Desmond Shum

A riveting memoir
and the story of a nation

Whitney and I came from nothing. Our rise mirrored the rise of China.

Together, we achieved unimaginable wealth and reached the upper echelons of the Red Aristocracy. Emboldened by romance and our shared success, we believed our nation was on the road to becoming a truly modern society. We were wrong.

On September 5th, 2017, Whitney disappeared. Neither I nor our young son have seen her since.

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Red Roulette: An insider's story of wealth, power, corruption, and vengeance in today's China, by Desmond Shum
Desmond Shum

A meteoric rise...

I was born to a family marked by the government as belonging to a "black category" – stigmatized and impoverished. Growing up, I vowed to make a better life, and I was able to go to college in America.

When I returned to China, I met my future wife, the brilliant and ambitious Whitney Duan, and we began our ascent to the top...

A winner-takes-all game

...a totalitarian regime that reshaped history

Whitney and I made a powerful team.
We navigated business and politics, allied with top members of the Red Aristocracy, and vaulted into China's billionaire class.
Soon we were developing premier hotels, traveling in private jets, buying multi-million-dollar artworks.

We had reached the top.

But China's wealth making machine is a ruthless system without moral boundaries. On September 5th 2017, Whitney stepped out onto the street in front of our newest office development.

No one has seen her since.

On the same day, three co-workers were also taken. And if I ever return to China, the same thing will happen to me.

“Powerful and disturbing...
The Chinese government will not be happy with this book.

Desmond Shum lifts the curtain behind the supposed Chinese economic miracle, portraying government leaders driven by corruption, conflict of interest, and greed.

Rarely has anyone in modern China been brave enough to violate its oppressive code of silence and give an honest firsthand account of what really goes on in the corridors of power. Shum breaks all the rules so we can see it for ourselves and it's not pretty.”

–Bill Browder,
Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Red Notice

Red Roulette is everything those who follow China have been waiting for:

a deeply personal epic that reveals the idealism, ecstasy, and avarice of post-Deng Xiaoping China... There simply isn't another inside history of today's Chinese leadership like this one.”

—Matt Pottinger,
former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor

“Desmond Shum’s Red Roulette gives us a rare inside peek

at the cossetted Chinese elite who parlay their connections with Politburo members into billions. This is a world of Chateau Lafite, Rolls Royces, and $100 million yachts, where friendships are strictly transactional. Although the book can be fun and gossipy, it's also poignant, and, ultimately, we come away with rich insights into the workings of the Chinese Communist Party and the billionaires it has spawned.”

—Barbara Demick,
author and former Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times

“A deliberative, slow-building, suspenseful narrative

that reveals numerous insights about the mechanics of power and greed... Observers of contemporary Chinese affairs, consistently intriguing and murky territory, will find much to interest them here. A riveting look inside ‘the roulette-like political environment of the New China.”

–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Students of Chinese politics and business

will appreciate Shum’s personal narrative of China’s turbulent economic rise; this book deserves a wide audience.”

–Library Journal

For media inquiries, please contact Paul Samuelson

To contact the author, please email: [email protected]


Interview with author Desmond Shum