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Londongrad: From Russia with Cash; The Inside Story of the Oligarchs [Paperback]

Mark Hollingsworth , Stewart Lansley
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 July 2009

The amazing true story of how London became home to the Russian super-rich – told for the first time ever. A dazzling tale of incredible wealth, ferocious disputes, beautiful women, private jets, mega-yachts, the world’s best footballers – and chauffeur-driven Range Rovers with tinted windows.

A group of buccaneering Russian oligarchs made colossal fortunes after the collapse of communism - and many of them came to London to enjoy their new-found wealth. Londongrad tells for the first time the true story of their journeys from Moscow and St Petersburg to mansions in Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Surrey - and takes you into a shimmering world of audacious multi-billion pound deals, outrageous spending and rancorous feuds.

But while London's flashiest restaurants echoed to Russian laughter and Bond Street shop-owners totted up their profits, darker events also played themselves out. The killing of ex-KGB man Alexander Litvinenko in London to the death - in a helicopter crash he all but predicted - of Stephen Curtis, the lawyer to many of Britain's richest Russians, chilled London's Russians and many of those who know them.

This is the story of how Russia's wealth was harvested and brought to London - some of it spent by Roman Abramovich on his beloved Chelsea Football Club, some of it spent by Boris Berezovsky in his battles with Russia's all-powerful Vladimir Putin. Londongrad is a must-read for anyone interested in how vast wealth is created, the luxury it can buy, and the power and intrigue it produces.

Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (23 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007278861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007278862
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


Praise for Londongrad:

“an important and fascinating story… gripping” - Sam Leith, the Daily Mail

“magnificently emetic” - Rod Liddle, the Sunday Times

“A gripping chronicle of the decadence, danger and sheer power that defined a phenomenon… thoroughly researched… a compelling read” - Jeremy Hazlehurst, City AM

“a racy and alarming investigation” - the Economist

Praise for Stewart Lansley’s Top Man - How Philip Green Built His High Street Empire:

“Thorough and well-written… A rattling good story” - The Observer

“Scrupulously researched” - The Financial Times

Praise for Mark Hollingsworth’s Thatcher’s Fortunes - The Life And Times of Mark Thatcher:

"Undoubtedly investigative journalism at its very best (and, it must be said, far more readable than most)" - Time Out

"Makes an impact…got Mark Thatcher bang to rights" - Sunday Telegraph

From the Author

Stewart Lansley, co-author of Londongrad

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm an academic turned journalist, living in south London. Spend far too much time in front of this computer screen, but relax playing tennis, gardening, reading and walking. Love nothing more than exploring other parts of the world.

2. What books have had a lasting impact on you?
Arther Kostler, Darkness at Noon. Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities. Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance. Allister Sparks, The Mind of South Africa.

3. Why do you write?
Good question. Mostly, it seems, for love.

4. As an author, what are you most proud (or embarrassed) of writing? Poor Britain, a book that has had enormous influence across the world in the way we perceive and measure poverty.

5. What is your biggest failure?
There are so many, it's difficult to pinpoint one!

6. When you were a kid, what did you think were you going to be when you grew up?
A fireman.

7. If you could go anywhere in time for one day, where would you go and why?
Yalta, February 1945 where Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt carved up the spoils of the impending defeat of Hitler - the key moment in 20th century history which defined the post-war world

8. Do you like reading on e-books?
‘Fraid not.

9. Who are the five people, living or dead, you'd invite to a party? Roman Abramovich, Boris Berezovsky, Alexander Litvinenko, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Vladimir Putin and keep the tape recorder on.

10. What are you working on at the moment? (doesn't have to be a literary answer)
The redistributional impact of the recession and a book on the post-war history of the rich.

Mark Hollingsworth, co-author of Londongrad

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Likes: Humour, politics, music, sports, eccentrics, movies, stories. Dislikes: Being approached in the street by strangers, speaking in public, wasting time, racists, being interrupted, shopping.

2. What books have had a lasting impact on you?
'The Grapes of Wrath' by John Steinbeck. '1984' by George Orwell

3. Why do you write?
Curiosity, fascination with language and I prefer to communicate through writing rather than talking. Besides, I cannot think of an alternative way of making a living!

4. As an author, what are you most proud (or embarrassed) of writing? 'The Ultimate Spin Doctor' (a biography of Tim Bell). 'Saudi Babylon' (about the Saudi Royal Family). Several articles in 'ES' magazine (London Evening Standard)

5. What is your biggest failure?
Being too slow and allowing myself to be distracted by other writing and journalistic projects while writing a book.

6. When you were a kid, what did you think were you going to be when you grew up?
Absolutely no idea

7. If you could go anywhere in time for one day, where would you go and why?
The civil rights march on Washington DC in 1963 to hear Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech, because of being present in a moment of history.

8. Do you like reading on e-books?
Definitely not, but happy to sell them.

9. Who are the five people, living or dead, you'd invite to a party?
Peter Cook, Lenny Bruce, Michelle Obama, Princess Diana and Miles Davis

10. What are you working on at the moment? (doesn't have to be a literary answer)
Profile of the Rothschild family

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Russia with cash 8 Dec 2009
I remember The Times coverage of the death of Steven Curtis in a helicopter crash. This book explains what lead up to Steven being involved with the Russian Oligarchs, his belief that he was in danger and an account of the crash and his funeral.It explains just how the Oligarchs made their money and how they chose to spend it.It is an interesting insight into the Russian mentality, their willingness to kill political opponents wherever they might be living and the attitude of the British Government to requests to live in this country.
It also details the involvement of some members of both the Government and Opposition with the Oligarchs.
A good if disturbing read.Well worth reading.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lords of the Flies 12 Aug 2011
Lord Acton was right. The more the lolly the more the corruption. That is just one of the several inferences of this book that is not spelt out but left to the reader to connect the dots. The dots though are generally so close together that it is scarcely necessary to connect them. It is a subtle piece of writing because superficially it is racy journalism but some of the dots are pixel size so that the subliminal message comes out as clearly as if it were engraved in stone.

The authors do not present a polemic. They simply recount facts which we may assume are true because no overpaid lawyer has got an injunction to prevent their publication. The book deals with the accumulation of staggering amounts of personal wealth by a handful of ex-Soviet wheeler-dealers (Messrs Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, Fridman, Gusinsky, Abramovich, Deripaska and Patarkatsishvili among others) soon after the collapse of the USSR and their gross behaviour in squandering it on themselves and their friends. The crudity of their lives reflects their extraordinarily low cultural level. They have the tastes of gangsters, and not just the tastes. They justify their grasping greed by saying it was OK because it was legal. Adolf Hitler and his merry entourage were 'legal'. Morality and law are not the same thing. To acquire, by whatever means, huge amounts of the property of the Russian people then to squirrel the proceeds away in foreign havens to protect it from taxation and being returned to its rightful owners is immorality on an industrial scale.

The main focus of this book is London where the oligarchs feel safe because courts seem reluctant to extradite them even though they are charged with serious crimes in their own country.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Arthur
I picked this book up out of curiosity, being neither an expert on the subject, or familiar with other works by the writers. In this context it suited my needs perfectly. The book is not an academic tome but is obviously written by skilful and experienced journalists who know how to engage a reader. Judging by the bibliography, it looks like much of the research is second hand but you cannot fault the writers' attention to detail and confidence with the subject. One criticism might be that the writers' seem a tad schizophrenic as they can't quite decide whether to adopt an ethical moral tone or enjoy the salaciousness of it all. But then I suspect most of us suffer from this dichotomy! Whilst I'm sure there are more serious and academically rigorous books on this subject, I doubt any of them are as enjoyable or as readable as this one. I'd definitely recommended the book for those who are new to the subject.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well, I had a rather double feeling about this book. On one hand it looked like a very interesting journalist piece with some good work. It's always interesting to read about extraordinary people, even if they are Russian oligarchs, with criminal or almost-criminal part.

What I hated about it: once you actually start liking the storyline of interesting and incredibly complicated international financial schemes, it falls into boring listing of assets: how many square feet and acres houses they have, the size of the boats and materials used. They could have managed to transfer the idea of how rich the Russians in a couple of pages and focus on their stories rather than enumeration of properties. But the authors choose to remind us about it throughout the whole books. Apartments, houses, villas, designers' names, cars, helicopters. It very quickly bores the hell out of you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Much better books on modern day Russia 7 Nov 2011
By jonbev
I totally agree with a couple of other reviewers here in that this is a poorly researched book,riddled with inaccuracies,eg Abramovich's purchase of the Hotel du Cap - Eden Roc in the South of France which of course never happened.It appears to rely on a large number of newspaper articles,totally lacking in original research.There are far better books that have been written on modern day Russia and its oligarchs and indeed you would get a far better insight into some of the characters in this book by simply surfing the web !
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Londongrad 12 Feb 2010
Unsurprisingly for a book written by journalists, Londongrad has the feel of a newspaper article about it.. albeit a very long one. The basic premise, namely the exodus of rich Russians from Moscow to London and the obscene wealth that surrounds their lifestyles, is interesting and relevant given the knock on effects for the UK - in terms of house prices, sales of luxury goods, and of course crime - covered in the chapter focusing on the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. At times there seems to be a glut of information on just how long a yacht is, how many cars this oligarch has and exactly how much each of his 35 homes cost (although it's amazing how the information lures you in) and in some ways I wish it was a newspaper article - i.e. a shorter read that still conveyed the salient facts. If you are particularly interested in the topic, or have plenty of time on your hands to read then this is a great book to read... if time is short and you have just a passing interest then it's possibly not for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian roulettel
The collapse of Russia's communist government has led to many good things and many bad such as gang warfare in Moscow and other big cities where a bullet in the head seems to be a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ivor R. B. Hibbitt
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE THIS!!!
If your keen to know more about the murky would of Abramovich and his cronies, read this! Very well written and offers genuine insights.
Published 14 months ago by tomc
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful read, a well written book
An excellent read for anyone who ants to learn about the Russian influx and gain an insight into the workings of the country. Read more
Published 21 months ago by spacemen
4.0 out of 5 stars Contains a decent account of recent Russian history
Bought this as I was interested in the rise of Russian immigration to UK - are there really over 400,000 Russians in London? Read more
Published 21 months ago by Ian Hunter
1.0 out of 5 stars Eyeless in Hacksville
Intensely dull journalese which appears to want us to all go WOW!! at the examples of largesse spewed regularly from the latest Russian set of thieves and villains. Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2010 by K. N. Tole
1.0 out of 5 stars inaccuracies
Extremely disappointing - seems to have been written in a hurry with insufficient research. There are so many inaccuracies, particularly in relation to the information in France,... Read more
Published on 26 Dec 2009 by V. Piccirilli
5.0 out of 5 stars You have to buy this book!!!!!!!!!!
This is a fascinating book..!

I bought it with little prior knowledge of the influx of Russian money into the capital since the turn of the century bar what had been... Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2009 by Arthurly
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