Once Upon a Time in Russia

The Rise of the Oligarchs—A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder

Once Upon a Time in Russia

One of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Business Books of 2015

The bestselling author of Bringing Down the House (sixty-three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and the basis for the hit movie 21) and The Accidental Billionaires (the basis for the Academy Award–winning film The Social Network) delivers an epic drama of wealth, rivalry, and betrayal among mega-wealthy Russian oligarchs—and its international repercussions.

Once Upon a Time in Russia is the untold true story of the larger-than-life billionaire oligarchs who surfed the waves of privatization to reap riches after the fall of the Soviet regime: “Godfather of the Kremlin” Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician whose first entrepreneurial venture was running an automobile reselling business, and Roman Abramovich, his dashing young protégé who built a multi-billion-dollar empire of oil and aluminum. Locked in a complex, uniquely Russian partnership, Berezovsky and Abramovich battled their way through the “Wild East” of Russia with Berezovsky acting as the younger man’s krysha—literally, his roof, his protector.

Written with the heart-stopping pacing of a thriller—but even more compelling because it is true—this story of amassing obscene wealth and power depicts a rarefied world seldom seen up close. Under Berezovsky’s krysha, Abramovich built one of Russia’s largest oil companies from the ground up and in exchange made cash deliveries—including 491 million dollars in just one year. But their relationship frayed when Berezovsky attacked President Vladimir Putin in the media—and had to flee to the UK. Abramovich continued to prosper. Dead bodies trailed Berezovsky’s footsteps, and threats followed him to London, where an associate of his died painfully and famously of Polonium poisoning. Then Berezovsky himself was later found dead, declared a suicide.

Exclusively sourced, capturing a momentous period in recent world history, Once Upon a Time in Russia is at once personal and political, offering an unprecedented look into the wealth, corruption, and power behind what Graydon Carter called “the story of our age.”
  • Atria Books | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476771892 | 
  • June 2015
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About the Author

Ben Mezrich
Photograph by Eric Levin

Ben Mezrich

Ben Mezrich graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991. Since then he has published sixteen books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Accidental Billionaires, which was adapted into the Academy Award–winning film The Social Network, and Bringing Down the House, which has sold more than two million copies in fifteen languages and became the basis for the movie 21. He has also published the national bestsellers Ugly Americans, RiggedBusting Vegas, and Once Upon a Time in Russia. He travels the world, speaking to audiences of all ages about writing books and the adventures he has experienced from each of his stories. Visit him at BenMezrich.com.

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