Book: To Steal a Sea by Simon D. Reagancategories: Book, Fiction, Second World War, Oil Markets, Conspiracy, Islamic Fundamentalism, Saudi Arabia, Caspian Sea, War Crimes, International Finance, Insider Dealing, Bank Failures, Thriller
Simon D. Reaganabout this book: I wrote this book over several years, drawing upon my previous career in the international financial markets. I wanted to achieve two goals. First, I wanted to get across to readers the excitement and complexities of international banking and commodities trading in general, and the political intrigues in the global oil industry in particular. I wanted to do for these markets what John Grisham has done for the legal world through his law-based thrillers: to make them accessible and easily understandable to readers, whilst at the same time getting across the thrilling and dynamic characteristics of these fast-moving worlds.
My second goal was more personal. It's always been a truth that the winners of wars write the history books and create the heroes: the vanquished - the losers - rarely get to tell their story, or to recount the anguish and suffering of the innocents on their side. There is no better example of this than the Second World War. History books often provide a simple narrative in which the Germans - the 'bad guys' - were overcome by the Allies, notably the United States, the United Kingdom, and of course the Soviet Union; the 'good guys' had eventually triumphed over evil because right had been on their side. Of course this was true in the sense that Nazism was vanquished, but in the closing months of the War terrible war crimes were committed on both sides. A theme which runs through the book is how an atrocity committed in a small German village by the advancing Red Army went largely unreported and unpunished in the immediate post-war years, a crime for which one of the central characters was responsible and for which he has suffered an unbearable but as yet unpunished sense of guilt ever since. One of the paradoxes in the book, set against a backdrop of financial crime and huge criminally manipulated flows of capital through global markets, is that it is a survivor of one of the Nazi concentration camps who seeks and eventually achieves justice for the innocent victims of the Nemmersdorf Massacre, and the bringing to justice of a war criminal.
The title was relatively easy to create: one of the book's central plots is an attempt by a Russian billionaire, in collusion with American oil tycoons and, by extreme paradox, an Islamic fundamentalist, to seize control of the oil reserves of the Caspian, one of the richest but as yet largely unexploited seas in the world today. The book involved considerable research; not only was it essential to get to know the principal characters on both sides in the closing months of the Second World War, it was also necessary to bring forward themes of justice, revenge, and unpunished war crimes from that time and play these out in the context of the international financial markets.
The message to readers of this book is a simple one, despite the complexities of the financial world in which the central conspiracy takes place: justice, love, and spiritual peace are irreducible, timeless qualities which, ultimately, make life worth living.
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