Casino Moscow by Matthew Brzezinski
A Tale of Greed and Adventure on Capitalism's Wildest Frontier

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Synopsis

Having awakened from its communist slumber, Russia in the roaring nineties is a place where everything and everyone is for sale and fortunes can be made and lost overnight. Into this maelstrom steps rookie "Wall Street Journal" reporter Matthew Brzezinski. Assigned to make sense of the financial markets, he is instantly plunged into the crazed world of Russian capitalism, where corrupt Moscow bankers and American carpetbaggers preside over the greatest boom and bust in international financial history. Brzezinski knows he's in over his head; what he comes to realize is that "so is the entire country." The government of Boris Yeltsin is under the thumb of seven powerful men known as "the oligarchs," and a crime boss from Chechnya -- even as his homeland is under siege by Russian troops -- has set himself up as one of Moscow's most powerful warlords. Meanwhile, the gap between haves and have-nots is widening into an abyss. Among Moscow's elite, solid-gold bathroom fixtures are de rigueur, while in Vladivostok, the last stop on the Trans-Siberian railway, local citizens must buy water by the pail from Russian mafia chieftains. Brzezinski's irreverent, swashbuckling account captures the greed and desperation of the time. He bribes his way aboard a Russian submarine. He survives a freak radiation spike at Chernobyl and travels four hundred miles on a private plane for lunch with a gorgeous robber baroness. He's set upon by Ukrainian thugs, who leave him tied with electrical cord in a bathtub. Fortified with vodka, he crashes ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's birthday party. And he visits a camp of "Young Pioneers," in which children play an elaborate game to learn theprinciples of a free market -- with disastrous results that foretell the chaos in store for the Russian economy. Just as "Liar's Poker" shone a torch on investment banking in the eighties, "Casino Moscow" paints a lurid, hilarious picture of a capitalist market gone haywire and an era marked by boundless hope and despair.
 

About Matthew Brzezinski

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Matthew Brzezinski was a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal in Kiev and Moscow from 1996 through 1998, having previously reported from Poland and other Eastern European countries for The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian (London), and The Toronto Globe and Mail. He is currently a freelance writer, and his work has most recently appeared in The New York Times Magazine. He lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published July 3, 2001 by Free Press. 320 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Travel, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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But when he returned to the provinces, he found the kind of natural resources that make for captivating reading, hiply told: a visit to a Russian submarine in Sevastapol, the wasteland of St. Petersburg as it makes a pathetic bid for the 2004 Olympics, the beyond-rough-and-tumble of the Far East ...

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

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