As a daily writer for The Motley Fool, I typically read (what else?) books about investing. Of course, much of the literature is quantitative -- the kind that analyzes ratios, interprets trends, and even looks at the zigs and zags of charts.
Yet many of the great investors find insight beyond the numbers. Look at Bill Miller, the famed portfolio manager of the Legg Mason Value Trust. He is more likely to read books by Ludwig Wittgenstein, not Jim Rogers or Peter Lynch. But then again, Miller was a former philosophy major.
When I first got the book The Baron Son (Long & Silverman, Jan. 25, 2005), for a review, I thought it was not fit for a Motley Fool review. But then I thought about Bill Miller.
You see, the book is fiction. (Nope, you will not see any P/E ratios.) But on the other hand, some of the most compelling truths come from fiction.
The authors -- Vicky T. Davis, William R. Patterson, and D. Marques Patton -- have a track record of success. Davis founded Indulgence Jewelry; Patterson and Patton co-founded The Warcoffer Capital Group.
The subtitle of the book, Vade Mecum, is appropriate. It is Latin for "go with me." And yes, at 208 pages, this is a very handy-sized book.
We learn about the Baron, the richest man in the world, from three eager and wise students. The Baron uses his experiences to impart his wisdom, which includes 11 "Supreme Principles" to achieving success.
There are no bullet points or fancy Power Point presentations. In fact, it takes some re-reading, and digging, to get to some of the nuggets. In many ways, the book is in the tradition of one of the classics of inspirational literature, The Richest Man in Babylon.
While this book is about achieving success, it is not about success at any cost. With the aftermath of Enron and WorldCom, living by the credit of success-with-ethics is crucial. In fact, this would be a great book for the MBA students who are preparing to run America's corporations.
In my life, I have been lucky to have had a great mentor. Yes, he was wealthy and highly successful. But he also had strong principles and ethics. In a way, this book is also a mentor. It's like listening to a wise conversation -- it makes you think, and most importantly, it makes you believe in yourself.
Fool contributor Tom Taulli enjoyed this book, and he also enjoys your email.