Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but repetitive, 10 April 2012
This review is from: Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage (Paperback)
It's an interesting book to read but that's mostly because of the intriguing subject matter, not because of the writing.

The book feels like a collection of random stories that happened to be leaked or reach the public eye for one reason or another, the first one is perhaps the most interesting and revealing. To me it got repetitive after that, it seemed that the author was scraping the bottom of the barrel to stretch the book to an acceptable size. I mean, men with CIA/FBI connections or training being employed to (psycho)analyse the public performances of CEO for traders or hedge fund managers? Ok, worth saying in a few lines or paragraphs but not more, it's hardly surprising and not really spying (after all, we're talking about official -even taped- conferences, public presentations of quarterly reviews, etc). There is some mission statement at the end calling for transparency, but considering all the different methods lumped together (from the above example to break-ins, hacked phones or severe intrusions of privacy), this part seems forced and not well thought out (how it could work, etc). At the end, the reader is not even sure how prevalent each activity (legal, illegal or borderline) is in the industry.

Another reason why the book gets repetitive is the format which wastes many words and goes usually like this: "Our story begins in Barbados. John Unsurnamed enters in, casually walks and looks like a slick IT manager. John worked in the army before going to the MI6 where he met Matt [X], who knows George [Z], they hit the cocktail circuit in London and found financier Alistair [P] who is a Lord, former consultant to minister [K] and owns company [T] and who connected [S] to former colleague [...]". And so on. That's interesting the first 1-2 times to get a good idea of the networking aspect of the whole thing but soon it becomes just noise.

Despite the above, I'll give this 3 stars, as I'm not sure whether it's possible (due to the secrecy of the industry) to write a meaningful and authoritative history/study on the topic. If anyone reads this review and can recommend (on the comments) anything better, I'd appreciate it!
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