Perkins, John 1945-

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Perkins, John 1945-

PERSONAL:

Born 1945; children: Jessica.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]rkins.org.

CAREER:

Chas. T. Main (consulting firm), economic consultant and chief economist, 1971-80; Independent Power Systems (alternative energy company), founder and CEO, 1982-90; Dream Change Coalition (nonprofit organization), founder and chair, 1991—.

WRITINGS:

The Stress-free Habit: Powerful Techniques for Health and Longevity from the Andes, Yucatan, and Far East, Healing Arts Press (Rochester, VT), 1989.

Psychonavigation: Techniques for Travel beyond Time, Destiny Books (Rochester, VT), 1990.

The World Is as You Dream It: Shamanic Teachings from the Amazon and Andes, Destiny Books (Rochester, VT), 1994.

Shapeshifting: Shamanic Techniques for Global and Personal Transformation, Destiny Books (Rochester, VT), 1997.

Spirit of the Shuar: Wisdom from the Last Unconquered People of the Amazon, Destiny Books (Rochester, VT), 2001.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Berrett-Koehler Publishers (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.

Author's books have been published in seventeen languages.

SIDELIGHTS:

John Perkins is an economist and business executive turned shamanic teacher and environmentalist. Many of his books involve a deep spirituality, a component of New Age self-help, and a great interest in the wisdom of natives of the Amazon, the Andes, and the Yucatan. The Stress-free Habit: Powerful Techniques for Health and Longevity from the Andes, Yucatan, and Far East, Perkins's first book, provides a stress management program based on techniques used by native cultures in various parts of the world. The World Is as You Dream It: Shamanic Teachings from the Amazon and Andes offers collected shamanic teachings on subjects such as healing, religion, and health, and suggests that profound worldwide change will occur when our collective dream of materialism is changed to one of spiritualism, cooperation, and honor for the Earth. Perkins's Shapeshifting: Shamanic Techniques for Global and Personal Transformation applies shamanic wisdom and indigenous knowledge to transform our personal lives, health, and careers. By doing so, the book aims to help change both human communities and the world. Perkins also chronicles his own evolution from hardened business executive to concerned environmentalist and conservationist.

Perkins's interest in spirituality and environmentalism came only after experiencing a transformation from his earlier life, one in which the pursuit of profit and the economic servitude of foreign countries came before any considerations of spirituality, ethics, or morals. For thirty years, Perkins was what he calls an "economic hit man," a deal maker whose primary task was to convince foreign countries to take out "huge loans, much bigger than they could possibly repay," as he stated in an interview with Amy Goodman on the Democracy Now! Web site. "One of the conditions of the loan—let's say one billion dollars to a country like Indonesia or Ecuador—[was to] … give ninety percent of that loan back to a U.S. company, or U.S. companies, to build the infrastructure—a Halliburton or a Bechtel," as Perkins related to Goodman. The countries ended up saddled with enormous debt that they could not repay, with most of the money from the loan funneled back to large American corporations. In this way, the countries "basically become our servants, our slaves," Perkins told Goodman. "It's an empire." When the countries failed to repay their debt, lenders such as the U.S. government, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund could take control of their economies and their natural resources, ensuring further corporate enrichment, according to Perkins.

Over the years, Perkins started writing the book that became Confessions of an Economic Hit Man several times, starting and stopping in response to lavish bribes disguised as consulting fees or because of not-so-subtle threats. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, finally convinced him to go public with his knowledge and finish the book. "I knew the story had to be told because what happened at 9/11 is a direct result of what the economic hit men are doing," Perkins stated to Goodman. "And the only way that we're going to feel secure in this country again and that we're going to feel good about ourselves is if we use these systems we've put into place to create positive change around the world." A Bookwatch reviewer remarked that this "fascinating survey of economic prowess wielded against other nations makes for riveting reading," while Library Journal reviewer Lucy Heckman similarly commented that Perkin's "riveting look at a world of intrigue reads like a spy novel."

In The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption, Perkins picks up where he left off in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. He explains the ways in which his previous actions have affected the developing world, both socially and economically, and goes on to tell readers about various other economic hit men who continue to have a similar impact. He discusses his concerns for the future of these developing parts of the world, and for the planet as a whole, and gives advice on how to handle these issues, including suggestions for ways in which average people can fight back against this type of undermining of the global society. Joe Queenan, in an article for the New York Times Book Review, pointed out that Perkins's narratives might not always be completely accurate, commenting: "The author … has a tendency to play fast and loose with the facts, skating over Castro's myriad crimes in Cuba and Mao's festive homicide in China. He is weak on American history, somehow confusing the monstrously inhospitable Iroquois tribes with the Little Sisters of the Poor." Queenan concludes, however, that "these lapses, oversights and harmless exaggerations do not detract from the author's central message." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found the book to include "anecdotal inside info on the dirty deeds of the military-industrial complex, replete with sermons on resisting and changing it."

Perkins now "teaches about the importance of rising to higher levels of consciousness, to waking up—in both spiritual and physical realms," noted a biographer on the John Perkins Home Page. If "I hadn't lived this life as an economic hit man, I think I'd have a hard time believing that anybody does these things," Perkins commented to Goodman. By writing the book, he hoped to educate the American people on the nature of economic foreign policy. If "people in this nation understood what our foreign policy is really about, what foreign aid is about, how our corporations work, where our tax money goes," Perkins concluded, "I know we will demand change."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America's Intelligence Wire, March 24 2005, Ethan Burke, "Economic Hitman Visits South Hadley."

Bookwatch, March, 2005, review of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Christianity Today, January 1, 1982, "John Perkins, the Prophet," p. 20.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2007, review of The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption.

Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Lucy Hickman, review of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, p. 126.

Newsweek International, December 20, 2004, "Snap Judgment," review of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, p. 57.

New York Times Book Review, July 15, 2007, Joe Queenan, "Covert Ops," p. 15.

Parabola, November, 2002, review of Spirit of the Shuar: Wisdom from the Last Unconquered People of the Amazon, p. 104.

Publishers Weekly, January 17, 2005, Daisy Maryles, "A Real Hit, Man," p. 17.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2007, review of The Secret History of the American Empire.

Sojourners Magazine, December, 2006, "Inside Story," p. 4.

Swiss News, March, 2006, "John Perkins: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," p. 61.

Tikkun, September 1, 2007, "Epiphany of an Economic Hitman," p. 59.

Whole Life Times, August, 2007, "John Perkins," p. 64.

ONLINE

Democracy Now! Web site, http://www.democracynow.org/ (November 9, 2004), Amy Goodman, transcript of radio interview with Perkins.

John Perkins Home Page,http://www.johnperkins.com (May 15, 2005).

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