John Perkins is an author and activist who has written books on global intrigue, shamanism and transformation including “Shapeshifting” “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” and “Touching the Jaguar.” His books have been on The New York Times’ bestseller list for more than 70 weeks, have sold over 2 million copies and are published in at least 35 languages. As chief economist at a major consulting firm, John advised the World Bank, United Nations, Fortune 500 corporations, US and other governments. He regularly speaks at universities, economic forums and shamanic gatherings around the world and is a founder and board member of the Pachamama Alliance and Dream Change, nonprofit organizations that partner with indigenous people to protect environments and that offer global programs to change the destructive ways of industrial societies. In his latest book “Touching the Jaguar: Transforming Fear into Action to Change Your Life and the World” Perkins details how his experiences in the Amazon converted him from an Economic Hit Man to a crusader for transforming our failing Death Economy that destroys its own resources and nature itself into a flourishing Life Economy that renews itself.
“Touching the Jaguar,” begins with an Introduction by the author that defines the phrase touching the jaguar – [it] ‘means that you can identify your fears and barriers, confront them, alter your perceptions about them, accept their energy, and take actions to change yourself and the world.’ His goal in writing this book was for it to serve as a connection between his previous books on Indigenous cultures and those on global economics. In the Prologue, he defines EHMs, or Economic Hit Men as ‘highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars…Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder.’ These terms are found throughout his story which starts in the summer of 1968 when he was a young Peace Corps volunteer and an Amazonian shaman saved his life by teaching him to “touch the jaguar.” From there he went on to become an EHM and sincerely thought this was the best model for economic development but soon realized it was merely a new form of colonialism. Eventually he takes his experiences in the Amazon and uses them to transform our Death Economy into a Life Economy. In this book, he shares his strategies for transforming personal lives and defending the earth against destructive policies and systems. It is divided into eight parts that start with The Perception Trap 1968 -1970 and end with Decolonization 2017 – Present.
There is so much to learn from this incredibly eye-opening book: history, personal fulfillment and earth consciousness. It combines John Perkins’ experiences as an Economic Hit Man, expertise on indigenous cultures and shamanism and knowledge of ecology and economics. All of this is told in a down to earth tone with a narrative that pulls the reader into the jungles of the Amazon, among other places. The chapters are short, the action flows easily from page to page and the language is easy to understand. Standout sections include ‘Chapter 2 Ayahuasca’ when he got sick while in the Amazon and the local shaman gave him ayahuasca, a plant used for healing, which resulted in his first vision of touching the jaguar; and the explanations on colonialism and how the United States has affected countries and economies worldwide. The Resources section at the end has ideas to help readers discover what they can do to change themselves and the world. Every reader will get something out of it: in the least, become aware of the dangers of economic hit men and how truly harmful colonialism can be and at most, inspire them to get involved and become a better citizen of the world. “Touching the Jaguar” is not only a lesson in personal empowerment but a wake-up call about the true influence of American politics and economy. A definite must-read.
“It is time to end our fear of change and instead embrace the powers for change the jaguar offers, break through the mind-sets that have burdened us with failing systems, and apply the human and natural resources to create systems that will be successful for generations to come.”
*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.