Book review: The Soros that I’ve been waiting for

“The Soros Lectures: at the Central European University” by George Soros

This is a special one for me, not for the content but for the story on how I got the book: the physical book that I have is from none other than George Soros himself, albeit indirectly.

So in 2010 George Soros visited Indonesia, and he brought along several of this book to give away to few people that he met, as a good gesture. And one of those people who received the book was someone who doesn’t know who Soros was, doesn’t have a slight interest on him, but knew that I would probably appreciate the book.

Well, as a person who has a mild case (mild?) of tsundoku I finally read the book, 10 years later. And it’s…. typical of Soros. I’ve read more books written by Soros that I would like to admit (three, three books), and every time I read his book I always have this hope that the next sentence would be the bomb that I’ve been waiting for, akin to his stature as a financial market legend.

But “da bomb” never happened, and this book – or more precisely this lectures – seems to be no exception. Soros is one of a kind hedge fund manager, with a brilliant trader’s instinct, but he’s not a good writer and a vague philosopher at best. But that is precisely what makes him human, and it can even be the antidote to the boogeyman, market-crashing, democracy-interrupting [misleading] enigma that is forever attached to his name. Hey, even Gordon Gekko has a soft side as shown towards the end of Wall Street 2 movie.

But then, just when I nearly wrapped up this book, there it was. Da bomb. Lecture 5 is so good it’s worth one additional star just for this chapter alone. It showed that in 2010 Soros could summarise in a clear manner the problems in international finance and politics since the days of the Bretton Woods up until the 2008 crisis and its aftermath. And the predictions that he made a decade ago in lecture 5? He nailed almost every single one of them. That’s the Soros that I’ve been waiting for, and I’m sure glad I stick with the book till the end.