Book Review: Erik Larson’s latest and “Red Notice” by Bill Browder

A 2-for-1 book review!

The first book up is the latest from Erik Larson – one of my favorite authors (a favorite of Jon’s as well).  Erik writes historical non-fiction, with a bit of fictional embellishment along the way.  His books are entertaining, educational and thought-provoking.

Larson’s latest installment is The Splendid and the Vile and is about Winston Churchill during the German Blitz in WWII.  Unfortunately, this book doesn’t quite live up to the quality of Larson’s previous books.  It does offer some good insight into what went on during the Blitz and how Churchill managed to rally the entire county and stay steadfast in his mission to defeat Germany.  However, the book can be a bit repetitive and lacks some of the nuanced adventure and intrigue of Larson’s other books.  If you are a WWII buff, this book will surely entertain, and you will find it a nice addition to the many books written on the subject.  However, if you are new to Erik Larson, I’d recommend The Devil in the White City as your first book; a fascinating tale of murder and the massive undertaking to put on the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Part Two of this review is Red Notice by Bill Browder.  This book came via recommendation from a P&A client (Thanks, Mark!) and it did not disappoint.

Red Notice is the true story of Bill Browder, a finance guy who went to Russia to open an investment firm.  The book reads like a part-spy novel and part-investment story, with a healthy dose of human rights activism.  It follows Mr. Browder from his start in investment banking to his foray into Russia, seeking to make his fortune buying undervalued, up-and-coming companies from the break-up of the Soviet Union.  Bill’s instincts prove correct and he makes a fortune at his firm – Hermitage Capital.

However, all his success gets the attention of some unsavory characters in Russia, and he is reminded that the country can still be a very dangerous place to do business.  He is forced to navigate false allegations and the “theft” of some of his investments, providing a great look into the challenges of doing business in a country where the rules don’t always apply (the book gives you a large appreciation for the order and rules that exist in America’s capital markets).  The story then takes an even darker turn, as some of the people who are helping Mr. Browder do business in Russia don’t heed warnings to leave the country and find themselves facing a perilous fate. The last portion of the book focuses on Mr. Browder’s efforts to bring to light the atrocities taking place in Russia and shares the stories of those who helped him and suffered as a result.  He works across the globe to bring those responsible to justice and have laws put into place to prevent similar events from repeating.


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Pittenger & Anderson, Inc. does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.  Additionally, the information presented here is not intended to be a recommendation to buy or sell any specific security.  To learn more about our firm and investment approach, check out our Form ADV.


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Since 1995, Pittenger & Anderson has guided individuals and families going through money-in-motion events. We are a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor and a full-time fiduciary providing investment management, financial planning, and complimentary services to 800+ clients in over 30 U.S. states.

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