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BUTLER TO THE WORLD

HOW BRITAIN HELPS THE WORLD'S WORST PEOPLE LAUNDER MONEY, COMMIT CRIMES, AND GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING

A stinging case for developing a regulatory regime to force the U.K. “to seek a different way to earn a living.”

A scathing portrait of the U.K. as a kind of ATM, maintained by servile bankers, for the use of nefarious characters around the world.

Continuing themes he sounded in Moneyland, Welsh financial journalist Bullough delivers a book that couldn’t be timelier given current efforts to impound the expatriated wealth of Russian oligarchs after the invasion of Ukraine. His argument is unsparing: that the U.K. “has spent decades not helping America but picking its pocket, undermining its government, and making the world poorer and less safe.” The vast financial complex known as the City of London, for example, rivals institutions of Zurich for keeping the ill-gotten gains of “some of the worst people in existence” tucked safely away. London is far from alone. Former outposts of the British Empire such as Gibraltar and Mustique do yeoman—no, butler—service in hiding assets, laundering money, and offering casinos in which to gamble one’s fortune away. Seeing all this, Bullough writes, the U.S. long ago “copied Britain’s lax regulatory regime” to discourage dollar flight across the Atlantic, but even so, other nations, such as the Netherlands via Curaçao, “understood the profits to be made from gaming the system” and raised the stakes. Britain responded by further relaxing the rules, which is why places like the British Virgin Islands are now money havens for “North Korean arms smugglers, crooked Afghan officials, American tax dodgers, South American drug cartels, Kremlin insiders, corrupt football administrators and far too many criminals to name.” As Bullough writes in this eye-opening account, other U.K. entities seek new ways to serve, from “Scottish limited partnerships” to hidden accounts on Jersey, all of which help disguise money trails.

A stinging case for developing a regulatory regime to force the U.K. “to seek a different way to earn a living.”

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-28192-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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GENGHIS KHAN AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD

A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises.

“The Mongols swept across the globe as conquerors,” writes the appreciative pop anthropologist-historian Weatherford (The History of Money, 1997, etc.), “but also as civilization’s unrivaled cultural carriers.”

No business-secrets fluffery here, though Weatherford does credit Genghis Khan and company for seeking “not merely to conquer the world but to impose a global order based on free trade, a single international law, and a universal alphabet with which to write all the languages of the world.” Not that the world was necessarily appreciative: the Mongols were renowned for, well, intemperance in war and peace, even if Weatherford does go rather lightly on the atrocities-and-butchery front. Instead, he accentuates the positive changes the Mongols, led by a visionary Genghis Khan, brought to the vast territories they conquered, if ever so briefly: the use of carpets, noodles, tea, playing cards, lemons, carrots, fabrics, and even a few words, including the cheer hurray. (Oh, yes, and flame throwers, too.) Why, then, has history remembered Genghis and his comrades so ungenerously? Whereas Geoffrey Chaucer considered him “so excellent a lord in all things,” Genghis is a byword for all that is savage and terrible; the word “Mongol” figures, thanks to the pseudoscientific racism of the 19th century, as the root of “mongoloid,” a condition attributed to genetic throwbacks to seed sown by Mongol invaders during their decades of ravaging Europe. (Bad science, that, but Dr. Down’s son himself argued that imbeciles “derived from an earlier form of the Mongol stock and should be considered more ‘pre-human, rather than human.’ ”) Weatherford’s lively analysis restores the Mongols’ reputation, and it takes some wonderful learned detours—into, for instance, the history of the so-called Secret History of the Mongols, which the Nazis raced to translate in the hope that it would help them conquer Russia, as only the Mongols had succeeded in doing.

A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises.

Pub Date: March 2, 2004

ISBN: 0-609-61062-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2003

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