Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip
||List Price: $27.50
Amazon.com Price: $19.25
- Media: Hardcover
Publisher: Random House (13 May, 2003)
- Average Customer Review:
Based on 20 reviews.
Amazon.com Sales Rank: 935
Seeing the world at the right level....
Jim Rogers has taken the great American notion of a road trip, and made it into a sensational read. I was really taken by his first book, i.e. Investment Biker, and followed his next trip via his website. Each time I checked his site, my interst in the book to come increased, and I was not disappointed.
I think that Mr. Rogers might have about 5 more books from this one trip, and each one would be better and more insightful as he mulls over the things that he saw and experienced and has the time to take a longer view. I will look forward to buying those future books should they come to pass.
The book is well written, thoughtful and persuasive as to the the failings of our foreign policy. It's too bad that national leadership seems to be fashioning a neo-isolationist policy, when the real goal should be to understand how those in the rest of the world really see us.
I wanted the book to be longer, to provide more detail as to how he got things done, the stuff that worked, and more on what he saw and experienced. As I wrote this review, I found myself listening to the BBC World news trying to connect with the world that Rogers so eloquently describes.
This is a great book, and the kind that should be required reading for students of all ages!
Let My People Trade - The Gospel according to Jim
Jim Rogers may never hit the list of top 10 best selling authors but that's not because his latest book lacks any of the important characteristics of a bestseller. The only disqualifier is self-imposed by the author. The book is designed to blow away many common illusions and prejudices about the world we live in. It is not the stuff popular fiction is made of.
Jim is a former hedge fund manager who retired at 37, following a successful stint on Wall Street alongside George Soros. In the early nineties he published his first book Investment Biker, a story of his round-the-world trip by motorcycle.
His new book called Adventure Capitalist-The Ultimate Road Trip describes his second round-the-world trip, this time by a custom built Mercedes-Benz car. He set out with his wife Paige and a team of two other guys in 1999. The trip took them on a 240,000 kilometer journey through 116 countries and ended three years later.
I believe that this book should be required reading at schools and colleges not just because it beats Phileas Fogg's journey hands down in intellectual stimulation, but because the book is also a compendium of free-market ideas and live comparative social analysis.
Jim's starting point was to search for investment opportunities. He set out with the open mind of a moneymaker on pilgrimage to find the truth about market conditions. He is looking for profitable opportunities, businesses and countries to invest in and is not prepared to accept conventional wisdom, official or ideological distortions. He has equal contempt for the party politics in US as with those of any other country he visits. He lashes out against Turkmenbashi, the dictator in charge of Turkmenistan, for perpetuating his own brand of Stalinist cult of personality and destroying the country in the process. But then shows the same contempt for President Bush for confusing devaluation with depreciation and also with former President Clinton who he blames for failing to observe and react to the creation and bursting of the biggest market bubble in decades. "I would cast a pox on both their houses-the Democrats and the Republicans" he proclaims in exasperation.
Adventure Capitalist exposes some official and popular myths for what they are in a way that made me look at politics and religion from a very different perspective. In China, Jim tells of attending service in a Chinese Christian Church, where the local worshipers, while singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" never realized that in lands as far as North Carolina there are people like Jesse Helms who are frothing at the mouth while bemoaning religious persecution in their country.
Despite not being able to obtain a visa to drive freely though Iran, Jim still admits to holding some small investments in the country and suggests forgetting the official analysis coming from Washington. "...there is a lot of positive change coming from Iran." he claims.
Jim squarely lays the blame on the British for their Imperial invention of the passport and for the subsequent regulation of immigration by Government bureaucrats worldwide. His prediction is that in some parts of the world passports will not manage to stop the changing of borders.
He talks of countries where he likes to invest and economies that he believes are on the verge of collapse. Which ones are those? Well, let's say I don't expect he will be a best selling author in Moscow.
Jim Rogers will probably not be officially proclaimed as prophet any time soon, but I know there will be people who will quote passages of the Adventure Capitalist for the years to come.
Should Be Two Books, and Both Would Be Stronger
Jim Rogers has been smashingly successful in two different areas - international investing and international travel. He tries to tackle both successes in this book but unfortunately doesn't adequately cover either. His remarkable achievement covered here is his three-year drive (with his wife and some suspiciously anonymous assistants) around the world, knocking off 116 countries and 152,000 miles, along with all the life-threatening travails and crises that you would expect in so many hostile territories. He was also on constant lookout for international investing opportunities, and his most interesting assertion is that you learn most about the dynamics of any foreign economy by talking to real people at street level. That's opposed to know-it-all politicians and bureaucrats who make vast judgments on places they have never been and couldn't nearly understand.
The main problem here is that the journey was so extensive that Rogers doesn't have the space to relate an effective travelogue about all the places he visited. Entire nations are often described in a sentence or less. Meanwhile, yes/no pronouncements on the viability of investing in each location are tossed off quickly like afterthoughts. Rogers does impart some great investment advice here, like the contention that the next bull market will be in commodities (raw materials) rather than securities, most of the currencies in the world are collapsing, and that the surprise up-and-coming nations will be Angola and Bolivia. But otherwise, Rogers quickly dismisses most of the visited countries due to political strife. He also spends a lot of time on his soapbox, making vast pronouncements on how to solve the world's ills, most of which involve a simplistic belief in free trade (the phrase "the miracles of international trade" pops up once), and the predictable disdain for globalization's critics that we keep hearing from those with vested interests. Rogers fails to notice that much of the political strife he encountered around the world resulted from mismanaged globalization efforts.
Rogers should have written two books inspired by his remarkable journey. The first would be a travelogue and adventure story about the perils and rewards of death-defying travel. The second book would be a solid examination of worldwide investing opportunities and the futures of developing vs. declining nations and their economies. Both would be much stronger than this book that unsuccessfully tries to blend the two, but leaves both poorly covered.
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