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Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice Paperback – Oct. 20 2015
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“Part John Grisham-like thriller, part business and political memoir.” —The New York Times
This is a story about an accidental activist. Bill Browder started out his adult life as the Wall Street maverick whose instincts led him to Russia just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, where he made his fortune.
Along the way he exposed corruption, and when he did, he barely escaped with his life. His Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky wasn’t so lucky: he ended up in jail, where he was tortured to death. That changed Browder forever. He saw the murderous heart of the Putin regime and has spent the last half decade on a campaign to expose it. Because of that, he became Putin’s number one enemy, especially after Browder succeeded in having a law passed in the United States—The Magnitsky Act—that punishes a list of Russians implicated in the lawyer’s murder. Putin famously retaliated with a law that bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
A financial caper, a crime thriller, and a political crusade, Red Notice is the story of one man taking on overpowering odds to change the world, and also the story of how, without intending to, he found meaning in his life.
“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
"A fascinating and unexpected story." -- Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie
"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 (Oct. 20 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476755744
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476755748
- Item weight : 522 g
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.67 x 21.27 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in Canada on October 24, 2019
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I can tell you that nobody in that business came away with clean hands. We all knew what we had to do to get things done. We also all knew that the fortunes we were making came off of the backs of the average Russian who had, and still has, very little. Perhaps we justified it because we knew that the money would never and could never end up in the hands of those who needed it unless we gave it directly to them. Many of us also believed that we were training a generation of young Russians who would take over and lead the country out of it's perpetual state of inefficiency and corruption.
I wonder if Bill Browder is aware that he, and we, were all western versions of the oligarchs using tricks and loopholes rather than intimidation and murder, to rob the Russian people of their wealth.
Having said all of this, I would like to add that Russia was not the scary evil land it is often portrayed to be. I, as well as most expats, didn't hesitate to hitchhike across Moscow at 3 am after a night of partying. Every car was a potential taxi and I never heard of anyone having issues. Would you feel safe doing this in any large North American city?
Bill Browder on the face of it seemed like an unlikely participant in this engrossing tale. His grandfather Earl Browder was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the United States during the first half of the 20th century. His father was a Mathematics professor at the University of Chicago. Bill grew up on the south side of Chicago and was a lackluster student, but something clicked and he turned of to be a superstar in the world of finance. It was finance and a serious interest in Russia that lead to a position heading up a hedge fund company after the Soviet Union collapsed. He made a name for himself and he was secure until he found that Russian officials were robbing the companies that he was investing in. This knowledge lead to Browder being expelled from the country by no less than Putin himself.
It turned out that a little digging by Browder's Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and a raid on Browder's office uncovered a theft in the amount of $230 million dollars. It was Magnitsky's dogged investigation and testimony against the thieves that exposed a much larger organization of criminal activity. Magnitsky's participation in exposing this corruption lead to his arrest, imprisonment, torture and eventual death.
It also lead to exposing or awakening another side of Browder as a human rights activist.
This story is complex and interesting. What I found particularly fascinating was Browder's back story since he seemed an unlikely candidate to become a wizard of finance or a human rights activist despite his family background.
This well written book does an excellent job of blending the reality of what is going on in Russia with a story about a crime with many victims.
Top reviews from other countries
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.
Gave up reading at 37%. Prefer reading about drugdealers - they are usually aware that what they are doing isn't to be boasted about.
As I read Bill Browder's moving and shocking account of Serges Magnitsky life & death I was taken back to that vigil.
During the intervening decades I've kept my interest in Russian politics, but not in the commercial/business perspective and context. Browder's Red Notice though published a while back ( 2008) is a very human & personal account of how guilt and injustice can be powerful motivators that change lives. Mr Browden is to be congratulated and admired for an excellent book. It took me a while in the first part why he spent so much time with his autobiographical narrative, then as he writes about the arrest, imprisonment, torture and murder of one of his staff, the hunt for justice I realised his approach was spot on
Thank you sir. I have one word for you, Serges family, & for Sergie Magnitsky: RESPECT
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.