Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

Paperback | October 1, 1998

byPeter L. Bernstein

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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 release mankind from the choke holds of superstition and fatalism." -The New York Times

"An extraordinarily entertaining and informative book." -The Wall Street Journal

"A lively panoramic book . . . Against the Gods sets up an ambitious premise and then delivers on it." -Business Week

"Deserves to be, and surely will be, widely read." -The Economist

"[A] challenging book, one that may change forever the way people think about the world." -Worth

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

"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

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 distant past. Against the Gods chronicles the remarkable intellectual adventure that liberated humanity from oracles and soothsayers by means of the powerful tools of risk management that are available to us today.

"An extremely readable history of risk." -Barron's

"Fascinating . . . this challenging volume will help you understand the uncertainties that every investor must face." -Money

"A singular achievement." -Times Literary Supplement

"There's a growing market for savants who can render the recondite intelligibly-witness Stephen Jay Gould (natural history), Oliver Sacks (disease), Richard Dawkins (heredity), James Gleick (physics), Paul Krugman (economics)-and Bernstein would mingle well in their company." -The Australian

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From Our Editors

Is our age more conservative than those preceding it? Are we trying to control risk even as we hurtle forward at ever-increasing rates of progress? Peter Bernstein believes we are. In fact, he argues that it's one of the central traits distinguishing our era from the distant past. A chronicle of humanity's centuries-long intellectual a...

From the Publisher

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 release mankind from the choke holds of superstition and fatalism." -The New York Times"An extraordinarily entertaining and informative book." -T...

From the Jacket

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 release mankind from the choke holds of superstition and fatalism."—The New York Times"An extraordinarily entertaining and informative book."—The...

PETER L. BERNSTEIN is President of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc., economic consultants to institutional advisors and corporations. His semimonthly analysis of the capital markets and the real economy, Economics and Portfolio Strategy, is read by managers and owners of investments totaling over one trillion dollars. Mr. Bernstein is the auth...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.05 × 6.05 × 1.1 inPublished:October 1, 1998Publisher:WileyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0471295639

ISBN - 13:9780471295631

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Risk and the Stock Market As we all know there are many kinds of risks. In this book, the author focuses mainly on risks associated with the world of finances, mainly the stock market and economics. After an interesting overview of the history of risk and its measurement, particularly regarding gambling, the author gradually steers his efforts towards analyzing human behaviour in the face of the risks involved in investing. There is much in this regard predominantly concerning the later quarter of the twentieth century (the book was published in 1996). From my limited perspective, he seems very thorough in this analysis by including the often (seemingly) contradictory psychological aspects of gains and losses involved in investing mainly in the stock market. Stock market tools, products and behaviour are extensively discussed. Overall, I found the historical parts of this book to be quite interesting, particularly the mini-biographies of the pioneers and the development of probability and statistics. However, I was much less engrossed by the detailed stock market discussions which dominate in roughly the second half of the book. The prose is clear, lively and authoritative, but, in my view, overly detailed on investing-related matters. Readers with a passion for investing and the associated risk (and its history) would likely be those who would enjoy this book the most.
Date published: 2015-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant Did you ever wonder about the people whose names are sprinkled in the statistical books used for courses in the universities. Why did they come up with such formulae, what was their motivation, and their objective. Well now Against the Gods attempts to open up secrets about these individuals.
Date published: 2003-07-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from In light of recent events... Great anectdotes of famous mathematicians...but he credits Black/Shcoles too heavily...consider the recent turn of events at Long Term Capital, which some are now calling "Wrong Turn Capital"!. An enjoyable writer whose style brings math to life!
Date published: 1998-10-31

Extra Content

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.

From Our Editors

Is our age more conservative than those preceding it? Are we trying to control risk even as we hurtle forward at ever-increasing rates of progress? Peter Bernstein believes we are. In fact, he argues that it's one of the central traits distinguishing our era from the distant past. A chronicle of humanity's centuries-long intellectual adventure as seen through the filter of powerful modern risk-management tools, Against the Gods helps us understand where we've been and where we're going.

Editorial Reviews

“ … an excellent book on what can be a dry subject… ” ("Financial World," 1st December 2005) "A comprehensive history of man's efforts to understand risk and probability, from ancient gamblers in Greece to modern chaos theory." ("The Washington Post Book World," September 20, 1998) "I must say that I enjoyed the book, it was written in a light-hearted manner."("Money Matters," April 2001) No. 7 bestseller in 'Risk' ("erivativesreview.com," December 2001)