Most people don’t know what it’s like to work as a spy or a confidential informant. It’s the type of lifestyle that you would only expect to hear about in an action movie or a mystery novel. For Barry Oberholzer the dangerous world of international espionage is real. When I started reading The Black Market Concierge my first thought was that this has to be fiction but it’s real and it gives a glimpse into a world that few of us know about.
Barry’s story begins with his birth in Huston Texas during a hurricane in 1983. He describes his life as being a little like a hurricane and as you read you see he has been through more upheaval than most people. His father was a South African diplomat and Barry lived in Cape Town South Africa as apartheid was ending and the political scene was changing. He grew up playing rugby and had an interest in aviation. As an adult he worked as a helicopter pilot which led to him selling planes and other flying equipment to foreign countries. After building a broad network of clients, the US embassy in South Africa reached out to him for information on his clients.
Barry didn’t get involved with the U.S. government because he felt obligated to do the right thing, he was more worried about what could happen to him if he didn’t work with them. He had dealings with Iran at a time when the U.S. had sanctions against them and Barry was also getting requests from shady organizations for materials that could be used for combat. First and foremost Barry was a businessman but being on the CIA and FBI’s radar led to some life changing situations.
The Black Market Concierge is a fascinating read that will give you a glimpse into the world of organized crime and government corruption. It was also hard to read in places such as when he describes having to meet a man who has threatened to kill him. He goes into detail on how he and his brother are forced to take a lie detector test to find out if Barry is a mole. As he fears for his life he glances around the room looking for anything that can be used as a weapon.
Barry also gets into his time in a South African prison, he was accused of fraud and brought in for an old business dispute. Barry was jailed by a deceitful government and that is one of the main ideas of his book. The author speaks about the corruption in the South African government but he also speaks about how all governments have corruption. He states how politicians care more about power then helping the people who elected them and gets into why there is a black market in the first place. My favorite part of the book was hearing how he felt about the government and his feelings on the people he met. He does find God but not before suffering great losses.
The Black Market Concierge is the story of one man’s journey through major highs and the lowest of lows. In the end he talks about the importance of faith and how it got him through. It’s hard to believe this is a true story but it is and Barry Oberholzer gives some great life advice that he learned from his ordeal.