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As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela: Underground Adventures in the Arms and Torture Trade [Paperback]

Mark Thomas
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 July 2006
Mark Thomas is one of the UK's most effective and best-known political activists, as well as being a highly successful stand-up comedian. His show, The Mark Thomas Product, ran for six highly acclaimed series on Channel Four. Amazingly, this is his first book. As Used On the Famous Nelson Mandela is a deeply funny, deeply disturbing account of Mark's rampage through the arms trade. Under a fairly flimsy disguise and with the use of some worryingly poor accents, Mark sets off on a journey of discovery in the company of arms dealers, torture victims, politicians, cops, crusties and geeks. The result is a shockingly entertaining read. Embedded within the sharpness of his humour is the truth of an industry fraught with loopholes, complacency and greed; that allows corrupt regimes to kill, maim and displace, but whose deals are often subsidised by the British taxpayer. Hard-hitting, laugh-out-loud funny and extremely unsettling, As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela is never anything less than compulsive.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; FIRST EDITION edition (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009190921X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091909215
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"His book is a genuine eye-opener" -- Mail on Sunday

"'s a humorous yet heartfelt polemic...Thomas' revelations are riveting" -- The Independent

"funny, disturbing and fascinating" -- Metro

Book Description

Taking up the baton from Michael Moore, the UK's foremost political comedian has written a corruscatingly funny expose of the arms trade --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Opens up an industry that has too many secrets, not enough laws and regulations. This book doesn't tackle the issue of the 'defence' industry being right or wrong, that is another issue. It simply outlines the facts and loop holes of an industry we should all know more about, at home and world-wide. As a British citizen, it's important to know more about this industry, especially when literally anyone can be an arms dealer (as Mark, a nun and even a bunch of kids prove)!

Hopefully this information reaches such a wide audience to make some changes at a higher level.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly inspiring 2 July 2007
Having seen Mark Thomas on TV, and thoroughly enjoyed his thought-provoking and often acid attacks on various issues, I bought this book hoping for more of the same. I was not disappointed.

Every chapter has both laugh-out-loud and truly shocking content in equal measure, and Mark Thomas clearly demontrates the immorality, greed & hypocrisy surrounding the international arms trade, in a way only he can.

If you really want to know the truth about the British 'Ethical Foreign Policy' (oh, how that makes me smile having read the book), BAEs unhealthy influence within government, how the term 'arms embargo' is utterly meaningless in the real world, the UK's pitiful record on arm control or how British schoolchildren got careers advise from an arms dealer (I kid you not), this is the book for you.

One word of warning, however. Be prepared for some late night reading, as this book is so completely engrossing, you will find yourself in the wee small hours before you know it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please sir, can I have some more? 24 Oct 2006
By Mooji
Why, why, why isn't this chap more prolific?

This is a great book - it seems as though Mark is speaking to us on a one-2-one basis and explaining how alarmingly easy it is to become an arms trader.

Mark effortlessly moves from one subject to another - introducing hilarious characters, as well as malevolent villains and illustrating just how desensitised people become to death and murder when they get paid for it.

Books like this are enjoyable because you can share the author's rage and despair chapter by chapter. I'm a fan of Mark and was definitely not let down by his first book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Thomas vs The Arms Trade 19 Sep 2009
By S Wood
I've never seen any of the Mark Thomas's television shows, I noticed his book in the local bookshop but it never really caught my eye - just some plump bloke, Klashnikov in hand, name checking Nelson Mandela. I don't think I even picked it up. In the library the other day I did- there was nothing much else around that I hadn't read already.

What a total surprise. Marks writing is extremely funny in a totally self depreciating way with a constant stream of surgical strikes on my laughter spot. One anecdote relating to Australian campaigners against the arms trade is painfully funny and worth the purchase fee alone. I wont spoil it by giving anything away.

Fantastic as the quality of the writing is, its also heartening to see the range of people that Mark is involved with while campaigning against the arm trade: Irish Nuns, school kids, some army bloke called Angus ("Mod pass, official escort, this is Mark Thomas, writing a book, permission to film!") as well as the motley crew of colourful protestors. Mark forms a variety of arms dealerships with the Nuns, the school kids (but not Angus), chains himself to a bus, gives evidence to a select committee in parliament and becomes HumInt for customs and excise. The arms dealerships he forms with the kids and the Nuns manage to trade in a variety of arms from AK-47's to thumb restraints and leg manacles. Some mad Israeli bloke with a stone throwing machine turns up at one point. His writing is more than funny, it is also sharply observes the people he meets and the places he finds himself in.

Totally recommended reading - should be a few copies in every school in the land.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Money Where His Mouth Is! 23 April 2009
By Mr. George Johnson VINE VOICE
Fantastic book! We see news stories about genecide in some far flung corner of the globe thinking it has nothing to do with us, only to find out that it's most likley "us" that sold them the weapons and probably still paying the debt that financed the sales.

The book concentrates on describing the scale off the arms trade. It's not just some shady world populated by nameless corps and back street dealers with large mansions in some far off Caribbean island. Covering the how we as UK tax payers are funding a large portion of the world's arms trade. The book describes MT's activities in exposing the people or earn their living in the arms trade, the ease with which MT is able to form fake companies and contact various delears and expose their international law breaking activities.

It will have to laughing out loud at MT's antics, next you will be bursting with rage at how morally twisted people can be over small bits of green paper.

Only recently got into MT and I am truly ashamed that I am not out there doing more to help the world other than my measly charity donations. The world is better place with people like MT about, helping us to see outside our quiet little 9-5 lives, see the bigger picture as they say!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ozzie's Cocaine Breast Milk 21 Sep 2008
The comedian and political activist takes on the gun trade in this book and shows how a good mind for Cluedo, a knowledge of legal loopholes and a telephone is all he needs to sell arms to Zimbabwe or any other dispicable regime. It's so easy in fact that as part of his experiment a bunch of school kids and a Catholic Nun also set themselves up as arms dealers and can ship mines and grenades across the world.

As one of the reviews on the back of the book says this is "John Pilger with jokes" and the book is laugh out loud funny, though it is laughter tinged with despair given the seriousness of the topic at hand and murky grey morals of the world Thomas manages to infiltrate.

In between chaining himself to buses or embarrasing politicians he manages to trick Indonesian generals into admitting to war crimes on camera or flog torture equipment and manacles with the tagline "As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela". His righteous anger is suffused throughout and yet to his own surprise he grows fond of the minder sent to keep an eye on him at an Arms Fair, feels doubt about shopping a dealer (who lives in Brockley!) to the authorities as he believes the dealer has a young daughter and whilst out in Western Sahara he finds his own expectations confounded when he thinks he's supporting a noble and just cause against imperialism and foreign occupation but see's also that the rebels glorify in the deaths of their enemies and hoard trinkets taken from the dead bodies of Moroccan troops.

Thought provoking and eye opening. I look forward to, especially as someone with Colombian heritage, the next one in which he turns his gaze towards the Cola industry
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Armed and Dangerous
For a while Mark Thomas was regular fixture of my TV watching. His show would regularly pop up on TV and he would go onto inform and entertain us about some of the injustices we... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sam Tyler
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product
Great book, very interesting with the usual comedy bits in as normal for mark Thomas, buy this item it is fab
Published 5 months ago by zeus
4.0 out of 5 stars good
this was a good quality product which was received in good time. Packaged well and product was not displaying any damage
Published 15 months ago by ianmac
4.0 out of 5 stars Arms Industry = big Buisiness
In 1999 a poor Country (South Africa) announced plans to buy Frigates, jets and submarines, and this deal will be complete in the next few years to a cost of 6 billion dollars. Read more
Published on 2 Nov 2011 by Billy Ray Cyrus
3.0 out of 5 stars Startling yet flawed
Mark Thomas is, without question, the right man for the job. This book gives a startlingly clear insight into exactly what is wrong with the rules governing the arms trade, and it... Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2010 by DaveW
5.0 out of 5 stars I will recommend this book to anyone who listens
A stand-up comedian writes about the arms trade. It sounds an oxymoron in itself doesn't it? Well it manages to be funny and shocking at the same time. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2008 by Melon Dubes
5.0 out of 5 stars Who said Politics was boring?
I have watched Mark Thomas on television for years now and have always thought he was brilliant. This is his first book and his writing style is very like his stand up routine. Read more
Published on 21 April 2008 by P. Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling, Informative, Hilarious, Essential Reading!
It's not often that "Arms Trade" and "Satirical Comedy" get mentioned in the same sentence, but those phrases would sit fine with this book. Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2008 by A. Marczak
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, well-written, funny, important, a must-read
A well-written account of Mark Thomas' investigations into, and brave confrontations with, arms brokers up to 2006. Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2007 by Mr. Stuart Bruce
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