It is not easy to write books on finance that read like a Robert Ludlum thriller; especially, when it is about the real world. Anita Raghavan’s The Billionaire’s Apprentice is the non-fiction finance thriller of the year. The book deals with the collapse of the Galleon Group, a $7 billion hedge fund managed by Raj Rajaratnam where Rajat Gupta, an ex-McKinsey director, passed him sensitive information. Sanjay Wadhwa of the SEC and prosecutor Preet Bharara went after these guys and prosecuted them. This is a known story.
This book deals with insider trading in the stock markets. What Raghavan has captured in her book is a complete picture of the successful South Asian diaspora in the United States of America. It is a chaser of a novel that moves from the streets of Calcutta into the high walls of McKinsey’s office in New York. At one level, it is also a classic case of investigative journalism and great detailing that we rarely get to read.
So, if you think The Wolf of Wall Street was everything evil in the financial markets, then you must read The Billionaire’s Apprentice. It lays bare the greed and ambition in a far-off land where some Indians and a Sri Lankan took the entire US financial system for a ride, and how it took two other Indians to nail them.
Raghavan leaves you with respect for the old-fashioned journalistic virtues of determination, perseverance, an eye for detail, and most importantly, a desire to lay the truth out in the public eye.