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

( 91 )


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.

This is the explosive story of a company that rose a decade ago from Moyock, North Carolina, to become one of the most ...

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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.

This is the explosive story of a company that rose a decade ago from Moyock, North Carolina, to become one of the most powerful players in the “War on Terror.” In his gripping bestseller, award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill takes us from the bloodied streets of Iraq to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans to the chambers of power in Washington, to expose Blackwater as the frightening new face of the U.S. war machine.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In company handouts, Blackwater USA claims to run the largest privately owned firearms training facility in the country, but according to award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Although it's only ten years old, this North Carolina-based private military contractor has already been called "George Bush's favorite mercenary company," "the world's most secretive and powerful mercenary firm," and "the fastest-growing private army on the planet." Founded by a far-right, super-rich ex-Navy SEAL, this quasi-military group operates clandestinely in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Scahill's detailed, 288-page Blackwater represents the fullest disclosure yet of this very shadowy organization.
Publishers Weekly

Scahill's liberal horror story is about the company that has deployed many of the "private contractors" who have assisted the U.S. military in Iraq and been responsible for more than its share of death and disorder. Scahill, a regular contributor to the Nation, amps up the scare language in his study of both Blackwater and the wealthy, ultra-conservative Prince family that founded the company, but luckily, Weiner does not. With his booming baritone reined tightly in check, Weiner coolly and calmly delivers the bad news. The parade of scaremongering may grow wearying, but Weiner maintains his composure throughout, offsetting Scahill (to a degree) by virtue of his unyielding temperateness. Simultaneous release with the Nation hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 26). (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568583945
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 5/26/2008
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 452
  • Sales rank: 130,021
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill is a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine and a correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now! He is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill has won numerous awards for his reporting, including the prestigious George Polk Award, which he won twice. While a correspondent for Democracy Now!, Scahill reported extensively from Iraq through both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Traveling around the hurricane zone in the wake of Katrina, Scahill exposed the presence of Blackwater forces in New Orleans and his reporting sparked a Congressional inquiry and an internal Department of Homeland Security investigation. He has appeared on ABC World News, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, CNN, MSNBC, PBS’s The NewsHour, Bill Moyers Journal and is a frequent guest on other radio and TV programs nationwide. Scahill also serves as an election correspondent for HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2007 Jeremy Scahill
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-56025-979-4

Chapter One


THE STATELY mansion at 1057 South Shore Drive in Holland, Michigan, is about as far from Fallujah as one could imagine. The home where young Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater USA, grew up sits along the sleepy banks of Lake Macatawa, an inlet of Lake Michigan in the American Midwest. Trees shimmer along the edges of the driveway on a summer day; the sun glints peacefully off the lake. Occasionally, a car clips by or a boat motor starts, but otherwise the neighborhood is calm and quiet, the embodiment of affluent, postcard American society. Two middle-aged women power-walk past a man lazily riding his lawnmower. Other than that, the street is deserted. As they trot by, one of the women glances over to her companion, their sun visors almost colliding, and asks whether the Prince family still owns the mansion. The estate is well-known, the family more so. In Holland, Michigan, the Princes were indeed royalty, and Erik's father, Edgar Prince, was the king.

Much like Blackwater's compound in Moyock, North Carolina-a seven-thousand-acre peat bog with a constant rattle of machine-gun fire-is Erik Prince's personal fiefdom, the idyllic Dutch hamlet of Holland was his father's. Aself-made industrialist, Edgar Prince employed nearly a quarter of the city. He shaped its institutions, planned and funded its downtown, and was among the biggest benefactors to its two colleges. A decade after Edgar's sudden death in 1995, his presence and legacy still permeate the town. On the corner of two of the busiest streets in Holland's soccer-mom-chic downtown, there is a monument to Ed Prince: seven bronze footsteps embedded in the ground lead to a raised platform upon which stand life-sized bronze statues of a trio of musicians-a tuxedoed cello player, a mustached violinist, and a young woman wearing a skirt who is blowing into her flute. Another statue depicts a little girl standing with her arms wrapped around a small boy, holding a book of music notes, their mouths frozen in song. On the pedestal below the group is a small plaque memorializing Edgar D. Prince: "We will always hear your footsteps," it reads. "The People of Downtown Holland honor your extraordinary vision and generosity."

If there was one lesson Edgar Prince was poised to impart to his children, it was how to build and maintain an empire based on strict Christian values, right-wing politics, and free-market economics. But while the landscape of Holland today is dotted with memorials to the Prince family legacy, Edgar was not the town's original emperor. Dating back to the community's founding, Holland had long been run by Christian patriarchs. In 1846, with a sea-weary clan of fifty-seven fellow Dutch refugees, Albertus Van Raalte came ashore in western Michigan. Prince's predecessor had fled his home country because he had "undergone all manner of humiliation and persecution through his defiance of the religious restrictions imposed by the State church," according to the city.

Van Raalte was a member of a sect of the Dutch Reform Church opposed by the Dutch monarchy at the time. After arriving in the United States aboard his vessel, the Southerner, Van Raalte led the clan to the shores of Lake Michigan, where he envisioned a community free to live and worship within the tenets of his brand of Dutch Reform, and without any outside influence. After some scouting he came upon a perfect spot, next to a lake that ran into Lake Michigan. On February 9, 1847, Van Raalte's community was founded, on the site where Erik Prince would later spend his youth, perhaps some of it on the creaking dock that sneaks out into the Lake Michigan inlet. But Van Raalte's perfect vision would not be realized quite as he expected, according to a biography produced by Hope College, which he founded and which has seen millions of dollars in donations from the Prince family: "[Van Raalte's] goal of developing a Christian community governed by Christian principles was visionary but was shattered in 1850. Holland Township became the basic unit of government. Van Raalte's ideal of Christian control was lost." But Van Raalte sought alternative means of establishing his Shangri-La in Holland. "His influence was felt because he became active in politics and he continued to own large tracts of land," according to the biography. "Although many of the means to achieve a Christian community broke down, Van Raalte was still the pastor of the only church, member of the district school board, guiding light of the Academy, principal landowner, and a businessman with major property holdings." Virtually the same description could be applied to Edgar Prince and, eventually, to Erik, born nearly a century after Van Raalte's death.

The conservative Dutch Reform Church that provided the religious guidance for Van Raalte, and eventually the Prince family, based its beliefs on the teachings of a seventeenth-century minister, John Calvin. One of the main tenets of Calvinism is that of predestination-the belief that God has predestined some people for salvation and others for damnation. Calvinists believe that people have no business meddling or vainly trying to divine God's decisions. The religion also teaches strict obedience and hard work, acting on the belief that God will steer followers but that they are responsible for the work. Calvinists have long taken pride in their work ethic. The town of Holland boasts that its villagers dug the canal to Lake Michigan-that would prove valuable for trade-with their own hands, and then set down their shovels and immediately constructed the bridge over their new channel.

It was this famed work ethic that found Erik Prince's grandfather Peter Prince, owner of the Tulip City Produce Company, on a truck heading to Grand Rapids, thirty miles away, for a business meeting in the early morning hours of May 21, 1943. Shortly into the trip, Prince complained of heartburn to his fellow wholesale produce dealer, and they pulled over for a few minutes. Soon, they continued on, and near Hudsonville, halfway through the trip, Prince slumped over against his colleague, who was driving. A doctor in the town pronounced him dead on arrival at the age of thirty-six. Peter's son, Edgar, was eleven years old.

A decade later, Edgar Prince graduated from the University of Michigan with an engineering degree and met Elsa Zwiep, whose parents owned Zwiep's Seed Store in Holland and who had just completed her studies in education and sociology at nearby Calvin College. The two married, and Edgar followed family tradition and joined the military, serving in the U.S. Air Force. The couple moved east and then west as Edgar was stationed at bases in South Carolina and Colorado. Though it's unclear whether Peter Prince was a veteran-he came of age for the draft during the window between World War I and World War II-four of Peter's five brothers were in the Army at the time of his death. Though Edgar Prince had traveled far and wide during college and the Air Force, his hometown of Holland beckoned him and Elsa back to Lake Michigan and to the strict religious and cultural traditions embraced by the Prince family. "We find Holland a very comfortable place to live," Edgar Prince said in a book written about Holland's downtown, which included three chapters on the family. "We have family here. We enjoy the recreational opportunities. We like the community's heritage, which is based on the Dutch reputation for being neat, clean, orderly, and hard working. Their standard has always been excellence."

Upon returning to the town, Edgar rolled up his sleeves and started working in die-casting, rising to the position of chief engineer at Holland's Buss Machine Works. But Edgar had much bigger ambitions and soon quit. In 1965, Prince and two fellow employees founded their own company that made die-cast machines for the auto industry. In 1969, he shipped a sixteen-hundred-ton machine capable of creating aluminum transmission cases every two minutes. By 1973, Prince Corporation was a great success, with hundreds of people working for the company's various Holland divisions. That year, the company began production of what would become its signature product, an invention that would end up in virtually every car in the world and put Edgar Prince on his way to becoming a billionaire: the ubiquitous lighted sun visor.

But while wealth and success were in abundance in the Prince family, the sixteen-to-eighteen-hour days had been taking their toll on Edgar, and in the early 1970s, he nearly fell to the same fate as his father when he suffered a serious heart attack. "It was then, while he lay in a hospital bed reflecting on what all his labor had won for him, that he committed himself anew to his faith in Jesus Christ," recalled Prince's friend Gary Bauer, one of the early leaders of the religious right and founder of the conservative Christian lobby group the Family Research Council. "Ed turned his future and the future of his business over to God. From that point forward, the Prince Corporation was blessed with unprecedented growth and financial success." Edgar Prince recovered from the heart attack and steered his company toward amazing prosperity. Prince Corporation soon expanded into map lamps, visors that could open garage doors, consoles with ashtrays, and cup and change holders, among many other products. By 1980, the Prince empire boasted numerous plants and more than 550 employees. As Erik Prince later recalled, "My dad was a very successful entrepreneur. From scratch he started a company that first produced high-pressure die-cast machines and grew into a world-class automotive parts supplier in west Michigan. They developed and patented the first lighted car sun visor, developed the car digital compass/thermometer and the programmable garage door opener." But, Prince said, "Not all their ideas were winners. Things like a sock-drawer light, an automated ham de-boning machine and a propeller-driven snowmobile didn't work out so well for the company. My dad used them as examples of the need for perseverance and determination."

In that respect, it wasn't the only way in which the product itself seemed of secondary importance to Prince. "People make the difference," read the copy from an old Prince Corporation brochure. "It isn't magic that brings excellence to a company; excellence is the result of commitment and hard work by dedicated people. Whether we're talking about products or processes, no wizardry or easy formulas will solve the challenges of tomorrow. People will." Edgar Prince was fond of initiatives like one where executives stuck to a strict exercise regimen. Three days a week from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. the executives met at the Holland Tennis Club, which Prince also owned. In 1987, Prince opened a sprawling 550,000-square-foot facility spread over thirty-five acres, its fourth manufacturing center and home to many of its now fifteen hundred employees. The Prince "campus" centerpiece featured nearly five thousand feet of skylights and amenities like a basketball and volleyball court. He never made employees work on Sundays and flew executives home from business trips promptly so they could be with their families on the Lord's Day.

Detroit's auto industry may have been suffering in the 1980s, "but you'd never know it from the Prince Corporation," read the lead of a story in the Holland Sentinel. "My family's business was automotive supply-the most viciously competitive business in the world," Erik Prince told author Robert Young Pelton. "My father was focused on quality, volume, and customer satisfaction. That's what we talked around the dinner table." But Edgar Prince had more than the success of his business and his employees on his mind, and with the money flowing into Prince Corporation, he finally had the means to achieve the higher goals to which he aspired. That meant pouring serious money into conservative Christian causes. "Ed Prince was not an empire builder. He was a Kingdom builder," recalled Gary Bauer. "For him, personal success took a back seat to spreading the Gospel and fighting for the moral restoration of our society."

In the 1980s, the Prince family merged with one of the most venerable conservative families in the United States when Erik Prince's sister Betsy married Dick DeVos, whose father, Richard, founded the multilevel marketing firm Amway and went on to own the Orlando Magic basketball team. Amway was a powerhouse distributor of home products and was regularly plagued by accusations that it was run like a cult and was nothing more than a sophisticated pyramid scheme. The company would rise to become one of the greatest corporate contributors in the U.S. electoral process in the 1990s, mostly to Republican candidates and causes, and used its business infrastructure as a massive political organizing network. "Amway relies heavily on the nearly fanatical-some say cultlike-devotion of its more than 500,000 U.S. 'independent distributors; As they sell the company's soaps, vitamins, detergents, and other household products, the distributors push the Amway philosophy," reported Mother Jones magazine in a 1996 exposé on the company. "They tell you to always vote conservative no matter what. They say liberals support the homosexuals and let women get out of their place," Karen ]ones, a former Amway distributor, told the magazine. "They say we need to get things back to the way it's supposed to be." Amway leaders also reportedly used "voice-mail messages, along with company rallies and motivational tapes, to mobilize distributors into a potent domestic political force."

Betsy and Dick's union was the kind of alliance common among the families of monarchs in Europe. The DeVos family was one of the few in Michigan whose power and influence exceeded that of the Princes. They were one of the greatest bankrollers of far-right causes in U.S. history, and with their money they propelled extremist Christian politicians and activists to positions of prominence. For a time, Betsy and Dick lived down the street from the Prince family, including Erik, who is nine years younger than his sister.

In 1988, Gary Bauer and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson began building what would become the Family Research Council (FRC), the crusading, influential, and staunchly conservative evangelical organization that has since taken the lead on issues ranging from banning gay marriage to promoting school vouchers for Christian schools to outlawing abortion and stem-cell research. To get it off the ground, though, they needed funding, and they turned to Edgar Prince. "[W]hen Jim Dobson and I decided that the financial resources weren't available to launch FRC, Ed and his family stepped into the breach," wrote Bauer. "I can say without hesitation that without Ed and Elsa and their wonderful children, there simply would not be a Family Research Council." Young Erik would go on to become one of Bauer's earliest interns at the FRC. It was one of many right-wing causes that the Princes would join the DeVoses in bankrolling, leading to what would be known as the Republican Revolution in 1994, which brought Newt Gingrich and a radical right-wing agenda known as the Contract with America to power in Congress, wrestling control from the Democrats for the first time in forty years. To support the "revolution," DeVos's Amway gave some $2.5 million to the Republican Party in what was the single largest soft-money donation on record to any political party in history. In 1996, Amway also donated $1.3 million to the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau to pay for Republican "infomercials" broadcast on Pat Robertson's Family Channel during the RNC convention.


Excerpted from BLACKWATER by JEREMY SCAHILL Copyright © 2007 by Jeremy Scahill. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

The Face of Blackwater 1

Introduction Baghdad's Bloody Sunday 3

Ch. 1 Making a Killing 49

Ch. 2 The Little Prince 65

Ch. 3 Blackwater Begins 89

Ch. 4 Fallujah Before Blackwater 113

Ch. 5 Guarding Bush's Man in Baghdad 125

Ch. 6 Scotty Goes to War 145

Ch. 7 The Ambush 155

Ch. 8 "We Will Pacify Fallujah" 169

Ch. 9 Najaf, Iraq: 4.04.04 181

Ch. 10 "This Is Fdr the Americans of Blackwater" 197

Ch. 11 Mr. Prince Goes to Washington 209

Ch. 12 Caspian Pipeline Dreams 231

Ch. 13 Blackwater's Man in Chile 245

Ch. 14 "The Whores of War" 275

Ch. 15 The Crash of Blackwater 61 305

Ch. 16 Cofer Black: The Gloves Come Off 329

Ch. 17 Death Squads, Mercenaries, and the "Salvador Option" 349

Ch. 18 Joseph Schmitz: Christian Soldier 365

Ch. 19 Blackwater Down: Baghdad on the Bayou 359

Ch. 20 "The Knights of the Round Table" 409

Epilogue: Blackwater Beyond Bush 447

Acknowledgments 465

Notes 469

Index 585

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 91 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 91 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2008

    So much potential too much personal agenda

    I will preface my comments by saying I am a moderate. I was hoping this book would be a good factual and well researched piece on Blackwater. However, what I got was a book which spent most of its pages slamming America, portraying our active military as blood thirsty killers, slamming the Bush administration as well as most religions. I expected some liberal leaning but this was so far left that it was out of sight. This is not to mention that the author used mostly hearsay as his basis of evidence. The other problem I had with the book was his quoting of Iraq comments as being totally factual while American statements as being all lies. This could have been a great book but comes off as a work of fiction because of the authors uncontrolled bias. Worse yet, it was poorly written in my opinion. The author use of certain labels was inconsistant with the meaning of the actual word he used.

    19 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Can you say "Witch Hunt"?

    This book doesn't even pretend to be objective. Scahill obviously has a serious hate-on for all private military contractors (Blackwater especially). This is the "in" thing right now. It's cool to hate on these guys, and Scahill's looking to make his mark as the coolest. So what if his research, while thorough, is biased and guided by his own axe to grind? Blackwater employees wouldn't even have given this guy the time of day, and Blackwater's CEO flat-out refused an interview with him. I'm sure it's because they saw through him and knew he was only there for a witch hunt. I'm not saying don't read this book. What I'm saying is look at more than just his viewpoint. I doubt that this guy's ever been in a combat zone, but he wants to critique every move made by those who work in them. I'd recommend you read Robert Young Pelton's book "Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror". He actually rode along with Blackwater employees and got an interview with the CEO. He's as close as you'll come to an objective viewpoint.

    13 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Completely biased, another Bush basher.

    I purchased this book for help in writing a persuasive argument about the use of private military contractors. I was dissatisifend when reading it because it is completely anti-Bush and anti-private military contractors. It rarely mentioned the argument of the opposing party. Some of the content in the book was almost completely irrelevant to the subject (or the expected subject, which was Blackwater) and talked about extreme Christian organizations and battles in Iraq that didn't have Blackwater in them. The frequent quotaions of war on terror and other subjects drove me crazy. However, Scahill did a good job at documenting his sources which allowed me to use some of those for research. <BR/><BR/>If you're somebody who is looking at this to help them write an infromative paper on Blackwater, I would reccomend borrowing it from a friend or getting it from the library. I recommended some books dealing with the same issue (Private military companies).<BR/>War dog: A biased view that favors the use of PMCs<BR/>Licensed to Kill: The best choice because it offers a completely neutral view on the subject. Pelton has had unique opportunities with Erik Prince & Blackwater. <BR/>Big Boy Rules: A short book on the subject that is slightly biased but offers some good information.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2007

    Dont Buy!!!

    Its seems the author was set from the beginning to slander Blackwater. He is as biased as all the reports of America being the cause of the worlds ills. He blames the U.S. for mass murder in Iraq using accounts from Al-Jazeera reporters and unnamed Iraqis for all his references. He also accuses Blackwater as being a Extreme right-wing Christian movement supported by right wing politicians and rich people. His 'sources' are mysterious and sometimes unnamed. Not one source from Blackwater or anyone who is working for this company are used. Dont waste your money unless you enjoy stale left wing anti American bias.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2010

    Wasted My Money

    I thought this was going give an insight of the business and history of a Blackwater. What it ends up being is a free for all bashing of America and the government. Don't waste your time, you can hear and see this for free on a Liberal radio station.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army.

    "Jeremy Scahill actually doesn't know anything about Blackwater." So says Martin Strong Vice President Blackwater Worldwide. With the greatest respect to Mr Strong, if he is right, it is a pretty facile comment on 550 pages of detailed research and information. Unless, or until Mr Strong or anyone else from Blackwater elaborates on this blanket rejection, we must conclude that what Jeremy Scahill tells us is correct.
    Blackwater is at once a compelling and frightening read. It is a detailed expos&#233; of the private security industry generally and Blackwater in particular. It introduces us to the founders and their associations with the people and policies of the last US administration. It describes in minute detail how this cozy relationship enabled Blackwater to become an adjunct of American foreign policy.
    Knowing Scahill's background, one might have expected a scathing attack -? but no, all his arguments are reasoned and nonjudgmental. Indeed, his portrayal of Eric Prince the company founder is complimentary. He tells us that Mr. Prince came from a very wealthy and successful family, but chose to join the military. While in the military, he excelled as a Navy Seal, and would have remained as such but gave it up to support his ailing wife and their children. The first Mrs. Prince died in tragic circumstances shortly after.
    Not content to bask in considerable family wealth, Prince emulated his successful father by starting a business. The business he chose was one of which he had expert knowledge. He identified a need for military and law enforcement training and established a state of the art training facility at North Carolina.
    It is then that sinister opportunities presented themselves in the form of the Iraq war. Blackwater were not alone in exploiting this opportunity ? they were just better at it than others were. The Bush administration identified a benefit in employing civilian contractors in a variety of functions previously carried out by the military. From a certain perspective it worked very well and like Topsy it grow'd until the number of civilian contractors almost equaled the military.
    Using civilian contractors checks many boxes. There are considerable financial benefits to companies and individuals. There are benefits for government with fewer political problems than there might be with serving military. Activities can be pursued beyond the public glare. However, in all this there is one thing missing ? military discipline and legal restraint. Scahill describes how Blackwater was able to slip between the rock of military discipline and the hard place of the law. In a time of left of center politics, a rightwing mercenary army numbering around 30,000, is ominous indeed.
    This is a truly excellent book, and should be read by everyone who wants to really know what is happening on the ground in Iraq, and elsewhere ? including mainland USA.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    A must read

    A very well documented book that goes behind the scene to tell the story that's not coming out of Washington or through media sound bites.

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2007

    Attack on Patriotism

    This is an interesting situation that America is now put itself into. We have begun outsourcing our military. Many people that say this is 'left-leaning' journalism, will call anything that they do not like 'left-leaning'. It is much easier than actually pointing out that maybe there is a tie with neo-conservatives and private military. These are the same people that still think that Iraq was involved with September 11th. They have a set way of the way things ought to be...anything else is...well liberal. Not a great argument, just like saying that we should not listen to conservative editorialists like Krauthammer and Kristol because they are 'right-leaning'. If someone questions the government, you should be asking why...not calling them an anti-patriot. I think the author is questioning outsourcing of the military's operations. So if he has left-leaning beliefs then take it for what it is. If you wanted a Discovery Channel documentary of the coolness of Blackwater... this is a little more intellectual than that...and it might say things you do not want to hear.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2012

    I couldn't even get through the preface. I really was expecting

    I couldn't even get through the preface. I really was expecting something completely different then a all Christian and Soliders are stupid scum book. If you have even the smallest conservative point of view about faith and the military do not trouble yourself with reading this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Gripping tale of mercenary politics

    The Iraq war has seen a vast expansion in the use of private security contractors to complement the U.S. military. But who are these contractors? Who pays them? And how did one contractor, Blackwater, become so entrenched? Jeremy Scahill answers these questions and more in this provocative, thoroughly reported book about the world¿s largest, private mercenary army. Scahill has done a masterful job of researching this secretive organization to disclose its origins, motives, leaders and activities. getAbstract strongly recommends this compelling, disturbing story to anyone interested in the Iraq conflict, and in the larger picture of how private armies reshape warfare.

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    Definitely intriguing read

    Jeremy Scahill gives excessive info, not only into Blackwater, but the people behind the scenes as well. It ties the book together and grabs you from cover to cover. If you have an interest in what goes on behind the scenes in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's a must read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    Informational Work that Leans to the Left

    Scahill's book on the mercenary firm blackwater is very informative and an intersting topic as the 2008 presidential election nears. There is a cautioning overtone towards the mercenary firm in regards to the predictability of certian types of events that occur around the world including the Iraq War, conflicts in Africa, natural disasters and the use of such an institution in each instance.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2014

    Poor sources. poor facts, and poor point of view

    This book should not have been published.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Blackwater and the danger

    Once you get over the author's bias toward the neo-con Right, the Blackwater danger is pointed out as a merc organization that plays without rules and is used by US military and our govt to carry out rogue and outlawed missions. Therein lies the danger of using mercenary armies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2013

    Disturbing truths here

    This book was very interesting and gave a great background to the whole mercenary end of our latest wars. What I learned made me angry and sad but it was good to know what is being done in our name in other countries. The only complaint that I had (and this may have been only because it was an ebook), but there were pages missing and duplicate pages. I got lost 2 or 3 times when the page numbers stayed right but the whole subject changed midstream. I was still able to get the entire gist of it I think. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in what is going on out of our sight.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2013

    A greatly researched book, don't listen to these other reviews a

    A greatly researched book, don't listen to these other reviews about it being biased or one-sided. If you're interested in learning about the world of mercenaries, then read this!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012


    Really attractive story

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Very informative about the top defense contracting company that was in Iraq in the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gives thorough details of incidents that occured in Iraq that made the company known in both negative and positive ways. Also tells the story of the founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince. I enjoyed it very much except for a few bland chapters that talked about Political backgrounds of some officials. Definitely worth reading if you don't know much about the business and private security side of US involvement in Iraq.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2010

    A look inside the "new" US military, and how it is affecting strategy and policy.

    You need to be able to get through the author's rants against conservative members of the government, military, industry and religious institutions, but if successful, you will learn much about the current trend to privatize military and security functions, and the potential consequences of this trend. The body of the book runs 464 pages, and the words "neoconservative," "right-wing," "religious right" certainly appear more than 464 times. I have seen the author on TV a number of times, primarliy on Bill Maher's show, so this came as no surprise to me.

    The information on Blackwater, its affiliates, and competitors is truly eye-opening. Although I'd heard the term "civilian contractors" before relating to the Iraq War, I had no idea that many of them are mercenaries hired by our government to handle jobs, including personal security details, that were previously the responsibility of the military. It was also a surprise, and a disheartening one at that, to learn that these same "contractors" have been used right here in the U.S., most notably in New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

    The viewpoint of the author is obvious, and he makes virtually no effort to present a balanced study of the subject matter, but I found the book to be informative, interesting, and disturbing despite this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    Blackwater - the real story of American foreign policy

    Even already knowing the picture doesn't lessen the impact once, the veil is lifted and, the specifics are told. Incredibly documented, we can no longer claim to be the "good guys." Definitely a book the "American public" does not want to read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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