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The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism Hardcover – November 1, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its inflated title, this volume is a worthy jeremiad against corporate excess, especially the kind hastened by the mutual fund industry that Bogle, former CEO of low-cost Vanguard, knows well. Among the problems: inflated executive compensation and creative accounting that allows companies to claim profits even when they're in the red. Mutual fund companies, Bogle charges, care more about short-term results than long-term value, and many of them gain profits for larger parent corporations by charging investors unnecessary fees that undermine the funds' net returns. To remedy such problems, Bogle writes, mutual fund owners and their fiduciaries must exercise the corporate responsibility they now shirk, and fund boards must be reshaped to serve the interests of shareholders. He advances in all seriousness Warren Buffett's once-joking idea for a high tax on short-term trading gains and calls for a federal commission to examine the way pension funds are managed, as well as the state of our retirement systems in general. While other recent books, such as David Swensen's Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment, marry similar criticisms with more advice for individual investors, Bogle—a rock-ribbed Republican businessman—still deserves attention in the precincts of power. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"This is an important book for the post-Enron era. In his characteristic hard hitting style, one of the legends of the mutual fund industry presents an insider’s view of what’s wrong with corporate America and what can be done to improve it."—Burton G. Malkiel, Princeton University
(Burton G. Malkiel)

Simply put, capitalism has too many characters and not enough men of character. When one of the few tells us that the system he loves is ailing, and how he'd fix it, we had best listen."—Cliff Asness Ph.D., Managing and Founding Principal, AQR Capital Management

(Cliff Asness)

"In his characteristic style, Bogle delivers strong medicine for what ails our capital markets and corporate governance framework. Not all will agree with everything that he has written, but they would be wise to take note, as his message is resounding and his proposals go to the heart of crucial debates about management, ownership, and value creation."— Devin Wenig, President, Business Divisions, Reuters Group

(Devin Wenig)

“Jack Bogle has written a brilliant and insightful book that highlights the many ways that our economy has suffered because managers have placed their own economic interests ahead of those of owners and investors. Bogle offers prescriptions that, if enacted, will help prevent a repeat of the scandals that we have witnessed over the past five years.”—Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General, New York

(Eliot Spitzer)

"John Bogle has written an insightful book with great historical and contemporary perspective. His analysis of what has gone wrong and what needs to be done should be required reading for students, financial practitioners, and official policymakers."—Henry Kaufman, President of Henry Kaufman and Company, Inc.

(Henry Kaufman)

"This is a must-read book for anyone interested in how to restore badly needed integrity, and efficiency, to our capital markets."—Honorable Peter G. Peterson

(Honorable Peter G. Peterson)

"Bogle describes the continuous struggle for control of our capitalistic system, the odds being heavily in favor of the managers.  Individual investors and beneficiaries remain helpless, intermediaries are passive or conflicted, and boards not yet effective.  You owe it to yourself to read this book and reflect on his call for further federal intervention to restore some balance."—Ira Millstein, Senior Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP  
(Ira Millstein)

"A wake-up call to policy makers. Anyone who cares about the future of [America] needs to read [this] book."—Jack Treynor, President of Treynor Capital Management, Inc.

(Jack Treynor)

"Once again Jack Bogle is the clearest and most courageous voice pointing out critical flaws in our governance and financial system but also showing in constructive, brilliant ways how to make the timely repairs. This book presents a rare blend of erudition, experience, and utility. It should be required reading for CEOs, public policy leaders, and MBA students—if not all informed investors."—Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Yale University

(Jeffrey Sonnenfeld)

"In this tour de force, Bogle subjects corporate America to a forceful critique. Keen insights, rich experience, and moral courage shine throughout. Anyone interested in our corporate system should read this book, and those who do will never see corporate America the same again."—Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard University 

(Lucian Bebchuk)

"This superb book should be a required reading for every business student in college. Like a fine surgeon, Jack Bogle dissects what is wrong with the capital markets from an investor’s view, and at the same time provides a well-reasoned cure."—Lynn Turner, Former Chief Accountant of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

(Lynn Turner)

"Jack Bogle has done more to protect corporate shareholders from mounting abuses at the hands of greedy and negligent CEOs, directors, and money managers than anyone in America. The case he makes here is so powerful and well reasoned that our Washington politicians will be hard pressed to ignore it."—Mario Cuomo, 52nd Governor, New York State

(Mario Cuomo)

"John Bogle has done more to help ordinary investors than any other person in America today. He continues his battle on behalf of shareholders with this impassioned new book. Every investor and every policy maker should read his ideas for reform."—Peter Fitzgerald, U.S. Senator for Illinois, Retired
(Peter Fitzgerald)

"The American wage earners’ pension and 401(k) savings are now a major source of capital. Incredibly, although the source of capital is democratized, wealth is more concentrated. Jack Bogle finds this contradiction unacceptable and in this book shows us how to democratize the rewards of capitalism."—Ray Carey, author of Democratic Capitalism: The Way to a World of Peace and Plenty

(Ray Carey)

"This book is a gift to the reading and investing public. Bogle uniquely understands mutual funds and everyone needs to listen when he warns of the deceptions that have plagued the industry. Investors will profit if they follow his simple straightforward advice."—Robert A.G. Monks, author of Corporate Governance

(Robert A.G. Monks)

"Jack Bogle’s The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism is arguably the most important treatise on the bubble era. Policymakers, investment fiduciaries and individual investors should read and act upon Bogle’s prescriptions. The stakes are high: our collective financial souls."—Steve Galbraith, Limited Partner, Maverick Capital

(Steve Galbraith)

"Jack Bogle says exactly what needs to be said, and he does it with gusto. His tales and lessons should be required reading for any business leader, plus they offer great insights for smart investors."—Walter Isaacson, The Aspen Institute
(Walter Isaacson)

"Over the past half century, American capitalism nearly lost its soul. One of the few who noticed was Jack Bogle. Now, for the first time, he tells the whole tale as only Jack Bogle can: just what happened, just how it happened, and just how to fix it. This is mandatory reading for anyone with a dollar to invest or an interest in the future of American capitalism."—William Bernstein, author of The Birth of Plenty


(William Bernstein)

"Jack Bogle’s brilliant tour de force provides the first integrated view of how our system of investing often destroys more value than it creates. Bogle clearly understands how the system works and how perverse motivations are undermining value creation. Always a pragmatic, he offers workable and practical solutions of how to get back on track."—William W. George, Former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Inc.

(William W. George)

"Bogle . . . makes clear what went wrong and who is to blame."—Paul B. Brown, New York Times

(Paul B. Brown New York Times)

“[Bogle’s] book is yet another important contribution in an illustrious career.”

(Jeff Madrick New York Times Book Review)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300109903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300109900
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,268,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jack Bogle, often called the "concience of the industry," has written a powerful book on a subject that concerns every American--"capitalism." As founder and retired CEO of the second largest mutual fund company in the world, Mr. Bogle understands capitalism. He has the unusual ability (for a businessman) to write beautifully, logically and understandably for the average reader. "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" is the result.

The thrust of Mr. Bogle's message (documented over and over) is that corporations are now controlled by their managers--not by their owners (shareholders). (The average CEO compensation has soared to 280 times that of the average worker.) Mr. Bogle deftly lays out the problem, but more importantly, he gives us the solution that will return capitalism to its owners and value creation. I could not put the book down.

Taylor Larimore,

Miami, Florida
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Format: Hardcover
The individual investor has no better friend than Jack Bogle. Not only did he introduce index funds as a significant investment alternative some thirty years ago, but he has consistently and uncompromingly spoken out against the shareholder-unfriendly practices of his own mutual fund industry. "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" is a beautifully written, persuasively argued overview of how corporate and investment fund shareholders are short-changed. More importantly, Bogle offers sensible reforms to fix the problems. This is more than an investor's book, it is an essential book for all caring citizens.
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Format: Hardcover
In his usual tell-it-like-it-is, no-holds-barred fashion, Jack Bogle names names and affixes blame where it belongs as he outlines the major problems facing our present system of capitalism, with special emphasis on the greed and coruption in corporate America and in the investment arena, and the failure of our "gatekeepers" to do their jobs properly. Like the true leader and visionary that he is, Bogle not only identifies the problems, but offers sound solutions as well. Powerful stuff! A must-read for investors as well as those who care about the future of American capitalism.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Bogle points out what should have been obvious to me - that the ultimate owners of investment capital have virtually no influence on how their own capital is used. Instead the agents of the owners control the capital and act in a very self-interested incestuous manner. In short, they have stolen the soul of capitalism and robbed investors of trillions of dollars.

This book could only have been written by John Bogle, the man that has saved the common investor billions of dollars annually by refusing to operate in a status quo manner. This book eloquently explains what went wrong, why it went wrong, and most importantly, what we can do to fix it. I was steaming mad as I again realized how our trusted fiduciaries violated their duties of loyalty and prudence. The big question for me is will I stay mad enough to actually do something about it?

I highly recommend this book. It may be the first major shot in a long battle for capitalists to take back control of our own capital.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a call to arms. It will not help an individual investor form a strategy for profiting amongst the corporate looters.

That said, it is an excellent call to arms. Maybe its effect will be motivating more individuals to shun the more egregious parts of the finance industry and to quit being passive owners. That might have an effect.

As for myself, if I'd read this book earlier, I might have recognized, and avoided, a few bad investments (boston chicken, dhb, etc) where the insiders were basically looting from the owners. So, after reading this book, folks should be fired up enough to try identifying greedy corporate management, weak boards of directors, and passive ownership. The book points the way but does not supply the tools.

recent cases in point (as of 1/9/07):

Goldman sachs gives huge bonuses instead of distributing because management rode some bubbles to yield massive paper returns. Will they take money back in a bad year? Good year management gets big bonus, bad year owners eat loss.

Lesson: greedy management, avoid goldman sachs.

Home depot gives a few hundreds of millions severance to the CEO.

Lesson: weak board, avoid home depot

Come to think of it, my S&P index fund holdings are feeding the frenzy. I should pull out and put the money where I can vote my shares.
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Format: Hardcover
If you ever want to get an idea of why Mr. Bogle founded Vanguard, you need to read this book. To him, fees and taxes really do matter to the sucess of a mutual fund. He is straight forward in showing that he feels mutual funds and their managers plus senior corporate management are making too much money or as he say taking too much of your profit. Plus he goes on to show that most mutual funds do not beat the market. Thus they are not worth their fees and their managers do not deserve large salaries, stock options, or bonuses. He will take you back and explain how, in his opinion, the American Capitalism went wrong and offers suggestions to fix this process. He offers lots of supporting articles and reports to back his opinions. If you want to get a history lesson on how capitalism developed in American and the people who made it happen, you will find this in his book. One might think Mr. Bogle is a liberal or very,very far left in his political views as he is out raged over the lack of ethics and money shifts of the corporate world but I believe he is a more to the far right side of the political world and he is truely out raged by corporate America. There is a lot we as individual fund owners can do to make change happen but it will take a lot of effort on our part to change the system.
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