Anyone who’s ever downloaded a song with Grokster, or purchased a handbag that’s not quite Louis Vuitton, may experience a certain amount of guilt while reading Mois�s Na�m’s new book on illicit commerce. He compellingly argues that illegal trade represents a real threat to global stability and that grand crimes and petty ones are far more intertwined than most people realize.
“Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy” is the latest book from Na�m, the editor of Foreign Policy magazine and a former minister of industry and trade for Venezuela. With great clarity and brevity, he maps the main areas of illegal international commerce today, from the terrifying (arms shipments) to the mundane (designer knockoffs). Though some of “Illicit’s” assertions and condemnations are too broad, the book is lucid, intelligent and sometimes chilling. At its best, it offers a tantalizing glimpse of the shadowy world that exists around us every day, not quite invisible but rarely so clearly seen.