cover image Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy

Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy

Anna Porter. TAP/Dundurn (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $19.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-45973-103-5

George Soros built his financial empire trading in high-risk derivatives while giving away billions of dollars to scholars, human rights activists, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. Based on interviews with Soros and his friends, colleagues, and business partners, Porter (The Ghosts of Europe) writes an extraordinary biography of the billionaire, focusing on his legacy. She traces numerous activities of the Open Society Foundation, an international charitable organization founded by Soros "to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens." Branches of the foundation have emerged in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Africa, South East Asia, and the U.S., and Morton Abramowitz of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace dubbed Soros the "only private citizen with his own foreign policy." But Porter notes that Soros's belief that money can make a world a better place if you are able "to intervene at the right moment" is challenged by ongoing problems in the places where he has invested. She quotes the aphorism (often erroneously attributed to Churchill) that "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm," but questions how many failures the foundation can sustain while still laying claim to making things better and how long it can survive. John Pearce, Westwood Creative Artists. (Mar.)