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Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World – Tom Wright & Bradley Hope

11th October 2019
Billion Dollar Whale book cover


Billion Dollar Whale is about 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. It details how Jho Low took money from the fund and what he did with the money.


Tom Wright and Bradley Cooper are reporters for The Wall Street Journal. Both of them are Pulitzer finalists and Loeb winners. Both of them are accomplished journalists.

They first wrote an article about the embezzlement of 1MDB fund in 2015 and started to dig even deeper since then.


Billion Dollar Whale has 51 chapters and is divided into 5 parts. Part I is The Invention of Jho Low with 9 chapters. Part II is Overnight Billionaire that contains 17 chapters. Empire is Part III and is made up of 22 chapters. Part IV is Bonfire of Secrets and consists of 6 chapters. Part V is The Captain’s Resolve which comprises the last 7 chapters.


This book was written in July 2018 with the materials from 3 years of research by the authors. It is a documentary which resembles fiction. I think this book can be considered as the biography of Jho Low as the authors even know how the number of children that he has. This reflects the depth of their investigation.

The book starts with the history of Low’s family. It mentions about Jho Low’s grandfather and father and how they got rich. Then it chronologies Jho Low’s life events.

From the book, we can see that Jho Low has been an ambitious person since young. He also frequently resort to deceptive measures to get his hands on what he wants.

This book reveals how the Malaysian looted 1MDB fund. The timeline basically moves in chronological order but there are sometimes when the authors would skip the sequence. The book also exposes a number of people with major involvement in this incident.

Other than the main theme, the authors also provide financial education to shed light on some complexities in the financial world.

The content of the book may sound like a fictional story but it might be as true as it could get. Sometimes, the reality can be more ridiculous that we think it can be. Jho Low’s ability to accomplish one of the largest financial heists is in part abetted by failings of compliance efforts at major financial institutions. How could these failures happen? As the authors said, “… the world’s largest banks, its auditors, and its lawyers would not throw up obstacles to his schemes if they smelled profits.”

This book is really an eye-opener. It shows how easily a scam can happen, as long as the perpetrator has the right connections or even a veneer of reputation that does not even need to be true. I also feel sad for our plundered country. The debts from 1MDB might hold us down for some time but I believe the the future will be bright if all Malaysians are able to work together to better our nation.


  1. Low’s very success, at its core, was rooted in the failures of the twenty-first-century global economy.


3 out of 3 stars

Interested in Billion Dollar Whale?

You may get the book from Kinokuniya Malaysia through the link below*.

Get the book here

*Disclosure: The above link is Involve Asia affiliate link. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through this link.

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