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Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Armyby Jeremy Scahill
Synopses & Reviews
Meet BLACKWATER USA, the world's most secretive and powerful mercenary firm. Based in the wilderness of North Carolina, it is the fastest-growing private army on the planet with forces capable of carrying out regime change throughout the world. Blackwater protects the top US officials in Iraq and yet we know almost nothing about the firm's quasi-military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and inside the U.S. Blackwater was founded by an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian mega-millionaire ex-Navy Seal named Erik Prince, the scion of a wealthy conservative family that bankrolls far-right-wing causes.
Blackwater is the dark story of the rise of a powerful mercenary army, ranging from the blood-soaked streets of Fallujah to rooftop firefights in Najaf to the hurricane-ravaged US gulf to Washington DC, where Blackwater executives are hailed as new heroes in the war on terror. This is an extraordinary exposé by one of America's most exciting young radical journalists.
"Scahill, a regular contributor to the Nation, offers a hard-left perspective on Blackwater USA, the self-described private military contractor and security firm. It owes its existence, he shows, to the post-Cold War drawdown of U.S. armed forces, its prosperity to the post-9/11 overextension of those forces and its notoriety to a growing reputation as a mercenary outfit, willing to break the constraints on military systems responsible to state authority. Scahill describes Blackwater's expansion, from an early emphasis on administrative and training functions to what amounts to a combat role as an internal security force in Iraq. He cites company representatives who say Blackwater's capacities can readily be expanded to supplying brigade-sized forces for humanitarian purposes, peacekeeping and low-level conflict. While emphasizing the possibility of an 'adventurous President' employing Blackwater's mercenaries covertly, Scahill underestimates the effect of publicity on the deniability he sees as central to such scenarios. Arguably, he also dismisses too lightly Blackwater's growing self-image as the respectable heir to a long and honorable tradition of contract soldiering. Ultimately, Blackwater and its less familiar counterparts thrive not because of a neoconservative conspiracy against democracy, as Scahill claims, but because they provide relatively low-cost alternatives in high-budget environments and flexibility at a time when war is increasingly protean." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater would be a masterpiece of the genre of futuristic sci fi were it not so regrettably real....It's a horrifying but necessary read, and I can't recommend it more highly than that." Daily Kos
"From Belgrade to Baghdad, from Nigeria to New Orleans, Jeremy Scahill leads a new generation of muckraking journalists. Scahill is exposing the dark, violent and secretive world of the neo-mercenaries Washington is increasingly deploying in its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and at home in the US. His investigative skill, coupled with his graceful style make this book essential reading." Amy Goodman
"Thanks to Jeremy Scahill and other reporters of conscience and courage, 'independent journalist' is not an oxymoron." Ray McGovern
An extraordinary exposé by one of America's young radical journalists, this is the dark story of the rise of a powerful mercenary army, ranging from the blood-soaked streets of Fallujah to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast to Washington, D.C., where Blackwater executives are hailed as heroes.
The unauthorized story of the epic rise of one of the most powerful and secretive forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex, hailed by the Bush administration as a revolution in military affairs, but considered by others as a dire threat to American democracy.
It was the Mogadishu moment of the Iraq war. March 31, 2004: Four American mercenaries are ambushed in the Sunni hotbed of Fallujah, their jeeps set ablaze with the men inside. An angry mob drags their charred corpses through the streets, hanging them from a bridge over the Euphrates River. "Fallujah is the graveyard of the Americans!," the mob declares in front of the cameras. Within hours, the images spread across the world. The ensuing US slaughter in Fallujah would fuel the fierce Iraqi resistance that haunts US occupation forces to this day. Who were the mercenaries killed in Fallujah and who sent them there to die?
Meet Blackwater USA, the powerful private army that the U.S. government has quietly hired to operate in international war zones and on American soil. Founded by billionaire Erik Prince, the company has its own military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, and twenty-thousand troops at the ready, Blackwater is the elite Praetorian Guard for the "global war on terror"-- yet most people have never heard of it. It was the moment the war turned: On March 31, 2004, four Americans were ambushed and burned near their jeeps by an angry mob in the Sunni stronghold of Falluja. Their charred corpses were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. The ensuing slaughter by U.S. troops would fuel the fierce Iraqi resistance that haunts occupation forces to this day. But these men were neither American military nor civilians. They were highly trained private soldiers sent to Iraq by a secretive mercenary company based in the wilderness of North Carolina. Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army is the unauthorized story of the epic rise of one of the most powerful and secretive forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex, hailed by the Bush administration as a revolution in military affairs, but considered by others as a dire threat to American democracy.
About the Author
Jeremy Scahill is an unembedded, international journalist. He is a correspondent for the national radio and television show "Democracy Now!" and a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. He lives in New York.
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