Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire

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9780375405853: Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire

The first biography of George Soros written with his cooperation--a dramatic story of the capitalistic genius who has become the leading philanthropist of our time.

In a fascinating narrative, we follow Soros from European dislocation to unfathomable success and wealth. Born into a Jewish family in Budapest, he was on his own by age 14, passing as an Aryan to survive World War II. As a penniless 17-year-old in London, he dreamed both of personal glory and making the world less harsh. Ambition and opportunity drove him to Wall Street, where he arrived in 1956. Soon he was "the greatest money manager in the world." In his early 50s, restless and having made his fortune, Soros turned to doing good as a full-time occupation, showing the same energy, imagination, and courage in spending his money as he had in making it. He has invested more than $1 billion worldwide through his Open Society foundations, undermining the kind of totalitarianism he knew in his youth. Kaufman reveals how Soros became a key figure in accelerating the collapse of communism, while minimizing the trauma of transition, and how his work continues today.

Packed with event and character, this is the story of a remarkable, brilliant, hugely generous, but--until now--little-understood man.

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Review:

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 the Back Cover:

"For those who know little about this remarkable . . . billionaire, a titillating first chapter."
--The Economist

"Soros is never fawning, and the psychological portrait it draws is convincing and illuminating. Soros' life, no matter how you slice it, has been extraordinary. The first several chapters read like a thriller. Kaufman excels at dissecting and explaining Soros' psychological makeup."
--Andrew Leonard, Salon

"George Soros's story is full of drama and determination, personal growth and bold action, idealism and big money, failures and soaring successes. If you learn what makes him tick, you will understand more about all of us. Kaufman has written an excellent book."
--Bill Bradley

"In this compelling portrait Michael Kaufman reveals the unknown and unexpected George Soros."
--Kati Marton

"A fascinating account of one of the great men of our times."
--Anthony Gottlieb, New York Times Book Review

"The value of this beautifully written book is that while writing about such an unusual, dynamic, and rich personality as George Soros, Michael T. Kaufman has carefully avoided the dangers of facile hagiography. Thanks to this we have an extraordinarily vivid and colorful portrait of one of the most interesting and farsighted figures of our time—a man who through his achievements showed that one can build and use a fortune to help others live better and more wisely."
--Ryszard Kapuciski

"A flinty-eyed exposition of a brilliant capitalist, devoted provocateur and accidental humanitarian. You come away believing it is possible to be a really rich man and a really good man after all."
--John Rothchild, New York Times

"George Soros is no ordinary rich man. And Soros is not an ordinary rich man's biography . . . [In this] richly textured portrait . . . Soros emerges a deeply fascinating and appealing man. Kaufman writes with both insight and compassion."
--Judith Warner, Washington Post Book World

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