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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  6,773 ratings  ·  681 reviews
On September 16, 2007, machine gun fire erupted in Baghdad's Nisour Square, leaving seventeen Iraqi civilians dead, among them women and children. The shooting spree, labeled "Baghdad's Bloody Sunday," was neither the work of Iraqi insurgents nor U.S. soldiers. The shooters were private forces working for the secretive mercenary company, Blackwater Worldwide.

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Hardcover, 550 pages
Published March 8th 2007 by Nation Books (first published 2007)
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Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-affairs

Addendum 8/6/09: Erik Prince accused of murder.

I had no idea the depth of antagonism toward the Clinton election evinced by such stalwarts as Scalia, Colson, Dobson, et al who, in public statements, suggested that any ruler, elected or otherwise, who was not following the divine mandate as they understood it to be, deserved to be overthrown, violently if necessary. The level of their vitriol is astonishing. Place the rise of Erick Prinz's private army, th
Jul 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people with a conscience
Okay, first some literary criticism. And I hate to do this, because I saw Jeremy Scahill speak a few months ago and I genuinely liked him. He's brilliant, he obviously knows what's going on in the world, he's a first-class investigative journalist, a crusader for the truth, and I sincerely applaud him for what he does. But, though the story of Blackwater is gripping, chilling, and more than just a little sinister (more on that later), I have to honestly say that carrying around this book and rea ...more
Jul 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Yes, I read the whole book. Painfully so.

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

Like many other reviewers, I bought this book hoping to get a historical perspective on the Blackwater company. Instead, I got a heavily biased opinion piece on the US Government's use of military contractors. Scahill cites many quotes and facts in his book, but most of these are from heavily biased liberal writers or publications, and most of these cited works are opinion pieces, not factual evidence. Worse
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
What is the downfall of empires associated with? With the building of ever more massive mercenary armies

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

The basis for the tremendous success of the now repeatedly renamed security firm Blackwater put the Republican initiatives in the term of George W Bush, which relied on the massive privatization of the American military. Initially, logistics and supply tasks were primarily to be placed in
Chad Walker
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was ok
First, a little background on my own biases: I saw September 11th with my own eyes, and fully supported a military response (of whatever form necessary) to capture Osama bin Laden and break up Afghani training camps for Al-Qaeda. I opposed the invasion of Iraq from day one, though was happy to see one less dictator in the world who had committed genocide against a portion of his own population. I used to subscribe to The Nation, but eventually found its "reporting" to be wildly simplistic, dogma ...more
One can draw a straight line from Tim Weiner’s extensive report on the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, and this book by Jeremy Scahill on the outsourcing of American military, security, and investigative duties. Scahill centers his work around the event that transfixed the world and brought awareness of Blackwater to the fore for those of us not immediately engaged in military operations. The event was the 2004 murder of Blackwater employees in the city of Fallujah wherein the victims were killed, dismemb ...more
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
There is little need for me to do a review of this one as the review that encouraged me to read it in the first place pretty well sums up my feelings about it too: Another excellent review by my mate Eric.

Now, one of the recent books I have read called Mistakes Were Made, but not by me points out that the most dangerous people in the world are people who have high self-esteem and they are at their most dangerous when they are forced to do bad things to p
Apr 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
I picked up this book hoping it would provide some good basic information about Blackwater, with the understanding from the dust jacket that it likely would reach certain ultimate conclusions I might not agree with. In reality, the book provides only superficial information, merely regurgitating the reporting of several already-public incidents, then quoting supporters and detractors of Blackwater and similar private military companies. Mr. Scahill almost invariably characterizes statements from ...more
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This gives a history and account of various misdeeds by Blackwater and their born ultra-rich right wing Christian kook founder Erik Prince. It goes in depth with the infamous Fallujah incident where "civilian contractors" (actually they were former Special Forces guys working for Blackwater) were ambushed, yanked out of the car, burnt alive and their corpses were hung from a Fallujah bridge. It looked like an inside job set up to me when I first saw the incident in the news a few years back and ...more
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Valerie by: Jon Stewart
This book covers Iraq and mercenaries in great detail. However, I was unprepared for the section on Blackwater and Hurricane Katrina. The author makes the point that guns were on the ground long before humanitarian aid was deployed. I checked Blackwater's website and they claim to have donated time and effort, although they hide behind wording like 'in the first few days', leading one to believe this book's claim that they were well paid after those first few days. I was also disturbed by the po ...more
David Sarkies
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Privatising the Military
10 August 2018

I had already read a book on the rise of the modern mercenary forces, so while this book had sat on my shelf ever since I bought it, a part of me felt that maybe it was not only going to go over much of the same stuff that I had already read, but that it was going to be so focused upon Blackwater that it would start to get quite boring. More so, it looked pretty thick, and a part of me really didn’t want to simply read a thick book all about one particular
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
I'd quite like to like this book. I mostly agree with what the author is trying to say, but don't like his sensationalist style. And I have this awful nagging feeling throughout this book that it’s terribly biased as Jeremy Scahill makes it quite clear from the start. It is biased along what I already opined, but I’d be much happier to see something more balanced. It is one thing to have a strong opinion, but quite another to let that brilliant idea cloud your judgment and from his style, I am r ...more
Sep 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
This book is full of double standards and petty fault finding. I do believe there is an issue with rampant government contracting, but Scahill picks at Blackwater like a sibling annoyed with his little brother-- EVERYTHING they do is WRONG.

He condemns Eric Prince for being a "theocon" who wants to make God have more of a roll in government, but then sees nothing wrong with Iraqi's praising God and talking about how God will kick the Americans out. The feeling I go is that religion is okay in a s
Phil Smith
Nov 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Perhaps the greatest enemy to the United States is its military-industrial complex. Add Christian fundamentalism into that mix, and a dash of stupid president, and one has the ingredients for our own downfall.

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

In college, I once wrote a short story called Battle Corp. that dealt with
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not a book for the conservative/republican reader, but very informative as to the privatization of the military. A real expose of corruption at the highest levels of government. As a past member of the USMC, I believe the privatization of the military to be a cancer on the real military and it should be exterminated post haste.

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

"Blackwater is the utterly gri
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is dense so I'm glad I listened to the audio book instead. Insightful and introduced me to the names of a whole cast of warmongers that I now need to stalk and sabotage. ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a fucking fantastic book. It is so huge and dense with research but it skips along in intense narration. Classic muckraking on the mercenary, military contractor, "peace and security" industry, focusing on Blackwater's story in particular.

Blackwater began as a couple extremely rich ex-Navy Seals who built a training ground and used their expertise to train military and police in the US. Then they realized they could take all the other ex-special ops dudes like themselves, except poorer,
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it
A good book about subject matter that raises a lot of questions, but Scahill doesn't always do a satisfactory job of answering them.

Scahill has done his best to penetrate the veil of secrecy that surrounds Blackwater and its operations, and has probably done as good a job as anyone could in the circumstances. But he's better at the small-scale stuff (the story of how a bunch of Chilean Blackwater recruits ended up fighting an American war in Iraq, for instance) than he is at the big-picture cont
May 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: military
When I was a boy, I did want to be a mercenary soldier one day--- I'll admit that. And in grad school I wrote extensively about Fritz Redlich's idea of the "military entrepreneur" in the late 16th/early 17th.-c. So I dislike seeing "mercenary" always used as a pejorative. That said, I'll say that Jeremy Scahill's "Blackwater" gets points for reportage, for his interviews and legwork. "Blackwater", unlike P.W. Singer's "Corporate Warriors" sets out to be an expose rather than a work of analysis, ...more
Cara M
Dec 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: global-conflict
Seemed to run out of steam toward the end when it shifted from recounting of major events to personnel profiles. My major issue with this book was that it was a bit of a disjointed read. From a literary perspective, there were odd tense-issues, the pacing was off, and I did not come away with a clear feeling of the narrative. From a message/content perspective, the juxtaposition of the inundation of fact with the author's entirely subjective tone was weird for me. But, even though it took foreve ...more
Edward Rathke
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-history
It's interesting to finally read this book after sort of learning a lot of this stuff piecemeal over the last ten years.

One of the fascinating aspects of this whole thing is that a mercenary army is nothing new, historically. Most armies throughout history have had large mercenary components. This has to do with a strangeness of the post World War world, which is that now every nation has a professional military. This was extremely unusual up until and including during WWI. Because of the World
Isabel Vasquez
Jan 30, 2021 rated it liked it
I didn’t know much about Blackwater before picking up this book so overall i’m glad I read it. It’s a pretty important topic to have at a minimum some background knowledge on, especially for those interested in human rights and international affairs. That being said it felt at times like a chore to get through. The book isn’t very well organized and often jumps from topic to topic without much transition, even from one paragraph to the next. I kept having to go back and rereading sentences to ma ...more
Nigel Shenton
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, politics, journalism
I thought it was a apathetic book to give heuristics(serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation.) facts and have a opprobrium of giving no reason to talk about Christianity besides assign fault or a soul of character and behaviour of a soul as a moral or political correct ethics in war? It in a time were lots of books we're aware of defining religion as to be a soul living as a Christian.
I am aware of my soul; if it is known for me in feeling an
Oct 20, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a tough book to review: it's clearly the best-researched and most-complete work on its topic, but it is also very biased. Jeremy Scahill is a first-rate investigative journalist, of that I have no doubt, but he also has a clear anti-Blackwater, anti-Prince family agenda to sell, and he wastes not a single word selling it here. While Scahill claims he requested interviews with Erik Prince and other Blackwater executives and was refused any such interviews, this is about as close to approa ...more
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
From my Cannonball Read V review...

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

Okay, so starting from that premise, why read a book that tells you in detail about how horrible it is? Because it's good. Really good. It is very well resea
Simon Wood
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I have to admit to being slightly puzzled about the low ratings this book has got (on amazon uk site where this review initially posted during September 2009). I first read it last year when it was published in paperback and found it a compelling informative read, yet the reviews on Amazon talk of it as "dull and repetitive" - "frustrating" - "childish rant".

Having now read it a second time I can with out hesitation recommend it to anyone who wishes to be informed
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Finally finished this book, and I must say I was a little disappointed. Blackwater is basically a private military who does not have to abide by the same rules as an actual military force would. I had the so called "privilege" to meet a few of their members while serving overseas.... Their reputation definitely precedes them for sure.
A majority if not all of the ones I met were ex-special operations, law enforcement or counter intelligence specialists.
Needless to say a private military may not s
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to understand what's really going on with our foreign policy
This was great; very thorough and well-researched addition to the discourse on Iraq and military policy. Scahill makes no secret of his opinions, but backs them up with enough evidence that the reader can draw her own conclusions (and it's hard not to be equally alarmed at the rise of these private military companies). Very informative and disturbing read. ...more
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Jeremy Scahill is an American investigative journalist and author whose work focuses on the use of private military companies.

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

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

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“Blackwater is a company whose business depends on war and conflict to thrive. It operates in a demand-based industry where corporate profits are intimately linked to an escalation of violence. That” 1 likes
“Blackwater had won $1 billion in “diplomatic security” contracts through the State Department alone.81” 0 likes
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