My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The upshot: An intriguing story about high-level, monkey-business Swiss secret banking, written by the whistleblower who brought it all down around the ears of Americans evading taxes through offshore accounts and investments.
Bookshelves: advance-review, memoir, non-fiction, schadenfruede, true-crime, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous, in-the-news
I admit I almost didn’t make it past the prologue. I read, “[T]hey took off my cuffs and watched me like a pair of kittens trapped in a cage with a jackal.” Seriously. A banker dude who can make prison guards flinch just by wishing them a good weekend as they escort him to solitary. Who is this, Riddick? Oh, nope – it’s 007, to whom Birkenfeld compares himself several times.
I’m glad I kept reading, though. It’s a good story, told in an engaging, conversational voice, like we’re all just sitting around the bonfire with our beers. Or rather, lounging at the club with Laurent-Perrier champagne and caviar. I learned a lot about high-level banking and monkey business within and between the Senate and the Department of Justice, without feeling anything was flying over my head or that I was being talked down to.
The writing and story quality make this a four-star read, despite the author’s ego shining through like a small moon. I’m deducting a star for my dislocated eyeball, from eye-rolling at the raging misogyny and the manliest-of-the-manly-men schtick. I’m giving it back for turning a potentially dry story about bean-counting and shell games into a page-turning tale, even better because it’s true.
My thanks to Net Galley, Greenleaf Book Group, and the author for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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