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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off
Despite the lurid cover and the tabloid-style blurbs written entirely in shouting upper-case text, this turns out to be a fascinating and important book, full of well-researched information, which for the most part the author presents in a straightforward style.

Occasionally he goes a bit overboard with dramatic effect, and inevitably with this kind of book...
Published on 7 Oct. 2012 by Phil O'Sofa

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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and informative read, though with some factual errors which spoil
The subtitle of the book, Tax Havens And The Men Who Stole The World, gives a better impression of what the book is about than the main title. I have often been struck by how poorly tax related issues are reported in the news, particularly issues of tax avoidance and evasion. My hope was that Shaxson would be more financially literate than the vast majority of most...
Published on 4 Aug. 2011 by S. Meadows


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, explains an important component of the British ..., 14 Aug. 2014
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M. W. Nimmo - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World (Paperback)
Excellent book,explains an important component of the British state.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One big long left wing tribal rant, 11 Aug. 2013
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I write this review as someone with right wing politics who has worked in banks, knows tax accountants but am very sympathetic to the argument that corporations should pay "reasonable" amounts of tax rather than go to lengths to avoid it and also sympathetic to the idea that that concerted action should be taken to close down tax havens.

His first premise that these firms pay no tax stumbles on his failure to acknowledge that all the firms pay VAT or equivalent sales tax to the government and Income tax too on all their employees. A rational balanced commentary would note this.

Secondly he positively hates secrecy and uses it to throw wild accusations that firms and drug dealers probably benefit from this in many jurisdictions. Why is secrecy/ confidentiality.

To Shaxson, tax is good, so he fails to acknowledge the counter argument to his assertion that ethical directors should pay more tax, which is that firms have a duty to maximise profit to shareholders and some governments and regulatory regimes are either too high tax or unnecessarily burdensome which is what drives the firms into these tax havens in the first place. Should they employ every trick in the book to reduce tax ? No.. but it is no bad thing to locate your business in a place which doesn't tie it up in red tape

Where does he get off arguing that New York, London and even Ireland are Tax havens ?!? (as opposed to the cayman islands or Andorra). They are however according to Shaxson at the centre of a "spiders web", he repeatedly uses the term in a childish conspiracy theorist type style.

I must confess I am only a third of the way into the book, having learnt only a few new facts. I will do it the favour of sticking it out and perhaps come back to update the review later if he pulls it out of the bag in the second half.

If you are a left wing guardian reading conspiracy theorist, you will love this book. For everyone else, if you can get past the ranting, there are probably some interesting facts to pick out but that does little to redeem the hot air you have to wade through to get to them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 30 Nov. 2014
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As expected and advertised bought as a gift
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read - would be nice if it were objective, 28 May 2013
This review is from: Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World (Paperback)
The books is a good read, it is a little heavy to digest. When you read the book, it will make you angry.....

But there is another side. I feel the author is not objective. For instance, the authors talks of companies who hide billions offshore and equates this to hospitals and schools. But what if these companies did not pay tax, then in theory the money is kept in the business where it can grow. So whilst the company not paying tax is not going a good thing, but if the business manages to grow exponentially, then it can employ more peoples, which is better for the economy. I wish the author considered counter arguments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 Mar. 2015
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A+
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treasurse Islands, 22 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World (Paperback)
Excellent book full of pertinent information and shosuld be read by all adults in this country who are regular taxpayeres and the hard working living on the smell of an oilrag for really hard graft.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Them and us, 14 Feb. 2011
This is a good book with a lot of valuable information.
However it is too much cast into a "them" and "us" mold.
The second last chapter where a repentant "bady" is interviewed points to how this book might have been improved.

If there were more views from "the other side of the hill" we would find it easier to recognise people around us who might be badies and possibly tendencies within ourselves to be badies that we could resist.
After all we are all building blocks in this society of which Treasure Islands are a part and perhaps some of our investment decisions are sustaining them.

So may I ask Mr. Shaxson when he is preparing his next project, which I certainly hope he will do, to include some more interviews with the badies.
The badies might turn out to be more like ourselves than we thought; or even be ourselves, but we hadn't realized.
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16 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not suitable for grown up readers, 6 Aug. 2012
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Avoid this book if you're looking for anything resembling a thoughtful, adult discussion of offshore financial centres or tax avoidance. I'm generally suspicious of anything that encourages me to think in a particular way and the opening chapter (which can only be described as an unremitting diatribe with more than a hint of smug self satisfaction) was unable to introduce me to anything in a neutral way.

It's clear the author has decided where he wants to go with this topic which is (as other reviewers have correctly identified) half conspiracy theory half moral crusade. It had me rolling my eyes with a sense of `here we go...' within the first 2 paragraphs. The direction of travel is essentially to lay most of the worlds ills; poverty, colonialism, hunger, corruption, exploitation, organised crime, drugs, the 2008 financial crisis, capitalism (take your pick) at the door of offshore financial jurisdictions. - Yawn. `It's the corporations man.'

Like a bad university debater who has spent too much time at SWP Club, Shaxson berates you into submission; if you should dare dissent you must logically be with the enemy and be judged a moral failure. To say this text is pure polemic may be too generous as I'm unable to discern any meaningful structure to what is essentially a shapeless rant about how unfair the world seems.

The book is plagued by a lack of depth - which suggests this text is an excuse to `have a go' rather than a serious text exposition of the issues in a balanced way. Shaxson's potted (very potted) introduction to the trust, beginning on page 41 and which clearly betrays his lack of technical understanding of the structures he's attacking - and an apparent inability to reconcile profound contradictions for example his assertion that:

`Trusts are silent, powerful mechanisms, and it is usually impossible to find any evidence of them at all on the public record.'

However, based such an apparent dearth of evidence the author is quite sure that:

`Trusts can be perfectly legitimate. But they can be, and very often are, use for more nefarious purposes, like criminal tax evasion.' - An extraordinary assertion, apparently unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.

Besides the important flaws in the author's technical understanding, more fundamentally, his central thesis doesn't seem to make sense. Shaxson paints western capitalist economies - the US and UK being the favourite targets - as both the perpetrator of a new form of colonialism and the victim of their efforts to tie up much of the world's wealth offshore.

To the author's credit there are some interesting narrative passages and historical details but the tone is so highly charged he's put my back up and I'm unable to continue reading with anything like an open mind.

Falling far short of anything like a credible appraisal of offshore finance and tax avoidance, this reads like an extended press release from UK Uncut.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you think you new the worst about our broken capitalism,think again!, 14 Mar. 2011
This book is truly shocking. Nick Shaxson has completed the seminal work on the subject with very extensive and thorough investigative journalism that should give the profession a good name in the manner of Woodward and Bernstein. I thought the offshore world was rotten,but this shows our whole capitalist system is systemically corrupt. The scale of the problem is staggering. I hope Michael Moore or somebody makes a documentary based on the book and it should beshown on primetime thoughout the world.
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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons for us all, 10 Feb. 2011
Fantastic read - these people aren't 'cheating'; quite the reverse, they are playing precisely, forensically, by the rules, and dancing between the raindrops. I am full of admiration - don't listen to the politics of envy, it's admirable stuff.
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Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World
Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson (Paperback - 5 Jan. 2012)
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