Book Fashion Picture Each Day Of The Year History A Review of "Barry and ‘the Boys’"

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A Review of "Barry and ‘the Boys’"

The book that is the subject of this review is Daniel Hopsicker’s Barry and “The Boys:” The CIA, the Mob, and America’s Secret History. Hopsicker originally published it in 2001 and updated it in 2006, adding more information in an introduction and linking this book to his recent work. The book’s subtitle nicely explains the subject matter, although many more questions are explored through their relationship with notorious drug trafficker Barry Seal.

In fact, the sheer number of subjects, events, and people that Hopsicker touches on makes trying to review the book a very daunting task. From before World War II, to the Bay of Pigs, to Vietnam, Iran-Contra, Mena, Arkansas, and our current administration, Hopsicker ties together some of the more notable names involved in both America’s public history and “secret history.” Not being familiar with any of the subject matter, this review will focus more on the style and mechanics of the book rather than most of the actual content.

As a summary of the work, however, the book focuses heavily on the life of Barry Seal, whom Hopsicker calls “the greatest drug trafficker in American history, who died in a hail of bullets with George Bush’s private phone number in his wallet.” Through his relationship with various military-intelligence personnel and as a CIA operative and pilot, Seal played a role or knew the main participants in almost every major event in recent American history. He attended a Baton Rouge Civil Air Patrol summer camp with Lee Harvey Oswald and, for example, is suggested to have flown an escape plane out of Dallas on the day of the Kennedy assassination. Seal was also heavily involved in flying drugs into the country during the Iran-Contra events, and his plane ended up in the possession of George W. Bush after his death. However, in the 380-page book, these questions are explored in depth along with dozens of other events.

The sources for the book appear to be mainly interviews conducted by Hopsicker or his associates, most of which relate to various aspects of the Secret History or Barry Seal’s life. This makes the book a good primary source, and there are very few anonymous sources providing information. Seal’s wife is interviewed along with high school friends, colleagues and government employees. As issues arise, Hopsicker introduces a player and his or her role and relates the event back and forth to other events, reminding the reader of the relevance of what has come before and what comes later. This helps casual readers (like this reviewer) keep all the names and places a bit more even, since the same names seem to keep popping up at different places and times.

The writing style itself is quite easy to read and a bit casual compared to other books of a similar nature. Hopsicker is very much a part of the story as he and his researchers try to piece together the complete picture of the events surrounding Barry Seal. With each interview and new name added to the mix, the picture becomes clearer, chapter by chapter, until the book traces a single unbroken line through more than sixty years of history involving secret wars, drug trafficking, bipartisan political corruption, and various shell companies and financial intrigues .

It is clear that the author ran into some legal problems with the publication of the book, as one chapter is filled with blacked out, redacted material. Almost all names are illegible for an entire chapter, while Hopsicker traces the development of one of the shell companies mentioned in the book. This slightly detracts from the readability of the material, and it appears that earlier versions were missing the chapter entirely, which is unfortunate, but the material in the chapter does not seem central to Hopsicker’s main thesis. Of course, it’s hard to say for sure with so much cut out, but the names mentioned in the chapter are not repeated throughout the book, as there are few other blackouts in the remaining thirty-seven chapters.

A 60-page appendix at the end of the book contains numerous photos from Barry Seal’s life, as well as documents from his personal records. These provide a treasure trove of resources to peruse to learn more about the various issues Hopsicker investigates, particularly the trail of ownership of Seal’s planes used to smuggle drugs. Following the trail of shell companies set up simply to protect the true owner of the planes is one of the more convoluted yet enlightening parts of the book, and the appendix explains several of these details using the actual source documents .

A final helpful aspect of the book is that Hopsicker has obviously read a lot on the subject he aims to tackle and makes other recommendations of books that followed suit. Some of these authors, such as Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott, are well known and respected, and their works provide further research opportunities for the reader of Barry and “The Boys”. By attempting to add to the information already available from other sources, Hopsicker is able to build on these works and provide his own contributions, rather than simply offering a summary of other works.

Barry and “the Boys” can provide an ideal introduction to the subject of the secret history of America’s involvement in secret wars and drugs, and is definitely a work to be referred to and read more than once. In fact, as more of the names associated with Seal come up again and again (as they have even since the book was originally published in 2001), the work is more important than ever. As Hopsicker states numerous times in the book, it’s a “small world” and everyone seems to know everyone else sometimes, except for the general public who know no one and are told as little as possible. A tragic figure who rose to the heights of power in the secret world, Seal met his end when he grew a little too big for his own pants and decided to “talk”. Hopefully Hopsicker will also have the opportunity to speak more about the truth as he says some important things in this book.

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