Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy

Moises Naim, Author . Doubleday $26 (340p) ISBN 978-0-385-51392-0

In this sweeping and informative work, Foreign Policy editor Naím demystifies the global trade in illegal goods and services and, in the process, presents an original portrait of globalization that skillfully eschews the utopian doggerel that often characterizes such accounts. Naím provides a detailed tour of the major globalized criminal activities—drug production and distribution, illegal arms dealing, human trafficking, counterfeiting, money laundering and so on—and introduces a host of criminal networks that profit from them. The book is regrettably devoid of the kind of firsthand reporting from the field that would have made the subject matter really jump off the page. Yet Naím creates a picture of illicit trade which demonstrates that, far from taking place in a shadowy underworld, such activity is inextricably linked to legitimate commerce and directly affects all of us. In Naím's view, globalization's "diffusion of power to individuals and groups" and away from sovereign states has created a "smuggler's nirvana," in which the lines between legitimate and illegitimate economic activity are blurred and criminal networks possess an unprecedented degree of political influence. Making matters worse, the widening gap between global haves and have-nots—what Naím calls "geopolitical bright spots and black holes"—has increased the incentive for individuals and groups on both sides of the divide to participate in illicit activities. The remedy? In addition to offering a bevy of specific policy ideas, Naím urges readers to move away from simplistic moral denunciations and to focus, instead, on reducing the demand for criminals' goods and services and on weakening the incentives for ordinary people to become involved in their enterprises. (On sale Oct. 18)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-385-51682-2
Open Ebook - 201 pages - 978-0-307-27856-2
Paperback - 340 pages - 978-1-4000-7884-4
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4070-5865-8
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