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CASINO MOSCOW

Item #: 9780684869773
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    A staff writer for the Wall Street Journal in Kiev and Moscow from 1996 to 1998, Brzezinski had a front-row seat at the turbulent privatization of Russia's post-Communist industrial base. Modernization and efficiency along Western lines may have been the official goals of the campaign, but Brzezinski argues that, in the end, it resulted in large-scale robbery in which Russia's elite spirited an estimated $150 billion to $300 billion out of the country, stowing it in Swiss bank accounts and other offshore hideaways. The book is filled with hair-raising details: Before setting up a company in Russia, a Canadian businessman has to interview several gangs to decide who will cover his back; families wanting to earn a living wage have chosen to live and work near Chernobyl, emphatically denying its well-known health hazards. But although he regards Russia's failure to modernize during this period a tragedy, Brzezinski offers an irreverent account of greed and corruption in this rollicking page-turner. In the face of rampant cronyism, corruption and fraud, Brzezinski (whose uncle Zbigniew was the national security adviser to the Carter administration) can still laugh at striving Moscow's claims to be the New York of the East (when expats like himself preferred to call it the Big Cucumber). Righteous indignation at the betrayal of a country and of the international organizations that tried to lend assistance, however, resonates in his assertion, "What passed for capitalism in Russia was a grotesque perversion of the American variety." (July) Forecast: The author's Wall Street Journal credentials and the cachet of his uncle's political connections should help call attention to this smart, firsthand report on a particularly volatile historical event. 316 Pgs. 2002


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