Book Authors: Larry J.Kolb
Book Review by : S.S.George
Director, ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research)
Mohammed Ali, Larry J. Kolb, business, CIA, Miles Copeland, Miles Copeland, Indians, St. Kitts forgery case, Chandraswamy, Rajiv Gandhi, First Trust Corporation bank
Overworld is the memoir of a man who claims to have been a spy. The author of the book, Larry J. Kolb, has an easy and engaging style of writing; consequently, the book is interesting, reading like a spy novel – so much so that one is tempted to doubt whether it is a memoir or a work of fiction. But the incidents that are described in the book have happened, and many of the people Kolb describes are well known, and seem familiar enough to the author.
A few years prior to his father's retirement, the family moved back to the United States. At the age of 22, the CIA attempted to recruit him, but Kolb had other plans. Always an adventurous soul, he drifted around the world, finally hitting upon the idea of starting a tour company that promoted and arranged adventure tours to various parts of the world. With his considerable charm and skills of persuasion, within a year, he managed to have his business featured in a story on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Subsequently, he hit upon the idea of promoting golf tours, a venture that brought him into contact with many celebrities and sports starts, and where his people skills won him many friends. At one point, he married Jan Stephenson, an Australian golfer, who was once described as the Australian Sex Bomb. However, the marriage ended in divorce after just six months. During this period, he also met Mohammed Ali, who was even then a hugely popular figure around the world, and became his friend and eventually his agent, arranging Ali's appearances around the world. The job entailed traveling around the world with Ali, and brought Kolb into contact with more rich and powerful people, with many of whom became friendly.
He also met Adnan Khashoggi. According to Kolb, Khashoggi was no mere arms dealer
- instead, he was often a go-between for the Saudi royal family and successive US presidents, and often the person who provided the link between the western and Arabic cultures. Khashoggi
had a "genius for explaining the West to Arabs and Arabs to the West."
The son of the court physician to King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi grew up at the court in Riyadh, with prince Sultan who would later become the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia. His contacts with the Saudi royal family, and the members of the ruling class in other Arab countries stood him in good stead later, when he would become the intermediary between Arabs and the west - and an immensely wealthy power broker and middleman.