Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson

I am finding Treasure Islands, which is about tax havens, dense, but in a good way.  There is lots of history of international banking but also entertaining Grisham-esque skullduggery.

 Part of the fun is that I’m reading a UK version – it wasn’t clear to me when I bought it, although it explains why there are several versions of the book – and there are a fair number of Britishisms. Things like “spanner” for “wrench” I knew, and a “stitch-up” for a set-up or a construct is easy enough, but I was stumped by “candyfloss”:

 “Vast mortgage and credit-card debts have been packaged into great clouds of financial candyfloss”

 Clear enough from context, but still, “candyfloss” was new to me. I guessed it was what we call ribbon candy, but it turns out it’s cotton candy. (Floss; candy; candy floss; greedy unethical dental hygiene corporation; your kids will floss longer: Assemble your own joke.)

 Another great phrase is “bucket-and-spade tourist destination.” Again, from context the meaning is obviously “established and unassuming tourist destination,” but still, “bucket-and-spade”? I assume that refers to a child’s toy sand shovel and bucket, for a beach?  Otherwise it sounds like the vacation might require more work than most people are really hoping for.

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