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on 7 October 2012
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 there is a fair bit of repetition of points, but generally I found this well written and all too believable. The message, in a nutshell, is that the financial interests of a very rich, very small minority, mostly bankers based in the City and in Wall Street, have fixed things so they grab more and more of the world's wealth, while the rest of us get less and less.
They do this by putting their business and their money in offshore tax havens, sometimes legally and sometimes not, and often on some fuzzy ground in between. It is tolerated by governments because those governments are often the same people, or very close to them.

I know enough about the subject to know that, although some of it might seem hard to believe, the author is presenting us with facts that for the most part can't be disputed. This massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, or more accurately the middle classes to the very rich, is a global scandal, and has reached these proportions only because it all goes on outside the jurisdiction of true democracy. Everyone should read this book and at least see what is going on here, because it affects us all.
It's just a pity the publishers gave it such a dumb cover (TAX HAVENS AND THE MEN WHO STOLE THE WORLD!!!!). Just ignore the hype and get to the story.
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on 4 April 2013
Have you ever wondered how just after the 2nd World War when Britain was almost bankrupted by the War effort government could afford to set up the NHS, have a massive house-building programme, hugely expand education (unbelievable as it may seem to young people today when I went to University there were no Tuition fees or loans and students were paid a grant to cover living costs.)Today we live in a much richer society yet we're told every element of public spending is "unaffordable".
This book explains how the rich stopped paying their share. How huge amounts of money avoids tax by being routed through the likes of the Cayman Islands or Jersey. How large countries like Britain and the USA have virtually given up attempting to stop tax evasion and instead become tax havens themselves.
If you want to understand how we've created a society where a few people are incredibly rich and getting richer at an ever increasing rate while real incomes after inflation have been falling for everyone else for over thirty years this book explains the huge role tax havens have played in creating it. If you read this book the next time a politician boasts about "deregulation" you'll understand that it doesn't just mean horse-meat in burgers. it's also the reason Warren Buffet pays a lower proportion of his income in tax that his receptionist and the reason there's no money to run the local library or fix potholes in the street.
I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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on 10 April 2012
This is a well written and deeply informative book. the trouble is it will also upset you as you read it with an increasing sense of anger that this is allowed and encouraged. Of course Amazon is also a well known culprit of offshore practices (e.g. Luxembourg) so I will not be buying anything from them again. So please get this book, but not from Amazon unless you have a sense of irony.
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on 16 January 2013
I guess Amazon themselves must have read this more as a guide to tax management rather than the brilliant critique of modern international taxation that it is.

As a reminder, Amazon, made sales of £2.9 billion in the UK last year. But because all Amazon UK book sales are routed through its Luxembourg subsidiary, it does not pay any UK corporation tax on the profits from those sales.

Buy this book. But from your local bookshop, eh?

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on 24 August 2013
This has to probably be the best audio book I have ever listened to.
The narration is first class and should be used as a guide for other books on how to read a book.
Not only is it a good explanation of how offshore started and how it's got to where it is today but it tells it in a way which makes it easy to visualise and keeps you wanting to know more. I enjoyed getting all the historical background to how each of the countries fell into offshore and the players which made it happen. Fascinating.

One word of warning, I got halfway through reading the book and I had to put it down because I was getting so pissed off with the world and the way it works so expect to get a bit annoyed from time to time.
It didn't take long to pick it up again as its better to be informed than not.

My best audio book to date.
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on 2 October 2012
If anyone thought that the very rich had some semblance of altruism. Read this and be corrected. There is enough money stored in offshore locations to make the world a much better place but the money sits in secret accounts doing nothing and this book spells it out.
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on 21 August 2012
This book was as hard to put down as any thriller. It's a compelling and enthralling read, and a good introduction to a subject I previously knew nothing about. If half what the book says is true, then it really is shocking. Like the privateers in the Age of Sail it seems that in tax terms the distinction between what is legal and illegal is arbitrary at best. It also appear that governments of countries which have strong financial industries have a vested interest in turning a blind eye to activities covered by a thin veil of legitimacy, which when uncovered (as in this book) seem indistinguishable from criminal activity.

I suppose the reason these things aren't common knowledge is that the subject matter is not one that sells newspapers, gets viewing figures or attracts online traffic. Outside of a knowledgeable clique no one seems interested. As the book says: "Those who know don't talk. Those who talk don't know."

Perhaps the once criticism is that in making the book a riveting read the author has sacrificed explicit references to his evidence and much of the evidence in the book is anecdotal. Having footnotes throughout the book would have probably made it less "readable". However, it is certainly an excellent primer for those of us who are not tax experts and want to get up to speed with where all the money's gone.
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on 24 January 2011
Nicholas Shaxon has written an excellent, well referenced , substantive book on how the money system works. Governments collude with financiers, and business interests, to make and take easy options for the benefit of the wealthy. The book is truly a revelation, and does much to explain how the sub prime crisis in the US morphed inexorably as institutions wrapped their packages in ever more complex instruments, built on an avalanche of cheap money. Shocking, un-putdownable, a brilliant piece of writing. Every Economics student should read this book. It should be mandatory for all Bankers and Financial Investment people to read and understand the immorality of their profession.
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on 8 April 2014
This is no rant about a few greedy people sticking their money in the Caymans to get around the IRS, but a full-blown expose of the most insidious and least understood sector of global finance on the planet today. The world's "off shore" banking system has been growing exponentially since the 1970s and today plays host not to billions, but trillions of dollars. Dollars that would otherwise be moving through your national economy, propping up your revenue base and allowing for much needed investment, or the reduction of national deficits.

The book is meticulously researched and beautifully written, presenting both facts and enough clear examples to allow anyone with a median understanding of economics to fully appreciate the extent of the problem. I would strongly urge anyone with an interest in this field, or concerns about the state of the global economy, to get this book under your belt.

If you have an account at Audible, I can personally testify to the quality of the audiobook version.
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on 16 June 2013
If you have not read anything about tax havens and their role in the global economy this is the book to read. Yuou will soon realize that the political talk of controlling the tax havens is only talk: they are already so powerful and central that there is nothing to be done. Tax havens are actually the real name of globalization: uncontrolled secret places, as sort of the Tor network in the internet. You put your money there and it cannot be traced any more. The only complaint I have is that Shaxon gets from time to time mired in the details so you lose the big picture but otherwise this book contains everything you need to know about tax havens in the early 2000's (the system changes all the time so we will soon need a new book). And the crazy thing is that they could be put out of business rather easily, but this will not happen.
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