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Review of "Cuckooland" by Tom Burgis: Manipulating Public Image

+ Review of “Cuckooland” by Tom Burgis: Manipulating Public Image


Burgis has been labeled a deceitful journalist, with his recent book dubbed a collection of falsehoods according to the opening statement of Cuckooland: Where the Rich Own the Truth, the subject of the book.

Burgis, a journalist known for his investigative work at the Guardian, is simply reporting the words of the main subject of the story, Mohamed Amersi. Amersi is well-known for his donations to the Conservative party, his charitable acts focused on addressing global corruption, and his meetings with King Charles to support causes important to the king.

As Burgis explains, there are two potential narratives. Amersi’s viewpoint highlights this particular version of events, which is the focus that he desires. It is indeed accurate in its account of events – all of the occurrences have taken place. However, the majority of Cuckooland delves into Amersi’s other tale, his involvement as a global “facilitator” in aiding businesses in gaining entry into markets in developing regions throughout Asia.

The extensive narrative includes intriguing and doubtful individuals: the authoritarian leader’s daughter, who denies accusations of significant personal gain. An aged monarch, assuming power following a massacre in their own lineage, whose strict regime leads to a rebellion – but ultimately, the new government (inspired by Maoism) ends up taking advantage of their position.

The world Burgis reveals is a complex and murky one: oligarchs make deals and then make enemies. Their fixers secretly record one another and then switch sides. Allegation is met with counter-allegation, and everyone insists they are on the level even if others are not. It is these shifting allegiances that form the core of Burgis’s book – with Amersi acting as the avatar of an ultra-rich, ultra-connected class that seeks to control the story that forms around them as tightly as they control everything else in their gilded lives.

Amersi, almost certainly unintentionally, has done Burgis a big favour. The thread tying the narrative together is an hours-long sit-down between Burgis and Amersi in the London offices of the ferocious law firm Carter-Ruck, during which Amersi berates Burgis for hours about his stupidity and dishonesty.

By dedicating a significant amount of personal time and providing numerous folders of supporting material, Amersi has demonstrated his prioritization of public opinion about himself. The power of storytelling determines the opportunities available to an individual and the doors that remain closed, regardless of their wealth. This is why reputation has become a lucrative industry for private intelligence agencies, public relations companies, and libel attorneys in London.

Burgis’s publication attempts to even the playing field by acknowledging the ongoing events within this world. Through following these tales, we can become conscious of the hidden conflicts. Writing about this realm means being monitored, investigated, and facing intimidation by high-priced attorneys. The existence of Cuckooland serves as evidence that the wealthy do not fully control “the truth,” but they are certainly vying for it.

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Source: theguardian.com