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on 23 February 2016
Great read.I have always known that the British and American foreign policies have been recklessly and indiscriminately brutal.The murderous acts they perpetrated on many fledgling nations in the 1960"s have not yet healed.The wounds are still festering.Guyana went to the polls in a general election last year(may 2015).The parallel with the 1964 and the 2015 elections,is eerily similar.Oil,Venezuela,America,Britain,Canada.I wonder.Regime change continues.Peoples"lives decimated.Anthropophagous maggots.While the world"s attention was on the Middle East and Europe,"They"rigged the election in Guyana and installed a puppet whom they can control.Only,this time it will be worse than the days of Burnham.When will America and Britain recognize that they are not Guyana"s suzerain?I
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on 17 April 2017
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on 3 June 2013
A good and well written overview of deceit which most British people are unaware off?
Will read his other books
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on 20 April 2017
Informative, yet difficult for a layman to cover all the subjects laid out in the book.
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on 21 August 2007
Mark Curtis exposes British interventions abroad as part of an empirical project, not pursued independently anymore, but actually as a junior partner of the US in the latter's search for full spectrum dominance. This project is sold to the public as being a mission of `good soldiers'.

The fundamental aim of the US and British foreign policies is to benefit a transnational elite (an `overclass') by crushing independent forces outside the elite's control, by keeping crucial economic resources (oil, commodities) in correct hands and by helping disseminate a self-serving economic Gospel (free markets).
These ends justify all means: illegal wars (`people's lives are valueless when they get in the way of elitist interests'), arms sales (`the business of death'), trampling human rights, overthrow democratically elected governments, undermining independent national movements (calling them communist) or supporting dictatorial or fundamentalist regimes. Real democracy is seen as a threat by those elites.
These policies are also pursued via international institutions (WTO) and through monopolistic media, who lie overtly or by omission and are acting as Pravda-like state propaganda (Chalmers Johnson).
The ultimate result is a more unequal, more insecure world and a still lover living standard for the majority of the world population.
The author illustrates his arguments profusely. A few examples: Iraq (oil and control of the Middle East), Afghanistan (oil, military bases), South-Africa and Rhodesia (racism), Malaya (rubber), Kenya (land), Diego Garcia (military bases), British Guyana (sugar, bauxite), Indonesia (oil, nationalism).

But what to do? Promote political and economical democratization, a truly Herculean task.

This book is a must read for all those wanting to understand the Kafkaesk official and media environment we live in.
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on 25 August 2003
I initially found the book a slow read but, once I was used to the style, I couldn't put it down.
Curtis has trawled through declassified government documents to reclaim our true history. By examining UK foreign policy from 1945 to the present day, he shows that although governments may change, in terms of our foreign policy it's "business as usual". Importantly, he shows how the media justifies and supports the government's policies and it's here that a Chomsky-style analysis comes in to play.
For me, this was an important book because there are very few books available that expose the dirty history of the UK but many on the USA; it's too easy to criticise the USA without being aware of our own complicity.
As a society, we have been brought up believing in the benevolence of our country and hearing about all the good things we have done. This book is an important counter-balance and, I believe, is essential reading, not just for us Brits to see what is really going on in our name but also for those in the "developing world" who are on the receiving end of policies.
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on 25 January 2005
This should be essential reading for anyone voting in the up-coming UK elections. In a similar vein to classic texts by Noam Chomsky (and John Pilger) this uncovers the truth behind the rhetoric. But Curtis is more detailed in his research than either Chomsky or Pilger. The evidence is on every page: our politicians lie to us and that lying is endemic and systematic. That they lie is bad enough but when these lies hide the crimes documented in this book, crimes committed with your taxes and in your name, you should be angry and deeply saddened.
Buy this book; read it and pass it on to a friend; it is that important.
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on 26 January 2010
In Web of Deceit, Curtis draws extensively on formerly secret government files and archive press reports to rescue crucial details from the memory hole. Fastidiously researched and impeccably sourced, this is essentially the missing history book of postwar British foreign policy. From propping up repressive governments to toppling democratically-elected ones and crushing popular rebellions, it's all a far cry from the simplistic and childish narrative of 'Our Boys versus The Evildoers' propagated by Whitehall, Westminster and Fleet Street.

Well organized, including 50 pages of end notes and a chronology of main events, it comes across like a British version of William Blum's 'Rogue State'. As you progress through the chapters on Kenya, Malaya, Rwanda, Iran, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo, Indonesia, Diego Garcia and more, it becomes ever more apparent that our post-9/11 interventions in the Middle East appear to be little more than business as usual. Even recent shocking allegations of torture are essentially nothing new.

This is quite a lengthy and comprehensive book; heavy on fact and quite wide-ranging in scope. Just a little repetitive in parts, but overall Curtis does a good job of preventing it all from becoming too dry, and for me at least, his writing seems to fall a healthy midway between the over-sentimentality that can sometimes threaten to diminish Pilger, and the dry convolution that can cripple Chomsky. Like those two writers, Curtis is not afraid to resort to the occasional caustic remark whenever words like 'ethical' or 'humanitarian' come into play - and in most instances, his sarcasm is justified.

Ultimately then, this does what it promises: it provides concrete evidence of deceit. There are already plenty of books out there that tackle the hypocrisy of US foreign policy, and this is one of the few that focuses on our own little island (which is surprising, given our long and checkered history). However the blame shouldn't be levelled entirely at our elected officials; that all the information is publicly available yet has gone largely unmentioned by mainstream journalism is ultimately a devastating indictment on our much-hyped 'free press'.
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VINE VOICEon 30 April 2008
Web of Deceit, a quite rightly impassioned study of the last fifty years of British foreign policy, not only exposes the cynicism at the heart of U.K. realpolitik but also the mainstream mass media's easy acceptance of officialdom's rhetoric. Author Mark Curtis argues convincingly and with careful attention to the documentary record, that post-World War II, there has generally been an elite consensus around the fundamentals of British policy abroad and that this has largely gone unquestioned by journalists who have a far too close relationship with the dominant power structure.

A key strategy of Curtis' is to compare the bipartisan government proclamations of noble intent with the internal planning record, often drawing on recently declassified files but quite as often using publicly available material. The result is jarring: the British government (Conservative or (New) Labour, there are more similarities than differences) will loudly announce that we are at the fore-front of a new humanitarianism, combining fair trade with human rights, for the betterment of the world's poor. In reality, we turn a blind eye to genocide - or actively sell arms to the most cruel and repressive of regimes - and we impose a form of corporate dominated globalised capitalism that impoverishes many of those already living on two dollars a day.

Such inflammatory writing might seem hyperbolic, but Curtis keeps it all thoroughly grounded, with case after case of Britain's actual footprint in other countries: in Iran, Kenya, Malaya, British Guiana, Indonesia, East Timor and Diego Garcia, we have intervened to overthrow democratic governments or propped up murderous dictators. We have crushed democratic independent nationalists under the pretext of preventing communist subversion. We sell arms to the worst regimes in the Middle East and ignore their barbarism because their terrorism supports our 'war on terrorism.' We think of ourselves as a calming influence on the excesses of United States policy but in reality we unstintingly support it, providing a fig-leaf of multilateralism. We call on others to obey international law when it suits us but then block effective peace keeping action by the United Nations. We condemn (rightly) North Korea but we cheer on atrocities committed in Chechnya and Turkey. And the list goes on...

With Web of Deceit, Mark Curtis has written an indispensable book on the true nature of British activities abroad; we have no excuse for not knowing what has been done and is being done in our name. His language resembles Noam Chomsky's but Curtis is a far more accessible writer. In many ways, this book is a fine companion piece to Chomsky's Deterring Democracy, full of facts inexpressible within the doctrinal system. If this country wants to reduce the level of terrorism in this world, an excellent starting place would be to stop committing it.
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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2009
This book is a remarkable piece of work that is well researched and written.

The writings of Mark Curtis link well with John Pilger's books, but have a different slant. Intead of talking of distant lands, Mark Curtis' focus is on good old Blightly.

Looking through declassified files he has managed to unearth Britain's real role in the world - toppling foreign governments, forcefully removing a population from islands and developing repressive techniques that were so effective they have been copied by others.

This book will open your eyes to Britain's real role in the world. You name it, we've been there and done it! Shameful!
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