth ways, ones that will result in concrete and lasting change."

The first thing that comes to mind to secure change is to vote for intelligent, forward thinking politicians. Politicians that support responsible corporate practices, smart environmental policies, and are voices for human rights domestic and abroad can be valuable agents of change in the government. But perhaps the most important thing we can do is spend our money wisely, because how and where we spend our dollars is a vote we can cast every single day for lasting change. It provides the biggest punch for the least amount of effort. It is important to buy local, think sustainable, and support fair trade products. It's a simple effort that will force corporate America to take notice and change their policies of human and resource exploitation.

Perkins finishes up his book with a "To Do" list (for those of us that need things spelled out before we'll jump on board).

To Do:
*When tempted to engage in “retail therapy” instead jog, meditate, read, or find some other solution.

*Shop consciously if there is something you must have; purchase items whose packaging, ingredients, and methods of production are sustainable and support life.

*Make everything you own last as long as possible.

*Purchase at consignment and thrift stores where everything is recycled.

*Protest against “free” trade agreements and sweatshops.

*Write letters telling Monsanto, De Beers, ExxonMobil, Adidas, Ford, GE, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and other labor exploiters and environment destroyers why you refuse to purchase from them.

*Write letters praising Home Depot, Kinko’s, Citicorp, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and other companies that cooperate with RAN, Amnesty International, and other NGOs(NonGovernmental Organizations).

*Cut back on oil and gas consumption.

*Downsize your car, home, wardrobe, everything in your life.

*Send money to nonprofits, radio stations, and other organizations that promote just causes.

*Volunteer your time and energy to such organizations.

*Support local merchants.

*Encourage stores to buy from local growers, producers, and suppliers.

*Shop at your local farmer’s market.

*Drink tap water (get the water company to do a better job if necessary, but avoid buying bottled water).

*Vote for enlightened school boards, commissions, ordinances, and politicians.

*Run for office.

*Insist that those who use your money – banks, pensions, mutual funds, companies – make socially and environmentally responsible investments.

*Speak out whenever forums present themselves.

*Volunteer to talk at your local school about your favorite subject (beekeeping, weaving, tennis, anything) and use it to challenge students, to wake them up.

*Discuss externalities, the costs of pollution, poor working conditions, public subsidies, corporate exemptions, and other environmental, social, and political factors that should be included in the prices we pay for goods and services but are not (discussed in Chapter 54); let people know that when we do not pay for these very real expenses we rob future generations.

*Encourage “taxes” on externalities – higher prices for gas, clothes, electricity, etc., as long as the difference pays to right social and environmental wrongs.

*Offer study groups at local libraries, bookstores, churches, and clubs.

*Expand this list and share it with everyone you know.

There. It's that easy. Small things that when done collectively can make a big impact on the local economy, the global economy, change corporate America, improve the lives of the impoverished, and stop laying waste to the environment.

Hey, I'm trying to uphold my end of the deal. So... whose got next?
214 reviews
August 21, 2011
What a downer! No wonder the world hates us. We all know corporate greed is out of control and that we as Americans consume way more than our share of resources. But if this supposedly non-fiction confession is even half true, it's a whole lot worse than I for one ever believed. While I don't always agree with his totally far left stance, it certainly is time for the common people to take notice and move that into action.

I did find his style of writing a bit difficult to follow. He jumped dates and countries from page to page...actually a bit dull and dry. His call to action in the last chapter was not strong enough to combat what he and others have done. His confessions may be good for his soul but I'm not sure it's going to do much to help the situation he played (according to him) a big part in creating.
1 review
March 30, 2012
النسخة المترجمة من الكتاب للعربية : الكتاب له بعد سياسي يوضح ما يدور خلف الابواب المغلقة في الكيان الامريكي و الاهم بالنسبة لى هوه تعامل حكومات الدول المختلفة باختلاف انظمتها مع الهيمنة الامريكية و كيفية تجنيد العملاء الذين ينتمون بشكل وثيق بالانظمة و الحكومات الفاسدة المستبدة التى لا تراعى شعوبها و تخدعهم طوال الوقت و تقمع حريتهم و افكارهم حتى يسيطوا على موارد البلاد و يستنزفوا ثرواته لصالح اغنياء العالم و الرأسمالية العالمية ...... الكتاب اكثر من رائع خاصة الجزء الخاص بأمريكا اللاتينية
Profile Image for Jerome.
62 reviews9 followers
April 20, 2010
Although it starts off like a rewrite of Confessions, The Secret History offers a portrait of American Corporate Empire that is broken into chapters detailing the activities of EHMs, Jackals, and the American military (both public and private) in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Perkins starts off with his own personal history, which is what makes the book all to familiar to readers of Confessions, but soon broadens his narrative into stories related to him by others. By keeping the narrative personal, Perkins is able to detail the history of exploitation without loosing sight of how individual lives are affected. If you liked Confessions and want more, this is certainly worth a read.
Profile Image for Ernest.
27 reviews
March 10, 2009
I liked "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" better, but this was still a great read. While "Confessions" focused more on his personal journey and realization, this book focused more on specific Economic Hit Man experiences in major parts of the world. The book is broken out to Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and does a good job of connecting the events that occurred throughout the world.

I especially liked the last section of the book which focused on what you can do to change and influence the world. Very motivating and inspirational!
Profile Image for Ahmed Abdelhamid.
Author 1 book1,751 followers
October 12, 2012
John has a writer spirit, it's very clear at his description/listing of plots, contradictory feelings, and facts. His plots for:
Panama's occupation, Ecuador , Iran, Saudia laundry affair... are all nice plots of the book, Moreover, you get some eagle eye insight about the international organizations that are used to cover-up the corporatocracy, the sweet marriage of politics/media/money, more about MR Cheney-Halliburton and Bush-United Fruits relations etc.

I would strongly recommend the book for others...
Profile Image for Devin.
4 reviews
August 31, 2012
Sequel, of sorts, to Confession of an Economic Hitman. Perkins believed (and had it confirmed to him by reader mail) that the first book offered a bleak outlook on the economics of the world, but offered no ideas for solutions or ways to change it. The purpose of this book is geared more towards guiding a pathway towards activism. Another very entertaining read that contains "confessions" from other economic hitmen and jackals. Again, the legitimacy of his claims are always disputed, but the book serves as an interesting read anyway.
Profile Image for sidana.
173 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2012
Kapitalist rejimler, öncelikli olarak doğal zenginliği olan ülkelere yüksek miktarda kaynak yaratarak altyapı,köprü,metro, ve diğer yatırımlar için o devletleri borçlandırıp ve sonrasında o devletlerin iflas etmesi için gerekli ne varsa yapıp böylelikle devletler sonsuza kadar borçlu kalıp tüm kontrolleri kapitalist rejimler tarafından yürütülür.

Ekvator'da çıkan her 100 dolarlık petrolün 75 doları ABD'nin diğer kalanıda dış borçlara ve Ekvator'un kendi kasasına giriyor.

Modern Panama kahramanıı Omar Torrijos'ın:ideali özgürlüktür ve henüz bir ideali yokedecek füze icat edilmemiştir.

Profile Image for Mahmoud El-saedy.
249 reviews20 followers
August 5, 2021
انتهي زمن الامبراطوريات التقليدي بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية وظهرت علي الساحة الولايات المتحدة لتحاول بسط هيمنتها وسيطرتها علي العالم من خلال عملاءها المأجورين ومؤلف هذا الكتاب كان واحدا منهم
بكل السبل كان الهدف الأول لدي الامريكان استغلال موارد الشعوب الفقيرة حول العالم بدلا من الشكل القديم للاستغلال والذي كان يتم في صورة احتلال مباشر بجيوش تلك الدول المحتلة إلي بلد ما ولكن يظهر هنا أقبح وجه للاحتلال والغزو فهو غزو مغلف بغلاف القيم والمباديء والديموقراطية التي لا تكف أمريكا عن المناداة بها وأما ما وراء هذا الغلاف فهو تاريخ أسود من الانقلابات والاغتيالات وتكبيل اقتصادات الدولة الضعيفة واستغلالها وتمكين الجشعين وأصحاب المصالح المتعاونين معهم ومع مصالحهم من مراكز اتخاذ القرار في هذه البلاد
المؤلف كان جزءا من هذه المنظومة والتي كانت تعمل لحساب أمريكا سرا وتمكنها من السيطرة أكثر واكثر علي ثروات الشعوب وخصوصا النفط
قسم الكتاب إلي أجزاء في الاول يتحدث عن القارة الآسيوية ويفرد صفحات طوال لأندونيسيا وكيف كان يدير اللعبة هناك قبل أن يعرج علي التبت ونيبال
والجزء الثاني يتحدث القارة اللاتينية وسياسة أمريكا في استغلال تلك البلدان وعمليات الاغتيال للقادة الوطنيين التي تمت تحت اشراف المخابرات الأمريكية
والجزء الثالث يتحدث عن الشرق الأوسط عن اسرائيل التي زرعتها أمريكا لحماية مص��لحها كجندي دائم في هذه المنطقة وعن مشاريعهم في مصر وتحالفهم مع آل سعود وعن مصالحهم في ايران والعراق وكيف تمكنت من استغلال الصراع في هذه المنطقة
الجزء الرابع عن القارة الافريقية وكيف تم تدمير هويتها وثقافتها واستغلال مواردها بأبشع ما يكون وكيف كانت أمريكا التي تملأ الدنيا ضجيجا بحقوق الانسان والدفاع عن الحريات والحقوق هي المسئولة عن الفقر والموت الذي ملأ القارة السوداء بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية
الجزء الأخير من الكتاب يتحدث عن أمله في الاجيال الجديدة وعن رجاءه في استطاعة المؤسسات الخيرية الضغط علي التحالفات والشركات المالية الكبري لانقاذ البيئة من الاستغلال وعن رؤيته للمستقبل الأمري��ي وكيف تخرج من هذا النفق الذي سيؤدي بها إلي الهاوية كسبقاتها من الامبراطوريات المستبدة عبر التاريخ البشري
الكتاب مهم جدا فيروي ما تم اخفاءه من شاهد عيان ومشارك فعلي في صنع ما سماه التاريخ الاسود للامبراطورية
Profile Image for Brian Griffith.
Author 6 books222 followers
November 29, 2020
Perkins makes several contrary things hang together. He tries to give an eyewitness account of secret intrigues, but also a big picture of recent world history. He damns both the American establishment and himself, but then gets motivational for changing the powers that be.

At first the book reads almost like a spy novel. Perkins wants to convey the glamor of high finance conspiracies, with the posh hotels, the geisha girls, the jackels, and the mirror sunglasses. How else did a man of conscience get sucked into all this? But then he meets more and more local leaders from countries around the world, who tell him the real scoop on the effects of US "development" policy. These people often need to remain anonymous, which sometimes leaves Perkins to vouch for his own testimony. Still, the accounts build up to an overwhelming case, which checks with lots of things we all know.

Then Perkins tries his hand as a motivational writer for global change. A lot of this section comes from rather spontaneous speeches, where he set out to talk from the heart without notes. His stories of activists influencing corporate policy are practical, inspiring, and challenging to all disengaged critics. By the time he's done, you wanta be on this guy's side.
Profile Image for Christine.
335 reviews
August 4, 2007
I haven't read anything this overtly, globally political since my Noam Chomsky/Howard Zinn/"Bananas, Beaches, and Bases" days - though I've retained the worldview those books inspired. This book picks up where those left off - in the early 90's - and discusses the role of the "corporatocracy" in ruling/destroying the world. (One thing learned so far: CitGo gas stations are owned by Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. So buy gas there.)

The book is divided into sections for each part of the world discussed: The Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America. Each section is further subdivided into vignette-sized chapters, and I thought it was chunked up really well to make the density of the information easy to digest. Each region was discussed in overview, given the author's "Economic Hit Man" (yes, he is the author of the earlier book) experiences in specific regions. For example, the current IMF-World Bank-U.S. induced crisis in Asia are put into the context of the author's extensive work in completely effing up Indonesia on behalf of US corporations, beginning in the 70's.

I liked the way connections were made between American corporations and the government that forcefully backs them: what has all seemed hazy to me in the past is now crystal clear.

All in all it only took me about 4 days to read - it is well worth the investment in time. I can see a lot of things people might take issue with: the writing isn't wonderful, the personal pronouns and anecdotes - while certainly making the subject matter "friendlier" - sometimes distract from the meat of the book. However, I found this book to be informative and important, and it has reinspired me to be a more responsible citizen.
No more needless shopping, no more sweat-shop clothes!
443 reviews18 followers
January 21, 2010
Perhaps it is because I have heard his arguments before that I found Perkins’ “secret history” to not be so much of a secret. Take for example his critique of U.S. efforts – through both public and private means – to benefit from a natural catastrophe.

"Most U.S. citizens are not aware that national disasters are like wars: They are highly profitable for big business. A great deal of the money for rebuilding after disasters is earmarked for U.S. engineering firms and for multinational corporations that own hotel, restaurant, and retail chains, communications and transportation networks, banks, insurance companies, and other corpratocracy industries. Rather than helping subsistence farmers, fishermen, mom-and-pop restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, and local entrepreneurs, “disaster relief” programs provide one more vehicle for channeling money to the empire builders."

The history of the Cold War and the occupation of Iraq certainly contained few unrevealed secrets in this department. (Blackwater, anyone?)

Being of the more liberal, progressive persuasion, I found Perkins’ narrative to be less enlightening, and more a recapitulation of the aspects of our empire that are not only less than savory, but quite obvious. Or should be obvious. Then again, maybe I’m not exactly his intended audience.

Fortunately, I was saved from being bored to tears by his last and more hopeful and constructive chapter.

"…I concluded that change is possible; it is happening in very significant ways. Corporations are bending to our will. We have the power to achieve monumental changes in the way our society is structured."

And from there, he gives a detailed prescription of what we can accomplish as a liberal and capitalist democracy. Thank goodness.
Profile Image for Saravanan.
347 reviews19 followers
June 20, 2018
* உலக வங்கி என்பது உண்மையில் உலக வங்கியே அல்ல. அது ஒரு அமெரிக்க வங்கி

எந்த இந்தியாவை நம்பி நம் முன்னோர்கள் இணைந்து பணியாற்ற விருப்பினார்களோ அதே இந்தியா பெரு நிறுவனங்களுக்காக தமிழனையும் அவன் நிலத்தையும் அழித்துக் கொண்டிருக்கும் நிலையில், உலக அரசியலையும் பெரு நிறுவனங்களின் படுகொலை, கொள்ளைகளை அறிந்துக் கொள்ள வேண்டியது கட்டாயம். உலகில் படுகொலைகளை செய்த கொடுங்கோலர்களை விட பெரு நிறுவனங்கள் இயற்கை வளங்களை சுரண்ட அமெரிக்கா போன்ற அரசுகள் செய்த படுகொலை, கொள்ளை அதிகம்.
Author 2 books2 followers
August 6, 2008
"Secret History" was a surprise in some ways, a disappointment in other ways.

John Perkins is the author of a previous book, "Confessions of an Economic Hitman." I was not aware of this previous book or of Perkins's strong political leanings. So my motivation in reading this book might have been different from that of other readers who are already aware of Perkins.

So I guess the surprise was to find myself reading an impassioned appeal to concerned Americans to take action against the "corpratocracy" that Perkins used to work for and is now dedicated to bringing down.

I guess the disappointment was simply that the title didn't fulfill on its promise to deliver a "secret history" of the American empire -- at least not from the point of view of a student of history who is not tied in to the anti-corpratocracy movement. Perkins's book includes many fascinating personal experiences and allegations by others, but nothing like a comprehensive history of the corrupt system he is fighting.

The only content alert I would include is that the author includes some profanity in quoting the words of others.

I listened to an audio version obtained from Audible.com.

AB -- 8/6/08

Profile Image for Ugik013.
29 reviews1 follower
September 25, 2007
kayaknya ni buku wajib dibaca oleh para pengambil keputusan dinegeri ini, deh.
amerika memang tidak kalah di vietnam, irak maupun afghanistan liat saja proyek-proyek yang dilakukan oleh haliburton salah satunya dan hampir setiap proyek dilakukan tanpa melalui tender, dan dugaan saya benar bahwa KKN memang dikondisikan agar sumber daya negara kita habis dikuras oleh orang asing, dan setiap pemilihan kepala negara baru yang demokratis justru akan dihabisi oleh operasi clandestine CIA jika tidak mau menjadi boneka amerika, buku ini hanya salah satu sumber yang menceritakan sepak terjang penghancuran ekonomi negara berkembang yang kaya akan sumber daya alam, dari sudut pandang salah satu pelakunya sendiri. dan jika memang yang diramalkan benar dari sumber buku yang lain (saya lupa judul bukunya) bahwa kehancuran Amerika memang sudah dekat 9/11 hanyalah awal saja....dan perang dunia ke III meletus pada bulan oktober 2014, well siap-siap saja tinggal mau mati syahid atau mati konyol
Profile Image for Jolivernz.
9 reviews
July 3, 2008
Powerful, scary, awesome stories about the evils of our ways. Aside from the style being a bit egocentric (lots of first person narrative and 'watching the decomposing leper from my airconditioned sedan chair really made me question my approach to life') the book is a pleasure to read---packed with the juicy bits of real-life spy stories from all around the world and rollicking adventure and intrigue on an international scale. Most importantly, the this book identifies the ways in which we are all (to varying degrees, depending on how much we shop at Walmart etc) complicit in the suffering of millions of people around the world, how this situation will lead to the catastrophic downfall of our way of life if we don't change it, and, finally, how we can as individuals help make things better. I would love to see everyone in America read this book, young and old, rich and poor (mostly rich), democrat and republican. Highly recommended. Read it and pass it on.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
6 reviews3 followers
January 22, 2010
Must Read for all conscientious citizens on this planet. (I recommend you read Confessions of the Economic Hitman first.) This book goes into vivid detail about who, how, why controls global events behind the scenes. Just why some CEOs of big corporations are getting billions of dollars in bonuses, while so much of the world population is living on $2/day, and living often subhuman lives. John Perkins, as an EHM for 10 years, was such a man - He went into 2nd and 3rd world countries with developing markets and industries, with the intent to deliberately corrupt them, to turn them into the puppets of the Empire. John Perkins rarely failed at his job and as a result many people suffered. Seeing their suffering, is what helped him to 'turn himself around', have a change of heart, and spill the beans.
6 reviews
July 19, 2007

A pretty bland rehash of how America has defended it's economic dominance in developing countries. The author's first book (Confessions of an Economic Hitman) has been highly recommended to me, but I'll have to pass based on this.

Perkin's position as an economic adviser, crafting all manner of devious consulting plans designed to encourage a positive flow of dollars out of third world countries, does give him an interesting vantage point. However, he doesn't do much with the opportunity to redeem himself, falling back on well-worn aphorisms to explain his regret and his hope for the future.

Example recommendation: we must make our individual choices matter, he realizes as he jets from his western Massachusetts home to a conference in California. Um.
Profile Image for Emily.
374 reviews
July 19, 2008
Incredibly fascinating. The author gives an account of his own and his friends' involvement (or rather, the US's involvement, for that matter) in every major international political coup, assassination, economic devastation, etc since the 1970's. Shocking at first, my personal skepticism towards American foreign policy makes the events detailed in this book not so surprising after all. I especially like that after all the doom and gloom of the heinous mess American corporations, government, and military have caused abroad, the author offers real and manageable advice for changing the way we think and live which can soften and repair the wrongs committed. It certainly requires one to rethink the human cost behind American consumerism and materialism.
Profile Image for Chris.
382 reviews26 followers
September 1, 2008
I haven't read his earlier Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, but this volume should be sufficient to convey the real history of how international corporations, in collusion with the U.S. Government and U.S.-sponsored aid organizations (and NGOs), use pressure - both subtle and overt, including fear, intimidation and worse - to force smaller and less powerful nations to sign deals which serve the interests of multinational organizations before the interests and needs of their own people. Seeing the extent to which this happens is truly eye-opening, and this book is a helpful piece of the puzzle in figuring out what is actually happening in the world today, behind the headlines.
Profile Image for Colin.
67 reviews3 followers
February 12, 2009
John Perkins' revealing accounts from the inside of a corrupt corporate empire. This book is not a conspiracy theorists rantings, He was an "economic hitman" for some of the top corporations. There are detailed accounts of the greed and corruption from the top of capitol hill. The shady workings of the IMF and the World Bank are detailed as well. I found the insight provided in this book to be indispensable. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a little more transparency in the workings of our government.
Profile Image for Zeynep Gunduz Seyhan.
259 reviews12 followers
July 2, 2013
ne yazik ki gunumuzde kapitalizm oyle bir hal aldi ki en buyuk sosyalistleri dahi carklarinda dondurmeye basladi. varin kucuklerini siz dusunun. sirf ben sunlari yazabileyim diye uretilen akilli telefonlar icin yapilanlar insanlik sucudur. ne yazik ki hepimiz bir sekilde giyindiklerimizle, yediklerimizle, kullandiklarimizla bu oyunun icindeyiz.
darbeleri devrim zannedenlerin mutlaka okumasi gereken bir kitap. yada okumasinlar, nasilsa anlamazlar...
382 reviews
January 11, 2010
A must-read for anyone who wants to better understand United States economic policies of the past 60 years that their impact on nations throughout the world. John Perkins provides insights into US foreign policy that is critical for any citizen to know and understand. He also teaches the reader what he or she can do to make a positive difference in the world.
6 reviews
March 15, 2011
I found most of the stories hard to believe. It read more like a work of fiction and personal fantasy than a book about the way the USA controls the world economically. This is the modern day "confessions of a dangerous mind". Entertaining though but can not be taken seriously.
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