Merchant of Death by Stephen Braun

Merchant of Death

Merchant of Death is a book that tells the incredible story of Viktor Bout, a Russian weapons supplier whose global network has changed the way modern warfare is fought. Bout’s vast enterprise of guns, planes, and money has fueled internecine slaughter in Africa and aided both militant Islamic fanatics in Afghanistan and the American military in Iraq.

The book combines spy thrills with crucial insights on the shortcomings of a U.S. foreign policy that fails to confront the lucrative and lethal arms trade that erodes global security.

The main themes of the book include the international arms trade, the efficacy of UN arms embargoes, and the role of arms embargo-busters in testing these embargoes. The book also explores the inner workings of one of the world’s most secretive businesses, the ties between Bout and Washington, and his troubling role in the Bush Administration’s Global War on Terror.

Useful takeaways from the book include:

  • The dangers of the international arms trade and its impact on global security.
  • The need for stronger enforcement of UN arms embargoes to prevent arms embargo-busters like Bout from fueling conflicts.
  • The importance of transparency and accountability in government policies related to the arms trade.
  • The need for greater international cooperation to combat the illicit arms trade and its negative consequences.

What I Liked

Oh wow – I loved how this book really gets into a layer of the world that everyone knows exists…but no one wants to admit it. Very well told.

What I Did Not Like

Nothing – great work.

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