In the book, Mr. Perkins recounts the nine years in which he worked for Main in the 1970's. From Ecuador to Panama, Iran to Saudi Arabia, the mission was the same: working in league with government agencies, Mr. Perkins claimed that he inflated the economic growth forecasts of these countries and smoothed the way for the billions in loans that they took on. Ultimately, he said, the funds were recycled to the United States as these countries became clients of big American engineering, construction and manufacturing companies, including Bechtel, Halliburton, Boeing and others.
But in his telling, Mr. Perkins was constantly haunted by the feeling that he was in effect a hit man — paid officially by his employer, Main Inc., but under the more oblique sway of the government and intelligence agencies. The son of a conservative New England family, he whips himself for having succumbed to pleasures of the flesh as well as the lure of money, influence and power.
In 1980, Mr. Perkins quit his job at Main. For much of the next two decades, he worked as a consultant, entrepreneur and specialist on the culture and practices of indigenous people of Latin America. After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, he felt that it was time to tell his story. After being turned down by bigger publishers, Berrett-Koehler took a chance and published the book in 2004. A best seller in hardcover, despite few mainstream book reviews, the book has sold as many as 5,500 copies a week in paperback.