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Octopus: The Secret Market and the World's Wildest Con [Paperback]

Guy Lawson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

Octopus is a real-life thriller that tells the inside story of a GBP300 million hedge fund fraud and the wild-goose chase through Europe by its drug-fuelled manager for a lucrative "secret market" beneath the financial market we all know. Sam Israel was a man who seemed to have it all. Born into one of the world's richest families, he founded his own hedge fund, promising his investors guaranteed profits. But, after suffering devastating losses and faking tax returns, Israel knew his real performance would soon be discovered. So when a former CIA-operative turned conman told him about a "secret market" run by the Federal Reserve, Israel bet his last $150 million of other people's money on a chance to make it all back. So began his crazy year-long adventure in a world populated by clandestine bankers, conspiracy theories, and gun-toting spooks issuing cryptic warnings about a mysterious cabal known only as the Octopus.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780742282
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780742281
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘Extraordinary… a hell of a story.’ Sunday Times

‘The most rollicking, trippy yarn to emerge from the 2008 financial collapse so far.’ Financial Times

“Extraordinary… A hell of a story.” Sunday Times

“The most rollicking, trippy yarn to emerge from the 2008 financial collapse so far.” Financial Times

“Lawson [has] found gold… This is a fantastic story, in both senses of the word, with a freshness that recalls Liar’s Poker.” New York Times

“Brings to life one of the most colorful, and often engaging, con men of this or any other century… an entertaining, well-told tale.” Washington Times

“Riveting – sometimes genius and often sickening… Mind-boggling.” Andrew Ross Sorkin – bestselling author of Too Big to Fail

“Absolutely irresistible. It’s a hell of a book.” Sebastian Junger – author of War

“Fascinating. Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more brutal, adrenaline-charged, and dangerous. Sam Israel makes Gordon Gecko and Madoff look like provincial bank managers.” Cameron Addicott – author of The Interceptor: The Inside Story of the Ultra-Secret Unit that Hunted Down Britain’s Deadliest Drug Lords

“A fantastic story that delivers shocking insights into the greed and corruption at the heart of the financial system.” Geraint Anderson – author of Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile

“One of the best crime books I’ve read. Really enjoyable – it made me glad that I haven’t got a pension.” Graham Johnson – author of The Devil: Britain’s Most Feared Underworld Taxman and other true crime bestsellers


‘Extraordinary’.FT best books of 2012

THIS IS IMPROBABLE by Marc Abrahams --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great book, a real page turner! This is a bizarre tale to say the least, Sam Israel defenitely followed the dictum that "if you are going to lie, lie big". Despite his many faults you actually find yourself rooting a bit for him to somehow pull it all off and undo the damage done by his deceits. The story brilliantly details how a persons motivation can twist their judgement to the point where a clever man can so easily be taken in. The really frightening part of this tale is how easy Israel was able to pull off his big lie. The complete lack of oversight by regulators and due diligence by his investors (including sophisticated fund managers who are handling our money) is disheartening. This book makes you want to put your money under a mattress!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fact stranger than fiction !! 25 Nov 2012
By Mr Q
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book certainly endorses the theory that fact can indeed be stranger than fiction.
It tells the life story of San Israel, who came from a wealthy background and follows his progress as he begins to plough his own furrow in the world of Wall Street,with considerable success initially. However, it all begins to unfold and he ultimately falls from grace in spectacular and incredulous style. Along the way the journey takes some remarkable twists worthy of an espionage thriller, which if they are based upon fact almost defy belief as to the gullibility of people looking to make easy money, and also the shady goings on in the world of high finance.
A good and thought provoking read a little light on more specific detail in some parts,
but nonetheless one that i would recommend to those who have an interest in the mechanics of the world of high finance and in particular the many con men who frequent it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it! 2 Sep 2012
By mesmh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A real page turner, I read it in one day, well written and an eye opener. But the hyperbole on the cover is misleading. The fraud is not even on the same scale as Madoff, Isaac's fraud was very small potatoes by comparison. This book is not about the fraud, I see it as a study of one aspect of human nature and how any of us, when faced with a seemingly inescapable disaster, especially if it is one of our own making, could be tempted to take extreme measures to recover, however unlikely those measures might be. Isaac came from a top drawer American family, which is extremely well connected, hugely wealthy and successful. He was personable and had an extraordinary range of contacts and friends. He set out to show that he could independently carve out a successful business using his talents and drive. So it is easy to understand his determination to put things right, but once he had strayed there was no return and step by step he fell into an abyss of self deceit and destruction. And the book will cause many of us to look into ourselves. Have none of us ever dreamed of a quick exit from life's challenges, especially financial ones? Never purchased a lottery ticket in the hope it will release us from daily routines even though we know deep down the odds are impossible yet justifying in part the purchase because we know a percentage of the ticket cost goes to a good cause? This writ large was what drew Isaac into an ever more bizarre web of false promise of ever increasing returns from ever more unlikely scenarios. Read it!
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a completely fascinating story. The rise and fall of a highly talented and gifted man born into a world of money and high level social connection in one of the most important financial powerhouses of the world, New York City. He was a player in the most serious game of all, the game of money. There are few people who have much respect for the Bankers and Wall Street 'masters of the universe' since the events of the past years took place and the disasters those had caused for the lives of millions of ordinary people, after reading this perfectly crafted and meticulously researched book, that number will be reduced by one. This is a story of how money makes men mad and how they make a world of madness seem sane to the uniformed and the uneducated in its ways. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars an enjoyable read 13 Feb 2013
By F Brown
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
a rollicking read, easy for someone (me) with little comprehension of the financial world. The web and complexities of fraud was incredulous.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Truth is Stranger Than Fiction 28 Jan 2013
By Blueboy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If this was a film people would leave the cinema saying how it was too far fetched. Unbelievable account of how a con turns into a mega con and the hunter becomes the hunted.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable 23 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What is most bizarre is the amount of money which millionaires throw at this 'Secret Market'. An enjoyable read if a little repetitive at times. Overall I strongly recommend for anybody halfway interested in finance and/or a good true story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars READ WHIST DOING AN AMERICAN ROAD TRIP 21 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is such an audacious, edge of seat suspenseful book you simply cannot put it down and couldn't make it up if you tried.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it for real?
Sadly it seems, this IS for real! But, as is stated over and over, "You can't con an honest man!" 'Too good to be true' is for sure a warning!
Published 9 months ago by stephen barraclough
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
A man who was determined to succeed and was prepared to do anything to achieve his objective, only to fail in a big way!
Published 10 months ago by John Barham
5.0 out of 5 stars Scared the carp out of me
Long held belief that we are all living on a promise is confirmed in this very readable account. Everyone of us is dependent on someone to look after our assets and no-one can... Read more
Published 10 months ago by boydy
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did I go wrong?
I'd never heard of the man,but after reading it I did go and search for a bit of info regarding Israel. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable - But it really happened
Not sure I can praise this book highly enough. As tightly wound as any Hollywood thriller, Lawson makes the story jump off the page. Read more
Published 11 months ago by ross evans
3.0 out of 5 stars TRUE OR FALSE?
This is entertaining enough, but becomes a little repetitive when it come to all the rather far fetched shenanigans concerning the con man, Bob Nichols and his cohorts. Read more
Published 16 months ago by H. L. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying Naivety!
A marvellous book, of particular interest to those of us who don't believe the world quite functions as the media and governments would have us think. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Blackdog
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed Opportunity
The definition of modern schadenfreud is reading about how a hedge fund manager's life goes down the toilet, and the dirtier and more foul the toilet, the better. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jim 8888
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