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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
If you asked billionaire George Soros what his proudest achievement was, his answer would probably make mention of the hundreds of Xerox copiers procured for his native Hungary in the early 1980s by the cultural foundation he established there. The Xerox machines helped bring open communication to a Communist country that invested several decades in rigorously controlling the means by which information is disseminated. Yet, this gift is only one of many world-rattling acts undertaken by Soros' many foundations, all of which Michael T. Kaufman, an award-winning author and 40-year veteran of The New York Times, chronicles in this engrossing biography.
Often mentioned in the same breath as legendary financiers John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, Soros, a complex and somewhat enigmatic figure, suprisingly eluded biographical attention until the writing of this volume. The turns his life has taken are fascinating, yet Soros the man is notoriously hard to pin down -- even to his closest friends and family. Kaufman, with the cooperation of Soros and access to valuable family documents, takes on the challenge and emerges with a book that both documents the financial acumen that makes Soros the world's greatest money manager and illuminates the drive that has led him to become the world's only "stateless statesman."
The contradictions and complexities in this individual's life are many. Soros was the son of Hungarian Jews and had to hide his Jewish identity in order to survive World War II. Like many other Eastern European refugees, he later found freedom and opportunity in the West but continued to keenly feel his outsider status both in England and the United States. Having studied philosophy, Soros aspired to create a new philosophical discipline based on the thought of Karl Popper, yet he became fully engaged as a specialist in foreign securities in America. He revered his parents, yet when they escaped the Soviet crackdown in Hungary in 1956 and came to America, Soros sent his brother to meet them and did not come to see them until three days later, even though he had not seen them for ten years. Though the years of World War II were fraught with grave personal danger, he pined for them later in the (to him) unexciting days of making his enormous fortune.
For anybody who thought they knew who George Soros was, this book will be a riveting surprise; for readers not familiar with Soros' career, this book will be an education as well as a true pleasure. (Holly McGuire)
Holly McGuire is a Chicago-based book editor and consultant.