Outlaws Inc.: Under the Radar and on the Black Market with the World's Most Dangerous Smugglers

Matt Power. Bloomsbury, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60819-530-5
One of globalization's seamier corners—the shadowy network of Russian aviators flying rattletrap cargo planes full of contraband to the world's hellholes—is poked with a stick in this colorful exposé-cum-adventure story. BBC correspondent Power flies along with "Mickey" and his crew of Soviet Air Force vets in their Ilyushin-76 transport plane, a model prized for its secret cargo holds that customs officials never check. The crew and their ilk go everywhere there's money to be made, legal or not: they transport building supplies, generators, and heroin in Afghanistan, humanitarian aid and blood diamonds in Africa, cocaine in Latin America, and arms almost everywhere. It's a story rife with ironies—the same flight, the author notes, could carry U.N. food for refugees and Kalashnikovs for the militias who destroyed their homes—which Potter traces upward to the hypocrisies of financiers and governments. But the book's heart is his vivid, atmospheric reportage on the hungover flyboys who subject their planes—held together more with duct tape than rivets—to potholed airstrips, crazed aerobatics, and ground fire. Through the dissolute romanticism peeks an arresting glimpse of an airborne proletariat desperate for a risky paycheck. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/30/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-283-07132-4
Paperback - 404 pages - 978-0-330-53166-5
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-60819-539-8
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-283-07153-9
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