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Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 19, 2002
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George Soros was once described as "the only private citizen [of the U.S.] who has his own foreign policy." In this penetrating biography, Michael Kaufman explores the multifaceted life of a man who instead describes himself as "a financial, philanthropic, and philosophical speculator."
Like Intel chairman Andrew Grove, whose memoir Swimming Across touches on some of the same territory, Soros grew up as the scion of a Hungarian Jewish family, many of whose members did not survive the Holocaust. Inclined toward philosophy (a field in which he sometimes writes even today, though many philosophers wish he would not), Soros escaped to England, and later America, and put his sharp mind to work making a huge fortune. Not content to live a leisurely or unexamined life, Soros put more than $1 billion to use in bettering the lives of citizens of formerly totalitarian regimes--and even in hastening the end of dictatorships around the world.
Former New York Times columnist Kaufman delivers a respectful account, closeted skeletons and all, of Soros's life and work, and his book will interest a wide range of readers. --Gregory McNamee
From Library Journal
What makes George Soros such a fascinating topic for biographers? The year 1995 saw Robert Slater's Soros: The Life, Times and Trading Secrets of the World's Greatest Investor and Soros's own Soros on Soros, written with Byron Wien and Krisztina Koenan. Now Kaufman, a former New York Times award-winning reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor, documents the life of this successful but controversial figure, drawing on unpublished manuscripts and interviews with Soros, his family, and acquaintances. The result is this wide-ranging and absorbing book. Although the work covers the full spectrum of Soros's activities, the recurring theme is of Soros the person and his never-ending pursuit of universal truths. Despite his achievements as a remarkable money manager and generous philanthropist, Soros's lifelong dream was to become a noted philosopher. Leaving his home in Budapest at 14, he eventually became a Wall Street maverick and made billions so that he could give it away. Soros has used his wealth to create a network of Open Society foundations in Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union to foster democratic institutions. More recently, he has expanded his philanthropic network to the United States, focusing on various social issues. This comprehensive biography is a good selection for business collections. Bellinda Wise, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
This is not a book that will teach you about fixed income, equities, derivatives, or how to hedge. If you want to sell short...go to the finance section of Amazon and buy a finance book.
This is a brilliant biography about George Soros. You learn about his life, how he grew up, where he went to school. How his character was formed...the events that helped form his work ethic, his philosophy about world markets and peak into how he may think.
You aren't going to get under the hood of his brain, but you will get to the core of what matters to this famous man and why. Brilliantly done!
I find it strange that a book about the `Greatest Money Manager of All Time,' contains hardly any deep insight into his investment methodology.
A few rather simplistic observations are made however.
Most striking is his concept of reflexivity. Many majority investment gurus that I have encountered are characterised by extreme, even delusional confidence in their own opinions. Soros provides a refreshing contrast. He is obsessive about his own fallibility, with a rare ability when needed to suddenly detach himself from prior opinions. He will follow them fanatically as far as they will lead him, and casually dismiss them upon their expiration.
The raw personality of Soros is enough to just about earn this four stars. That said, I feel that the subject probably deserved better.
Pursuing his lifelong interest in philosophy, he paid philosphy students to critique his ideas and, when older and richer, held parties to which he invited well-respected philosphers to do the same. How many people are that serious about self-criticism?
I was fascinated that he became friends with Allen Ginsberg and was influenced in his views about the harmfulness of harsh drug laws by Ginsberg's belief that it was a way to continue to fund those who had benefitted from alcohol prohibition after that ended.
With his philanthropic endeavors as with others, he has been willing to change course when they didn't prove fruitful, abandoning futile efforts in South Africa some years ago for example.
His financing of initiatives behind the Iron Curtain may have had more to do with the fall of Communism than Reagan's bluster; he worked covertly to encourage dissidents at a crucial time.
Kaufman is candid about Soros and it only made me respect him the more. Soros's own prose tends to be rather turgid; read this book to understand him better.
Also if you're a trader, don't even waste your time on this book. Get Alchemy of finance. This book is a fairly quick read but as you can imagine with a man like Soros, any authorised book is going to be mostly flattery.
But it has it's amusing moments and some good pictures. I wouldn't pay more than $5 though for it. Then you can chuck it like a magazine when you're done.
Recently I was looking for it on my shelf and remembered that I didn't
actually own it - so I immediately came onto amazon and bought it!
If you're a lover of biographies, the wealth mentality and how to create
what you want in life - buy this book.
George Soros is a genius and an amazing mentor from afar.
Michael Kaufman is a great writer.