Soros: The World’s Most Influ­en­tial Investor

Robert Slater
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011

Slater traces Soros’ life across two con­ti­nents and sev­en-plus decades. 

This review is not con­cerned with Soros’ invest­ment adven­tures and nov­el strate­gies, but with the devel­op­ment of the man as more than a mon­ey-mak­ing machine whose hunch­es, once infal­li­ble, some­times fal­tered and who, as he aged, grew into the Jew he was intend­ed to be. 

Soros became a sup­port­er of Israel after a life­time as a mar­gin­al Jew, despite being a sur­vivor of the Holo­caust in Hun­gary. When he was younger, being a Jew only ham­pered him. It was some­thing he had to over­come, although he nev­er denied his reli­gion. But when he grew old­er, it was as if he want­ed to help God mend the world. He meta­mor­phosed from being a cre­ator of wealth to being a dis­trib­u­tor of his wealth. He helped Israel, but not until he was con­vinced that it had lost its Social­ist ten­den­cies. Although he once turned down a request to help the influx into Israel of Sovi­et Jews, he lat­er rea­soned that until he had tast­ed the free­dom of Eng­land and the Unit­ed States, he was not able to devel­op his finan­cial abil­i­ty; so why not give the same oppor­tu­ni­ty to the oppressed Jews of East­ern Europe and the Sovi­et Union? Soros decid­ed to invest his finan­cial mus­cle wher­ev­er peo­ple were free, and to make his native Hun­gary the show­case for his activ­i­ties— fac­ing down the exten­sive anti-Semi­tism there that his good deeds engen­dered. No good deed goes unpun­ished” the apho­rism states, and in many of the East­ern Euro­pean coun­tries he was try­ing to help, such as Roma­nia, the munif­i­cence of a Jew was both sus­pect and resented. 

Soros also con­tin­ued to be an inter­na­tion­al trad­er and indeed, was involved and often accused of caus­ing this or that finan­cial deba­cle and of insid­er trad­ing. Wher­ev­er big mon­ey and finan­cial manip­u­la­tion were involved, some­how the world thought that Soros must be at its cen­ter — and some­times it was true, but often not. 

Not only finances inter­est­ed Soros. In 2004 he became inter­est­ed in U.S. pol­i­tics and donat­ed more than $23 mil­lion to var­i­ous groups ded­i­cat­ed to defeat­ing Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. …And just so you know, in 2007, Soros bet” that a severe reces­sion was immi­nent and his strate­gies made him a prof­it of $4 bil­lion for the year. By 2008, he was one of the top donors in the world. He had giv­en away $5 bil­lion through his foun­da­tions. By the way, he agrees with the government’s res­cue pack­age. Want to know more? Read the book. Index, notes.

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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