Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk / Edition 1

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk / Edition 1

4.4 11
by Peter L. Bernstein
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0471121045

ISBN-13: 9780471121046

Pub. Date: 09/07/1996

Publisher: Wiley

Advance Praise for Against the Gods

"With his wonderful knowledge of the history and current manifestations of risk, Peter Bernstein brings us Against the Gods. Nothing like it will come out of the financial world this year or ever. I speak carefully: no one should miss it."-John Kenneth Galbraith Professor of Economics Emeritus, Harvard University

"No one

Overview

Advance Praise for Against the Gods

"With his wonderful knowledge of the history and current manifestations of risk, Peter Bernstein brings us Against the Gods. Nothing like it will come out of the financial world this year or ever. I speak carefully: no one should miss it."-John Kenneth Galbraith Professor of Economics Emeritus, Harvard University

"No one else could have written a book of such central importance with so much charm and excitement." -Robert Heilbronerc author of The Worldly Philosophers

"A fascinating and unusual perspective on modern man's Promethean attempt to master risk. The book reads easily and provokes thought-a rare combination." -William Kristol Editor and Publisher, The Weekly Standard

"Peter Bernstein leads us effortlessly through the history of risk because he writes so beautifully. This is a book on a left brain subject that will have right brain readers lining up for more!"-Robert Ferguson Managing Director, Bankers Trust Australia Limited

"In Against the Gods, Peter Bernstein, a scholar, historian, and successful investor gives us the history of great thinkers whose visions put the future at the service of the present."-Dr. Marc Faber Managing Director, Marc Faber Limited, Hong Kong

"This looks like a new classic to me."-Barton M. Biggs, Chairman Morgan Stanley Asset Management, Inc.

"It's a sizzler!"-Charles P. Kindleberger author of Manias, Panics & Crashes

In this unique exploration of the role of risk in our society, Peter Bernstein argues that the notion of bringing risk under control is one of the central ideas that distinguishes modern times from the more distant past. Against the Gods, a narrative that reads like a novel, chronicles the remarkable intellectual adventure that liberated humanity from the oracles and soothsayers by means of the powerful tools of risk management that are available to us today. This is a richly-woven tale of Greek philosophers and Arab mathematicians, of merchants and scientists, gamblers and philosophers, world-renowned intellects and obscure but inspired amateurs who helped discover the modern methods of putting the future at the service of the present, replacing helplessness before the fates with choice and decision.

When investors buy stocks, surgeons perform operations, engineers design bridges, entrepreneurs launch new businesses, astronauts explore the heavens, and politicians run for office, risk is their inescapable partner. Yet their actions reveal that risk today need not be feared: managing risk has become synonymous with challenge and opportunity.

Bernstein presents fascinating vignettes of such towering intellects as Omar Khayyam, Pascal and Bernoulli, Bayes and Keynes, Markowitz and Arrow, and Gauss, Galton and von Neumann. With his engaging literary style, he clarifies the concepts of probability, sampling, regression to the mean, game theory, and rational versus irrational decision making. The final sections of the book raise important questions about the role of the computer, the relationship between facts and subjective beliefs, the impact of chaos theory, the role of the burgeoning markets for derivatives, and the looming dominance of numbers.

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk is that rare book that turns the most profound issues of our time into pure reading pleasure.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471121046
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
09/07/1996
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
706,005
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

TO 1200: BEGINNINGS.
The Winds of the Greeks and the Role of the Dice.
As Easy As I, II, III.
1200-1700: A THOUSAND OUTSTANDING FACTS.
The Renaissance Gambler.
The French Connection.
The Remarkable Notions of the Remarkable Notions Man.
1700-1900: MEASUREMENT UNLIMITED.
Considering the Nature of Man.
The Search for Moral Certainty.
The Supreme Law of Unreason.
The Man with the Sprained Brain.
Peapods and Perils.
The Fabric of Felicity.
1900-1960: CLOUDS OF VAGUENESS AND THE DEMAND FOR PRECISION.
The Measure of Our Ignorance.
The Radically Distinct Notion.
The Man Who Counted Everything Except Calories.
The Strange Case of the Anonymous Stockbroker.
DEGREES OF BELIEF: EXPLORING UNCERTAINTY.
The Failure of Invariance.
The Theory Police.
The Fantastic System of Side Bets.
Awaiting The Wildness.
Notes.
Bibliography.
Indexes.

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Against the Gods 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
This work is a minor classic of financial literature. Business historian Peter L. Bernstein wrote it during the early 1990s, when faith in the power of quantitative models and financial engineering was at its apex, and he tells a heroic story. Beginning with Greek mythology, Bernstein shows how cultural ideas about risk and probability evolved through Arab mathematics, the European Enlightenment and Chicago School economics. He writes in a spare, straightforward style, and manages to convey the essentials of financial theory and the essences of great economists without losing the reader in a maze of equations. Of course, the 2008 financial crisis cast probabilistic models and financial engineering as global market villains. In retrospect, that makes Bernstein's evident admiration for those models seem rather touchingly ingenuous. Nonetheless, getAbstract finds that this is still one of the best popular introductions to the development of financial science.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
one of the best investing books ever written. whether you are a novice or a pro this book should be in everyones top 5 investor books. Fantastic overview of the overwhelming complexity of todays markets. Allows one to understand risk and how it relates to the our everyday lives pertaining to money. Mr. Bernstein lays it out very clearly what your odds are playing the stock market.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bernstein strikes again - even better than his history of gold. Great stuff.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before plunking any money into any investment, read this book first. It may seem more of a chronology of probability and statistics at first, but stick with it. More importantly, this book will help you understand risk so you go into investments with both eyes open. This book would be a 'must-read' even if it did not venture into applications to the stock market. It is well researched and written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great read... much more provocative and satisfying than some of the Longitude-style attempts at reasssessing big history. Bernstein looks at society and the growth of modern capitalism using the lode stone of risk, mixing math and history in an extraordinarily original way.