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Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. A Business Week , New York Times Business, and USA Today Bestseller "Ambitious and readable . . . an engaging introduction to the oddsmakers, whom Bernstein regards as true humanists helping to...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

One of my favorite books

Must confess my bias on this. I like games, gambling and investing. This book covers the gamut and does it well. What I found especially enjoyable was Bernstein's literate background. He spun a fascinating tale of 'The remarkable story of risk' (from the front cover) in a totally engaging way. Following comes from the introduction, "The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men and women are not passive before nature." Clearly, this book covers important ground. Fortunately for us, it does so in a way that leaves no one behind. As a student of business I found this to be totally absorbing. Because I like to gamble, it was wonderful to learn that questions posed by gamblers in the Renaissance resulted in the groundwork in our modern understanding of risk management. Because Bernstein writes this as a history the reader can enjoy it as such without struggling through a textbook-like treatment of this material. I have read and enjoyed it several times.

Very interesting approach to Quantitative Analysis.. Really

I never enjoyed any of my stat. or quant. classes in graduate school, I wish I had read this book first. Bernstein is a good story teller who adeptly blends human faces and quantitative theories to tell the history of man's understanding of risk. The book drags a little in some spots and wanders in others, but is still worth the read. Against The Gods is user friendly enough for the everyday reader who might have trouble calculating sales tax, while offering the more studied students a refreshing dose of perspective to accompany their book smarts.

Excellent read!

Peter Bernstein's AGAINST THE GODS is an extremely informative and entertaining telling of the story of risk. Through the course of the book, he elucidates the basic concepts of risk in an informal yet highly effective manner. He delves into the human aspect quite a bit; we are privy to the trials and tribulations of those ingenious men who first pioneered the ideas behind chance and risk.The primary purpose of AGAINST THE GODS is not as an introduction to risk management. For those who buy this book expecting such, you will be heavily disappointed. Instead, this is a terrific primer about risk and its history that will pique the interest of any person who has had little formal background in the science of risk management. The main strength of AGAINST THE GODS lies in its astounding clarity which does not come at the expense of comprehensiveness. Bernstein assumes no prior experience with mathematics or risk management. It is this accessibility which makes this the first book on risk you should buy.In summary, I highly recommend this to anyone who has at least a passing interest in chance or risk. For those with experience in risk management, the history of risk presented in AGAINST THE GODS will still be very interesting. However, do not expect any of the ideas to be new.

An outstanding book about the evolution of risk.

Against the Gods is an outstanding book about the evolution of risk and man's attempt to understand it. Bernstein begins with ancient times and traces the history of numbers and probability leading eventually to today's seemingly complex financial world of portfolio theory, derivatives, and risk management techniques. Readers will learn about revolutionary thinkers including John von Neumann (inventor of game theory), Isaac Newton, Harry Markowitz (grandfather of portfolio theory), and the late Fischer Black (Black Scholes option formula) among others. Readers will also find enlightening stories about game theory, fibonacci numbers, chaos theory, the bell curve, regression to the mean, and more. Yet despite all the intelligence, computer power, and sophisticated techniques, Bernstein presents us with the growing body of evidence discovered by researchers including the late Amos Tversky and others that "reveals repeated patterns of irrationality, inconsistency, and incompetence in the ways human beings arrive at decisions and choices when faced with uncertainty." Against the Gods was chosen as one of Business Week's top 10 books of the year for 1996.
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