Friday, February 17, 2012

12 of 2012 Book Review: #1 - Vultures' Picnic by Greg Palast


Gonzo Journalism is defined as “a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative.” Also known as “New Journalism,” it encompasses a style that is as informative as it is entertaining, keeping the author within the story itself and not backing away from having an opinion and being subjective.

Such is Vulture’s Picnic.

Mr. Palast is an Corporate Fraud Investigator turned Journalist, with and a healthy splash of James Bond (read: plane hopping, hard alcohol and sex with women). Accompanied by a real-life “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” as his side kick “investgatrix” as he calls it, committed camera man, and truth warriors at large, he goes for the throat of white collar criminals. Often fueled by insider information and documents marked “classified,” he keeps pulling at strings that lead to bigger and bigger frauds and conspiracies (the actual, men in a boardroom kind).

EXXON VALDEZ OIL SPILL
GULF COAST HORIZON OIL SPILL
AZERBAIJAN SPILL that was SDT as Gulf Coast, but was covered up

RECKLESS DERIVATIVES TRADING
FINANCIAL BULLIES DISGUISED AS IMF, WORLD BANK

On, and on. Palast paints a complete picture of the puppets and puppet masters that run the show for their own veiled gains. It’s the whole enchilada. It’s an extremely intelligent analysis of Why Things Are they way they are and Who Benefits and How.

Palast is the hero to all the anti-heroes polluting our world with their fuzzy ethics and even fuzzier economics. In fact, he was at the same infamous “Chicago School of Economics” at University of Chicago where dark knights like Milton Friedman cut their teeth. Except he didn’t take the Goldman Sachs job and smother his inner voice that strives for an exciting life spent pursuing truth and passion. He went for it, baby. Big paychecks won’t make you cool! And with his fedora, cigars and accolades from everyone from Robert F. Kennedy to the son of Martin Luther King, Jr., he earned his cool in spades. Take that to the bank.

I love it.

I bought this book as a Christmas present to myself (from a local bookstore, thankyouverymuch) after hearing him on Democracy Now!. So glad I did. If everyone read this book, things would change. They absolutely would change. The stories – like the Alaska natives having their homes literally pushed into sea, and Azerbaijani’s starving next to oil fields and casinos for their despots - have embedded a different narrative in my mind. Not only of who the victims are, but what the crime is – what really happened. That’s key.

Fucking read this book people!

If you are not thoroughly entertained, horrified, enlightened, and left wanting more, I’ll come to your home, slap you as hard as I can in the face, and then give you your money back. That’s a guarantee!



(p.s. if you want to just dip your toe in the pool first, go to gregpalast.com and read his op-eds.)

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