Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

John Perkins
Penguin Group, 2006

 You’re either going to read this and be alarmed for the future of all mankind, or you’ll think it’s a lie-ridden, left-wing agenda meant to obscure facts and bring down freedom with free enterprise. Anyone interested enough in real-world economics and politics to read beyond the fiction of John le Carre and Ian Fleming about “fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder” will have a visceral response to Perkins’ assertions. Perkins glosses over his upbringing, but makes a few points that explain his interest and vulnerabilities in his profession of being an economic forecaster for an international consulting firm in the 1970s. He worked hard, followed the corporate rules and moved quickly up the pay scale and influence ladders. Only innocently curious in the beginning, he became convinced through the years of a primarily (but not solely) U.S. corporate, government and banking system that colluded enough to gain spoils for western civilization at the expense of economies around the globe. During his time as a participant in global economics, he sees and pieces together evidence of corruption that purposely brings down foreign governments to benefit the west. The book primarily covers the political and economic circumstances of the 1970s in Indonesia, Colombia, Panama, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Readers who are familiar with history at that time will probably not be surprised by anything, but readers who avoid or ignore real-life politics will have a reaction. The arrogant, self-centered, and vicious attitudes and methods of U.S. business, banking, and government portrayed in the book is not how the U.S. public likes to see its swaggering, but still generous, entrepreneurial, patriotic self. Eventually his conscience does not allow him to continue and he leaves the business. He makes a case that it has taken so long for him to write and get this published due to pressure from others to keep the information away from the public. Perkins calls his book a confession only, though he turns the information over to the reader with suggestions to spark action at a grass-roots level. Because thirty years have passed since most of the action happened, the reader can be appalled, but dismiss it as history. What is impossible to dismiss, however, even for the person who reads only headlines for news, is that the trail has become bloodier and the economic strategies that brought down foreign governments are walking down our own Main Street and in our front door in this current recession. The housing, banking and jobs crises we face smack of Perkins’ description of what U.S. interests have done to others across the globe. This is not an easy read, even if you end up dismissing it as garble from a disgruntled employee. If you like all your history and current events from local television and newspapers, don’t bother reading this. Head instead to the fiction shelf of political thrillers where U.S. might always makes right.

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