Book review – More money than god

I read quite a bit again, which helps my brain a lot. And I have always found it relaxing. I mostly read biography’s , history and finance books. And the odd novel. And some tech books , which I won’t bore you with. I recently finished reading more money than god , by Sebastian Mallaby , a book combining history and finance in one go. Two of my favorite subjects. Plus it tells the stories of all the people involved , 3 boxes ticked.

It’s not a dry book with just names dates and numbers, it’s written with stories anecdotes and the numbers just fit in naturally. 

It’s about the history and evolving world of hedgefunds. For those who don’t know hedgefunds are private investment funds which in the classical term make bets on markets, and make use of diverse array of instruments in order to gain a edge in the market of choice. In the classical sense a hedge funds was always hedged against the risk they take. Neutral in a way, as far as their models go anyway. But that changed over time , and most just looked for edges in markets.

This book starts out with the first hedgefunds and goes until recent times just after the credit crunch in 2007/2008. What’s interesting it not just covered the most famous hedge funds and their bets like Soros versus the pound. But also lesser known stuff like the takeover of an Indonesian bank by a hedge fund.

Without giving away alle the stories the book tells the tales and sets out to give some insight in why hedgefunds are good for markets instead of the more common view that all hedgefunds are evil. It makes a good point. It’s also very dense and took me a while before finishing it. It’s a good for anyone interested in finance or the world of finance in general, the more numbers inclined among us will also be catered too and even the casual reader with more of a history interest will be having fun while reading it. 

It’s one of the best books on the history of hedgefunds in general and has a lot of interesting tales to tell. Make sure to put it on your reading list. 

Stalin the court of the red tsar

Well this was quite the read, this was one that was on the reading list for a long time. Finally I got round to reading this voluminous book about one of the most controversial figures in history. Stalin.

The book is focused on the time when Stalin was at the height of his power, so it’s not a full account of his life. It’s a bloody one for sure.

It tells a lot about all the people around him , his family and allies who by no exception all fell victim to the infamous terror, with the help of the people in his entourage who he gave a lot of power.

That power led to a lot of murders , even Stalin’s own family. What surprised me was the numbers of people who were killed and the damage it did not only to all the victims but to the country as well. When Hitler started operation Barbarossa the Red Army almost had no officers with any experience , they were all murdered.

To make matters worse a lot of very bad mistakes were made by the Politburo before the red army generals got a bit of authority back. By then off course Hitler overreached as well and the tide started to shift.

He controlled everyone around him by instilling the fear in people that by making just one slight mistake you could become an enemy of Stalin. The way he did this and kept control over such a large empire with no opposition is remarkable. It feels like he planned and orchestrated everything from start to finish.

It’s a bit of a hard read sometimes with all the different people but after a few chapters you’ll find it gets easier. A very solid book on Stalin. For people who like to read biography’s and are interested in Stalin or that part of history.


Dachau and the Black Forest

Today we travel from Munich to the Black Forest. A 4,5 hour drive if all goes well. First we visit Dachau, the concentatration camp near Munich. I have never been to a concentration camp this size.

When we arrived it was already 32 degrees celcius, it was actually very busy. Lot’s of school children which is very important.

The camp itself to me is a daunting place, maybe it was the heat or just being there but I got very sad. Simply because nothing really changed from those days. After WWII we had numerous events where lot’s of people were killed simply for being different. Maybe not on the scale with which it happened in WWII, but on a large scale nevertheless.

Even today. Really really depressing. ‘Never again’ a plaque in the camp says. Well we’re not there yet, not by a long shot.

Still I think it’s very important to visit these historic places. To remember how lucky we are to live in the West, a place on earth where freedom is the norm and being able to express different opinions.

After this stop we went off for the Black forest, a pretty long drive with some slow traffic on the 2 lane roads in the last hour and a half. Beautiful scenery made up for it. We arrived at our Ghasthaus Ratsstuble at around 17:30. Which was good. We had a nice meal and some beers before chilling on our terrace.

it’s going to be very hot tomorrow so we won’t be doing any long hikes just yet. Just walking down to the pool I think.