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on 23 December 2011
Taking off from where Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Can Buy left off, Palast brings us up-to-date with his ongoing series of investigations into those corrupt and obscenely wealthy people and corporations who run roughshod over rules and regulations, vacuuming up money and leaving a trail of toxic investments and petroleum residues in their wake.

Its a disturbing book to read even though it is written in Palast's visceral, witty pulp-noir spiel which renders it palatable, though it surely leaves one with the enduring taste of evil in one's mouth. You will learn a lot of truth here about things you probably do care a lot about - how the flooding of New Orleans as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico and the Exxon Valdez grounding were largely a result of a negligent oil industry who found it is cheaper to pay fines and compensation than to maintain an adequate level of safety for example, or the Fukushima nuclear power plant whose back up diesel engines are known to be inadequate in the event of reactor failure but what is a faked safety report between friends if it saves a few $100M (pretty much standard practice in the industry across the world), or the World Bank's "Poverty Reduction Strategy" - destabilise an economy, force up prices, put down protests, introduce austerity, allow US investment banks to clean up on cut-price nationalised debts, maybe not a worry when it is pisspoor nations like Ecuador rioting, but it seems much closer to home when we see this happening right now in Greece (we've pretty much got to the point in UK of what the WB call "IMF riots" in their confidential documents) we see there is a far greater invisible enemy out there than Al Qaeda - the World Bank, the International Money Fund, the World Trade Organisation, "friendly" organisations out to take all that we have.

You will also learn about things you probably won't be expected to care much about, the natives, Indians and third world people shafted by big corporations and left in a pool of toxic sludge where they watch their children dying from cancer and other diseases, their ways of life replaced by $8-an-hour jobs cleaning up grimy beaches.

Particularly disturbing to me are the new class of tycoons Palast calls "Vultures" ("Vampires" is probably a more fitting word) - when you see Bono and the Pope get some third world debt written down, behind the scenes this new class of speculator are buying up this debt at the new knockdown price and then holding the third world to ransom for the full coupon value of the loan, aggressively and quite legally seizing any asset they can, literally starving millions of children to death to put another Bentley on their driveway. The sheer amorality of these people is quite disturbing, and I'm sure if they weren't great pals with the George W. Bushs and Tony Blairs of this world something might be done to bring them to justice.

The book is a great work of investigative journalism in an age where all too often rehashing an official press-release is passed off as real journalism. There is a certain level of pessimism in Palast's conclusion in how hard it is to right wrongs when a few well-aimed millions can rewrite the legally accepted definition of wrong. But in saying that, the value of Palast's work is not just in attempting to bring evil men and corporations to justice but in getting the facts out there and known by the general population.
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on 5 December 2011
While Big Pharma seems to have accidentally seen off the vultures of India and Pakistan (with unhelpful consequences), Greg Palast goes off, armed with notebook and fedora, in search of the extant human variety. It's a gripping ride as Palast and his tireless pursuers ziz-zag through time and across continents, piecing together the unpalatable. And there, behind every disaster of our time - Exxon Valdes, Katrina, the Credit Crunch, Gulf of New Mexico, Fukushima - we find them feasting. The Vultures operate with a value system so far removed from the mean, which has perhaps helped them evade observation and capture. But Palast has the nose for them - as well as a sense of the moral hinterland behind every whistleblower.
Witnessing our planet being despoiled with impunity, and the victims' bones and pockets being licked and picked, makes for a sobering read, but Palast's devilish wit, often self-directed, is pure alchemy; I lost count of the number of times he converted my anger into grim laughter. Will things always be this way? Palast has shown how weak regulation, compliant government and an ethical vacuum provide power with a free pass. The book is a Hero's Journey tale for some, and a rude wake-up call for the rest of us.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 June 2012
The author adopts a style more akin to that of a rock journalist than an investigative one, but once you get used to this you are led on a bewildering and exciting ride through the higher echelons of big business in general and the oil business in particular. I don't know how he does it but it is almost as if the author is talking to you rather than you reading the text and what he has to say is very hard hitting indeed. My overall feeling though is that although written with the best intentions I believe the author almost believes himself to be spitting in the wind (he wouldn't say "spitting" mind) as the big boys have got the rest of the world screwed down and on the verge of being totally screwed up. This is not a book that is going to make you sleep any easier in your bed but if it does anything to highlight the malpractices that are common currency in the oil industry and get something, anything done about them then he has done us all a great service. Please read this book.
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on 2 June 2013
Palast is an investigative reporter of some note. He has tackled subjects in the past that other journalists shy away from. If only a.third of this book is true, it is still a scandal.

In this book he looks at the power triangle of big oil, finance and politics. And he doesn't lile what he finds. In fact he finds it detestable and immoral the way that the individuals in power hold everyone else in.contempt.

The primary focus of the book is BP, their safety record and the way that they have done business for the past decades. Palast does not like what he finds. The amount of rules that they, and the other oil companies evade is astonishing, they have a complex about doing anything that might benefit anyone other than themselves. The other large oil companies have similar charges them.

In the final few chapters he considers the role that the large banks have played in perpetuating similar frauds and the global financial scandal, and the fact that Brazil and Ecuador refused to follow suit and have done remarkably well despite the 'advice' of the world bank and the others.

I didn't always like the writing style, hence four stars, but otherwise this is a must read book.
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on 24 December 2012
If you think that political books are turgid, this will change your mind. Greg Palast should be on our TV screens. He's committed and funny. Definitely worth buying.
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on 14 April 2013
If you feel that newspapers dont have any actual reporting any more then you will probably enjoy this book. It is packed full of actual investigative reporting of the kind that reporters used to do instead of just re-writing copy sent to them by PR people.
Many have commented on the style of Greg's writing & I guess it is not for everyone (I was already a fan) & its a matter of taste but you really cant fault the aim & executiuon of the investigations he describes.
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on 1 January 2013
It tells it like it is with a perspective of a detective novel and rolls out some very interesting facts about the world we live in.
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on 3 August 2012
A gonzo like trip through the swollen underbelly of big oil, finance and politics. A highly entertaining and eye opening ride!
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on 24 December 2012
Once again another cracking book diving right into the oil production and all the faults and problems with multinational company's dictating the world polices and using force to enforce there ideas and will defo stop at nothing to make a profit. shows BP for what they really are . "SCUM"
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on 6 February 2013
Not a surprise what these oil companies get up to but still interesting to read about details anyhow. Not a huge fan of the author though. Could have done without mentions of his drinking problem & women. Only served to remind me of other self-absorbed arrogant authors out there.
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