An incredibly disturbing book. Hancock, a journalist with extensive international experience, argues that Western-style aid programs are largely not just ineffective but harmful. Hancock details an American company who gets a hefty tax write-off for supplying Africans with faulty pacemakers. He documents direct misuse of foreign aid and gets supporting testimony from quite a few disillusioned aid workers.
Hancock isn't a muckraker who believes the system is good, but just needs to throw out a few bad apples. He wants to shake it all down.
There is also a personal undercurrent--and it is also valid--the resentment of high-paid and mostly unqualified foreign aid workers who reap rewards of 5-star hotel travel, expense accounts and a lot of exotic sex.
I found Hancock's slash-and-burn approach too draconian...and I suspect that maybe deep down he does as well. His criticisms and those like his have in the past years caused significant reforms in international aid. There are now newer programs that do fantastic things...and yes, some of your relief donations will still go toward expensive wine at the Ramada hotel restaurant and there are still insufferable and sanctimonious twits among the foreign aid workers, just like there are nasty kindergarten teachers and cretin journalists. Perhaps Hancock is one of them--I don't care--he wrote one heck of a book.