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  • Confessions of an Economic Hitman

  • Written by: John Perkins
  • Narrated by: Brian Emerson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This is the inside story of how America turned from a respected republic into a feared empire.

"Economic hit men," John Perkins writes, "are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder."

John Perkins should know; he was an economic hit man. His job was to convince countries that are strategically important to the U.S., from Indonesia to Panama, to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies. Saddled with huge debts, these countries came under the control of the United States government, World Bank, and other U.S.-dominated aid agencies that acted like loan sharks, dictating repayment terms and bullying foreign governments into submission.

This extraordinary real-life tale exposes international intrigue, corruption, and little-known government and corporate activities that have dire consequences for American democracy and the world.

©2004 John Perkins (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

What listeners say about Confessions of an Economic Hitman

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting Story about American Crony Capitalism

I found out afterwards that there is an updated version, "The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman." You might as well read that one instead.

The memoirs of a American crony capitalist, who's job was to take advantage of development banks and developing countries to win large engineering contracts. His story follows significant global developments from the 60's to second war in Iraq.

It was a very interesting book. This book is from the early 2000's, so some of the perspective is a bit dated. His perspective is also limited to that of someone who grew up rich, and succeeded through cronyism rather than merit. As a result, his perspective on poverty, the middle class, and business/economic development can be naive at times.

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A must read/listen - for anyone trying to understand world events, and place in the world

This book was the thread that ties together so many historical events over the past 50 years; from wars, global finance, foreign policy - and truly makes all these seemingly unrelated events over time all make sense. The overarching construction of the empire.. explains the past, and predicts the future. Thank you.. this book brought clarity to me. For good or bad, right or wrong - at least it makes sense.

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    1 out of 5 stars

libtard author overestimates own importance

From the second chapter it becomes clear the author is more interested in telling you about how interesting he is rather than explaining international political/financial relationships in any worthwhile detail. He uses every opportunity to condemn Americans as fat, greedy and stupid. This book is bad. The narration was so-so.

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Blown away

What an amazing book and an ever more amazing and crazy story. Thank you for sharing.

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Worth it and essential!

This should be part of the reading list of every teenager in North America. If we don't learn about our history we are doomed to repeat it, and the raping of third world countries needs to stop.

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we are all responsible

we are all responsible to become aware and take action. this book provide a glimpse into that deeper awareness and calls us into action for our children's sake.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Trevor Burnham
  • 2005-05-31

Uninformed and largely fictitious

While this book has an interesting premise, the author lacks credibility, and uses an implausible story about world travels to support a one-sided diatribe against globalization. While I enjoy economic books from a variety of viewpoints, this book frustrates at every turn with the author's simplistic left-wing economic views. His general argument is that foreign aid loans are bad, because they must be repaid by poor countries, and so all foreign aid should be given away instead.

His main "confession" is that he, supposedly working as an economist, was forced to exaggerate projections for economic growth in countries that were receiving aid, thus pushing them to accept American loans that they would be unable to repay. However, there is no evidence that his claim is true; it seems far more likely that he made up the whole book, especially with the large number of "coincidences" that occur (such as Muslims supposedly telling him decades before 2001 that if America continued to abuse them, they would strike back). He also throws in a great deal of sex and flamboyant characters to pad out the few researched facts that he throws into the book.

There are many good, well-informed books expressing various viewpoints on globalization and the relationships between developed countries and less-developed countries; this is not one of them. For a real insider account, I suggest Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz, former Chief Economist for the World Bank. You might also be interested in The Mystery of Capital by Hernando de Soto, a Venezuelan economist. Finally, for some of the history he refers to with CIA intervention in Iran, read All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer.

96 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robert P.
  • 2009-06-24

Excellent Story for people have traveled

I listened to the entire story before even looking at the reviews. While I felt the story did repeat a couple of parts and could have been condensed a tiny bit that was not what any of the complaints were even about. As someone who has spent 8 years traveling all over the world with the vast majority of that time being in asia for a large corporation, I can completely buy into most of this book. Given what I have seen and experienced first hand along with the time frame the story takes place it does not seem to be outlandish or unbelievable as was commented. In fact I find the opposite to be true. It explains things to me I have seen in a way that makes sense. I can not confirm that the story is 100% true but it is worth your time to read. It will help you open your mind to outside thought from the mainstream media. I would overall give this a 4* review but I felt it was worthy of the bump due to all the 1* which were based on not even listening to the entire thing.

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • wilsonchua
  • 2005-05-20

Very explosive if true.

We have always wondered why the Philippines is deep in debt and hardly able to regain its premier economic position in the late '50s.

If only 50% what the author claims is true, then it would be explosive! As more people read this book, they will be exposed to this idea of how the US government can use 'developmental loans' as a way to 'conquer' countries--and How the US is actively corrupting the leadership of each of these countries. Isnt this illegal?

This can form the legal basis for developing countries around the world to repudiate their loans and thereby help lift the plight of the poor in all the developing countries.

Countries like the Philippines are budgeting the majority (more than 60%) of our national budget just to service these debts. Debts that are a direct result of morally reprehensible EHMs. Money that could go to feed and educate millions of people, are being funneled to service these debts.

How much more independent can the Philippiens, if it were not saddled with these dubious 'development' loans? Find out by reading this book. If what the author claims is true. He should be held up as a modern day hero for his courage in exposing this practice.

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 2005-07-26

A Textbook History

Not an American textbook, however. Instead, this enlightening and disturbing book relates a history of the world since World War II that demonstrates how the United States has become a new kind of Empire. This Empire is based not on military might -- although as we see in Iraq, this is always an option -- but on the power of giant U.S. engineering, construction and oil corporations to induce nations around the world to borrow heavily from entities like the World Bank and USAID for economic development. Once these nations join the list of debtor nations, these staggering debts are used to get them to accede to a variety of U.S. political and corporate interests.

"Confessions" is John Perkins' personal account of how, as an "Economic Hitman" or EHM, he and others like him spearheaded this new kind of imperialism. The corporations EHM's worked for are almost quasi-governmental and have supplied our government with officials like Dick Cheney (Halliburton), George Schultz and Caspar Weinberger (Bechtel) and Geoge H.W. Bush who started in oil, became a Congressman, U.N. Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President, President and is now associated with the highly-influential Carlyle Group.

But it is the close association of all these people, agencies and corporations with events of history that is so striking. It was the corporatocracy that wanted the legally elected democratic leaders in Guatemala, Iraq, Chile, Panama and Equador assassinated. Their sins? They wanted the profits from the oil, minerals and produce from their countries to help advance the standard of living of their own people. The corporatocracy felt otherwise, as maximum profits are its only raison d'etre.

But it is the story of the corporatocracy's relationship with Saudi Arabia and the House of Saud and that is most revealing. World events will not be seen in the same light after reading this book.

This isn't an American textbook, but should be required reading for all Americans.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bradley M Bailey
  • 2009-02-27

Amazing story if you're not narrow-minded

After reading some of these reviews and listening to the book, it appears to me these 1 star reviewers are the ones who are "arrogant". I admit that Perkins does come off with a bit of an ego. I try to look past such flaws in people and focus on the actual content. I have seen many documentaries based on the corporate exploitation of the Third World. I by no means claim to be an expert on the subject, but I like to keep an open mind. To sit back and dismiss Perkins as "delusional" without knowing anything about the situation at hand, to me, is extremely arrogant. If you think that stories like this are false, then I challenge you to visit these countries and find out for yourself.

There is something quite wrong with this world and I think a lot of people can feel it. This story is just the tip of the iceberg. This book highlights the fact that so many wrongs are done in this world, and just as Perkins did, those that commit wrongdoing justify it to themselves as doing good. I just hope that enough open-minded people read this book and open their eyes to the injustices. If you do enjoy this book then I highly recommend the documentaries "Life and Debt" and "Zeitgeist: Addendum".

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Kim
  • 2005-06-08

EHM help breed failing governments

The author has taken extended liberties to recount very old conversations during his various encounters with local nations, political super powers, and the corporate world or he kept a massive highly detailed log/diary of every encounter. His resume supports his opportunities to do what he claims and current events and history supports the majority of his allegations.

The sad part is from 1971 - 1981 he continued doing what he did knowing the impact. Through out the book he's looking for sympathetic hearts to his plight of being an EHM and his subsequent benefits from the many exposures and contacts he had as an EHM.

He continually demands empathy for his activities from the reader while he continues to pimp the whole experience for more money.

I?m sad to say; I contributed to his financial health with the purchase of this book.

I believe the book is largely non-fictional with the exception of detailed recounted conversations.

I won't recommend the book to anyone. I would not want the author to financially benefit more from his loathsome activities that may have contributed to the political blight our country is in today. It?s always easy to have morals and values while making money.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • AA
  • 2005-05-26

Confessions of an Economic Hitman (Unabridged

John Perkins
An Honest Man in World operated By Greed at Any Price !!!!!!!

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Daniel
  • 2010-02-21

Why the US is hated worldwide

This is an eye opener for all those people that think the US is only trying to help the rest of the world. These "confessions" show how we manipulate countries in development so they can't grow.
Don't get me wrong, the US has done MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY to rid the world of invasionist countries and we can be very proud of that, but we also have an Imperialistic side that is not disclosed inside the US.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Donn Edwards
  • 2007-06-15

Essential Listening

John C Dvorak recommended this book on the TWiT podcast, and I can see why. If you follow current events around the world, this book will fascinate you. If you work for a large company, this book will horrify you. But face the facts, and learn from another man's story.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tolga
  • 2005-09-14

More detailed version of this book in progress

Of course there will be people who do not want to see the reality of US companies using the US government to advance their interests in developing countries. This book explains the facts in a simplified way so that the 'average American' can understand how things work. Those who don't believe the book, claiming there is not enough detail in it, will be surprised to hear that the author is writing a more detailed version with several other economic hit-man coming forward. Its just a matter of time before more people from developing countries come forward and everything is exposed to those who have the courage to face reality. The next step of course should be to make an effort to hold these greedy and unethical companies responsible.
This is an excellent book and highly recommended. Don't be distracted by the negative 1 star reviews.

16 people found this helpful