Very Bad People: The Inside Story of the Fight Against the World’s Network of Corruption

Octopus. May 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781913183486. Tr. MEMOIR
For over 25 years, Global Witness has been investigating corporations and governments throughout the world for environmental and human rights abuses. In this mix of memoir and organization history, readers ride along with Alley, one of Global Witness’s founding members, as he travels around the world. The organization’s first campaign exposed the illegal timber trade in Cambodia and Thailand that provided the Khmer Rouge nearly $90 million annually. They have also investigated conflict diamonds; corruption in the oil, gas, and mining industries; and the shell companies that corporations create to secretly fund civil wars. Alley describes driving along the Cambodian border to the work camps and luxury hotels used by government officials and criminals for illegal trade in everything from natural resources to stockpiles of weapons. This book is a reminder of how devastating the trade in natural resources can be in African and Southeast Asian countries that are rich with resources and run by corrupt governments. Readers interested in environmental responsibility will find the history of Global Witness an inspiration.
VERDICT This memoir combines the thrill of field work filming illegal and dangerous organizations with the mundane work of policy and environmental reporting. An important history of environmentalism.
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