I am reading New Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins … and I can already tell I will be rereading it more than once.
NO, this is not the latest James Bond story, although at times, it feels like one, as the author describes the secret workings of world governments and international organizations, and the people who work in them.
The timing of this updated version of a classic exposé is exquisite, with the US presidential campaign tortuously underway and global upheaval evident in every corner of the planet.
Originally published in 2004, this edition continues into the present day the story of global intrigue and power brokering based on “the four pillars of modern empire: fear, debt, insufficiency … and the divide-and-conquer mindset“ (pg. 293) … unfortunately, the story has gotten worse.
Real heroes are scarce and villains are profusely strewn through this crash course in geo-political history and economics. You are already familiar with many of the players and events, but I would be willing to bet you will have a revised perceptive on our country and the world after reading this book.
It is a little difficult to categorize this book and it certainly does not fit into the normal leadership and personal development, coaching, and social media titles that are my usual focus.
I am out of my comfort zone as I read this book … and that is a good thing.
At times, it is a travelogue detailing life in wide-spread cities and countries around the world, where power and wealth exist next to extreme poverty and need. Like any good story, romance and sex play their roles here as well as sections that read like a good spy or mystery thriller.
Most of all, this book reads like a really engaging and up-close look at recent United States and world history, focusing on geo-politics, economics, and societal culture.
I could see this as a movie …
STYLE AND DESIGN …
The book is mostly very short and very interesting chapters outlining Perkin’s adult life. Since we are close in age, I could easily relate to much of what Perkins describes, both in his personal life development and events as they occurred around the world.
The preface and introduction are both worth reading. Valuable context and guidance gives the reader a head’s up about the overall perspective, along with a very helpful abbreviated view of the last fifty years covered by the book.
WHAT I LIKED …
The short chapters written in narrative style …
These easily digestible chunks come alive. Among other things, the author has given us a nice little Recent US and World History text which almost any college student could handle. I would use this as an adjunct reading assignment and discussion guide in such a course.
The relationship to my own times …
As I mentioned earlier, I can relate easily to the happenings and personalities in this book, although I certainly learned some new and disturbing information as I worked through fifty some years of impacting events. I am both appalled at what I did not know then and more hopeful about the future (see comments below).
The personal honesty and integrity …
While I understand that authors writing about themselves tend toward describing things in a more positive light than the reality would show, I did get the sense that the author really did live through angst, confusion, transition, and redemption.
I do know that to write a story such as this is the written equivalent of poking a lion with a sharp stick. Speaking the truth requires personal courage, especially when those who do not want that truth known are both powerful and many.
As the author points out, many have willingly participated in illegal and immoral behavior, partly because they are unaware of the true nature of what is happening, but also because the personal benefits were important to them. In other words, many people have a personal investment in protecting this behavior.
However, the author’s past and current story also reminds me of John Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace“ , the well-known Christian hymn. Positive change can happen to people. For a modern-day example of redemption, check out John Perkins.
New Word Alert: “Corporatocracy” (pg. 38) … a tad unwieldy, but a good term to describe the influence and sweep of multi-national organizations.
SOME THINGS I DID NOT LIKE …
How poorly the United States shows …
The United States comes off as a benign and paternalistic nation and more recently, as a power-focused conglomeration of corporate and political ambitions beyond national borders. As someone who has considered themselves a patriotic American and served our country in uniform, I held a somewhat unrealistic and positive view of our country as a young man. In later years, I have come to a more realistic perception, but it still disturbs me when that reality is laid bare.
That book cover:) …
The cover looks like a poster for the kind of film I do not wish to see … just my opinion.
Reality is not always comfortable, but it is always the best base for us to make effective decisions about how to move forward. This book provides an important aspect of reality for us to consider and might even be considered “required reading” for all citizens.
The last two chapters are critical. Chapter 46 has an overview of the key points of this book. Then chapter 47 leaves us with several “What You Can Do” lists for people in different demographics. These are reality-based, very doable, and were quite welcome after the saturation into what is currently happening.
The knowledge that things can be different and that we can all be part of making this change happen is crucial to being able to fully appreciate this book. Without those last two chapters, this is just a fascinating, but downer story that will leave you feeling helpless.
All in all, The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman was not the most enjoyable book I have read in my life, but it probably is one of the most important.
When you read it, I bet you will agree.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed, but ultimately very hopeful in the Heartland ….
Images: Via Weaving Influence
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review … best gift I have received in a very long time.