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Once Upon a Time in Russia by Ben Mezrich

Once Upon a Time in RussiaAt one time Russia had a group of men who unofficially ran the country. Most, rising from humble beginnings, took advantage of the opening of the Russian state to more democratic methods. With the opportunity to take over previously state controlled industries, these men grew to be fabulously wealthy. They controlled the business, finances and most important, the government of Russia, all with out being elected or even officially appointed.

Foremost among these was a man named Boris Berezovsky. He got his start in the car sales business and taking advantage of opportunities he and his friends created, he eventually became known as the "Godfather of the Kremlin." Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the Russian Federation, was his friend, and also beholden to him for his rise to power. Berezovsky helped others along this path, becoming their protectors or their krysha, literally, their roof.

Berezovsky went along like this for years, even helping a FSB agent named Vladimir Putin break into politics. As Putin's power grew the oligarch's bodies began to pile up. Even those oligarchs who had been exiled were not safe. Putin was out to destroy them and gain control and a monetary cut of all their holdings.

Truly non-fiction that reads like fiction, this book relating Berezovsky's rise and fall is almost unbelievable. The characters are larger than life and their dealings seem almost unimaginable. How could they simply take over an entire industry or government? Using first person sources, Mezrich lays out this unbelievable yet true story.

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