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.