The Guardian Review

By PD Smith

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The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade by Andrew Feinstein – review

In 2010, global military expenditure was $235 for every person on the planet. Greece apparently spends more on weapons than any other nation in the EU. Feinstein’s compelling book exposes the “parallel world of money, corruption, deceit and death” behind the trade in arms. In forensic detail (there are over 100 pages of notes and references), he reveals the symbiotic relationship that exists between governments and the defence industry, as well as cataloguing the appalling waste of public resources and corruption on a massive scale. One arms dealer tells Feinstein that with Saudi Arabian contracts he has to give back more than half of the price in bribes. Few people ever face justice because of the close relationship between governments and the companies. Feinstein accepts that in an uncertain world we need an arms industry, but its special status means that it is protected from legal and economic vagaries. Around the world, taxpayers are being ripped off and wars are being prolonged for profits. A powerful and important book.