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John Rothchild, 74, dies; He wrote about personal finance with Wit


John Rothchild, a prolific journalist who used humor to turn books on personal finance into attractive readings, including several in collaboration with the successful investor Peter Lynch and one entitled "A fool and his money", died on December 27 in a center of attention in Virginia Beach. He was 74 years old.

His daughter Sascha Rothchild said the cause was the complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Mr. Rothchild began his journalistic career in the 1970s as a political editor at Washington Monthly before becoming a freelance writer for media such as Time, GQ and Outside. He wrote about Florida, where he grew up, as well as climbing mountains and cycling, hobbies he later adopted in life and personal finances.

He picked up the mistake of personal finance in the 1980s. One of his best-known books, "A fool and his money" (1988), subtitled "The odyssey of an average investor", was recognized for his comic absurd guarantee: Readers would not earn a penny of the information it contained.

"No work on the subject of personal finance has attempted to make this claim before," wrote the satirical writer P. J. O & # 39; Rourke in a prologue to the book. "That is because the works on the subject of personal finance are lying."

Critics appreciated the novelty of Mr. Rothchild's approach.

"We are used to the book of investment advice in which the author tries to prove to be more expert than his audience," Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in a review in The New York Times. "The book of investment tips in which the author tries to prove himself dumber than the rest of us is not as common."

"As such," he added, "it's very funny and also strangely informative."

The book sold well and, according to Mr. Rothchild's daughter, caught the attention of Peter Lynch, the former administrator of the Magellan Fund of Fidelity Investments. Mr. Rothchild and Mr. Lynch collaborated on several popular books on stock trading. His "One Up on Wall Street" (1989), "Beating the Street" (1993) and "Learn to Earn" (1995) were all the bestsellers of the Times.


In "One Up on Wall Street," the authors emphasized the importance of doing real-world research when choosing companies to invest.

A case study involved the Hanes clothing brand. In the early 1970s, Hanes sold pantyhose called L’eggs, packaged in colorful plastic eggs, for a low price in supermarkets and pharmacies, where people shop weekly. In contrast, competitors focused on selling more expensive pantyhose in department stores.

Hanes became one of the greatest actions of the decade, thanks in part to the success of L’eggs. The lesson? Lynch had heard of L’eggs not about a stockbroker, but about his wife, and then investigated the company's balance sheet.

Mr. Rothchild's intelligent prose made the books accessible to the average people, Lynch said in an interview.

"I was the fire hose throwing things at John all the time and he compressed it," he said. "I could not have imagined that if I had spent years interviewing thousands of people, I would get someone as talented as John."

Friends and family described Mr. Rothchild as intensely focused. For some time he was obsessed with the duplicated bridge of the card game, until he dropped it in favor of cycling and climbing.

"I would find something, I wouldn't let it happen, and then at some point I would say," I've done enough, "said writer Daniel Okrent, a close friend.

John Harmon Rothchild was born on May 13, 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia, son of Tom and Barbara (Calloway) Rothchild. He grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, where his father was a high school principal and his mother had a clothing store.

After graduating from high school in 1963, he studied Latin American affairs at Yale, where he was editor in chief of The Yale Daily News and became a Fulbright scholar. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1967. He then joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Ecuador before starting work for Washington Monthly.

Mr. Rothchild met his future wife, Susan Berns, while covering the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami. Her daughter said she met Mrs. Berns, a Manhattan socialite turned bohemian and daughter of the owner of the "21" Club, in a Miami mansion. She invited him to accompany her to the Bahamas, and they collaborated on "Children of the counterculture "(1976), a book about children raised in communes, before getting married on New Year's Eve in 1976.

In addition to his daughter Sascha and his wife, with whom he lived in Miami Beach and Edenton, North Carolina, Mr. Rothchild is survived by another daughter, Berns Rothchild; a son, Chauncey; a sister, Melanie Rothchild; and a grandson

In addition to writing about finance, Mr. Rothchild wrote about Florida. In particular, he co-wrote the autobiography of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the conservationist known for his defense of the Florida Everglades.

Sascha Rothchild, a writer, recalled that in high school, her class was assigned an article that Mr. Rothchild had written about Mrs. Douglas. The students' task was to make a questionnaire about the reading material. One question asked what the author intended to repeat a word in a sentence.

“My father said:‘ That was a bad writing. Someone didn't edit that, and that was a lazy writing, "he said." That was a great moment. "

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed the reports.

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