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Cover for The Secret History of the American Empire

The Secret History of the American Empire

The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World (John Perkins Economic Hitman Series #1)

John Perkins


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (6/4/2007)
Hardcover (6/5/2007)
Pre-Recorded Audio Player (12/1/2009)


New York Times bestseller

From the author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, comes an exposé of international corruption, and an inspired plan to turn the tide for future generations

With a presidential election around the corner, questions of America's military buildup, environmental impact, and foreign policy are on everyone's mind. Former Economic Hit Man John Perkins goes behind the scenes of the current geopolitical crisis and offers bold solutions to our most pressing problems. Drawing on interviews with other EHMs, jackals, CIA operatives, reporters, businessmen, and activists, Perkins reveals the secret history of events that have created the current American Empire, including:

   • How the defeats in Vietnam and Iraq have benefited big business
   • The role of Israel as Fortress America in the Middle East
   • Tragic repercussions of the IMF's Asian Economic Collapse
   • The current Latin American revolution and its lessons for democracy
   • U.S. blunders in Tibet, Congo, Lebanon, and Venezuela

From the U.S. military in Iraq to infrastructure development in Indonesia, from Peace Corps volunteers in Africa to jackals in Venezuela, Perkins exposes a conspiracy of corruption that has fueled instability and anti-Americanism around the globe, with consequences reflected in our daily headlines. Having raised the alarm, Perkins passionately addresses how Americans can work to create a more peaceful and stable world for future generations.

Praise For The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World (John Perkins Economic Hitman Series #1)

“A sweeping, bold assault on the tyranny of corporate globalization, full of drama and adventure, with devastating stories of greed run wild. But Perkins is undaunted, and offers imaginative ideas for a different world.—Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

“John Perkins' new book is both an eye-opening expose of global corruption and a fascinating story of adventure and intrigue. This devastating indictment of current economic policies also offers hope by showing the power of the growing movement toward a caring economics worldwide.”—Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and The Blade and The Real Wealth of Nations
“Having made a splash with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins offers similarly entertaining but disturbing accounts of the American government wreaking havoc around the world in support of American business. In Perkins's view, American presidents willingly comply with their CEO masters, distributing foreign aid to corrupt Third World leaders who keep a share and return the rest to U.S. business for major projects, leaving their nations poor and massively in debt, and requiring more loans and slavish obedience to U.S. policy. If any leader objects, the CIA destabilizes his government, by assassination if necessary.”—Publishers Weekly

Plume, 9780452289574, 384pp.

Publication Date: April 29, 2008

About the Author

John Perkins is the bestselling author of the classic exposé Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. He is the founder and president of the Dream Change Coalition, which works closely with Amazonian and other indigenous people to help preserve their environments and cultures. From 1971 to 1981 he worked for the international consulting firm of Chas.T. Main, where he became chief economist and director of economics and regional planning. Perkins has lectured and taught at universities and learning centers on four continents and is a regular lecturer for the Omega Center.

Conversation Starters from

Do you agree with Perkins’ statement that the corporatocracy is in fact an empire? If so, why? If not, why not?

Perkins’ characterization of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, is markedly different from the way he has been depicted in the mainstream media. How do you account for these differences? Which, if either, characterization do you find more plausible? Why?

The United States’ war in Iraq is now in its fifth year. Perkins considers this war more dangerous to U.S. interests abroad than was the Vietnam war—he describes the Iraq war as a “clash of ideologies” rather than simply a regional conflict. What is your position on the Iraq war? Which, if any, of Perkins’ opinions on the subject do you find valid? Why?

Perkins contends that the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, which report to the executive branch of the United States government, authorized and in some cases carried out a number of assassinations of democratically elected leaders in Latin America and Africa who had refused to allow the corporatocracy to continue to do business as usual. Do you believe that any of these allegations are true? If so, why? If not, why not?

Perkins says that foreign governments that decline to be intimidated by the corporatocracy are routinely labeled “communist” by the U.S. government. What purpose would using the word “communist” serve in this context?

He also contends that most such governments, particularly those in Latin America, are trying to ensure that their national resources are used to benefit their own citizens rather than foreign countries and businesses. Would you describe such actions as “communistic”? Regardless of how they are labeled, do you believe that the resources of foreign countries should be fair game for acquisition by those with the most money and/or political clout?

Perkins says that the increased number of democratically elected leaders in Latin America who are systematically opposing the corporatocracy is proof that nations need not bow to foreign exploitation. What is your view on the subject?

Perkins charges that international corporations such as Nike are responsible for making the lives of sweatshop workers miserable. He cites the work of documentary filmmakers who have lived in the same conditions as Indonesian workers as proof. Do you think such information is valid? If so, how will it affect you personally?

Which of the incidents that Perkins describes in his book do you find the most disturbing? Why?

Several places in the book, Perkins states that male domination of the corporatocracy leads to its indiscriminate raping and pillaging of Third World cultures and the environment. On page 69, he describes the attitudes of the Shuar people of the Amazon, who believe that men are responsible for hunting, gathering firewood, and protecting their people from threatening tribes, and women are responsible for raising children, growing crops, looking after the home, and telling the men when they need to stop what they are doing. Do you think that giving women more say in running corporations, governments, and the media would improve the quality of life for the planet’s inhabitants? Why or why not?

Perkins ends his book with a list of actions individuals can take to thwart the corporatocracy and bring about a more just and peaceful world. Interestingly, most of the items on his list are also recommended by organizations that strive to protect the environment and produce sustainable energy and agricultural resources. Why do you suppose this is so? What, if any, of the actions Perkins lists are you prepared to undertake yourself? Why?