John Perkins was the Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm, in that role he advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 companies and the leaders of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Last year, John released his follow-up book The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to his classic NYT bestseller Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man. The original spent 73 weeks on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list and has been translated into 32 languages. His latest book brings it up to date and provides practical strategies to transform the failing global death economy into a regenerative life economy. John Perkins is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance. These are two wonderful non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future that generations will want to inherit. John Perkins has also lectured at Harvard, Oxford, and over 50 other universities around the world, and is the author of books on indigenous cultures and transformation. John has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications, as well as in numerous documentaries. In 2012, John Perkins was awarded the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace, and in 2016, he was awarded the Rainforest Action Network Challenging Business As Usual Award. Please enjoy my interview with John Perkins…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I tell them that I am an author of books.
I am currently reading You Are The Universe by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos.
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a writer.
What do you think your school aged self would think of the present day you?
I think he would have deep admiration. He followed his dream.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be?
I would gift myself The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
I don’t have a routine to my reading.
The book that has had the biggest impact on my career is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It taught me that you can probe deep into moral and ethical issues through great story-telling.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
I associate Robin Hood with my mom; and the works of Shakespeare with my Dad.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
My recommendations vary at different times. Right now: the book I’m recommending most is my own The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Do you think reading is important?
The best book I’ve read in the last 6 months is Sapiens by Yuval Harari.
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
I prefer real books, but I read digital because I travel a great deal.
Name a book that you feel everyone would benefit from reading and explain why.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare. It is a timeless commentary on human passions and personal hubris. It describes contemporary business and political leaders, as well as those of ancient times.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
I’d pick the collective writings of Tom Paine. They taught me that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword and convinced me to become an agent of change through writing.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
There are many! I would like to also include the following:
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein,
The Magus by John Fowles,
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho,
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley,
Grendel by John Gardner,
Beowulf by Seamus Heaney,
In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant,
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene,
The Dangerous Summer by Ernest Hemingway,
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart,
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo,
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann,
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce,
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron,
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson,
Civilization on Trial and The World and the West by Arnold Toynbee,
At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen,
Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds,
Amazon Beaming by P. Popescu,
The Star Rover by Jack London,
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I don’t know, depends on what is published.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.