• Blackwater

  • The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
  • By: Jeremy Scahill
  • Narrated by: Tom Weiner
  • Length: 14 hrs and 32 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (756 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A largely untold facet of the war on terror is the widespread outsourcing of military tasks to private mercenary companies. Accountable neither to the citizenry nor to standard military legal codes, these largely unregulated corporate armies are being entrusted with ever-greater responsibilities on behalf of the nation.

Meet Blackwater USA, the most secretive, most powerful, and fastest-growing private army on the planet. Founded by fundamentalist Christian mega-millionaire Erik Prince, the scion of a conservative dynasty that bankrolls extreme-right-wing causes, this company of soldiers is now being sent "to the front lines of a global battle, waged largely on Muslim lands, that an evangelical president, whom Prince helped put in the White House, has boldly defined as a 'crusade'."

Ranging from the blood-soaked streets of Fallujah to Washington, D.C., where they are hailed as heroes, this is the dark story of Blackwater's rise to power.

©2007 Jeremy Scahill (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A crackling expose." ( New York Times Book Review)
"Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater would be a masterpiece of the genre of futuristic sci fi were it not so regrettably real....It's got all the twists and turns and secret corners of a Hollywood thriller....[A] horrifying but necessary read." ( Daily Kos)

What listeners say about Blackwater

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not as advertised

This book is not about Blackwater at all. It is an opportunity to make subjective statements about everything wrong about our current policies. The simplified version of this book can be expressed by the following authors conclusions:
Blackwater is a christian right organization and this is bad.
Our military is mismanaged and doing evil things around the world.
Our leaders are driven by greed and ignorance.
We are murderers and our "foes" in Iraq are "resistance fighters".
If you are looking for any real insight into "Blackwater" or organizations like this, don't bother with this book. There is no real objective insight here just an adgenda to fill.
This book is about as insightful as an islamic martyr school.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Truly frightening

As most folks know, Blackwater has been much in the press during the fall of 2007. Journalists tended to say little is known about Blackwater. Maybe they hadn't been doing much reading.

In early 1987 Scahill wrote this investigative book laying out the backstory about the rise of this band of mercenaries and its entanglement with the establishment neocons and what is often called the "radical religious right."

One's reaction to this book will likely be determined by the reader's political point of view. The further to the political left the reader is, the greater the anger the book will spark. The further to the right, the more scepticism the tale will surely fire. But I suspect, for most readers, the tale will be viewed as horriffic-if-true.

This story may not bode well for the direction our government/culture/country is headed.

I can't stop without mentioning the narrator who reads the text with the deep scarey theatricality so stereotypic of movie trailers. That's a pity as it unnecessarily creates a sense of danger, something the text itself is plenty able to do.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wakeup Call.

I have to say, i dont think most of the reviewers read the book. Perhaps they saw an interview on tv and from that they decided they didnt like the subject of the book, because the book is not "a factless rant","anti-christian", "anti-troop", or "anti-american".
The book references christian mercenaries and their financers. Now perhaps calling them mercenaries sounds harsh, but that is the truth. If you are fighting for the money, then that is what you are. I suggest if you really care about your country then you should inlist instead. That they are christian mercenaries may give some comfort. But not me. And especially not in a war that already has too much religion in it. And to that point the book is certainly not "anti-troop". It is anti-mercenary. Finally it is not 'fact-less'. It is so fact filled i was shocked. It was page after page of interviews and statistics. Only after pages and pages of facts would it draw a conclusion. Which you probably already drew yourself just by listening to the facts. I would say that I think that it may not be as non-partisan as I would have liked. Sometimes I would hear a clearly partisan group or politican referenced as if they were an objective witness and other times I would hear just as partisan conservatives referenced as "far right" or "ultra conservatives". But on the whole I think this is a real wakeup call and I hope that people are reading this.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

another

Only an informed citizenry is capable of make sound decisions about the future of our country. With the approaching presidential election, this is another of those works that should be read by all of us so that we can better judge who will lead us for the next four years. What is so wonderful about this book is that it gives the reader the background to understand what is happening in the news even as I write this review. Listen and learn. You won't regret it!

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Blackwater

Very disappointing; don't waste you time.

I’d expected an objective description about Blackwater’s origins and operations but I gave up after the first hour of nothing but Bush / Republican bashing and conspiracy theory centered on the dangers of “the military / industrial complex”.

Maybe I just got tired of the author's self righteous criticisms of all things outside his own pronounced political orientation.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

What did you say you were going to say?

I think the author forgot his point while writing this book. There is a lot of really pertinent information, and when coupled with some other really good books on the contracting issue, you start to get a really good idea of what it means to be a Libertarian or Neocon.
The book loses focus in many parts when it focuses too much on the political machinations in the Bush Administration. The whittled down objective information is enough to make you scream...even if the author's adjectives weren't in the way.
The narrator is really grimmy though. He made me want to wash my ears. I think he was trying way too hard to sound like a bad guy telling a story.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Leftist Liberal Views Abound

If you are interested in a leftist liberal view of mercenary use in Iraq this book is for you! If you want unbiased reporting of facts you surely won't find it here. The author seems incapable of presenting even simple facts without overwhelming bias.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Writing vs Narration

This story of Blackwater is an important and scary read. As a reader of many, many other books on the Iraq conflict this is just another confirmation of failings in a very sad story.

An issue I have with this book is the narrator. I have been an Audible listener for years and this is the first time I've found a narrator almost too irritating to listen to. The over the top attempt to be sonorous and profound would be laughable if it weren't in the telling a very important story.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Stunning

It's not often that I'm dying to get to the end of an audiobook. This one, however, has everything going for it. Great writing, a compelling story and, for the most part, flawless narration. My small complaint with the narration is the occasional accents he uses. His Arabic accent is downright embarassing. However, I've never heard better "voice-quoting"

The book itself is a straight-forward history of Blackwater. If you don't have a problem with a private army funded by your tax dollars that operates with no oversight and bleeds jobs away from the US Military, the book will infuriate you. If you do have a problem with it, you'll be even more infuriated. Rather than giving American troops money for armor, training and benefits, the Bush adminisistration prefers to throw money at private contractors which inflates the cost of the "War on Terror" and makes its buddies rich.

The Fallujah section boggles the mind - an understaffed group of four Blackwater mercenaries are sent to guard a shipment of utensils get killed and hung from a bridge. The media not only treats them as if they were soldiers but refers to them as if they worked for the Red Cross. And the military needs to revenge the deaths of *contractors*?

If you ever wondered why the US Military isn't good enough to guard the likes of Paul Bremer, this book will tell you why - Blackwater has better guns because the US taxpayer is getting bilked.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

t

If you like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein or William Blum you will love this book. The link between massive corruption and privatization is shown in startling relief. Bringing extreme Christianity into the mixture is a nice addition.

13 people found this helpful