Summary of Moscow Madness

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  • Eye Opening
  • Background
  • Engaging


Journalist Timothy Harper has written an absorbing, detailed business saga. This intimate account chronicles the wild and frustrating adventures of U.S. businessman Rick Grajirena, an import-export entrepreneur in Russia’s new free-market economy. "It was not difficult for Grajirena to find prospective partners and possible deals. Indeed, when it became known that he was an American looking to buy and sell in Russia, all sorts of characters - some seemingly reputable, many obviously not - came forward with one scheme after another." In the midst of this colorful cast of characters, Grajirena shines as one of the "good guys" as he jumps into and out of the beer biz and ends up in health foods. He runs into every form of Moscow madness, from the mafiya to some basic cultural divides, and manages to thrive as well as survive. highly recommends this swashbuckling book. In fact, we can’t wait for the movie.

About the Author

Timothy Harper  is a former Associated Press national writer and foreign correspondent. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and contributing editor for Delta Sky magazine. He has written several books about doing business in Europe, serves as an editorial consultant and writing coach, and is a partner in an award-winning microbrewery, the Brooklyn Brewery.



Business Unusual

Moscow madness is part comedy of errors and part tragedy. This crazed sense of being whipsawed results when anyone, native-born or foreign, tries to do business in the former Soviet Union. You find out very quickly that there’s no such thing as business as usual in Russia, because the whole idea of business there is brand new.

"In the United States, business law and ethics grew out of common law dating back to [Europe in] the Middle Ages. Centuries of commerce helped principles evolve, backed up by thousands of examples of case law." Russia has no such free enterprise tradition. Thus, in the 1990s, when American companies came to the former Soviet Union to do business for the first time, they found almost no business law. "No law of contracts. No law of bankruptcy. No commercial law. Those laws were never developed because they had never been needed."

While some private businesses flourished during the Soviet era, they were all well hidden, small, and illegal. Other small-business people were punished by banishment to Siberia, or even by death. Mostly, they served a private or black market. No entrepreneurs worked together or got organized in...

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