Non-fiction That Reads Like Fiction

Red Notice by Bill Browder

July is non-fiction month, so I thought I would kick things off with a review of one of the best non-fiction thrillers I have read in a long time. Red Notice by Bill Browder is a financial caper, a crime thriller and a political crusade all wrapped into one.  It is the story of one man taking on overpowering odds to change the world. But more than that, it is the story of how, without really intending to, he found new meaning in his life.

Red Notice provides fascinating insight into the world of hedge fund management in the eastern bloc countries. It tells the story of Hermitage Capital, a hedge fund which at one time was the largest foreign investor in Russia.  The story is set in Post-Soviet Russia at a time when the country had developed into a kleptocracy. People in the government and those with the necessary connections were stripping the assets from the communist state at fire sale prices. Some of the assets, like the energy company Gazprom, were so huge that even a gang of dedicated thieves could only steal a fraction of the assets.  Hermitage Capital invested in Gazprom and other companies. Then, after buying the under-priced assets, they exposed the corruption which, at least for a time, drove the thieves away and caused stock prices to rise.

This worked well while Putin was gaining power since it cleared away some of the oligarchs that were in his way. But once Putin came to power, Hermitage Capital’s investment strategy was no longer tolerated. Browder and his company executives did not see the new reality of Putin’s regime unfolding until it was too late.

Browder manages to barely escape with his life. However, his Russian lawyer wasn’t so lucky. He was arrested and jailed where he was eventually tortured to death. His death had a profound effect on Browder.  His first-hand view of the murderous heart of the Putin regime leads him on a crusade to expose it to the rest of the world. Because of that, he becomes Putin’s number one enemy and is placed on “red notice.”

Through this remarkable tale, the reader sees Browder grow through the adversity he experiences. He regrets that he was not wiser in the beginning and did not see Russia clearly for what it was. Such regrets are common for anyone who carefully examines the journey he has made to his wiser self.

Red Notice provides a terrifying look at Communist politics through the eyes of an insider. Crime can keep a nonfiction book moving just like fiction, and this book does not disappoint. It works because the author piles detail after detail upon one another so that the reader feels like he is along for the ride. This book is a must read for anyone interested in politics and human rights.

Wanda DeHaven Pyle is the author of Windborne and the Legacy Trilogy available on Amazon and Kindle.


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