Red Notice – Bill Browder

An interesting book recommendation from one of my younger friends who has discovered a passion for finding out more about Russia. I’m not sure I would choose to start discovering Russia from this book but everyone has to start somewhere and I guess I just prefer to start further back in history and work forwards.

The author of this book is the grandson of Earl Browder, leader of the Communist Party USA in the 1930s and 40s. As a form of rebellion against his left-leaning family he decides to go all out to become a capitalist working in the City.

After a few false starts Browder finds himself working in London and curious about the opportunities opening up in post-Soviet Russia.

He sets up a hedge fund investing in Russia and initially does very well. Then, as the oligarchs gain more power, not well. This draws him into uncovering and then exposing some of the worst corruption rife within big-business. Whilst these exposes help Putin bring the oligarchs into line this strategy works then…

The remainder of the book is about how Browder and his team end up in a fight for their lives – a fight that Sergei Magnitsky lost – and a fight to make sure Magnitsky didn’t die in vain.

I wasn’t at all sure I was going to enjoy this book; hedge funds and The City don’t much interest me and although I was vaguely aware of the Magnitsky Act in USA American politics doesn’t much interest me either. However, as I got into the book I became more and more interested.

There was a sense of horror at the naivety of Browder and his blasé assumption that he was going to be fine in Russia despite stirring up hornets nests. I’m still not that interested in hedge funds but I now know more about them and how these sorts of deals are put together. I also feel I know more about modern Russia.

If you’re at all interested in the way the modern, global economy works you should probably read this book. There will definitely be something to catch your interest and something to be appalled about in it for you.

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