To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
I have been naive all my life. And chances are so have you. The way the world functions is very different from the way I have always imagined it has functioned. The way power is built and hapless citizens of nations, living their lives with blinders on is a shock to the system, the moment one learns about it. Putin, Trump, Tony Blair, Shell, HSBC, China all the biggest names, institutions and countries in the world are ripped open in this expose. Everyone human needs to read this book.
Having read his earlier book on Africa, I picked up this book and was expecting it to be a good one. I was not disappointed. The book reads like a thriller, except that everything is real life. It gives you an inside look at how criminals and corrupt leaders and businessmen make and launder money. From the privatized mines and factories of the former soviet union to rigged elections in Africa to a shady corporation listed in London, the book will show how all this is linked. A must read.
Jusy started reading the book. The sentence structure is a bit 😳 for my taste. The simple thing is told in a very loopy and fancy way. The author has a flair for words and it shows. The content reads like a real novel and it is scary to think how the rich and the powerful live a parallel and powerfully endowed life among us mortals without any accountability. Still reading it...
Every man lives his real, most interesting life under cover of secrecy Anton Chekhov, The Lady with The Dog
An alternative way of depicting this book is that ruthless thieves rule us. I am confident I am correct in stating that kleptocratic states are becoming increasingly common. I gained two extra terms. The first is ‘kleptocracy’. In a kleptocratic state, the ruler uses political authority to peddle the country’s resources for personal profit. The second, is ‘kakistocracy’. I learned this word while researching kleptocracy. This a state or society governed by its least suitable or competent citizens. If you throw in the word autocracy, you will have a state ruled by one person who concentrates all power in himself/herself.
The secret of a great fortune with no apparent cause is a crime that has been forgotten because it was done properly Honore de Balzac, Old Goriot Tom Burgis has composed a work about kleptocracies. He has not mentioned kakistocracies, which is a pity. If you analyse this word seriously, you recognize that it is (at one level) related to kleptocratic states. I would state that kleptocracies, kakistocracies and autocracies are linked. The writing is lively. There were occasions I had to warn myself that this is not a crime tale. Tom Burgis has depicted two kleptocratic situations—Africa and Kazakhstan/Ukraine. Evidently, kleptocratic states are not new. In my considered view, we can characterize the escapades of people like Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold in the 19th century as kleptocratic behavior. What is distinct between those times and our current days? Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold were not populists. Many of today’s corrupt leaders are populists. Populism usually rises when resentment and discontent sweep through society. There are many reasons for this, and this is not the place to plunge into this problem. However, Germany after World War I was ready for populism, as was India in 2012-2014. These are conditions in which a populist is most comfortable. He can manipulate the situation, present himself as a guardian angel, and then expels the established order. Yet, a populist creates an order that is worse than the one he supplanted. Political power becomes concentrated in the grip of a few, and kleptocracy rules. A kleptocrat is ruthless. Tom Burgis has painted a highly authentic picture of this ruthlessness in the two cases that he presented in his book.
They did not have to knock too hard.’ The London bankers’ and lawyers’ private pursuits matched those of the oligarchs and their retinues. ‘The finest of the finest prostitutes. Any drug you want. Different batches of girls. Limitless money. Limitless.’ from Kleptopia. Tom Burgis
There is another contrast between the 19th century and our years. This is the international scale of the operation. Social media, and the internet has made both—propaganda and cash transfer—much simpler. I don’t know if international banks took a piece of the action in the 19th century, but they do now. The book is a dismal tale of corruption, avarice, cynicism and outright hypocrisy.
Nigel of Basingstoke tried to put himself inside a BSI client’s mind. ‘Why would I come to London to set up an account in Switzerland in the name of a Cayman Islands entity with directors in Panama? Now, it makes absolutely no sense unless there is something quite underhand going on.’ from Kleptopia. Tom Burgis Tom Burgis presents us with two narratives. One is that of Nigel Wilkins of Basingstoke who tried, through his career, to piece together evidence against the corruption. The other is the account of fraud in Ukraine/Kazakhstan and Africa. This is a tale of greed, cruelty and dictatorial power. The kleptocrats think nothing of torturing protestors and labelling them as anti-national. Neither do they think twice about celebrating ostentatiously while their citizens are infected with Ebola and die gruesome deaths. In his last chapter, Tom gives us with a list of countries controlled by kleptocrats. The USA should thank itself that Donald Trump has been voted out of power. If not, it would have gone the way of the other countries. I am startled that he did not mention India. However, the situation in India may be distinctive in its own manner. Nigel Wilkins died without being able to pursue justice to its bitter end. Tom has weaved a compelling narrative of selfishness, corruption and exploitation of power There is one deficiency in the book. The analysis is not deep enough. Earlier in this review, I mentioned kakistocracies and autocracies because I believe they are related. Does democracy exist, except in name? Tom Burgis could have thrown some wisdom into these topics and the interdependences between them. Putting this quibble aside, it is an exceptional book. We ought to be frightened. Most of us lead our lives in complacent bubbles of blissful ignorance. Thieves rule us, and we vote them into power again and again. This is an exceptional book—about racketeers and dupes.
Back in 1974 I was a Grade 1 clerk at British Transport Hotels working with Alex, a Pole in his sixties who was also a Grade 1 clerk. As far as he was concerned everyone was on the take. The office chat turned to Jesus Christ Superstar, ‘Archbishop Canterbury, he getting his cut.’ We laughed. Turns out he was a prophet. Turns out what separates us in this kleptocratic society of ours, in this kleptocratic world of ours, is just the degree to which we avert our eyes. As the angle moves towards zero, the cast of this book gets scarier and scarier, but it’s the complicity, the secondary and tertiary exploitation that gets you. If you want to understand why we are where we are, politically, economically, legally, morally, I would strongly recommend Tom Burgis’ Kleptopia.
Tedious, with convoluted rather rambling threads that were difficult to follow. Supporting data for various assertions always felt cursory and thin. In the end, the author states the blindingly obvious..... dirty money has to be cleaned to wield power and influence; where better to launder than real estate in UK/USA?...... The personal sob stories were over-done and the final section that focused on a vilification of Trump seemed to lack any solid evidence.
This book has an enormous amount of detail relating to its subject but it is presented in such a Hollywood type fashion that it is almost impossible to read. There are multiple characters sketched in glitzy details and endlessly confusing situations that make them almost impossible to follow and it is written in a terribly unique style: " What mattered.. was the story that was told, the story that was projected onto the world. That was what made the clouds angry rather than some other mood, what determined who was Jelyll, who was Hyde. The vocabulary of the stories about money served those who had lots of it." and on it goes, endlessly until one's brain screams 'enough, enough' but it doesn't stop. It is, ultimately, unreadable.
I have no doubt the author knows what he is talking about and has done an incredible amount of research but this is an almost impossible read in my view. He disgorges names, places and companies in enormous quantities and varying contexts that are impossible to connect. I kept hunting for threads but eventually gave up. I cannot believe this book has been through an editor. It is a great shame as the subject is so important.
A cracking narrative on dirty money laundering. Explains very clearly, roles of various participants, the various mechanisms and flows of dirty money across the globe. Though the focus is more on erstwhile Soviet republics, I reckon it works more or less in similar fashion across the world. What is more concerning is the role active or passive played by financial institutions, politicians, law firms, auditors and regulators which is very neatly discussed in the book. It feels like they almost act in concert to facilitate the laundering. The extent of human misery caused by corruption related to these activities is also laid bare. Troubling but reads like a thriller.