BOOK + DOCUMENTARY
PRICE WARS is a global investigation into the financial forces that fueled the chaos of the 2010s. It's both a book and a documentary feature film.
Russell shot and directed the directed the film, which aired in France (Arte), Germany (ARD), and Sweden (SVT) in 2021.
He also wrote the book, published by Doubleday (Penguin Random House) in the US and Weidenfeld & Nicholson (Hachette) in the UK.
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Advanced Book Reviews
'Price Wars is a totally original and stimulating read, part war zone reportage, part economic history and buzzing with ideas about the way markets work that will change your understanding of the world we live in.'
— Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance and winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
'Combining investigative courage with forensic analysis, Price Wars is a geopolitical masterpiece bursting with bite, originality and compassion.'
— David Lammy, MP, author of Tribes: How Our Need to Belong Can Make or Break Society.
'Deeply reported and thoroughly accessible, this investigation into the far-reaching consequences of economic speculation deserves a wide readership.'
— Publishers Weekly Starred Review.
'An illuminating, sobering and endlessly fascinating look at the root causes and hidden connections between financial markets and some of the developing world’s most wrenching crises. Fearlessly reported from conflict zones from separatist Ukrainian provinces to the Middle East, Russell compellingly draws a line between commodity manipulation on Wall Street and the chaos that fuels extremism and violence.'
— Joby Warrick, author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
'In Price Wars, Rupert Russell searches for chaos and finds the butterfly effect of volatile prices operating everywhere. His stories are vivid and his analysis airtight. In his hands, price becomes quantum: we can know its present value or trend, but not both. Is our civilization slowly boiling, or can we simplify our hyper-complexity and tame the chaos we have unleashed through integrated financial markets? This fine book provides compelling answers.'
— Dr. Parag Khanna, author of Connectography and Move: The Forces Uprooting Us.
'Rupert Russell's adventures into a host of modern apocalypses are retold in this thrilling page-turner. The result is an incredible synthesis that places global finance at the heart of chaos across the world.'
— Polly Toynbee, Guardian columnist and author of The Lost Decade.
'Dry, objective, scary, funny: let's hope it's not all true, but that seems unlikely.'
— Griff Rhys Jones
PRICE WARS is a shattering account of the destabilizing power of price, and a forceful critique of the free market philosophy that leaves the most vulnerable at the mercy of the commodities markets.
For Rupert Russell, the shock of the Trump-Brexit victories was only the latest in a decade full of them: the unstoppable war in Syria, huge migrant flows into Europe, beheadings in Iraq, children caged at the US border. In Price Wars he sets out on an improbable journey to investigate what caused the wave of chaos that consumed the world in the 2010s.
Armed with a notebook, flak jacket and pink socks, Russell travels to modern apocalypses across five continents, embedding with separatist soldiers in the trenches of Eastern Ukraine, gangs of street kids battling over garbage in Caracas, the UN bomb disposal squad in Iraq, and cattle raiders in Northern Kenya. He traces the origins of these conflicts back to dramatic and mysterious swings in the prices of essential commodities. He meets with commodity speculators who describe the inner workings of these volatile markets, explaining how food prices can spike even in years of abundant harvests, causing bread riots and revolutions. Oil prices can surge on rumours, enriching and emboldening dictators and terrorists alike. These price shocks, and many others across the decade, triggered local disasters that became global catastrophes. It is chaotic prices, Russell learned, fuelled by banks and hedge funds in New York and London, that have toppled regimes and fractured the West.
PRICE WARS is a page-turning chronicle of discovery and a ground-breaking expose of the power of price to devastate the world.