Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today’s China

Desmond Shum. Scribner, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982156-15-2
“You’ve heard about America’s extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. Well, this is China’s version,” writes entrepreneur and philanthropist Shum in his thrilling debut. Shum’s ex-wife and former business partner, Whitney Duan, “disappeared from the streets of Beijing” in 2017, and has not been seen since. Shum explores how Duan—the mastermind of “real estate projects worth billions”—went missing, by tracing the arc of both of their careers, which exploded as China’s attitude toward profits shifted dramatically from the days of Chairman Mao. Born in Shanghai, Shum attended college in the U.S. and returned to China in the ’90s to work in private equity, where, with Duan, he spearheaded high-profile real estate projects, including China’s largest air cargo logistics facility. While the reason for Duan’s abduction is unknown—though it’s presumed that Communist Party operatives carried it out—Shum makes it clear that his former spouse’s treatment is not an outlier in China, where powerful people like Duan, who played China’s “roulette-like political environment” with “unparalleled skill,” are kidnapped and held indefinitely. This well-written account is imbued with an aura of inevitable tragedy, and Shum’s searing indictment of “a political system that mouthed Communist slogans while... officials gorged themselves at the trough of economic reforms” is enthralling. Those interested in Xi Jinping’s China will be riveted. Agent: Peter Bernstein, Bernstein Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/25/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-3263-1
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