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21: Bringing Down the House - Movie Tie-In: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions Paperback – Bargain Price, January 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
New York Times bestselling author of Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires tells his most incredible story yet: A true drama of obscene wealth, crime, rivalry, and betrayal from deep inside the world of billionaire Russian Oligarchs.
Meet two larger-than-life Russians: Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician who got his start in a car-reselling business, moved into other more lucrative ventures as well as politics, and became known as the Godfather of the Kremlin. And Roman Abramovich, a dashing young entrepreneur who went from trading in plastic children's toys to building a multibillion- dollar empire of oil and aluminum.
After a chance meeting on a yacht in the Caribbean, these two men became locked in a complex partnership that would irrevocably change their lives. They surfed the waves of privatization after the fall of the Soviet regime, amassing megafortunes while also taking the reins of power in Russia. With Berezovsky serving as the younger entrepreneur's krysha-literally, his roof, his protector-they battled their way through the ''Wild East''of Russia.
A true-life thriller, this story reveals how Abramovich built one of Russia's largest oil companies from the ground up as Berezovsky's protégé-until their relationship soured after Berezovsky attacked President Vladimir Putin in the media. Dead bodies trailed Berezovsky's footsteps before and after his escape to London, where an associate of his died painfully of Polonium poisoning, creating an international furor. And as Abramovich continued to prosper, Berezovsky was found dead in a luxurious London town house, declared a suicide.
With unprecedented, exclusive first-person sourcing, Mezrich takes us inside a world of unimaginable wealth, power, and corruption to uncover the true story of Berezovsky and Abramovich, in one of the great epics of our time. Once Upon A Time in Russia will be brought to the silver screen by Warners Studio.
Mezrich has authored sixteen books, with a combined printing of over four million copies, including the wildly successful Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, which spent sixty-three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and sold over 2 million copies in fifteen languages. His book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal - debuted at #4 on the New York Times list and spent 18 weeks in hardcover and paperback, as well as hit bestseller lists in over a dozen countries. The book was adapted into the movie The Social Network -written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher - and was #1 at the box office for two weeks, won Golden Globes for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best score, and was nominated for 8 Oscars, winning 3 including best Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin. Mezrich and Aaron Sorkin shared a prestigious Scripter Award for best adapted screenplay as well.
In addition to these prestigious awards, Mezrich currently has multiple movies and TV shows in production based on his books. Newline Studios is producing The 37th Parallel, Fox Studios is close to green lighting Seven Wonders, and FX and WBTV are producing the Ugly Americans TV Show.
Top Customer Reviews
But first, the basics: "Kevin" joins a team of Blackjack players based out of MIT, and extracts some ungodly number of dollars from the casinos over the course of a five-year romp. Then the casinos wise up to the game, and start putting the squeeze on Kevin and his buddies: expulsions, IRS audits, intimidation, and a little rough stuff in back rooms.
Ben Mezrich is a thriller-writer by day, and the prose is a bit too ripely melodramatic--cliff-hanger chapter endings that go nowhere, visual metaphors culled from Raymond Chandler's wastebasket: "the muscles beneath his MIT T-shirt rippled like a plastic trash can left out in a heat wave." (And just when did everyone at MIT get so darned _ripped_? Almost everyone's a stud or a babe, except for the shadowy Asian ringleader with the horrible teeth and bad vision. Must be a different part of campus than I usually see.) But he manages to keep the writing at a good poolside or plane-time level, and you can skim the bits that are obviously padded out to stretch a 150-page story into a 250-page book.
The Blackjack itself seems mostly reasonable. The kids practice the classic "Hi-Lo" count, but with a clever twist. Hi-Lo calls for the player to bet the minimum a lot of the time, then dramatically raise the betting level when the distribution of cards turns favorable. One thing this isn't, is inconspicuous--the casinos are good at spotting this stuff. So the MIT gang fielded two types of players--some always bet low, but kept track of the "count." When it became favorable, these players would give the high-sign to a "Gorilla" or "Big Player," who always bet high, and sat at a hot table until the count went bad again.Read more ›
The story is told through the eyes of the author, who met one of the students at a party and was so intrigued by his outrageous tale that he was compelled to put it into a book. This is a story of a group of math whizzes, most of Asian descent, who used the art of card counting, worked as teams, and legally won as much as 4 million dollars during the few years they spent their weekends in the Vegas casinos, living the high life.
They strapped thousands of dollars to their bodies with Velcro to get the cash onto planes, used false names, and were always on the lookout for Las Vegas personnel who would sometimes personally escort them out of the casinos. They also learned about the seediness of the gambling world, greed, the way the Vegas corporations work. Of course they all went through changes. And eventually, it had to come to an end. Some of it is kind of scary too. But mostly, it's about beating the odds and living with a constant adrenaline high.
Well, reading this book is an adrenaline high of it's own. It put me right into the action and kept me there for the whole 257 pages. I loved it. And highly recommend it.
Ben Mezrich is superb writer and story teller with the amazing ability to weave the excitement of a Las Vegas casino, the mathmetics of card counting with enjoyable interpersonal dynamics so that this is a consuming story with people you care about. His description of the high roller lifestyle in Vegas takes you to the tables playing sums you watch others wager with the adrenaline rush like you were part of the team. I bought the book in Boston having just missed him at a book signing and had a hardtime finishing the conference. I found myself in the room reading a book I could not put down instead of going out in one of the towns in which the story was set. It was that engrossing.
My Christmas list now contains all of his previous writings as this is an author who knows how to tell a story.
In response to a few of the negative reviews, I read through many of them and have a few major disagreements to point out. First, J. Danielson, you talked about how you went to MIT and that Mezrich got a few of the details wrong about the school. To tell you the truth, when people read this book they won't remember the little details of graduating with honors or not, they'll remember the intense casino scenes. This brings me to the next topic of yours that I disagreed with. You talked about how you have been banned from a casino before and that they don't rough you up the way Mezrich made it seem like in his book. Well, there are more than a few casinos and what actions they take when kicking someone out will probably vary between them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved the movie, and love the book. Who doesn't enjoy finding out how people got rich cheating in Vegas? Ha ha!Published 26 days ago by serious shopper
I'm a huge math geek myself, so I really wanted to read this story and learn how these guys did what they did. Read morePublished 2 months ago by M.E. Romana, Romantic Suspense Author
I enjoyed the book. Now that I know how to count cards I am trying to get a good price on a room in Vegas.Published 3 months ago by James Egan
This book was the basis of the movie "21" starring Kevin Spacey. It is a good read that offers the reader what it was like working, winning, and the risks at playing team... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Richard R.