Based on scores of interviews and backed up by thousands of pages of documentation, Kleptopia is the riveting story of capitalism's Monster - a global kleptocracy - and how this masquerades as legitimate authority, concealing its true purpose: the pillage of power.
The ascent of the first US president to fuse his business interests with the highest office in the free world means that the three great poles of power today - Washington, Moscow and Beijing - are controlled by regimes that could justifiably be called kleptocratic. We will follow four narratives that take us into the underbelly of the global economy. Each follows a character: a subversive British banker, a well-connected Brooklyn gangster, a liberal lawyer from Toronto and an obscure Central Asian fellow who became one of the richest men alive in very short order. All of them struggle to know how to live in a world where little is as it seems, violence is always terrifyingly close and there are no simple moral choices. Along the way, they encounter crooks and killers, spies and propagandists, captains of industry, heads of state and bystanders whose lives are shattered by the defining power struggle of the new century. We meet the ersatz capitalists who turned the KGB into a business and the charming wheeler-dealer who kept Robert Mugabe in power. We descend into prisons and torture-chambers and witness a day of bloodshed on the steppe.
Tom Burgis has spent fifteen years reporting from five continents on conflict, corruption, globalisation and organised crime. Kleptopia will reveal alarming new information about the secret networks that fuse political power, organised crime and grand corruption. More troubling still, it will show how those who have established control over lawless lands have learned, with the energetic assistance of well-rewarded lawyers, accountants and lobbyists, to translate that power into access and influence in the remaining democracies. While we look the other way, much that we hold most precious is being stolen. Kleptopia will force us to rethink how we understand the workings of international power today.