Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Mon 5th Feb, 2007

Read It And Weep

While idly waiting for Kate on the weekend, I found myself in an ABC shop browsing through the books. A few caught my eye, but none quite so much as the book entitled "As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela" by Mark Thomas, a British comedian. There's nothing quite like a fresh-faced man holding a large semiautomatic assault rifle to capture one's eyes. The subtitle, "Underground adventures in the arms and torture trade", made me read a bit, and then buy it.

My quick overall precis of it (so far) is that the arms industry is powerful, dirty, and doesn't care who it sells to. It can force unfavourable MPs to change their ways, has enough legal loopholes to get around any minor annoyances, and has plenty of middle-men to do the more pedestrian stuff such as changing labels on freight consignments. For the billions of dollars it earns, it causes many hundreds of times that amount in damage to people and property, and gets generous tax concessions and considerations for doing so. And nothing, it would seem, can stand in its way.

Mark writes with amusing aplomb, telling in dry, unadorned detail of Indonesian generals casually admitting to torture and slaughter while pulling off humorous stunts such as getting former confession on video under the guise of a PR agency 'training' the generals to respond well to criticism. He throws in enough spice and amusing anecdotes ("... Third world liberation movements love a good suit." "Pity that's a crap one, then.") to keep the tone light and readable while still providing enough detail to chill the blood.

Another book to make me want to fly into an insane rage... *sigh*. Why do I do this to myself?

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