Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asiaby Joe Studwell
Hong Kong and Southeast Asia are home to five hundred million people, yet their economies are dominated by only fifty families whose interests range from banking to real estate, shipping to sugar, gambling to lumber. At their peak, eight of the world’s two dozen richest men were Southeast Asian, but their names would not be familiar to most regular readers
Hong Kong and Southeast Asia are home to five hundred million people, yet their economies are dominated by only fifty families whose interests range from banking to real estate, shipping to sugar, gambling to lumber. At their peak, eight of the world’s two dozen richest men were Southeast Asian, but their names would not be familiar to most regular readers of The Wall Street Journal. A complex mythology surrounds these billionaires, but in Asian Godfathers, Joe Studwell finds that the facts are even more remarkable than the myths. Studwell has spent fifteen years as a reporter in the region, and he marshals his unprecedented sources to paint intimate and revealing portraits of the men who control Southeast Asia. Studwell also provides us with a rich and deep understanding of the broader historic, economic, and political influences that have shaped Southeast Asia over the past 150 years. Asian Godfathers is a riveting and illuminating book that lifts the curtain on a world of staggering secrecy and hypocrisy, and revealsfor the first timewho the leaders of one of the planet’s most important and tumultuous markets really are, why they got to the top, and how they keep themselves there.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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The Western world views the economies of Southeast Asia as ¿Asian tigers,¿ and sees Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as hubs of free trade and innovation. Not so fast, warns Asia expert Joe Studwell. What appear to be sleek, streamlined economies are more like rickety old jalopies that creak with cronyism and secretive monopolies. In this enlightening, searing attack, Studwell pegs Asia¿s ruling tycoons or ¿godfathers¿ as charming billionaire throwbacks who ruthlessly control business empires with the permission of corrupt, ever-shifting governments, prospering as the populace struggles. Studwell does a masterful job of synthesizing a sprawling topic. We recommend his book to anyone who¿s considering investing in or doing business in Southeast Asia.