Knut Rostad's New Book Celebrates Bogle

January 31, 2014

The many fans of Vanguard’s founder now have a common home in a fine new book.

John Bogle is, without question, one of the most important figures in American finance, and a new book with contributions from a variety of esteemed sources counts the ways. Whether it’s Vanguard’s launch of the world’s first retail index fund or the founding of Vanguard itself—an actual mutually owned mutual fund firm that systematically keeps costs down, Bogle’s influence on the world of investing continues now and will continue well into the future.

In the new book, “The Man in the Arena,” Knut Rostad unabashedly extols the virtues of "Jack," who in his golden years has cemented his reputation as the conscience of American capitalism. Rostad happily admitted to Managing Editor Olly Ludwig that he’s drunk the Kool-Aid when it comes to Bogle, but nonetheless reckons a lot more people should know about him. Rostad’s new work, which presents like a coffee table book for indexing nerds, is likely to help his cause. When did you decide you wanted to put together a book that celebrates John Bogle?

Knut Rostad: The origins of the book go back to the January 2012 Legacy Forum that we spearheaded in New York City, along with the Museum of American Finance and CFA Institute to gather those within the financial arena to discuss the significance of John Bogle’s legacy. So you had an epiphany at that event?

Rostad: As we were planning the event, and as I immersed myself more deeply in what was out in the marketplace about Jack Bogle, it struck me that there was an opportunity for a book that focused on the highlights of his legacy, and included parts that I don’t think have been sufficiently covered before. So it was during the planning of that event. The very title of your book, “Man in the Arena,” is an allusion to Teddy Roosevelt and an allusion to Mr. Bogle’s admiration for him. Can you speak to Mr. Bogle’s admiration for Roosevelt?

Rostad: Yes. I think there are two or three aspects that stand out about TR that resonate with Jack. And I think the first and foremost one was TR's legacy as a progressive, as a reformer, who was to get a “Square Deal” for the American people in the context of the very large and influential corporations whose impact had really come to a head in the first years of the 20th century.

And when you go down just one level and look at what TR was good at doing, I think it’s perfectly fair to say that Jack Bogle has those attributes, i.e., first and foremost, TR was perhaps the first president who fully appreciated the significance of the media in terms of its potential to help and support what he wanted to accomplish, and his skills at cultivating relationships. That is clearly a part of what, I think, sets Jack Bogle apart—his intuitive understanding and ability to do the same thing.



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