Blackwater: Good book that Republicans won’t read

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been tracking my light reading this year. Work, recreation, and family have kept me from reading as much as I would like, but I’m still making it through a few good ones (see the 2007 Reading List for more).

I recently wrapped up Jeremy Scahill’s “Blackwater.” It was a diversion from a lot of the recreational reading I’ve been doing this year. The book documents the meteoric rise of a North Carolina security firm that has exploded into a huge corporation thanks to close ties to the neoconservative movement and the conflict in Iraq.

I recommend the book, if only to encourage you to educate yourselves on some things you might have missed in the past few years. That said, Scahill has such disdain (most of it very well-placed) for the Bush administration that the really scary parts of the book are overshadowed by his Bush bashing.

Now, I enjoy a good liberal rant as much as the next guy, but Scahill did himself a disservice. He watered down what was a perfectly good work and got himself lumped into the Michael Moore crowd–aka, the group that nobody in the conservative camp will pay any mind.

Or, as I wrote in my mini-review:

This book was a mid-list addition to the reading line-up for the year. Jeremy Scahill, a writer for the Nation, tells story of the rise of one of America’s biggest security companies. And by “security companies,” I mean mercenary firms and war profiteers. Blackwater was a small firm with big connections among the neoconservative movement. With the help of high-ranking members of the Republican establishment, Blackwater turned itself into a multi-national firm with the ability to secure huge no-bid contracts in Iraq and the surrounding area. Scahill hits on a subject about which we should all be very concerned–the formation of a huge civilian army inside America’s borders…one that has actually deployed on American soil. While the book was interesting and informative, it suffers from the same problem as a lot of left-leaning books and documentaries. It spends too much time going after the easily-targeted Bush administration. This look at Blackwater could’ve been an easy indictment of all that’s wrong with America right now. And for people who already hate the Bushies, it will be just that. However, with a blurb on the dust jacket from Michael Moore, Blackwater going to alienate the people who really need to know these stories. Someday the hard-left will realize that it needs to spend less time preaching to the choir and start figuring out ways to bring more people inside the tent. I walked in willingly and have chosen to stay. However, there are a lot of people (me included, actually) who see Michael Moore on the marquee and just sigh. Still, if you’ve spent the past four years thinking “private contractors in Iraq” are people building oil pipelines, you need to read this book or one like it. It is, in a word, scary.


I think I’m going to nominate BG to be the voice of my generation. Methinks he has the ability to speak to both sides of the aisle without alienating anyone.

Otherwise, we’re going to be stuck with more of of Less Filling / Tastes Great battles that made me stop caring in the first place.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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3 Responses

  1. Blackwater has been on my short list for awhile. The company at which I was consulting in Michigan was Johnson Controls in Holland, which used to be Prince Corp, from whose sale Erik Prince funded Blackwater. Always found that connection interesting…

    Oh, and the voice of a generation? Puh-leeze. I’m still figuring this shit out as I go.

  1. August 24, 2009

    […] yes. The whole Blackwater thing. While it doesn’t speak necessarily to interrogations, the other building controversy […]

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