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The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice
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The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  489 ratings  ·  68 reviews
When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan (first published January 1st 2011)
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3.86  · 
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 ·  489 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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I really don't what to say about this book, other than the fact that Kathryn Bolkovac should win the Nobel Prize, and I would like to meet her.

The events that Bolkovac chronicles were also shown in a movie version of this book. The movie has some changes but is far more faithful than I thought. It is worth getting or watching the DVD after this reading this book (or even before as I did) simply because you get to hear both Bolkovac and Rees take and both women are awesome.

Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: haven-t-read-but
Having just expressed my conviction that the bio-pic is an evil thing, I come to an example that seems to work. May I say that cautiously.

I have not yet read the book, but from what I can see from looking at Bolkovac's site, very little has been changed to create a movie which provides a non-sensationalist look at the UN Peace Keepers' activities in Bosnia.

I have to say, the thing that struck me as most horrific was not even to watch the tale unfold of the despicable actions of these men who ha
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I actually watched the movie The Whistleblower and found out that it was based on this book. Throughout the movie, I was cringing, angry, upset, and many other emotions that I can't describe at the moment. I saw that it was based on Kathryn Bolkovac's experience working with DynCorp and it was specifically based on this book, so I had to purchase it. Due to time constraints in movies, they have to choose which details to leave out and include, so I was hoping this movie would fill in some of the ...more
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I give this a 4 only because it's a story that needs to be told. I'd like to have seen a bit more of the specifics of DynCorp's wrongdoing and a bit less of her blowing her own horn. Too much of the book comes across as he nya, nya nay-nya nya to the people that wronged her. Too much of "screw you people" and not enough of the nuts and bolts of what's really happening.
Alisha Lakhani
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH OR GUILTY CONSCIENCE" - These are the words Kathy Bolkovac uses to begin an email that would kickstart a series of actions that eventually led to her deportation from Bosnia. Kathy, a police officer from Nebraska, was hired by a company called DynCorp to work on a UN peacekeeping mission following the Bosnian war. She was tasked with the ambitious task of restoring law, order and peace however what she discovered was far more sinister than she could e ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I watched the movie before reading the book, but found both to be equally riveting. The book - a book about justice - is an important book and an honest account of Kathryn Bolkovac's experience in post-war Bosnia, as a UN Peacekeeper. Kathy began to unravel the disturbing truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution at a great risk to herself. Thanks to the evidence she collected during this time she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, exposing what they had done. An eas ...more
Nathalie Brault
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book but I was totally outraged upon reading it. I knew some horrors were committed in Bosnia during the siege that lasted from 1992 to 1996. In all approximately 100 000 innocent civilians, including thousands of children were killed.
The signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995 ended the 3 1/2 year war in the Republic of Yugoslavia, the region was renamed Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But little did I know that there was a lot of clandestine women trafficking going on.
Jennifer Lucking
Apr 23, 2011 rated it liked it
First I must give myself a pat on the back for actually finishing this book after taking a break from it (for a couple of weeks) to read a couple of novels. Usually when I "take a break" from a book, I rarely return to it. I felt I needed a break from it because I was having a difficult time getting into this book, not because of the content regarding human trafficking, but because of Kathryn Bolkovac's writing... The subject matter is of extreme interest to me, and I truly commend Bolkovac for ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
This book doesn't really focus on or give extensive information on human trafficking - if that is what you ate hoping for in reading it. This is about a woman who was trained as a cop who investigated domestic abuse who takes up a new job that will eventually get her involved in human rights UN work. She learns about human trafficking in Bosnia where she is stationed but doesn't seem to get full support when she realizes there is corruption involved in her employers and co-workers. This was a go ...more
Vasil Kolev
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Very, very interesting, well written and is about something that was never in any media I've read. I really have no idea how these people are still allowed to operate.
Janell Kellett
Apr 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Good book with an interesting and important topic. Parts of the book were a little dry, but I enjoyed reading it. I am looking forward to the movie coming out.
Rachel G
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked up “The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice” by Kathy Bolkovac at the library a couple of weeks ago. Dressember is coming up and I’ve been wanting to read more books about the issue of human trafficking. Ms. Bolkovac was a Lincoln police officer and that intrigued me as well.
I had no knowledge of Ms. Bolkovac‘s story before I read this book. It really is outrageous to hear about the misuse of power and authority by DynCorp, and how ma
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kathryn Bolkovac is a hero we all need. Going up against powerful people at DynCorp, notorious for its scandals in war-torn countries, is not an easy task. But Bolkovac braves all odds by telling us the ugly truth of human trafficking and sex slavey in Bosnia.

Despite its heavy theme, Bolkovac does not burden the readers with graphic details of violence nor does she paint a pitiful picture of herself in her fight for justice. Instead, she comes across as a strong person who is not afraid to spea
Kathy Krieg
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story needs to be looked into. As citizens we are paying companies we contracted with that represent US to help overseas. Some of their their employees (including top executives) involved in sex trafficking - why does this continue to happen?
Lynne Sinclair
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book needed heavier editing, especially to take out the parts that were not interesting. Its a pity too because it is such an important topic.
The Book Maven
For many years, Kathryn Bolkovac had served as a police officer for the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, but as she approached middle age, she began to feel that a change was in order. Change came in the form of DynCorp, a private military contractor which had won a big for US government funds to help keep peace in Bosnia, which at that time (1999) was still reeling from years of civil conflict and ethnic cleansing. Bolkovac responded to the DynCorp recruitment, underwent a laughably weak background c ...more
Holly Blackstone
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I recall when these allegations first starting popping up in the press; I was stunned to hear the apologists who were quick to deny there was any wrongdoing by the UN forces, or that any case of abuse that came up was just the very rare exception, and in no way widespread or part of a concerted effort, so I was glad to come across this book during a recent trip to the library.

The story, the lesson, needs to be shouted from the rooftops, but the execution left a bit to be desired. It didn't flow
Laura Griffith
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm only halfway through the book, and while it's an interesting look at what happens in other countries, I am somewhat annoyed by something that keeps coming up.

First it is mentioned that trafficking victims are not like prostitutes. Which is true - some times, and in some ways.

Then when she talks about the last visit from her daughter, Erin, she talks about how her daughter sits in on a training class she gives to new recruits and how her daughter is shocked and is glad she lives in a country
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Without a doubt, Kathryn Bolkovac is a brave woman who did a lot of good for the women in Bosnia. However, this is a book review, not a review of her good deeds, and as a story this book falls short.

I expected this book to focus primarily on the author's work to fight sex trafficking. I also expected to learn more about the people involved (perpetrators and victims), and that the author would spend more than a paragraph sharing their stories. Instead, the focus of this book was the admittedly te
Ashley Helgerson
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Kathy's story of her time as a member of the International Police Force in war-torn Bosnia is a heart-wrenching and educational story, but also, a clear slap in the face to private military contractors and the United States. The story of the hand in hand effort by the State Department, DynCorp (military contractor), and even the United Nations to cover up the atrocities that American (and other nationals) are committing freely in these countries we are supposed to be protecting and serving is si ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of true crime thrillers and folks interested in human rights
high 2s for a compelling story narrated in a workmanlike fashion.

the first half describes the horrific crimes bolkovac uncovered, and the second half covers the consequences she faced for blowing the whistle on them. unfortunately, the illegal, inconvenient, and at times frightening coverup attempt is given equal time and narrated with a similar pitch of agitation as are the abduction, torture, rape, and enslavement of hundreds of women, which makes the author sound as if she's maybe, though un
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: america
I bought The Whistleblower early in 2011 after seeing an article The Big Issue and reading Natasha Walter's Living Dolls (another compelling must-read book). The book sat in my reading pile for a few months because I wanted to give Kathryn’s story my attention 100%. I expected a difficult non-fiction read.

I was wrong.

Kathryn's experience is compelling; on the morning on 11 April 2011 I opened The Whistleblower for the first time, and could not tear myself away until I had finished.

The more we re
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another book and book-to-movie combo, this time based on a true story. Kathy Bolkovac was a seasoned and professional police officer when she was hired by DynCorp as part of a peacekeeping operation that would bring democracy and order into w war-torn Bosnia. After being promoted to Gender Affairs, what she thought would be a noble mission turned ugly when she discovered that many of her coworkers, private contractors, and UN personnel were taking an active part in fueling drug trafficking of mi ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this after seeing the amazing and very hard to watch film based on it. This book was clearly written by a policewoman, and that came through in the writing style. It did nothing to diminish the author's actions to expose government contractors role in this horrible situation. The most frustrating thing is that it is still almost completely unresolved, with the author unable to find work in the international law enforcement community and the same types of abuse continuing to occur with dip ...more
Jacquelynn Fritz
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what to write about this book. Kathryn is brave and had to fight to get justice. What is sad is that while she did good, sex trafficking is still a huge problem, but finding that UN workers were involved made me sick. They were sent there to help and instead some of them bought, sold women and girls, and used them for themselves. Many of these women and girls were without a country as their pass ports were stolen and they are left in limbo. Its sad what humans do to other humans.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting (and in some ways frightening) look at the role of private contractors in Bosnia who were fulfilling UN missions and the illegal activities, especally human traficking of girls for sexual exploitation that she uncovered.

But it wasnt just the actions of a few bad seeds that made the revelations in this book so awful, it was the systemic processes in place that allow such things to occur, unchecked and hidden while promoting the boys networks that go unchecked and the ability of big
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This true story illuminates the dangers of government-contracted "peace keeping" forces and the realities of human trafficking, but I found the narration annoying. Kathryn Bolkovac was clearly the "good guy" in the story, and she likes to constantly remind readers of that fact. It seems like the book is just a big middle finger at DynCorp, but I'd still recommend it because the truths behind her story are eye-opening and important.
Probably this good review is due to the fact that so much of her experience was similar to mine in Kosovo. I cannot believe how many of the same practices are ineffect even though they are not necessarily effective. Of course there is a much greater awareness of trafficking, but she is dead on the money about the good old boys. Her recommendations are specific and well thought out. I can't wait to see the movie in August.
Laura Pollard
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really wanted to like this book. I think that what Kathryn Bolkovac did was amazing and brave. However, the actual writing of the book irked me. She came off as overly pious. I think that her actions speak for themselves. There was no need for her to constantly remind the audience that she "was there to make a difference" every other paragraph. That being said, when I was able to look past that, it is an incredible story. We need more people like Bolkovac in our communities.
Heather Richmond
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very well written! Kept my interest even though the topic could easily have lost me! It is unbelievably eye opening that these things can be so simply swept under the rug. Good for you, Kathryn, to speak up against such injustice on so many levels. Sadly, it didn't make too big of a difference in the grand scheme of the company :-/
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