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Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,980 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
An epic true-tale of hubris and greed from two Pulitzer-finalist Wall Street Journal reporters, Billion Dollar Whale reveals how a young social climber pulled off one of the biggest financial heists in history--right under the nose of the global financial industry--exposing the shocking secret nexus of elite wealth, banking, Hollywood, and politics.

The dust had yet to set
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Hachette Books
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Syahira Sharif
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Being a Malaysian and trying to come up with a perfectly objective review is impossible when it hit so close to home. Nothing against to the wonderful people who contributed to this publication. But there has never have been a book that filled me with so much rage and disgust. Therefore, I shall not self-censor myself to the barrage of insults that I shall unleash. Because at this moment, I am too sober and too angry to be nice.

Billion Dollar Whale is a very readable and well-written condensatio
Stacey Sim
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you have never followed the 1MDB scandal closely, you should read this to catch up. If you are bored and looking for a good thriller, you should read this book. If you are Malaysian you should read this book. If you work in the finance industry, you should read this book. If you're looking for Hollywood mixed financial crime-scandal, you should read this book. If you're looking to feel infuriated, you should read this book.

In general, you should read this book. That's it.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Its hard to put down this book, as if the stories were fantasies. The heist commited by Jho Low is definitely bigger than Bernie Maddoff ponzi scheme, well at least Bernie’s inverstors got their ‘profits’ back.

Jho Low represents a desperate figure who wants companionship, recognition and love (even if it is fake) through money. His acts, cowardly hiding behind without holding an official position in 1MDB undoubtedly shady, but not a problem for a stupid prime minister like Najib at that time. Lo
Paul Ark
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Bad Blood" meets "Crazy Rich Asians"
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bibliocase
Since the publication of All The President’s Men, Barbarians At The Gate and Too Big To Fail, there have been few books of this genre that have gripped the imagination of the reader – until the arrival of Billion Dollar Whale. A ‘whale’ is a high rolling gambler who consistently wagers large amounts of money. High rollers often receive lavish “comps” from casinos to lure them onto the gambling floors, such as free private jet transfers, limousine use and use of the casinos’ best suites.

Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Absolutely riveting. It plays out like a train wreck you can't tear your eyes away from.. happening in slow motion with the ppl of Malaysia being the casualties.

How everything happened is just... unfathomable.
Jie Hui
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Skillful journalism and writing that detailed the most outrageous theft of people's money from Malaysia. It is ridiculous that nobody even care to do further due diligence as long as they get a cut from the cake. I couldn't contain my anger towards the events depicted in the book, yet was amazed at the extend of human greed that would make our future generations suffer, while the beneficiaries suffer no or minimal punishment.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
I was not super familiar with the 1MDB scandal. I had heard a little bit in the news about the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, but hadn't paid too close attention. The details of this book are unbelievable and serve as further maddening proof of the power of greed in this world. Jho Low dupes everyone, from bankers to politicians to A-list celebrities, all because they want a taste of his riches. They never ask too much about where or how he got all his money, that would spoil the fun. In ...more
Athan Tolis
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Wall Street Journal seems to be doing something right, Rupert Murdoch ownership notwithstanding, because for the second time in 2018 I find myself reading a truly amazing book that’s based on investigative work done by its correspondents.

Not only that, but it can be said with some certainty that in both instances (Elizabeth Holmes’ pseudo-science in “Bad Blood” and Jho Low’s / Najib Razhak’s stolen billions in “Billion Dollar Whale”) the Journal has played a pivotal role in shining light on
Andrew Tollemache
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Wall Street 2 Gordon Gekko tells Shia Laboeuf (I forgot character name): "A fisherman always sees a fisherman from afar" which basically means it takes one, to know one. Thus we learn midway through "Billion Dollar Whale" that one of the 1st to spot that Jho Low was a fraud and was playing with stolen money was Jordan Belfort aka The Wolf of Wall Street. Ironically, Jho Low was the one who bankrolled the Leo DiCaprio movie about Belfort, "The Wolf of Wall Street".
"Billion Dollar Whale" (BDW)
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Heart breaking, riveting read. How millions were robbed and so casually spent, with no consequence.
It was fascinating to see how the “haves” live their lives off the backs of the “have nots.”
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a book I would've picked up had my wife not mentioned it. As much as I found Najib's ousting a few months ago an interesting socio-political development in Malaysia, it wasn't something I was going to delve into. But then she started reading it so I thought I'd read it too.

"Truth is always stranger than fiction" definitely applies to this book. Had Kevin Kwan wrote such over-the-top skimming/stealing scheme in "Crazy Rich Asians" it would've come across as lazy and cheap plotting. Bu
CK Koay
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mbogo J
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The corrupting effect of money should never be underestimated, it has been wrecking havoc since we invented the concept of the money, and this book chronicles one story from this rich vein. The title having sold the contents well, I particularly liked Tom Wright's style of writing. It is written in a kind of thriller way and before you know it, you've burned through 200 pages in a few hours. I had initially intended to read this book a bit later but when I read the first chapter just to get a fe ...more
John Spiller
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Billion Dollar Whale" is an engrossing and infuriating saga of theft and waste on an incomprehensible scale. Just reflecting on the magnitude of frittering away of billions --BILLIONS -- of dollars sets my blood pressure skyrocketing. If you want further specifics regarding the details of the book, you will find them in some of the detailed reviews below. In short, this book rivals "Bad Blood" as the book on corporate malfeasance for 2018.

Despite Enron and despite the 2007 financial crisis, you
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jee Hooked On Bookz
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
He took the mickey out of everyone. He lied, scanned, bought favors to get favors, and isn't stopping. This wanted fugitive is still at it. This book is well-written and thoroughly researched. A must-read! Full review here: http://bit.ly/2yPIsye
Lucas Brandl
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Most people will have heard of the celebrities in this book like Paris Hilton and Leonardo DiCaprio. But the main "character" Jho Low will be a virtual unknown, and that seems to be how he wanted it. Despite his anonymity, he basically lived the rich, party lifestyle glorified in hip hop songs- times a thousand. He had parties in Vegas where he would tip the staff a million dollars in one night. He had a birthday party where Britney Spears came out of a cake. He owned his own jet and a 250 milli ...more
Soo Yen
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Not really loving the current hottest book in Malaysia. Too much money and too many characters/banks/fake companies /parties to keep track of. There's a lot of long technical financial details that are not easily understood for the laypeople. The book is more suited for those in the banking or finance industry.
Karthik Karunanithy
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best expose put together in such an engaging manner. Page turner, as every page had me going "wow, really". It's also interesting how the news I have read over the years have all been tied together in a single book -- and the way it's written by Wright and Hope leaves me wondering how did they achieve to write it in a way that is descriptive yet non judgemental. You'd almost think Najib was just an ultimate fool who kept trusting the wrong people.
Danielle Fung
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is very detailed and accurate yet written in a way that is light for what a complex story it is. Love this so much!
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great read especially as it’s so close to home. On what is the largest scandal in the financial world the intricacies of the deals are broken down to bite sized chapters making it easy to handle. The writers describe the various characters involved to give the reader enough detail to picture him or her, hence it does not come across as a dry report, more as a mini series
Akmal A.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Billion Dollar Whale

Kes 1MDB ini kalau kita fikirkan dalam-dalam taklah muncul begitu je. Bukan disebabkan Jho Low atau Najib Razak atau Rosmah semata walaupun mereka adalah peran utama dalam skandal ini, tapi ianya disebabkan telah lamanya iklim rasuah wujud dalam pentadbiran dari peringkat atas sehinggalah peringkat bawah. Rasuah kalau kita faham bukan habis setakat hulur duit bawah meja sahaja, rasuah ini wujud sehingga ke institusi pendidikan yang mana ada bahagian-bahagian dari kebenaran se
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is about the biggest kleptocracy the world has ever seen. Billions of dollars siphoned from the small economy of Malaysia (and more from loans guaranteed by the country) into fake bank accounts established in tax havens, eventually reaching the pockets of a select few, amongst which, the (ex) prime minister of Malaysia.

The grand architect - a young, round chinese man with a boyish grin (who some say looks like a panda). A man who's life is surrounded by oppulence and stardom, who throw
Wei Li
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Parvenu, a new addition to my vocabulary while reading this book. It is defined as, one that has recently or suddenly risen to an unaccustomed position of wealth or power and has not yet gained the prestige, dignity, or manner associated with it.

Jho Low accurately fits the description. This is someone whose manner is incompatible with the money that he has acquired so suddenly through unscrupulous means. And the obviousness did not go unnoticed, especially by people who have often rub shoulders
Joseph Luk
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just before reading this book, I read Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. I love these pieces by investigative journalists, especially when it comes to how the perpetrators would go into such lengths to cover up their trails, only to be deciphered bit by bit, until the house of cards come crumpling down.

The book is unbiased and well written. If you're looking for one of those books where you're holding to the edge of your seats, this isn't quite it. But there are many jaw-dropping anecdotes about Jho L
David Dayen
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I imagine all financial journalists have "the one that got away," the story they wanted to cover but didn't for some reason. Maybe they got scooped, maybe they didn't have the resources to make it happen. For me, the tale of the theft of 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, is that story. I was asked to write about it by a publication that changed its mind. But in preparing for that, I learned enough about the surface details and the cast of characters, from Goldman Sachs to Leo DiCaprio to ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A page turning thriller and a wider indictment are a rare combination that most business books (arguably books in general) books fail to pull off. This one does, spectacularly - though I'm not sure if it's the reporting or the sheer crazy of reality. I have a high tolerance for the crazies - very high tbh. But there are some things so crazy as to make one incredible about their veracity - this book's Jordan Belfort moment tops my list of those things. This is a book that deserves to be made into ...more
Why I'm interested in this book at the first place
As a fan of true-crime genre and with my inquisitive thoughts surrounding the scandal, I knew I need to get a copy. Plus, I love a good exposé.

What do I think of this book... now that I've done reading it
Now, I wish most of the true-crime could be written like this. This writing style has more substance where as I went through pages to pages.. I can grasp it easily amidst quite of number of people involved.

1. It is quite interesting to know how
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General discussion on issues in the book 1 3 Oct 08, 2018 05:10AM  
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
“In the space of a month, since Prince Turki had written Najib with his proposal in late August, a multi-billion-dollar joint-venture agreement had been completed. Such a time frame—to complete due diligence, asset valuations, and other legal checks—was virtually without parallel.” 0 likes
“Then, in a cascade of bad luck, taking all of ten minutes, he lost $2 million. The stunned entourage couldn’t compute the way he parted with money—seemingly without breaking a sweat—and some began to whisper about this guy, and how he acted like the cash wasn’t his own.” 0 likes
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