MBA, and author of over 5,000 articles in print or online.
1999, I began tracking an incredible journey chronicled each month by
in Worth Magazine. I’m a front to back reader, but I made an
exception to that rule by going directly to Rogers' column and reading
it first. In a moment, you'll see why I felt so compelled to do that.
First, let's move back a few years. Mark
Benjamin, with whom I attended grade school, walked around the world
in the 1990s. He got a frost-bitten thumb in the Sahara while doing
so! The insight he gained from his journey amazed me. Anyone who can
travel the world, I mean really travel it up close, has a fascinating
story to tell. Unfortunately, Mark didn’t write a book about his adventures.
However, we all have an opportunity to
read about another inquisitive mind making a journey "up close
and personal" to 116 countries (click
here for a PDF map of the journey, scanned from the inside cover).
Only this time, it's not Mark Benjamin walking. Nor is it Jim Rogers
on a motorcycle (another amazing story, chronicled in The
Investment Biker). This time, it's
Jim Rogers with the beautiful Paige Parker, in a customized bright
yellow Mercedes. And what a story they have to tell.
The Adventure Capitalist is a book
you can read for entertainment or for education. You can read it for
both, if you wish. One thing you cannot do with this book is easily
set it down once you start reading it. Believe me, I tried.
On the adventure side, I was chewing my
troops from the Angolan Army stopped them at gunpoint and refused
to let them go further. I won't spoil the story for you, but it was
definitely exciting. And their trek across Siberia was chilling due
to more than the weather. The account of Rogers' encounter with a Russian
Mafia chief immediately brought to mind Robert Ludlum’s thriller novels.
Truth is often stranger than fiction, and in this case it's downright
The real value of Adventure Capitalist
to me is the insight. I found the book immensely informative. The combination
of facts, figures, and logic impressed me, but the way Rogers put them
together reminds me of what happens when those big lights go on at a
football stadium - you can see things that you couldn't see before.
I now clearly understand which country
will dominate the 21st century and why. I now know why the
monetary policy of the USA (like that of most nations)is insane, not
just unsound as I had previously described it. And I now know what our
insanely unsound monetary policy means for people all over the world,
and how dire the consequences are becoming for the millions of folks
in countries like Argentina. Even more, I can see past propaganda, such
as the idea that a nation that downsized its navy from 200 aircraft
carriers to 12 and ran out of missiles in Afghanistan (and again in
Iraq) is a "military superpower."
The consequences of mismanagement, incompetence,
and corruption at the highest levels of government (and it just rolls
downhill from there) are readily apparent to one who, like Rogers, has
seen the devastation firsthand - nearly everywhere. It wasn't that Rogers
and Parker visited 116 countries. It was that they visited the people
of 116 countries. They experienced the economies of those countries,
ate the native food - including the grilled worms, and endured the native
bureaucracies and absurdities. Some of their troubles made me laugh
aloud, while others had me shaking my head in dismay. But the book also
brings hope. In the end, when I set it down, I could only smile.
What makes Rogers' observations and analysis
so keen isn't his genius IQ—he never even alludes to that. (I have that
information from another source. By the way, he and Mark Benjamin are
both in Mensa - maybe traveling is a smart thing to do!). This is a
guy who co-founded and ran the Quantum Fund. Over ten years, the portfolio
gained more than 4,000 percent at a time when the S&P rose less
than 50 percent. This is a ten-year track record, not some flash in
the pan stroke of luck. He's got other impressive credentials (e.g.,
professor of finance and Columbia University Graduate School of Business).
But, there is another factor that plays
a big role in making his analysis so accurate. Paige Parker, whose background
is different from his, was his partner on that trip. As he chronicled
the events and built his analysis, he did so under the watchful eye
of someone who wasn't afraid to challenge his views. He had to make
sure he got his facts right. And as you read this book, you cannot help
but come to the conclusion that he did.
Yet, for all the adventure, all the insight,
all the facts and figures, this book provides a deeply personal touch.
The writing is at once food for thought and food for the soul. This
book is a must read. But, don’t ask to borrow my copy - it stays with
me. I want to see the movie, too.