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Soros: The Life, Ideas, and Impact of the World's Most Influential Investor [Hardcover]

Robert Slater
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Jan 2009

"A penniless survivor of the Nazi occupation of Hungary, George Soros is now one of the richest men in the world, and Robert Slater does an excellent job of helping us understand how Soros did it. . . . Slater distinguishes Soros from other great investors by explaining his mental processes . . . . He explains how Soros views markets as chaotic, not efficient, and very prone to boom-bust sequences. . . . Slater has written a fascinating volume."--Barron's

The highly acclaimed bestseller updated to reveal Soros' role in our new economic and political era

As a financial genius, global philanthropist, political activist, man of conscience, and the world's only investor with his own foreign policy--it cannot be denied that Soros is an enigmatic man of enormous influence. For more than four decades he has been so successful that he has been accused of directing the course of global markets and shaping the destinies of nations.

Now, in this exhaustively updated and expanded edition of his 1996 bestseller, biographer Robert Slater separates fact from fiction to get at the truth about the mysterious figure of George Soros. Working from extensive interviews with Soros and those closest to him, Slater combines compelling biographical detail with scrupulous analysis to:

  • Detail how Soros made his billions as a global currency trader and stock operator
  • Chronicle his role in bringing down communism and establishing open societies to Eastern Europe and the former USSR
  • Demystify Soros's macroeconomic approach to investing and his oft-misunderstood theory of reflexivity
  • Explore his fanatical obsession with unseating George W. Bush in 2004 and his growing involvement with left-wing political activist groups
  • Reveal George Soros's strategies for surviving and thriving in the chaos of today's credit markets
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He's been hailed as the “World's Greatest Investor” and “King of the Hedge Funds.” In the 1980s he worked tirelessly and spent lavishly to help bring down communism in Eastern Europe and establish open societies where none existed. Yet he now asserts that his life's mission is to defend democracy against capitalism and “excessive individualism”. An avowed liberal, he's vilified on the right and admired by many on the left.

George Soros has been making headlines for more than four decades, yet he remains as much an enigma as ever--especially to those who would divine the secrets behind his phenomenal success as a global investor. Now, in this thoroughly updated, substantially expanded edition of his 1996 bestseller Soros, biographer Robert Slater goes beyond the headlines and the oft-told tales to reveal the man behind the legend.

Working from extensive interviews with Soros himself, as well as Soros's business associates and friends, Slater traces his subject's life across two continents and more than seven decades. We see Soros as a Hungarian boy whose favorite game was Monopoly; a Jewish teenager on the run from the Gestapo; an émigré in England who waited tables and served as a lifeguard tp survive; a burgeoning intellectual at the London School of Economics with a flair for analytical philosoph; and as a new arrival to his adoptive homeland, the USA.

Slater also closely tracks Soros's meteoric rise from unsuccessful gold arbitrageur to “The Man Who Moves Markets.” He chronicles many of Soros's financial triumphs and missteps, digging deep to provide new insights into some of his most sensational coups, including Soros's history-making move against the Pound-a play that netted him a cool $1 billion and seemingly threatened to break The Bank of England.

And in entirely new chapters devoted to Soros's political awakening, Slater describes his growing involvement with national politics during the 1990s, his role in helping to launch the liberal political action group, Americans Coming Together, his mounting obsession with George W. Bush following 9/11 and his efforts to unseat him in the 2004 election, and his widely misunderstood involvement with Moveon.org.


Frequently Bought Together

Soros: The Life, Ideas, and Impact of the World's Most Influential Investor + Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve (Finance & Investments) + Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States: Essays
Price For All Three: 46.93

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional; 2 edition (1 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071608443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071608442
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.3 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 389,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Robert Slater is the bestselling author of 30 books, including Jack Welch and the GE Way, Saving Big Blue, The Eye of the Storm, and Microsoft Rebooted.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
George Soros is a fascinating personality. As one of the greatest investors in history, he is worth studying for his investment ideas alone. But Soros has never dwelled on his incredible trading success or his astounding income. Instead, he has sought recognition for his worldwide philanthropies. Robert Slater intelligently presents the story of this complicated, controversial and quick-witted billionaire. His account includes details about Soros's investment strategies and achievements, as well as his vast philanthropic projects. getAbstract considers this an intriguing biography of one of the century's most interesting investors and social philosophers - a remarkably complex self-made man.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable, though one may still understand so little of Soros 11 Oct 2009
By ServantofGod - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Pardon me for writing such a paradoxical review title. IMHO, the author had done well to present all the facts available in an interesting way. At least I think this is much better than the Kaufman one. However, Soros is just a mystical figure who tries so hard to keep his trading secrets (except perhaps in those times he wants to move the markets) so that one can never really understand him at all other than from his own books which is very dense and philosophical for common people. However, as a professional trader and a book lover, I am really satisfied or I definitely would not have completed it in two days. In short, if you are a fan of Soros like me and want to read a good book about him, this will satisfy you well. If you just want to read for tips and trading secrets, I strongly suggest you to give this a pass.

p.s. Below please find some of my favorite passages for my reference.

Needing a foot in the door of a London investment bank, he drafted a letter to all the investment banks in the city, hoping his luck would change. pg40
As Soros has suggested: To be successful, you need leisure. You need time hanging heavily on your hands. pg64
Teodoresco thought the secret to understanding Soros was to think of him as competing with himself, not against others. pg127
People have to project their anxieties and resentments and envy on something animate. They want to think that somebody is making markets happen. They cant believe that supply and demand are actually doing that, that markets personally discount future events. They want to believe there is a Soros. pg185
Intrinsic value was what a security was worth under given circumstances, weighing in interest rates, the state of the economy, and the company's profits. pg187
I (Soros) am against nationalism of any kind. If it were possible to have the constructive facets of nationalism without its negative characteristics and the resulting political and social damage that it causes, then you would be right. But it isnt possible. pg214
The real secret of his success, Soros would insist, was in spotting his mistakes earlier than most. pg235
I (Bryon Wien) was astonished at how unaffected he (Soros) was. I remember that very clearly. Election night (Bush vs Kerry) for Soros was, to be sure, an extreme disappointment. He had absorbed numerous body blows for the cause with nothing to show for it. pg294
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing tell-all about one of the world's most successful investors 14 Sep 2009
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
George Soros is a fascinating personality. As one of the greatest investors in history, he is worth studying for his investment ideas alone. But Soros has never dwelled on his incredible trading success or his astounding income. Instead, he has sought recognition for his worldwide philanthropies. Robert Slater intelligently presents the story of this complicated, controversial and quick-witted billionaire. His account includes details about Soros's investment strategies and achievements, as well as his vast philanthropic projects. getAbstract considers this an intriguing biography of one of the century's most interesting investors and social philosophers - a remarkably complex self-made man.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I was born poor but I will not die poor." 26 Aug 2011
By Steve Amoia - Published on Amazon.com
"On one wall there was a sign that appeared to be composed on a computer: `I was born poor but I will not die poor.' It would be Soros's guiding principle for life." Page 2

In his latest book, "Soros: The World's Most Influential Investor," Robert Slater discusses the life of a man born into modest means in pre-World War II Hungary who has made billions in global stock markets. Since 1969. Mr. Soros has only had one year (1981) when he didn't beat the S&P 500 market index. This book chronicles the early life influences and subsequent stellar investing career of a financial icon.

Organized Format

There are 31 chapters with a precisely researched notes section. Most of the chapters are under 10 pages in length which makes the book engaging and piques the reader's interest. The author's writing style is direct, entertaining and has a storytelling bent. There is significant detail in this book of a financial nature; however, the author was able to make mundane facts interesting. Although this was an unauthorized biography, Mr. Soros was quoted at length and did consent to interviews with Mr. Slater.

A Primer on International Finance

The author demonstrates his expertise in ways that non-financial readers can understand. The book's theme is the ascent and dealings of George Soros; however, you will learn a great deal about the nuances of global finance. For example, "The U.S. Government had been encouraging a stronger (Japanese) yen. This was a tactic to pressure the Japanese during trade negotiations; if the yen rose, Japanese exports would become more expensive and more difficult to sell around the world." Page 222

Soros's Eighteen Foundations

Soros used his immense wealth to create philanthropic foundations in Eastern Europe. Inclusion of this part of the investor's life provided the reader with a deeper look into the humane side of Soros. "I don't want to have a memorial of my name after my death. I want to influence what's happening now." Page 131

Notable Quotes

"I'm the world's highest paid critic. I'm not an entrepreneur who builds businesses." Page 10

"Someone who had invested $10,000 in Quantum (Fund) when it was founded in 1969 and had reinvested all dividends would by
the end of 1992 have had a sum of $12,982,827." Page 182

"When people lose confidence in a currency, its decline tends to reinforce domestic inflation, thereby validating the decline." Page 54

"If the stock goes up, you buy more." Page 100

"He takes a loss better than anyone I have ever met." Page 147

"As far as Soros is concerned, when you're right on something, you can't own enough." Page 154

"I'm George Soros and I'm a Hungarian Jew." Page 215

"The fact that I made so much money is proof that the markets are not perfect." Page 256

"George is a commodity, so the less there is of him on the market, the more valuable he is." Page 304

"When you are a billionaire's son, you are less hungry than a Hungarian immigrant." Page 313

This is an intriguing and detailed look into a classic American rags-to-riches tale. The story is more about the man than the billions he has earned or his economic theories. Despite computerized financial models of the 20th century, Mr. Soros often relied on his back pain as a better predictor when to buy or sell. "Soros" will make a valuable addition to your personal or professional library.

Please Note

A McGraw-Hill representative provided me with a complimentary review copy of this book. I was not monetarily compensated for the review by any party that would benefit from a positive analysis.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Investor and Philosopher 17 Oct 2010
By Lindsay Woolcott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book!

This biography details some of the most important times in the life of George Soros. From growing up escaping being caught by the Nazi's to finding work in London and many of the major events in his trading life(so far).
It shows how Soros is not only a very influential investor, but also a man with his own philosophies about how people influence the market, and how people's opinion of the market changes the market.
George Soros is more than just a financial billionaire. He has helped to create open societies, has started a university, scholarships and many foundations to help create more democratic societies (and better). By the way the book was written very well :)
12 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vacuous! 7 April 2009
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After spending lavishly in the 1980s to help bring down communism in Eastern Europe, Soros now asserts that his mission is to defend democracy against capitalism and "excessive individualism."

Soros is convinced that mathematics do not govern financial markets - psychology (the heard instinct) does. Yet, he also relies heavily on logic - eg. that Britain would withdraw from the Exchange Rate Mechanism vs. Germany to boost its exports, netting Soros $2 billion.

In 1969, Soros launched his Quantum Fund - an offshore investment hedge fund. An initial investment of $100,000 was worth $130 million by early 1994.

Soros has published a number of books, trying to establish himself as a philosopher and to explain his investment thinking. The latter is known as "reflexivity." A current example of reflexivity in modern financial markets is that of the debt and equity of housing markets. Lenders began to make more money available to more people in the 1990s to buy houses. More people bought houses with this larger amount of money, thus increasing the prices of these houses. Lenders looked at their balance sheets which not only showed that they had made more loans, but that their equity backing the loans--the value of the houses, had gone up (because more money was chasing the same amount of housing, relatively). Thus they lent out more money because their balance sheets looked good, and prices went up more, and they lent more, etc. Prices increased rapidly, and lending standards were relaxed. The salient issue regarding reflexivity is that it explains why markets gyrate over time, and do not just stick to equilibrium--they tend to overshoot or undershoot (Wikipedia). Soros now would probably now say that markets have been undershooting.

So what's the problem with Slater's book? Instead of providing a useful synthesis of Soros' thinking and actions, it supplies incomplete bits and pieces at a very low and useless "ant-level" view.
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