Secrecy World pulls back the curtain on international criminal - or what should be criminal - tax evasion (oh, sorry, I mean tax avoidance) and the corrupt industries that make it possible. The book is focused through the lens of the blockbuster reporting of the Panama Papers, the enormous leak of internal documents from a Panamanian law firm, so we get the inside view from the trenches of international investigative journalism as well. It's a great read, incredibly detailed and full of can't-make-this-stuff-up characters and plots - my hat's off to Mr. Bernstein for weaving it together as a page-turner that kept me up late reading, and reaching for more first thing in the morning. Remarkable!
I have been slogging through this book for months wondering if the day will ever come that I read the final chapter. Like other reviewers have stated this is a fascinating subject and much overdue for exposure. Unfortunately Bernstein’s writing is so stilted and choppy the book is practically unreadable. He jumps from one sound bite to the next. It is more like a series of tweets than a book or a helpful expose. Bernstein follows a pedestrian narrative timeline: first this, then this happened. Good investigative journalism is overshadowed by a stilted play-by-play recounting of events. This book needs to be re-written.
The Secrecy World reads like a fast-paced thriller with a deeply reported and intricately woven narrative. For anyone curious about this global gilded age we've arrived in and how we got here, the Secrecy World is your road map and Bernstein lays it all out. From the board rooms of Panama to the secret shell companies in the British Virgin Islands and beyond, the reader gets a crash course in how everyone from the Queen of England to multinational corporations avoid paying taxes and hide their cash. The reader also gets a fascinating behind the scenes look at how an international consortium of journalists breaks one of the biggest stories of the decade with the Panama Papers leak.
For many years, I've admired Bernstein's tenacity in getting the story and his first-rate reporting skills, and with this book you won't be disappointed!
The author, Jake Bernstein, was one of the reporters who actually worked on the Panama Papers. His book centers around the leak of those documents, the efforts of many reporters around the world to analyse and publish them with coherence and meaning, and how the whole off shore world of shady finances works. His research, detail and exposition are first class, giving essentially a graduate course on the subject. The book is so detailed, and there are so many different characters involved, that it requires careful reading, but well worth it if you are interested in the subject.
I work in finance and thought this would be an interesting read. Unfortunately, I found it rather boring and anti-climatic. Informative and eye-opening if you have no idea this kind of tax evasion and money laundering exists. But I struggled to stay interested.
This is a book published at the perfect moment -- that is, while we are in the midst of Robert Mueller's special investigation. Bernstein has provided his readers with an essential primer for "following the money" and understanding the secretive culture of tax-evaders and political scoundrels. One needn't be a financial wizard to grasp the consequences for economies both large and small when, as described by the author, billions of dollars are routinely siphoned off by a relative handful of corrupt individuals whose principal occupation is self-enrichment.
Jake Bernstein’s crystal-clear writing illuminates the dark world of illicit finance in a way that throws light on some of the most complex, shady global networks and nefarious transactions -- a true gift, and a true art. If you have ever paid honest taxes, or wondered how members of the arrogant super-rich avoid the same responsibility, this is the book for you. Bernstein, a lead reporter in the consortium of journalists that broke the revelations of the Panama Papers, describes from the inside the jaw-dropping collusion among law firms, politicians, royalty, Hollywood and sports celebrities that makes it all possible. And he does it in the style of the best reporters, with wit, color and hard facts that kept me turning page after page.