The best-selling author of Bringing Down the House (63 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and the basis for the hit movie 21) and The Accidental Billionaires (the basis for the Academy Award-winning film The Social Network) delivers an epic drama of wealth, rivalry, and betrayal among megawealthy Russian oligarchs - and its international repercussions.
Once Upon a Time in Russia is the untold true story of the larger-than-life billionaire oligarchs who surfed the waves of privatization to reap riches after the fall of the Soviet regime: "Godfather of the Kremlin" Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician whose first entrepreneurial venture was running an automobile reselling business, and Roman Abramovich, his dashing young protégé, who built a multibillion-dollar empire of oil and aluminum. Locked in a complex, uniquely Russian partnership, Berezovsky and Abramovich battled their way through the "Wild East" of Russia, with Berezovsky acting as the younger man's krysha - his roof, his protector.
Written with the heart-stopping pacing of a thriller - but even more compelling because it is true - this story of amassing obscene wealth and power depicts a rarefied world seldom seen up close. Under Berezovsky's krysha, Abramovich built one of Russia's largest oil companies from the ground up and in exchange made cash deliveries - including $491 million in just one year. But their relationship frayed when Berezovsky attacked President Vladimir Putin in the media - and had to flee to the UK. Abramovich continued to prosper. Dead bodies trailed Berezovsky's footsteps, and threats followed him to London, where an associate of his died painfully and famously of Polonium poisoning. Then Berezovsky himself was later found dead, declared a suicide.
©2015 Mezco, Inc. (P)2015 Simon & Schuster
My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine; (fortunately) everybody drinks water. - Mark Twain
There are the oligarchs, but the most interesting part of the book is how they were reigned in and Vladimir Putin gained power. This book is entertaining, and at the same time gives you bonus points in the intellectual department.
I find Russia one of the most fascinating subject. This book only adds to my disbelief of the absolute craziness that goes on in the beautiful and amazing country. Previously I had hear part labor these stories but this book pills them all together in a way that makes more sense and explains much about what is the current situation in Russia. Highly recommend to anyone that loves business, politics, and history.
Excellent book. I had some reservations as I have read a fair bit in this area (for an American) and felt I would already be familiar with the narrative. I need not have been concerned. The book is a great addition to the limited literature dealing with this period in Russia and much more than just a rehashing of previously reported facts.
Mezrich takes the reader back into Russia at is was during Yeltsin and early Putin years by telling the story through the experiences of the oligarchs that dominated the country's politics during this time -- their origins, personalities, rivalries, agendas, and public vs. private selves. The story he tells is a rich and three dimensional one, and generally the author nails it, grabbing the reader from the opening chapter (which begins in the clouds of smoke following a failed assignation attempt in Moscow) and never really letting up. The scope is historical rather then contemporary, but the ark of this narrative told by Mezrich is unfolding even in 2016, so the information is the book remains relevant today. The book is full of interesting information, but by its conclusion the reader is left with a lot to think about and at least as many questions than answers. Exactly as it should be in my view.
The time flew by and I would have welcomed additional chapters.
Well worth the credit!
I definitely enjoy the style and manner in which Mezrich incorporates illustrative literary expressions to intermingle and exist within a historical interpretation of A time Russian oligarchs dominated the Russian political and business landscapes.
Purports to take you in to the thoughts of men, including the moments before their deaths. Unless the author is magic, this style causes me to doubt all of the "facts" presented in the book.
A very strange book overall, but I did finish it out as the characters were compelling.
Ben Mezrich does an amazing job here of translating his meticulous research into an interesting narrative. The historical figures we deal with in the text become characters in their own right; Mezrich writes like a fiction narrator, giving the reader a glimpse into his characters' thoughts, goals and actions. Simply put, the book reads like a story, rather than a nonfiction historical account, and this makes for a fascinating listen.
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