Book Talk: Daniel Ammann on Glencore founder Marc Rich

Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:03am EST
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By Michael Taylor

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Digging deep into the world of commodities trading was no easy task for Swiss-based author Daniel Ammann and his latest biography.

"The King of Oil" is an exclusive, no-holds barred biography of billionaire commodities trader, former fugitive and founder of the trading giant that became Glencore, Marc Rich.

Ammann, who was raised in Switzerland and educated at Zurich University, is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience in newspapers, radio and television.

He spoke to Reuters about his book:

Q: What was the motivation to write the book?

A: "Being a business journalist, I had always been intrigued by the life of Marc Rich. As a Jewish boy in Belgium, he barely escaped the Holocaust. Penniless he fled with his parents to the United States and made himself into the most successful and most controversial commodities trader of his time. What a story. A story, all the more, which had not been written yet."

Q: How did you manage to get so close to Marc Rich?

A: "I wrote him my first letter in 2000 and then regularly sent faxes and e-mails but my requests for an interview were always denied. This changed in late 2006 after I had sent yet another letter, in which I boldly announced that I was about to write a biography. I guess, Rich liked my persistence, which happens to be one of the most important virtues of commodities traders. After our last interview I asked him why he ultimately had spilled his secrets, after what seemed liked eternal secrecy. "Age and maturity", he answered."   Continued...