Praise for Merchant of Death
"A riveting investigation of the world's most notorious arms dealer--a page-turner that digs deep into the amazing, murky story of Viktor Bout. Farah and Braun have exposed the inner workings of one of the world's most secretive businesses--the international arms trade."—Peter L. Bergen, author of The Osama bin Laden I Know
"Viktor Bout is like Osama bin Laden: a major target of U.S. intelligence officials who time and again gets away. Farah and Braun have skillfully documented how this notorious arms dealer has stoked violence around the world and thwarted international sanctions. Even more appalling, they show how Bout ended up getting millions of dollars in U.S. government money to assist the war in Iraq. A truly impressive piece of investigative reporting."—Michael Isikoff, coauthor of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War
"Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun are two of the toughest investigative reporters in the country. This is an important book about a hidden world of gunrunning and profiteering in some of the world's poorest countries."—Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
"In Merchant of Death, two of America's finest reporters have performed a major public service, turning over the right rocks that reveal the brutal international arms business at the dawn of the twenty-first century. In Viktor Bout, they have given us a new Lord of War, a man who knows no side but his own, and who has a knack for turning up in every war zone just in time to turn a profit. As Farah and Braun uncover and document his troubling role in the Bush Administration's Global War on Terror, his ties to Washington almost seem inevitable."—James Risen, author of State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.
While there's no shortage of books on international terrorism, drug cartels and genocide, the international weapons trade has received less attention. Journalists Farah and Braun center their absorbing expos of this source of global misery on its most successful practitioner, the Russian dealer Victor Bout. Throughout the Cold War, they show, the Kremlin supplied arms to oppressive regimes and insurgent groups, keeping close tabs on customers; after the U.S.S.R. collapsed, the floodgates opened in the 1990s. With weapons factories starved for customers, Soviet-era air transports lying idle and rusting, and dictators, warlords and insurgents throughout the world clamoring for arms, entrepreneurs and organized criminals saw fortunes to be made. The authors paint a depressing picture of an avalanche of war-making material pouring into poor, violence-wracked nations despite well-publicized U.N. embargoes. America denounces this trade, but turns a blind eye if recipients proclaim they are fighting terrorism, they say. Ruthless people who shun publicity make poor biographical subjects, and Bout is no exception. The authors' energetic research reveals that rivals dislike him, colleagues admire him, enemies condemn him, and Bout describes himself as a much-maligned but honest businessman. Although an unsatisfactory portrait, the book surrounds it with an engrossing, detailed description of this wildly destructive traffic.