It's worth noting that Susan George takes her title from the expression 'a fate worse than death,' which is used by the police when abducted children undergo the kind of sustained abuse that culminates in a pair of hedge clippers and a tripod mounted camcorder.
But George is not overstating, and this gruesome metaphor is more than borne out by her damning examination of the institutional causes and human consequences of Third World debt.
Geared toward the general reader, A Fate Worse Than Debt is a solid introduction to the interlocking network of national banks, Third World elites and Bretton Woods institutions - what George calls 'The Consortium'- responsible for the birth and continuation of the debt crisis.
She does not offer a conspiracy theory, but a rational analysis of the ideology and structures that drain over $100,000 a minute from poor countries, the results of which, according to UNICEF, are directly responsible for the death of 500,000 children a year worldwide.
In English, we have a word for this kind of 'development': That word is genocide.
George does not say that genocide is part of conscious policy, but correctly claims that the result is identical. Whether or not the bankers in the US Treasury realize that their free-market, export oriented religion of GNP Measured Growth is a horrible, bloody failure, they are incapable of doing anything about it and enslaved by the tri-faced god of the profit motive, a discredited ideology and their sheer unaccountability.
With the help of friends in high places and a handful of IMF/World Bank whistleblowers, George proves that finance officials are perfectly aware that 'structural adjustment' programs disproportionately affect the poor and cause hunger; just as they are aware that the Environment - an 'externality' in business speak - doesn't figure into their economic framework at all.
George illustrates how the Bretton Woods twins serve as funnels for the channeling of public funds into bloated private banks, feeding Third World graft and encouraging capital flight right back to major western players like Citibank.
She also details the role of petrodollars in the wild super-loaning of the Studio 54 seventies, as well as the way Reagan's deficit-financed arms bazaar passed the buck to the poorest indebted countries by triggering global inflation and higher interest rates.