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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 15 November 2006
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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on 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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on 24 October 2006
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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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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on 2 September 2006
The fact of British companies, via the British governmnent selling weapons to despotic regimes is shocking - yet the ins and outs of exports law have made it difficult to campaign on en masse. Mark Thomas' book will hopefully be the end of that.

If you are an experienced activist this book will make you smile. If you are someone interested in the Arms Trade (Perhps you signed Amnesty's 'Control Arms' petition), and want an accessible, (and also very funny) introductory read then this is a must.
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on 19 September 2009
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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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2015
Mark is unashamedly political and determined to exposed the horror and hilarity associated with the arms trade. From a group of Irish school girls and a nun dealing in "security items" as part of an extra curricular activity to the firm selling oversize handcuffs that are clearly designed to be used as leg irons, the lack of morals in the arms trade is exposed hilariously.

If you are going to supply the tools used to stamp on the human rights of others, you need to accept you might come up against a comic, a nun and a group of teenage girls who will make you look a complete prat.
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on 21 September 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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VINE VOICEon 31 January 2008
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. Mark Thomas has transformed from a stand-up comic that went on demonstrations into a political activist that does stand-up, and in a way this book documents that.

His C4 show, the Mark Thomas Comedy Product, used to poke fun at the police and his stand up shows would announce his great plan for getting junk mail reduced (get all the freebies sent to Michael Heseltine's address). As his ideas developed, they got wilder, until he had this idea of attending an arms fair as a PR man. And so the book begins.

Being able to describe such a subject matter with humour is an awesome achievement, and the description of the Penis of Peace is just one example of taking the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of a page.

The encounter with the man who sold Michael Ryan his gun is intrigiung, and the stand off with the Hindujas is engrossing.

If you like proper political satire, and you want the facts that BAE don't want you to know, then you need to read this book.
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on 5 July 2006
We produced Marks comedy show on DVD and found that he is sharp as a razor blade. Who else could combine the board game Cluedo with arms dealing? This book is hilarious

Check out his Comedy DVD on undercurrents.org as the shops won't stock it.
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