Banco’s reportage vividly shows the human toll that deceit and subterfuge have taken on a land so rich in natural resources.



Star-Ledger investigative reporter Banco reveals the complicated conspiracies keeping the richness of Iraqi oil from trickling down to the general populace.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and removal of Saddam Hussein was accompanied by promises that the Iraqi people would share the wealth from the country’s oil. It is no fault of this investigative reporter, who has plenty of experience and contacts in the Middle East, that readers are likely to finish this short book—which reads like a long magazine article—feeling more confused than ever. This is the way that big oil wants it, writes Banco, who shares WikiLeaks documents, tales of familial and tribal infighting, schemes of multinational empire-building, and charges of American perfidy to show that rather than sharing the wealth from oil, the displaced Iraqi citizenry is generally poorer than it was before. As has often been charged, the American invasion in the wake of 9/11 was something of a shell game, using Osama bin Laden as a pretext for the oil ties with which the Bush administration was inextricably bound. The reporting “focuses on what happened behind the scenes between the Kurdish government and international oil companies—negotiations, payouts and kickbacks that exacerbated the plundering of the region’s oil.” Needless to say, these were deals made behind metaphorical closed doors, as the nation has been torn by internal warfare while also fighting terrorism. The only simple aspect of this story is that the people had very high hopes that were dashed. Everything else is complicated, for, as the author suggests, “one explanation for government failure in Iraqi Kurdistan is that government itself isn’t what it seems to be. Here, politics, business and family are inseparable.” The plots thicken under the big foot of multinationals such as ExxonMobil, “the largest non-state oil company on the planet, with about $240 billion in annual revenues.”

Banco’s reportage vividly shows the human toll that deceit and subterfuge have taken on a land so rich in natural resources.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9977229-4-9

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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