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A Fool and His Money: The Odyssey of an Average Investor Paperback – March 16, 1998

ISBN-13: 072-3812251384 ISBN-10: 0471251380

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (March 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471251380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471251385
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"If you think it's right it's wrong, and vice versa," quips freelance writer Rothchild in this picaresque odyssey of his search for a surefire way to multiply money. With a $14,000 grubstake, he invested in stocks and made the rounds: visiting brokerage houses, interviewing financial advisers, studying market newsletters, appraising mutual funds, penetrating the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve purlieus and Chicago's commodity trading pits (where putting one's money is "like holding up bread for the seagulls"). His education complete, Rothchild found that most of his capital evaporated even before the October '87 Crash, which completed the job. The average investor, the author concludes in this rueful, ironic and doggedly humorous tale, is "a born loser." Nevertheless, readers will be vastly entertained while learning investment essentials and idiosyncrasies they never knew they ought to know about.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book is an exemplar on how not to invest, but it is not helpful on how to invest intelligently. The author describes his unsuccessful journey investing in stocks, futures, etc.; his use of investment newsletters and attendance at seminars; and his investigation of investment markets. Other than painting a grim picture on how easy it was for him to lose money, the book has little substance. While well written and at times entertaining, it would have been much more valuable if the author had analyzed his judgments and errors and discussed investment alternatives. Instead, the book is darted with "tips" that are more humorous than useful. Arthur J. Lieb, Library of Congress
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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This book is definitely educational and funny!
Anya Sherwood
Finally, the title of this book "A Fool and his Money" gives an indication of what happened to Rothchild's investment.
Stephen Pletko
After reading this book, you'll be ready for John Bogle and his Common Sense about Mutual Funds.
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Mr. Rothschild did something in this book that you should never do. He took a year off to learn how to invest, and looked into every financial category available. As a result, he was soon inundated with advice that he often followed. Usually, he didn't understand the risks of what he was doing, and he almost always ended up making costly and unnecessary mistakes. You will find this book a funny cautionary tale about the relevance of keeping it simple and focusing on what's important.
The book is filled with short bits of advice that give you a flavor for its content.
"Never buy the June call nor sell the October put simultaneously, unless you know what they are." This is a reference to a strategy for making money in very volatile stocks. The stock he used was not volatile enough, and he lost on the position.
"'Expert' advice does not agree." So who can you believe?
Mr. Rothchild's downfall was that he is an obviously intelligent, curious person who was too good at finding sources of information. Along the way, he met more different investment brokers, security analysts, professional portfolio managers, market makers, commodity traders, and options experts than you can shake a stick at. Although no one held his hand into a fire, he often tried out an idea that he heard about along the way. The salespeople were all trained to let the investor do whatever he wanted, so he was able to get himself into deep water in the process of trying these things. Someone should have pointed out that he could have learned the same lessons by simply taking a theoretical position on paper, and tracking the results.
One hilarious sequence has him changing hotels during a vacation to avoid the margin calls that came every few hours.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko on October 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
+++++

This easy-to-read book, by former editor, author, and writer, John Rothchild, is a unique and hilarious book that tells us of his adventure as an average investor in the stock market.

Rothchild's original plan for writing this book was as follows:

"In the late summer of 1985, during an extraordinary bull market [rising market], I decided to drop everything and devote an entire year to learning how to invest, especially in stocks. I resolved to begin at the beginning, finding out as much as I could about the business and how it really operates, meanwhile putting my own funds [of $16,500] into whatever would make the biggest profit. After achieving [this] winning strategy, increasing my net worth, and achieving financial independence [or security], I'd return to tell you how I did it."

Rothchild learned how to invest by doing things such as watching late night television programs "on how to get rich;" going to financial planning places with their money managers; reading newsletters, business publications, and historical financial books; talking to successful investors in order to perhaps learn some inside information; and going to stockbrokers for information on hot stocks, making fully-informed investment decisions, and avoiding irrational markets.

During his journey, Rothchild does a good job in explaining the mechanics of investing especially in the stock market and imparting the psychology behind investing. Even though the author does a good job in explaining terms, I feel knowing some basics on investing before reading this book, will help the potential reader appreciate the humor and practical advice of this book even more. (There are over twenty short useful tips in boldface type peppered throughout this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book was first published in 1988, after the 1987 crash. The wisdom and essence of the book is still as valuable now in 2002. It is entertaining as well as educational. The author went out of his way to describe his experience or experiments in various areas of investing, giving knowledge and first hand information on how the investment world runs from different perspectives. The author took a year to study investing and invest with his real money, with the assignment of writing this book about it at the end. As a result, his investment decisions and variety and frequency of his investment may be atypical of an average investor. However, his description of the phychology of an average investor is quite accurate.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read a quite a bit of books on finance (and work in finance). This book is one of my favorites...I could not put the book down. The book is realistic and entertaining. Definitely worth reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By HJ on December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Whilst Rothchild is not giving out specific advice on the stock market, he does provide a good general overview by relating his one year's journey into the stock market. A clear message from this book was that the "experts" are incorrect more often than not and that there is more rumour than fact floating around.
Written with a lot of honesty, great humour, and most definitely worth reading.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mranlett@bellsouth.net on July 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Thoroughly enjoyable and more than just slightly humorous, Rothchild takes Finance 101 and compresses it into "a year in the life of...". The text gives an uninitiated investor a chance to read about the mistakes, which are only too easy to make, before actually making them. While Rothchild does not actually give any advice on what one should do (as opposed to the advice on what to avoid), I'd highly recommend this book as a method of sparing ones self the pain these lessons help you avoid.
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