recommend a book: I'm currently interested in nonfiction books on conspiracies, organized crime, corruption, secrecy, diplomacy, government misbehavior, etc.
December 15, 2011 7:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm currently interested in nonfiction books on conspiracies, organized crime, corruption, secrecy, diplomacy, government misbehavior, etc. and recently, I learned about Cointelpro on Hardcore History. Can you recommend interesting books on similar topics?

an example: watergate is interesting but hardly unknown. I doubt there would be much that I had never heard of in books on it. legacy of ashes on the other hand covered enough new territory for me that I found it enjoyable.

thanks for your help!
posted by krautland to Law & Government (21 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Operation Mincemeat is a great non-fiction book about a British espionage project to deceive the Nazis into thinking they discovered top-secret military plans on a corpse that washed ashore fascist Spain. Nothing on corruption in it, really, but it's fantastic spy story.
posted by griphus at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I found Jonathan Littmann's The Watchmen fascinating. An account of the FBI tracking down a real life infamous hacker.
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:58 AM on December 15, 2011

Check out Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution. It should be up your alley.
posted by Clambone at 8:04 AM on December 15, 2011

Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground

Voodo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

Both great books on recent conspiracy thories, their origins, and what purposes they might be serving for believers.

The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage on the origins of 1960s activism, including the role of infiltrators and the internal politics that helped destroy many of the activist groups. Even if you think you understand this era well, I guarantee that you will find a ton here you didn't know before.
posted by Wylla at 8:14 AM on December 15, 2011

McMafia by Misha Glenny is a fascinating investigation into the spread of transnational crime. Of particular interest might be the parts regarding the states of the former Eastern Bloc where the skillset of the Secret Police translated most well into organised crime rather than any legitimate activities following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
posted by electricinca at 8:25 AM on December 15, 2011

War is a Racket - Written by a US General in the 30's exposing how corporate greed is the impetus for most wars

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - Most of the criticism of this book has been nitpicky in the vein of "corporate hegemony in the 3rd world isn't ALL bad". It's a fascinating description of the dark side of the kind of corporatocracy that has defined foreign relations in the 20th century.
posted by any major dude at 8:31 AM on December 15, 2011

Jon Ronson has a couple good books in this vein. Try Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:40 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret War Against Domestic Dissent if you haven't read that yet, several chapters are available online. There are some good books generally about the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the US Government's issues with them and problems within the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Might also enjoy In The Spirit of Crazy Horseor Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement
posted by jessamyn at 8:52 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's corporate, not government, malfeasance that powers Kurt Eichenwald's superb The Informant. This non-fiction work documents the inside scandals of Archer Daniels Midland but reads like a John LeCarre novel.
posted by workerant at 9:31 AM on December 15, 2011

earlier thread
posted by mecran01 at 9:54 AM on December 15, 2011

Sticking with Eichenwald, Conspiracy of Fools (his book on Enron) is way more informative than the much-better-known The Smartest Guys in the Room.
posted by Wylla at 9:54 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

King Leopold's Ghost
by Adam Hochschild.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

A dated classic from 1986, Clifford Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg," about how a hippie Berkeley Astronomy (Stoll himself) stumbled upon the tracks of an East German (remember East Germany?) hacker who was using Berkeley's computer and its primitive (entirely pre-web) internet system to mine data and hack government computers and sell the info to the KGB. (Remember the USSR?)

I recall his cogent explanations of the internet terms he used, which will be as foreign to a modern internet user as they were to 1986 Me, a person who had only read about the internet as it was in '84-'85. (The hacker used dial-up over a mechanical exchange, for example.)
posted by Sunburnt at 10:13 AM on December 15, 2011

24 Days: How Two Wall Street Journal Reporters Uncovered The Lies That Destroyed Faith In Corporate America is one of my favorites in this genre. It's by the two Wall Street Journal reporters who broke the Enron story and it's about how they got the story, and what happened afterwards. It is absolutely fascinating!
posted by SisterHavana at 12:07 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gomorrah, also a (imo) brilliant movie.
posted by londongeezer at 12:25 PM on December 15, 2011

Also this Russian conspiracy theory.
posted by londongeezer at 12:27 PM on December 15, 2011

Books by Peter Hopkirk
Books by Steve Coll
posted by vidur at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2011

You'll enjoy Lobster Magazine, which I made a MeFi post about, and Lobster founder Robin Ramsay's Conspiracy Theories.
posted by Abiezer at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2011

I really liked It Did Happen Here.
posted by RedEmma at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2011

The Rough Guide to Conspiracies gives a wide-ranging overview of conspiracies through the ages, is divided into themes, has good references and is a fun read.
posted by nicktf at 2:34 PM on December 15, 2011

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