Once Upon a Time in Russia, Ben Mezrich

once upon a time in russia

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2 Responses to “Once Upon a Time in Russia, Ben Mezrich”

  1. Tyler F. Says:

    Summary: This books follows certain life events of Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch. Berezovsky ends up getting into a fight with the tzar of Russia at the time, Vladimir Putin. Due to this fight, Berezovsky is forced to sell his oil and gas to another oligarch named Roman Abrahomvic. Since he was forced to sell for such as small price he ended up going to court in hopes of getting back money from Abrahomvic. Unfortunately, Berezovsky was not able to win the case and the judge ordered that the case be dismissed. He left most of the rest of his fortune. Shortly after this, he ended up passing away.

    Evaluation: The book was a bit hard to read because it was pretty in depth regarding the business aspect of Boris’s life and that was the real negative I had after reading this book. Although the book included different settings, I didn’t feel like I was actually immersed in Berezovsky’s life and instead, I felt as though the book was more of a documentary of what was actually happening. Other than that, I felt like this was a good read and it shared a lot of information regarding the oligarchy in Russia and the way power is distributed.

    Rating: 3/5

    Recommendations: Kite Runner– Khaled Hosseini, Little Brown Brother– Leon Wolff

  2. Alex B. Says:

    Summary: This book, Once Upon A Time In Russia, may seem like a fiction spy book, but it’s a factual spy and political book. The book starts with a meeting between the oligarchs in 2000 near Moscow including Vladimir Putin. After the car bomb, FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko became friends with the salesman Boris Berezovsky and tried to change Russia and failed. The oligarchs would do anything to stay in power of Russia. This includes killing or sending any and all to jail for betraying them or standing in their way. In the middle of the book Putin arrested Alex for being disloyal to him, and he even rearrested him after the judge called him innocent. In the second half of the book, the president of Russia hands his presidency over to Vladimir Putin as acting president until the elections would be done, but he won, so he is president, and he has complete control of Russia. Later on, Vladimir Gusinsky is a very powerful oligarch, and he was investigated by the government for moving state money, tax evasion, and corrupt enrichment. Then he was arrested, and he was blackmailed to either spend his life in prison or sell his shares in his businesses and be exiled from Russia. This is significant because Putin was intending to rid Russia of these powerful Oligarchs one by one. Yet Putin needed to stay under the radar until the right time. Once Putin was elected he exiled Alex from Russia. Alex moved to London and Boris eventually joined him to avoid Putin. Boris Berezovsky was the salesman who rose to the highest levels of the Russian Government and was a successful Oligarch, then ultimately fell to the lowest level in the end. While Alex and Boris were each in a different place and time, both committed suicide to make a statement against Putin.

    Evaluation: The book has a great introduction with the transition into violence in the second chapter like a car bomb to kill a salesman. This book includes violence, corruption, blackmail, exile, and many real life events in Russia. I feel this book is interesting and foreshadowing the current events around the world today. The book relates to the constant media coverage of Russian interference in elections and undermining for self benefit around the world.

    Rating: I am rating this book 5 stars. This book has well written details and good true stories about the real life spies and politicians in Russia.

    Recommendations: A good non-fiction and adventure book is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

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