Overseas Press Club Award Winner 2016
A shocking investigative journey into the way the resource trade wreaks havoc on Africa, ‘The Looting Machine’ explores the dark underbelly of the global economy.
Africa: the world’s poorest continent and, arguably, its richest. While accounting for just 2 percent of global GDP, it is home to 15 per cent of the planet’s crude oil, 40 per cent of its gold and 80 per cent of its platinum. A third of the earth’s mineral deposits lie beneath its soil. But far from being a salvation, this buried treasure has been a curse.
‘The Looting Machine’ takes you on a gripping and shocking journey through anonymous boardrooms and glittering headquarters to expose a new form of financialized colonialism. Africa’s booming growth is driven by the voracious hunger for natural resources from rapidly emerging economics such as China. But in the shadows a network of traders, bankers and corporate raiders has sprung up to grease the palms of venal local political elites. What is happening in Africa’s resource states is systematic looting. In country after country across the continent, the resource industry is tearing at the very fabric of society. But, like its victims, the beneficiaries of this looting machine have names.
For six years Tom Burgis has been on a mission to expose corruption and give voice to the millions of Africans who suffer the consequences of living under this curse. Combining deep reporting with an action-packed narrative, he travels to the heart of Africa’s resource states, meeting a warlord in Nigeria’s oil-soaked Niger Delta and crossing a warzone to reach a remote mineral mine in eastern Congo. The result is a blistering investigation that throws a completely fresh light on the workings of the global economy and will make you think twice about what goes into the mobile phone in your pocket and the tank of your car.
About the author
Tom Burgis won a fellowship at the Financial Times in 2006, and has worked on the paper ever since. He has reported from London, Brussels, South America and Africa, writing on the privation and conflict that accompanies the resource trade.His work has appeared in the Telegraph, the Independent, the Observer, the New Statesman, the Big Issue and Open Democracy, and in 2010 he was shortlisted for ‘Young Journalist of the Year’ at the British Press Awards.
- ‘Revealing … Explains lucidly how the oil and mineral bonanza subverts societies … particularly acute in analysing how multinationals connive in this institutionalised theft … This intelligent book should give us all pause for thought when we fill our cars with petrol’ Sunday Times
- ‘A powerful case, through anecdote and evidence, that the dirty trade in raw materials serves individuals’ own enrichment’ The Times
- ‘[Burgis] presents a lively portrait of the rapacious “looting machine” … a rich collage of examples showing the links between corrupt companies and African elites’ Economist
- ‘A great scrapbook of exploitation. Burgis has the good sense not to present it in an alarmist way, but with an understatement that is far more powerful … [it] is in part a means of self-exoneration, a way of making amends to those he ultimately could not help … He has done a service to some of the world’s poorest people’ Financial Times
- ‘Excellent. Burgis ensures that we don’t stop wondering who does what in Africa and how we are all party to what Western “investors” are up to. The post-colonial corruption and rape of African resource to the benefit of western consumption is still alive and horribly well’ Jon Snow
- ‘Burgis has managed to uncover a system responsible for the wholesale looting of Africa’s mineral resources for the benefit of oligarchic and state interests around the world. Burgis, a gifted young journalist, has tracked down all these characters across some of Africa’s most dangerous hotspots and beyond. Vivid, eye-popping and even at times very funny’ Misha Glenny, author of ‘McMafia’
- ‘Makes an important case colourfully, convincingly and at times courageously as he confronts some of those involved in the pillaging’ Observer
- ‘[An] excellent, finely reported book … The great value lies in its fresh detail, storytelling and the characters Burgis introduces. Crammed with colour and lively investigative reporting’ Literary Review
- ‘[A] major contribution’ TLS