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Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip Hardcover – May 13, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Financier Rogers retired at 37 and motorcycled around the world, turning the trip into the book Investment Biker, a hybrid of business advice and travelogue. That journey, however, failed to squelch his wanderlust. Instead of enjoying his sedate life teaching finance, Rogers decided to take his fiancée and a souped-up Mercedes on a frighteningly intense road trip: three years, 116 countries and 152,000 miles. Like the car that plowed through snow, mud, sand and highways on every continent, Rogers's memoir of the journey is its own breed. Although Rogers writes, far too briefly, of life-changing events like getting married and hearing of his father's death, the book has an uncommon level of detachment. Also, even though Rogers shares investment advice and observations about the planet's political economies, his thoughts are too general to serve as business lessons. The result is an adventure tale without heart and a finance book without teeth. Rogers tries to make up for this by describing experiences like eating fried silkworms and watching prostitutes caught in the world's sex trade. Mainly, though, he chronicles prosaic details, like taking car ferries and talking to border guards, and then riffs on politics, money, immigration and culture.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Rogers, a Wall Street success story who has been called "The Indiana Jones of Finance," once circled the planet on a motorcycle, which landed him in The Guinness Book of World Records and resulted in his first book, Investment Biker (1994). In 1999 he set out on another world-record drive around the world in a custom-built yellow Mercedes convertible with his fiancee, Paige Parker. Starting out in Iceland, the trip took three years and encompassed 116 countries, many of which are rarely visited, in a continuous swath across Europe, the former Soviet Republic, China, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. No one had ever driven overland following these routes, a total of 152,000 miles, another Guinness world record. Rogers' insightful commentary on the political and historical topography of these diverse countries cuts through stereotypes to give us a glimpse of the world the way it really is, for better or worse. This is a gutsy travelogue adventure from a guy who shoots straight from the hip, and it really hits the mark. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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He makes a lot of predictions and now with the passage of time we can see that he wasn't always correct. On the other hand I loved his take on various world situations.
My only issue is that he portrays this trip as a 2-person trip wth a Mercedes. Most of the time it was a 5-person trip with a big truck behind them. Having a film crew with you changes the dynamic of the story.
The book has massive appeal. It goes into the history, economics, and culture of each region. It gives a great analysis of countries economies (not the commentary you see on CNBC) and Rogers isn't afraid to speak his mind. His candid views make the book enjoyable.
Some countries are touched upon for only a few sentences, but others go into great depth (China, Russia, Africa). The book reads like a novel, and is a great reference for anyone looking to invest abroad. Curious about the euro or yen? How about commodity demand in China? What are some hot places to invest in Africa? Those questions and many others are answered in the book.
The pictures and stories of each region help the story come alive. For people studying abroad, taking a gap year, or thinking about travelling, Adventure Capitalist can serve as an excellent reference.
Everyone is going to have their favorite parts of the book, and for me it was the trek through Africa. I found the traversing of Angola most interesting because of the way I was able to match it up with one of my all-time favorite books, Ryszard Kapuscinski's "Another Day of Life."
One of the best features of the book is Jim Rogers' blunt take on matters. This guy worked with George Soros, made his money and cashed out at 37. So, he owes no one. As a result, you get an unvarished take on all sorts of matters like immigration ("open the gates"), NGOs (to say he despises them falls a bit short of capturing his distaste), gambling (strongly against - which leads to a good take on why investing is the antithesis of gambling), Pinochet ("clearly guilty of crimes against humanity"), Pemex ('an inefficient operation run by corrupt officials on bloated paychecks")...you get the idea. There's chapter after chapter of red meat like that.
'Aventure Capitalist' is really worth your time.
The lion's share of the book is dedicated to developing countries, which is sensible given that these countries rarely get much attention in the press (as long as floods, earthquakes or wars stay away). One common observation across developing countries all over the world is the NGO-bureaucrats, living like kings in foreign countries. Backed by their own governments money, driving around in their 4WHs to tell the local people how stupid they are. This is a recurring point throughout the book, a point he makes really well. Rogers' anger towards the whole developing aid industry, which ruins the business for local entrepreneurs and destroys the knowledge of farming, is very visible.
So what about the investment opportunities? Rogers is clearly disappointed, closing as many accounts as he opens. He endorses the capitalist spirit of China (the president understands exchange derivatives!), and finds some good places in Africa. A running theme is to look at a countries demographics to forecast its future. Government bureaucrats are getting on his nerves everywhere, however, especially in the border controls.
But Adventure Capitalist is a good read, and excellent for airports and the like. Easy available to all readers, particularly to those with the slightest of interest in economics or finance.