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Seventy years of communism had destroyed the work ethic of an entire nation.
Instead of 150 million Russians sharing the spoils of mass privatization, Russia wound up with twenty-two oligarchs owning 39 percent of the economy and everyone else living in poverty.
This whole exercise was teaching me that Russian business culture is closer to that of a prison yard than anything else.
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Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice Paperback – October 20, 2015
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“Reads like a classic thriller, with an everyman hero alone and in danger in a hostile foreign city . . . but it’s all true.” -- Lee Child, bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series
"The first half of Red Notice traces Browder’s improbable journey from prep-school washout through college, business school, and a series of consulting and Wall Street jobs before becoming Russia’s largest foreign investor....This book-within-a-book does for investing in Russia and the former Soviet Union what Liar’s Poker did for our understanding of Salomon Brothers, Wall Street, and the mortgage-backed securities business in the 1980s. Browder’s business saga meshes well with the story of corruption and murder in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, making Red Notice an early candidate for any list of the year’s best books." -- Norman Pearlstine ― Fortune
"The story of Sergei Magnitsky's life and death is a shocking true-life thriller, and Bill Browder was the man to write it." -- Tom Stoppard
“In Red Notice, Bill Browder tells the harrowing and inspiring story of how his fight for justice in Russia made him an unlikely international human rights leader and Vladimir Putin's number-one enemy. It is the book for anyone interested in understanding the culture of corruption and impunity in Putin's Russia today, and Browder’s heroic example of how to fight back.” -- Senator John McCain
"This book reads like a thriller, but it's a true, important, and inspiring real story. Bill Browder is an amazing moral crusader, and his book is a must-read for anyone who seeks to understand Russia, Putin, or the challenges of doing business in the world today." -- Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and The Innovators
"Browder’s true story is a heart-in-your-throat page turner, and the only close-up look I know of what it’s like to take on Putin. It is also a moving account of a man who found his calling, and ended up winning in the end." -- Bryan Burrough, co-author of Barbarians at the Gate and author of Public Enemies and The Big Rich
"A fascinating, heart-stopping account of how to take on Putin--and win. It's exciting to read about Browder's roller-coaster ride to wealth in Russia, and to learn how his compassion for Sergei Magnitsky, his murdered lawyer, inspired his memorable struggle against the venal apparatchiks of a corrupt state. This is the gripping--and absolutely true--story behind the Magnitsky Law, a signal advance in human rights." -- Geoffrey Robertson, human rights lawyer and author of Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle For Global Justice
"This indispensable look at the brutal realities of the Putin regime is of even greater relevance thanks to Bill Browder’s unique expertise and personal experience inside the belly of the beast.” -- Garry Kasparov, Chess Grandmaster and author of How Life Imitates Chess
"Bill Browder has become one of the most sincerely hated men in the Kremlin over the years--and that is something to be incredibly proud of. . . . This book shows the difference that one person can make when they refuse to back down, as told by a fellow soldier in the battle to hold Putin to account." -- Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina, members of Pussy Riot
"Browder’s narrative lays out in vivid detail the often murky mechanisms of Russia’s kleptocratic economy, culminating in an engrossing account of what would surely be the heist of the century were it not so representative of business as usual. It’s also a chilling, sinister portrait of a society in which the rule of law has been destroyed by those sworn to enforce it. The result is an alternately harrowing and inspiring saga of appalling crime and undeserved punishment in the Wild East." ― Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An almost unbelievable tale . . . well-paced, heartfelt . . . It may be that ‘Russian stories never have happy endings,’ but Browder's account more than compensates by ferociously unmasking Putin's thugocracy.” ― Kirkus Reviews
"[Browder's] freewheeling, snappy book describes the meteoric rise, and disastrous fall, of a buccaneer capitalist who crossed the wrong people and paid a steep price. . . The high stakes make for a zesty tale." ― New York Times
“[A] riveting account of Browder’s journey through the early years of Russian capitalism….Begins as a bildungsroman and ends as Greek tragedy…. ‘Russian stories never have happy endings,’ Magnitsky tells Browder, in the book’s most memorable line. Perhaps not, but they do have inspiring ones.” ― The Washington Post
“A swashbuckling story that’s been justly compared with Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker.” ― Vulture.com
“In his new book, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice, Bill Browder writes the way he talks—which is always a good strategy. His autobiography is bracing, direct and honest, with only a little less swearing than you encounter in person. It is both a political thriller and an argument for morality in foreign policy that he could never have expected to make when he began his roaring career in finance.” ― The Daily Beast
“Bill Browder, the unexpected hero and author of this suspenseful memoir, is no ordinary investment banker. . . . It is fascinating to follow him as he navigates the kleptocratic Russian economy. . . Most of the story is about finance, revolving around things like valuation anomalies and share dilutions, and all of it comes surprisingly alive." ― Boston Globe
"I don’t know anything about investment banking except what Browder has taught me in Red Notice, yet as a reader I was fully engaged by the book’s monumental presentation of the risks, rewards, and personal and financial dangers of doing business in Russia....An unusually affecting book...What Browder says he intends to do now is to 'carry on creating a legacy for Sergei [Magnitsky] and pursuing justice for his family.' A book as resounding as Red Notice may be a step in that direction." ― Christian Science Monitor
"It's a riveting account--and really, how could it not be?...Engrossing." -- The New York Times Book Review
“An impassioned personal broadside against the Kremlin.” ― Financial Times
“A jaw-dropping account.” ― The Bookseller (UK)
“A sizzling account of Mr. Browder’s rise, fall and metamorphosis from bombastic financier to renowned human-rights activist." ― The Economist (UK)
"Rattling through the high-finance world of New York and London, and then on to the seedier side of life in Moscow, Red Notice sometimes stretches credulity. But just as Browder really is a hedge fund manager turned human rights activist, so this story of courage combined with a dash of obsessiveness is about the real here and now. . . . He reminds us that heroism sometimes lies in unlikely places. Browder deserves our respect." ― The Independent (UK)
“An unrelenting parable of how Russia’s rulers cheat and harm their citizens…a very Russian tale, as well as an important one.” ― The Spectator (UK)
“A fascinating exposé.” ― The Guardian (UK)
"A tale that makes the dirty dealings of House of Cards look like Snow White." ― The Toronto Star
“The financial thriller book category just met its match.” ― Pensions and Investments
“Riveting…Browder’s story of investing bravado turns into a thriller as compelling as any John le Carré spy novel.” ― Institutional Investor
“A scathing indictment of Putin’s brutal kleptocracy.” ― Value Walk
“A gripping read…fascinating.” ― Management Times (UK)
“Fast-paced… It is a story worth reading for anyone interested in Russia, but also for those contemplating business or life opportunities in regions where Western ethics do not apply.” ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Browder's book is, to my knowledge, the first unveiling of the intrinsically mafia-like nature of Putinism in all its breathtaking scope and horror.” ― The Huffington Post
“Red Notice is a dramatic, moving and thriller-like account of how Magnitsky’s death transformed Browder from hedge-fund manager to global human rights crusader.” ― The Guardian (US edition)
"Read this book in two days. Could not put it down.” ― Marney Rich Keenan, The Detroit News
"A frightening account of corruption and murder and deceit at the highest levels. . . . A fascinating report that reads more like a mystery thriller." ― Boston Herald
About the Author
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (October 20, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476755744
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476755748
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.38 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Several sections come across as disingenuous. For example, he criticizes his first wife for planning an incredibly expensive vacation and then brags about an expensive vacation that he takes with his second wife. He fakes humility at the hearings for the Magnitsky Act, but brags about his meetings with Senators and the talks he is invited to give. He repeatedly talks about how his talks and speeches were the only ones that could make certain audiences cry. It seems far-fetched for him to call himself a human rights activist. He took up on one cause for his auditor, Magnitsky. What are his other great acts of human rights activism? I really don't see any. He states late in the book that he has no culpability in the death of Magnitsky. On the one hand, that is completely true. The Russian guards denied medical care and beat Magnitsky to death. However, it is Browder who thought he could reveal corruption in Russia while in Russia and remain untouched. His arrogance and disregard for culture and political realities made him a less than sympathetic person. His descriptions of people's body shapes and voice tones are also a distraction and unnecessary, much like his description of dating his second wife. It gave a window into his character. He talked about dating her the way someone describes a sporting event using words like win and conquer. He went out of his way to write about how beautiful she was and how other men wanted her but he won her, making her sound like a prize instead of a human. He attempts to sound like he cares for the Russian orphans that now cannot be adopted by US citizens, but it sounded more like a passing thought. If he is a human rights activist, what is he doing for the orphans, especially since the ceasing of adoptions was a direct retaliation for the Magnitsky Act.
There are no doubts that Magnitsky was unjustly killed in a Russian prison by Russian officials. Unfortunately, the way Bill Browder wrote the book leaves the reader thinking about Bill Browder and not about the corrupt Russian government and its impact on our country.
All of these qualities of Bill Browder and the style of his writing where he repeatedly portrays himself as a magnificent human rights activist were a complete turnoff.
The book is written with remarkable clarity and deftly explains difficult subject matter. It is extremely timely as it provides the backdrop for the meeting that Donald Trump, Jr. held with a Russian lawyer who wanted to discuss lifting the Magnitsky sanctions.
Of course, what happened to Magnitsky was abhorrent. I agree as well that sanctions against corrupt state operators, kleptocrats, banksters, etc who rob their country blind, pillage public coffers, etc should be enacted & enforced. What I also believe is the SAME actions should be taken against HEDGE FUND OPERATORS whose actions are equally or even more egregious. At the VERY least, they are complicit in the pain & suffering people endure as a result of their actions.
What happened to Magnitsky pales by orders of magnitude compared to the devastating and irreversible long-term effects of the unfettered, rogue capitalism w/in which Browder became a wealthy man. He did so by making a vocation of predatory profiteering - pillaging & picking the bones of stressed, failing or failed states. While not illegal, how he made/makes his fortune is amoral.
Right now, as I write this review, Puerto Rico has been DEVASTATED by Hurricane Maria. There is NO Electricity on the ENTIRE island and the PRIVATIZED electric company REFUSES to restore electricity. Why? Because hedge fund operators preyed on Puerto Rico - left the ppl & the state even more impoverished and, now, in perpetual peonage. Essential public services (e.g. power & water) infrastructure were sold off / "privatized" (turned into for-profit operations) @ bargain basement prices to pay toward their debt. The authority of the island's mayor was usurped. Puerto Rico’s finances are now CONTROLLED by a board of predatory banksters who will ensure Puerto Rico remains in perpetual peonage to them. Ppl have & will continue to die as a direct result of the unconscionable profiteering by hedge fund operations.
This is not an isolated incident. This rapacious behavior by rogue capitalist operations like hedge fund management companies is sweeping the globe. Decimating countries - often leaving autocratic, tyrannous governments in their wake. Hedge fund profiteers wash their hands of culpability for the fallout from their actions as they belly up to the trough & fatten themselves off unimaginable misery. So, when one of them falls, the irony of the wildly disproportionate ratio of their fallen to those whom they “rescued” (profiteered off of) is not lost on me..
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First, it flows like a well-written political thriller but, unfortunately, it is fact, not fiction. That said, if ever Bill Browder gets bored with asset management he would surely be able to make a living writing thrillers like this. He's a natural. He has the knack of reducing sometimes arcane and abstruse business language and legal procedures to an easily understandable narrative.
Secondly, his story is a timely warning to those who wish to work/invest in Russia. It is clear that despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, old habits die hard. Stalin's chief prosecutor is reputed to have said in the 1930s that he would consign the rule of law to the dustbin of history. He did, and that philosophy effectively still endures today. Far from being independent of the Executive, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies are its handmaidens. The horrifying events surrounding the interrogation of the author's lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, and his eventual death in custody, testify to the scant regard that some of Russia's institutions have for due process.
Mr Browder is a brave man, perhaps to the point of recklessness; recklessly endangering his own life.
Thirdly, and importantly (without wishing to belittle Sergey Magnitsky's barbaric treatment), it is a contemporaneous record of what is happening on the front line to anybody who crosses the power elite in Russia; from illegal tax assessments and unlawful share dilutions to the employment of "white noise" jamming techniques in meetings - not forgetting Litvinenko's polonium poisoning (in the UK), allegedly by the FSB.
Mr Browder's experiences are just as seminal as the views of those who have spent their lives studying the topic from afar, never having set foot on Russian soil. There is no substitute for the harsh realities of practical experience.
Furthermore, being a writer myself on Russian affairs and culture (both of fact and fiction), I can empathise with his experiences. I, too, lived and worked on the front line in the USSR/Russia in the late 1980s/90s – not as a business investor, but as a lawyer trying to help bring some order to a disintegrating communist empire. And, again, like the author, I have met many Russian individuals whom I admire, respect and love, and who just want to live in harmony with the rest of us. Russian government institutions, on the other hand are, as Churchill said of the USSR generally: "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma".
This book is a must read, not only by those proposing to invest in Russia, but also by anybody interested in international relations with the country, which at the moment are testy to say the least. If both East and West took more time to try to understand the other side's position, and not judge each other by their own standards, I am sure that the relationship would be warmer, despite the cultural differences.
His expertise is in the privatisation of liberated, eastern block companies. Along the way he upsets some of the shady, immensely wealthy oligarchs . His young lawyer whom he totally trusts and believes in discovers a massive fraud against the Russian tax office perpetrated by high ranked Russian officials who in turn make the young man's life a living hell. They imprison and torture him month after month denying him medical attention for an agonising condition in an attempt to have him retract his findings. This brave young lawyer will not do so, so they beat him to death.
The second half of the book concerns Bill Prouder's crusade to get justice for his friend's good name and family. His fight involves the British and U.S. government at the highest levels. Republican Senator John McCain comes out of it as a hero while democrat senator Kerry is portrayed as a self obsesed disgrace. On the other side the battle goes all the way up to Putin and what a piece of work he is.
If this was a work of fiction one would think it OTT, but it is a well documented truth opening one's eyes to the Russian greed, cruelty, in-bread dishonesty and it must be noted stupidity.
Bill Prouder to his own danger sticks to his task and is much to be admired. I promise this is one you won't put down.