Book Review: Red Notice by Bill Browder

With events in the Ukraine on everybody’s minds and the ruthlessness of Putin evident to all, I thought I would write a review of a book that both gripped and horrified me in equal measure. It is an autobiography, a tale of promise, then deceit, lawlessness and horror.

Many of you watching the current reporting by the BBC may have seen an interview with Bill Browder, the author of Red Notice. He has first-hand experience of life in Russia, a country he loved.  The fall out for him will, no doubt last a lifetime. By all accounts he is still on Putin’s most wanted list.

Red Notice is the story dating back to the 1990s when Browder, an American-born British financier and in more recent years a political activist, was CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, which, at one time, was the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia.

In the late 1990s the West was optimistic about the future of relationships with Russia. The end of the Cold War and the promise of a new and more harmonious interaction beckoned. Browder and his colleagues in Moscow also felt that the Soviet ghosts had been laid to rest and looked forward to enjoying a healthy business venture. This was until Sergei Magnitsky, a close friend and colleague of Browder’s, uncovered a massive tax fraud by the government and from that moment, Sergei’s fight for justice and the eventual outcome of his quest and refusal to back down, becomes the heart of the book.

Following are quotes taken from Browder’s website. It is, not surprisingly, littered with such quotes and, in my opinion and of those who have also read it, well deserved. Gripping, eye-opening and horrifying in equal measure.

“Bill Browder’s autobiography is bracing, direct and honest…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.”

“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’s a must-read 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.”

 

Hilary Stockwell

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