David Rubenstein: Published Author?

I’ve never really liked those lists of recommended books that Amazon.com, based on my past purchases, conveniently supplies on my log-in page. Hey, maybe I’ve moved on from my obsession with model trains to a passion for medieval English gardens, OK?

But some good came from the feature this week when the online retailer figured out I just might like to pre-order a copy of “Beyond Wall Street: Inside The Rise Of Private Equity And The Future Of Investing,” by David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group. Darned right I would!  I went ahead and pre-ordered a copy of the hardcover book for $17.79.

“Beyond Wall Street” had been due to ship in August, according to Amazon.com. But when a colleague called the publisher to try to secure a review copy he was told the ship date has been pushed back until early 2008. That’s about all I can tell you about the book, other than cover appears to feature a close-up of Benjamin Franklin’s wizened face.

And at the bottom of the cover runs a curiously-qualified tagline: “How The Most Successful Buyout Firms Are Changing the Future Of Investing.”

Rubenstein’s coming book now joins “Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional investment, Fully Revised And Updated,” by David F. Swensen, CIO of Yale University, on my personal list of pre-ordered books. Swensen’s second edition, which sells for $23.10, is scheduled to ship January 8, 2008, according to Amazon.com.

If you haven’t read “Pioneering Portfolio Management” yet, you’re in for a treat. The first edition provides a straightforward, no-holds-barred introduction to the principles that Swensen has followed in leading his portfolio to market-beating returns year after year. Though the Yale University endowment has enjoyed solid returns from its buyout funds, the chapter on alternative asset classes wipes away layer after layer of accumulated hype to show how many LBO fund limited partners simply don’t generate returns high enough to compensate them for the risks they take.

Swensen also points out that, at least from 1985 to 1997, median returns for buyout funds failed to beat the returns for domestic equities, while third-quartile returns barely broke even.

No wonder Rubenstein takes time on the cover of his new book to make sure you know he’s talking about the “most successful buyout firms.”