Book of the month: Defiance, by Alex Konanykhin

By Jennifer Gibbs

The Washington Informer

And you think you’ve got it rough?

Young, wealthy, powerful and prominent one day and a robbed fugitive with a KGB contract out on his head the next, so has gone the life of Alex Konanykhin. Like they said it on60 Minutes, “Alex Konanykhin didn’t only have KGB after him…He had the FBI, the Justice Department, even the CIA all on his case, as a favor to the Russians, part of a deal to allow the FBI to keep a bureau in Moscow.”

And while you may have heard a bit about the chaos and danger faced by Alex and his wife Elena on 60 Minutes, CNN and FOX News, you now have the chance to experience the thrill of their misadventures first hand in Alex’s page turner,Defiance.

While the plot is as twisted as any international paperback novel, this is the real McCoy – every bit of it a true story. From cover to cover, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of cruelty, intrigue and espionage, and seeing it through the eyes of an indomitable hero diametrically opposed to the oppression around him. What started out as merely an attempt to quell an unlawful business takeover took him on a whirlwind adventure that left him fleeing from country to country, until finally finding themselves seeking asylum within the safety of the borders of the United States.

But the story doesn’t end there. In fact, it only begins.

You may just be surprised to learn of some of the injustices that various departments of the United States government made this young man and his wife suffer through as the US legal system became the playing field for a battle of immense, far reaching and often quite unexpected proportions.

More than just a great fast paced read highlighting the highs and lows of an incredible decade of change,Defiance is also a great source of motivation and inspiration for rising entrepreneurs and business men and women all across the globe. Konanykhin does not simply survive his ordeals. Starting from scratch, he builds a thriving business with offices in D.C. and New York and even receives “the New York Businessman of the Year” award.

With an intense plot that will speed you from the first page to the last, and a bird’s eye view of a world straight out of a spy novelDefiance is a compelling page turner that solidly deserves two thumbs up!


By Catherine Van Herrin

The Denver Daily News

Reminiscent of a John Le Carre novel, Alex Konanykhine’s autobiography, Defiance: How to Succeed in Business While Being Targeted by the FBI, the KGB, the Department of Homeland Security, the INS and the Mafia Hit Men, firmly manages to convince us that reality is certainly far stranger – and even more incredible -- than fiction.

The true story of Konanykhine’s steady entrepreneurial rise to power, money, and the apex of success in post-Communist Russia is a page-turning, best-selling thriller. Defiance is a commanding read about how a wunderkind grew into an enterprising young man who, after achieving success, wealth and his rise to power under perestroika, becomes a target for ruthless Russian Mafia, the KGB and the United States government.

The astounding personal and professional prices he and his beloved wife must pay for his ultimate freedom and success are as detailed and profound as the duplicity and betrayal he suffered under the hands of the Russian and U.S. governments.

This is an epic story of dramatic proportion, taking the reader through Konanykhine’s first-person accounts of being forced into exile, tricked, ambushed, kidnapped, defamed and branded Russia’s Most Wanted – and of how he was exonerated and cleared of all charges and become “The New York Businessman of The Year”.

Defiance is the gripping story of a young man who came of age during the most powerful historic evolution of our time – the collapse of the Soviet empire, followed by the advent and then retreat of Russian democracy. After enduring years of sturm und drang amid power-hungry leaders in two continents separated by more than just an ocean, Konanykhine has finally told his story with rich dialogue, descriptive and fast-paced action scenes, and actual court documentation.

A Spellbinding True Tale of Survival and International Intrigue

By Robin LoRe-Prue

The Tribune

From Alex Konanykhin comes a thrilling true story of intrigue, survival and conspiracy so fascinating that it rivals any fictional tale of international espionage. Defiance is Robert Ludlum meets Tom Clancy in a story that chronicles one man’s battle with two super powers who sought to control his destiny. If you have ever wondered about the reckless lawlessness occurring in the post-Soviet business and political world, or corruption in U.S. government, this book will enlighten, shock, and astonish you.

Imagine making millions by the time you reach the age of twenty-two by the merits of your own ingenuity and hard work, only to have it torn away in one fell swoop by a power so mighty that none dare defy it. None but Konanykhin that is; this brilliant wiz kid outsmarted the Russian Mob, the KGB, and corrupt American officials eager to turn him over to Russian criminals.

Alex Konanykhin’s captivating, roller coaster life has been part resourcefulness and part brains, with a large dose of good and bad luck thrown in for good measure. While most people only dream of reaching millionaire status in their lifetimes, Alex Konanykhin has done it multiple times and in the face of such adversity that it boggles the mind. His early beginnings took him to a prestigious Russian University where he hoped to pursue a degree in rocket science. He was soon banished from college however, after dabbling in a part-time entrepreneurial venture—capitalism was a political crime in the Soviet Union. Konanykhin persisted and cleverly worked the changing political climate to build a multi-million dollar empire.

Conducting business in the “Wild East” of post soviet Russia was no minor accomplishment. He soon found himself dodging the evils of a rapidly growing criminal element which he has aptly named the “Mafiocracy.” The Russian crime syndicate, made up of gangsters and former KGB officials, became the new super power to take over Russia in the country’s most vulnerable years following the demise of communism. Life as a young, rich and powerful entrepreneur became a living hell for Konanykhin and his wife, Elena, as they fought to hold onto their lives and empire while living in a glided cage of isolation.

The pair ultimately fled to America, losing everything they owned and just barely escaping with their lives. But their hopes of asylum in the land of free were horrifyingly thwarted. The couple became pawns in a dirty political deal that had absolutely nothing to do with justice. The ensuing courtroom battle that if lost, would mean the Konanykhins’ lives, was dubbed “. . .A spellbinding seminar on international intrigue,” by the Washington Post, and was extensively covered by The New York Times, USA Today, 60 Minutes, CNN, the Legal Times and many others. The media was captivated by the “Russian Rebel” who made and lost several fortunes, was responsible for Boris Yeltsin’s rise to power, and escaped kidnapping and murder all before his twenty-ninth birthday. Alex Konanykhin’s memoir reads like a thriller and is an amazing study in bold defiance that will leave readers breathless, inspired and enlightened.

An absolute must-read for anyone – particularly those who still believe “these kinds of things” only happen in spy novels.

Book of the Month

Reviewed by Johnny Blue Star

The Weekly Press (Philadelphia)

Defiance by Alex Konanykhin (pronounced ko-nen-ee-kin) was begun in an American prison cell on the last day of 2003. It is the story of an embattled entrepreneur’s struggles for liberty against almost inconceivably powerful political forces. In fact, the book is appropriately sub-titled, “How to Succeed in Business While Being Targeted by the FBI, the KGB, the Department of Homeland Security, the INS and the Mafia Hit Men.” This phrase bluntly describes accomplishments bordering on the miraculous. Indeed, Konanykhin’s survival raises big question marks on almost every page of this remarkable, action-packed book about empire building against all conceivable odds.

Konanykhin, who comes of age in the Soviet Union in the 1980’s, becomes a construction kingpin in a country hostile to the simplest capitalistic instinct.Defiance chronicles Konanykhin’s almost inadvertent good fortune in backing the black sheep, Boris Yeltsin. This is not the only time that Konanykin’s predisposition for good catapults him to a better position in the chess game of life. Indeed, this strange kismet of Konanykin’s functions mysteriously in his life several times, converting an act of rebellion to one of unprecedented political opportunity.

After his banking empire has been illicitly hijacked by the KGB, he manages to cross the Atlantic to begin again. Once in the U. S., though, he must now face the tentacle-like penetration of the American justice system by the power brokers of the Russian secret police.