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Review of Adventure Capitalist, by Jim Rogers
|Reviewer: Mark Lamendola,
MBA, and author of over 5,000 articles in print or online. |
In 1999, I began tracking an incredible journey chronicled each month by Jim Rogers 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 nails when 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 intriguing.
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.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.