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

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  4,393 ratings  ·  314 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
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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
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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.
Paul Ark
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Bad Blood" meets "Crazy Rich Asians"
Anas
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
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Venky
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.

Acclaimed
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Shemah
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.
Mehrsa
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
First of all, the author makes this clear at the end, but not nearly clear enough: This is not a story about some random Malaysian conman--it's a story about Goldman sacks and hollywood and the Saudis and how greed allowed someone to lie and cheat his way to partying with Leonardo DiCaprio and Paris Hilton. Everyone can be bought. That's the moral of the story. There was some hyperbole here on the financial crime. Though Wright tries several times, he's not quite able to pull off a great explana ...more
Murtaza
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2018
This book was an absolutely infuriating glimpse at the unhinged excesses of the global elite, through the prism of 1MDB (1 Malaysia Development Bank) a sovereign wealth fund that became the vehicle for the biggest criminal enterprise on the planet. Jho Low, a young Chinese-Malaysian Wharton graduate managed to get control of billions of dollars of dollars by manipulating his relationships with his elite school contacts and Malaysia's corrupt former Prime Minister Najib Razak. He was integral in ...more
Zak
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, scandal
A riveting read which culminates (forgivably) in a little sense of schadenfreude. Details of the myriad financial transactions and corporate structures concocted to pull off the heist seem credible. As to the non-curricular activities revealed with much gusto in the book, I have no way of verifying their accuracy. The disappointing part about this book is, towards the end, the authors seem to attempt to inject more sensationalism into their story by devolving into pure conjecture (suggesting mur ...more
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.
Schuberino
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a hard one to rate - the story itself is astounding and outrageous, and I think an incredibly important story to know. The writing, on the other hand...is a good case study in why journalists are not necessarily authors. Full sentences repeated themselves throughout the book, countless details re-introduced over and over including exciting facts like Bangkok is the capital of Thailand (sigh). The authors twisted themselves into introducing a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter that wa ...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
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Tina
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
Julian Lees
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The greed....oh the greed!
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)
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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.
Rekha
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.”
Nilesh
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Billion Dollar Whale shines because of the authors' ability to narrate a story. And, therein might lie some rubs too.

BDW is almost a movie script. The book is exceptionally well-written. Its focus on the main topic is exemplary. The authors do not digress to loosely-associated other stories, which are a feature of real-life. The focus is on Jho Low and some of the powerful people close to him. The discussion is almost completely about their crimes, interactions and high-lives. The presentation i
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Albert
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
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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.
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
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
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
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Fikri
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and infuriating. Like everyone else I’ve been catching bits and pieces of the 1MDB saga over the years, but reading this book is way better than piecing it together yourself via the news. I don’t think I’d fully appreciated the sheer scale and audacity of the scheme till now.

The authors are WSJ reporters and it shows. The writing is clear and easy to follow, though nothing particularly memorable — the narrative propels forward more on the strength of the story than the narration. The
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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
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Losh
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Izzat Isa
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sebuah negara di rantau Asia Tenggara tiba-tiba menjadi terkenal dengan skandal kewangan bukan sahaja di peringkat serantau, malahan global. Siapa dia Jho Low, dana 1MDB, perkaitannya dengan Perdana Menteri Malaysia, kerabat diraja dari Timur Tengah, hubungan dengan pihak bank di seluruh dunia, Wall Street, kemewahan berbelanja dan tidak ketinggalan juga populariti bersama selebriti Hollywood. Semuanya akan dijalinkan dalam buku ini, pendedahan skandal terbesar di dunia di abad ke-21!
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
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!
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General discussion on issues in the book 1 9 Oct 08, 2018 05:10AM  
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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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