What do the Taliban, indicted Liberian war criminal Charles Taylor, and the United States government have in common? They have all done business with the man who put the "blood" in blood diamondsa little-known but immensely wealthy and powerful arms dealer who has flooded Africa and Southwest Asia with weapons of war.
In Merchant of Death, two respected journalists tell the incredible story of Viktor Bout, the Russian weapons supplier whose global network has changed the way modern warfare is fought. Bout's vast enterprise of guns, planes, and money has fueled internecine slaughter in Africa and aided both militant Islamic fanatics in Afghanistan and the American military in Iraq.
This fast-paced and terrifying true story reveals that, as the world celebrated the end of the Cold War, Bout emerged from a murky post-Soviet intelligence background and quietly amassed a huge fleet of aging Russian cargo planes. His intelligence contacts, aircraft, and access to sophisticated weapons helped him forge lethal alliances across the Third World. Before long, he sat atop an immense and complex empire: a relentless international war machine able to deliver anything from AK-47s and missile launchers to artillery and attack helicopters, along with millions of rounds of ammunition, to anyone willing to pay. And pay they did, in Rwanda and the Congo, in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in Sudan and Afghanistan, and many stops in between.
Merchant of Death also reveals that, despite the efforts of a small circle of U.S. officials and international investigators who worked doggedly to shut down Bout's arms pipelines, the West has done little to dismantle this incredibletransnational empire. In fact, far from attacking this provider of essential support to despots, insurgents, and terrorists around the world, the United States paid him millions of dollars to fly weapons and supplies to the U.S. military and private contractors in Iraq.
Authors Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun detail how, through his own ingenuity and a staggering lack of resolve in the international community, Bout has successfully skirted every attempt to undo his enterprise and flourishes, while the world's premier intelligence services have largely given up the chase. The only question that remains is how will his unparalleled career end? With his arrest, or his retirement to a lavish, guarded estate in some remote African nation?
Compelling and timely, Merchant of Death combines the technical precision of a Tom Clancy epic with the insights and ironies of a John LeCarré novel to tell a thrilling and appalling real-life tale of relentless greed, devastating warfare, and breathtaking international intrigue.
The Washington Post - Fawaz A. Gerges
…a riveting investigation of the world's most notorious weapons dealer, Viktor Bout, whose post-Cold War arms network has stoked violence worldwide. Although U.S. intelligence officers have tried for years to shut down Bout's operation, Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun reveal that the United States paid firms linked to him as much as $60 million to ferry weapons to the U.S. military and private contractors in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.