• Red Roulette

  • An Insider's Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption and Vengeance in Today's China
  • By: Desmond Shum
  • Narrated by: Tim Chiou
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Financial Times Best Books of the Year 2021

In the headline-making and best-selling tradition of Bill Browder’s Red Notice comes a unique and incendiary memoir from an entrepreneur who rose to the zenith of power and money in 21st-century China and whose wife was disappeared - and then mysteriously reappeared four years later on the eve of Red Roulette’s publication and global media coverage about it.

As Desmond Shum was growing up impoverished in China, he vowed his life would be different. Through hard work and sheer tenacity, he earned an American college degree and returned to his native country to establish himself in business. There, he met his future wife, the highly intelligent and equally ambitious Whitney Duan who was determined to make her mark within China’s male-dominated society. Whitney and Desmond formed an effective team and, aided by relationships they formed with top members of China’s Communist Party, the so-called Red Aristocracy, he vaulted into China’s billionaire class.

Soon they were developing the massive air cargo facility at Beijing International Airport and they followed that feat with the creation of one of Beijing’s premier hotels. They were dazzlingly successful, travelling in private jets, funding multi-million-dollar buildings and endowments and purchasing expensive homes, vehicles and art. But in 2017, their fates diverged irrevocably when Desmond, while living overseas with his son, learned that his now ex-wife Whitney had vanished along with three co-workers.

In Red Roulette Desmond Shum pulls back the curtain on China’s ruling elite and reveals the real truth of what is happening inside China’s wealth-making machine. This is both Desmond’s story and Whitney’s, because she has not been able to tell it herself. 

©2021 Desmond Shum (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, UK

Critic Reviews

"The book China doesn't want you to read." (CNN)

"Reads like a thriller." (Financial Times)

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What listeners say about Red Roulette

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Loved it!

if you're serious about looking at what is going on in China this is a damming account about real people and real events! Time for us all to wake up!

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Enormously enjoyable

The narration is excellent. This is a story of the not so noble inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party as well as a touching human story exposing the frailties of human relationships.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-17-21

love it!!!

you may need to have a little background of china's development to truly enjoy this book.
nevertheless, the story is really interesting.
the only issue I have, as a Chinese , is the pronunciation of Chinese names...

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sam G Jones
  • 09-21-21

Fascinating view of a very turbulent time in China

Fascinating account of growing up during the Cultural Revolution, through it's end and into the dynamic social/cultural and economic growth of '90's/00 China.
The role of corruption, greed, power, influence and the 'it's who you know' culture of climbing the ladder.

Very easy listen. Expertly narrated by Tim Chiou.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rory Van Den Berg
  • 10-31-21

Eye opening

Having lived in china for 11 years, I found this book captivating, jaw dropping and very enlightening. Even though I am familiar with the way china operates, this gave me further insight into how things are done in upper echelons of power. I listened to the whole book in a day.

Fantastic!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-18-22

really a valuable insight

it is a must read to understand where the China business is heading to... the boom time is truly over

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  • Marius
  • 04-05-22

Insightful yet hypocritical

Wonderful insight into the workings of China's elite societies.
Told from a view of a morally corrupt rich boy who got lucky gambling on the stock market, and who resents government's corruption while praising his own.

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  • The laughing fox
  • 01-06-22

Fascinating Insight into China

Anyone with an interest in China or Geopolitics should read this gripping personal account of building and then losing power and wealth in a communist system and the terrifying reality of State control.

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  • ScepticalScot
  • 12-18-21

This is the best book you could read on China

Acutely observed and beautifully written this book will tell you more about China than reading a shelf full of other books.

It also underlines how China's political elite intrigue and hold on to all aspects of life, ensuring that they and their children remain the top 1%.

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  • Mr. Rupert A. Oldham
  • 12-13-21

brilliant book

what an absolutely amazing insight into the real modern China. terrifying . it's a great book.

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  • D. H. Wingrove
  • 12-07-21

Good read for those interested in China

Well read autobiography. Gives a good insight into political elite corruption in China.

It's a bit slow to start as he goes through his early childhood days in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but picks up pace towards the end, as things start to fall apart and he draws his conclusions on China's political system and trajectory.

Tim Chiou pronounces the Chinese names accurately and with ease, and generally reads very well.

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  • H.A.B.
  • 10-03-21

Marvellous book !!!

From the first to the last page this Book is fascinating!!

Well written and superbly performed/read!!

It gives a great insight into china’s development!

I shall have it read to me again soon on a long trip as the details are fascinating!

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  • Zhuo Jia Dai
  • 12-17-21

absolutely absorbing personal tale

Fascinating story of how he got rich in China "selling his soul for $$$ but then got cold feet when his ex-wife was made to disappear

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  • David Morgan
  • 12-03-21

A Fascinating Life That’s Taken Place During A Period of Great Change in the World’s Most Populous Nation

Desmond Shum shares a complex life story that is told with thought and reflection. He takes us from his humble youth in Maoist Shanghai to the juxtaposition of British Hong Kong before finally landing in a prosperous post-Deng Beijing. His life story both mirrors and speaks truth to the inner workings of Chinese culture at both a family and a business level. China is a country full of contrasts, contradictions, charm and compulsion not readily on view to Western visitors. The book offers a rare glimpse into a 21st super power.