5 books about scandals you can't believed actually happened

Scandals, conspiracies and misdeeds. We can’t seem to get enough of them. Malaysians, for one, are still crazy about a certain financial scandal, gossiping about it till this day.

There are just some scandals that makes your jaw drop. Scandals that belong in the, “Can you believe this happened?” category. Here are more reads to stoke the fire:

billion.jpg

BILLION DOLLAR WHALE

Authors: Tom Wright & Bradley Hope

Yes, of course I have to mention this book again because I still can’t believe it happened. Or rather, banks, leaders and authorities around the world let it happen - because without them, this thievery wouldn’t have happened. There has been a bunch of books about the 1MDB scandal, of course, but the one thing unique about this book is that it’s written like a thriller novel.

This, by the way, is literally a “read ‘em and weep”.

If you’re a Malaysian, this book will raise your blood pressure. It certainly did mine. As a result, the book is a bit of a slog to read. Just how many chapters of “Jho Low bought this” and “Rosmah bought this” must I need to read? Apparently, not enough … with each purchase, the more complicated the trail.

35655983.jpg

THE WOMAN WHO FOOLED THE WORLD

Author: Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano

A woman pretends to have brain cancer and builds a global “wellness” brand around that lie. It’s as audacious as it sounds. Although I felt the writers were too biased against alternative health industry, it’s still riveting. How did Belle get away with what she did for so long? Why didn’t anyone check up on her?

This book is difficult to put down - not just because of the improbability of the case, but because the authors are great storytellers.

71IR9ucf2KL-2.jpg

Fear: Trump in the Whitehouse

Author: Bob Woodward

Reading this, you can’t help but wonder - as a Malaysian anyway - that we are living in an alternate universe where Malaysia is the beacon of hope and democracy.

Malaysians are used to being the laughingstock of the world. We sigh when we think about our politics. So many Malaysians have run away to live in other countries because of it, in fact.

Now, we are so proud that Malaysia is one of the rare countries that experienced a peaceful transition after a regime change. Where 90% of the population turned out to vote last election.

Meanwhile, America … is a living dystopian novel.

Woodward describes a White House staff that is running scared. Of staffers purposely hiding documents from the sitting president. Of a president so temperamental and illogical that his mood affects monumental global decisions. Let’s hope the Americans will get things back into some kind of order again, because the world needs it badly right now.

71rtQvf5UVL.jpg

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Sillicon Valley Startup

Author: John Carreyrou

She was a genius who created the technology to obtain medical information from just a few drops of blood … only it was all a lie.

This is the story of the rise and fall of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech fraud startup headed by Elizabeth Holmes. Why in the world would anyone do such a thing? Wouldn’t it be simpler to, I don’t know, make knock-off handbags?

But Holmes, who apparently dresses like her idol Steve Jobs, was so good at the subterfuge that big-named investors were fooled. Eventually her house of cards fell. Riveting.

51eiNdwyKZL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Boomerang: Travels in the new third world

Author: Michael Lewis

Don’t spend more money than you earn. That’s the most basic mantra of personal finance. But apparently, this is not something countries really practice. Some are like free-spending buffoons who think that cheap credit = money from the sky.

This is the story of how Iceland, Greece and Ireland went mad for cheap credit and bankrupted themselvesa. And Lewis, as usual, is a masterful storyteller, turning an otherwise dry subject into a riveting “why-the-f**k did this happen” tale.

I completed the book on the flight to … well, somewhere. I remembered that I couldn’t put this book about financial shenanigans and tomfoolery aside even while I struggled with airsickness. It’s that good. Promise.



Stranger To Myself: Diary Of A Bangladeshi In Singapore by Md Sharif Uddin

strangertomyself.jpg

Stranger To Myself: Diary Of A Bangladeshi In Singapore

Author: Md Sharif Uddin

Rating: B+

There’s a mamak restaurant near my old office where, rumour has it, the workers - after working 14 hours, will shutter the place, rearrange the tables and turn them into beds.

They sleep where they work, so say the rumours. Whether it was true or not, I don't know, but I have always wondered how their lives were like behind the polite smiles. They made me realise how blessed and fortunate I am because unlike them, I could snuggle in my comfortable bed at night, not narrow table in a restaurant.

Sharif is a very eloquent writer, and his voice is really needed at a time when migrant workers are nearly invisible.

In this book he shares his diary entries and poetry where he details life as a migrant worker in Singapore. I love the raw, unpolished prose even if at times he seems maudlin, almost melodramatic. bBut how can he not be when faced with a life where his employers feed his rotten food, or where he couldn’t see his  parents before they passed away or watch his son grow up? 

Sadly, it would appear that even down south in Singapore, migrant workers are treated horribly. I had mistakenly thought that they had better lives.

“The owners of the companies are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. As long as you have the ability to work, they will care. If you stop for any reason, they will throw you out.”

This is a book that needs to be read. The only thing I wish was that it was available in ebook form because physical copies of it are hard to come by and his message needs to be spread far and wide.