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The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio Hardcover – July 8, 2010


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The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio + A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing (Tenth Edition) + The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (July 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071747052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071747059
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Since its initial publication, The Four Pillars of Investing has become a staple for the independent-minded investor looking to make better-informed investment decisions. Written by noted financial expert and neurologist William Bernstein, this time-honored investing guide provides the knowledge and tools for achieving long-term profitability.

Bernstein bridges the four fundamental topics successful investors use to generate exceptional profits on a consistent basis:

  • The Theory of Investing: “Do not expect high returns without risks.”
  • The History of Investing: “About once every generation, the markets go barking mad. If you are unprepared, you are sure to fail.”
  • The Psychology of Investing: “Identify the era’s conventional wisdom and assume that it is wrong. More often than not, it is.”
  • The Business of Investing: “The stockbroker services his clients in the same way that Bonnie and Clyde serviced banks.”

From the essential soundness of classic portfolio theory through the inherent wisdom of investing in multiple asset classes, The Four Pillars of Investing provides a distinctive blend of market history, investing theory, and behavioral finance to help you become a successful, self-sufficient investor.

About the Author

William J. Bernstein, Ph.D., M.D., is a neurologist and the cofounder of the investment management firm Efficient Frontier Advisors. He is the author of three finance books—The Intelligent Asset Allocator, The Four Pillars of Investing, and The Investor’s Manifesto—and two volumes of economic history, The Birth of Plenty and A Splendid Exchange. Bernstein is currently working on a history book exploring the effects of access to technology on human relations and politics.


More About the Author

William Bernstein, Ph.D., M.D., is a retired neurologist in Oregon. Known for his website on asset allocation and portfolio theory Efficient Frontier, Dr. Bernstein is also a co-principal in the money management firm Efficient Frontier Advisors, has authored several best-selling books on finance and history, and is often quoted in the national financial media.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 56 customer reviews
Very well written with very useful information.
Happy Camper
The scope and breadth covered is exceptional and quality of writing quite entertaining.
Steven Weiser
A highly recommended read for any investor regardless of level.
O. Halabieh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Henry Thoreau on February 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
So, this "new edition" basically amounts to an excellent, 2010, fourteen-page postscript tacked onto a verbatim reprint of the original 2002 edition? Hmmm. Savvy investor that he is, ol' Bill doubtless relishes reaping a whopping return on a relatively wee investment of (fresh) human capital. Shrewd! ;-)

In any case, I separately relished Bernstein's 2009 "Investor's Manifesto"--which (as the author himself essentially concedes in its preface) is likely a better choice for lay, beginning investors because it minimizes (or "segregates") the "unnecessary complexity" of this "2002" book's sundry "tables, graphs and examples."

That said, there's certainly enough textual subject matter here NOT included in "The Investor's Manifesto" to warrant your perusing "The Four Pillars of Investing" too. Perhaps you should check out both books via your nearest public library before deciding which one(s) merit permanent inclusion on your personal bookshelf.
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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful By MrDontWorryAboutThat on January 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like Bogle, this is probably the best advice on investment you can obtain HOWEVER....

I would have easily given it a five star but, Bernstein engages in the marketing tactics of the mutual funds (he scorns) who do the same in order to sell/market to make more money on increased volume(shame shame). He doesn't update the text throughout the book to represent the recent economic events (like a typical college text book). He adds a college midterm paper length addition at the end of the book to update recent economic events. I advise, buy the cheaper original version and read the added ending on amazon in the "search inside this book" link (if they don't get rid of it after I make this post). Dr. Bernstein, you have a fiduciary responsibility to be better than this "new edition". Please refund.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By O. Halabieh on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the title suggests, the author presents within this book four essential pillars of successful investing. Each section of the book is then dedicated to investigating and detailing each of these pillars and they are: 1) Theory 2) History 3) Psychology and 4) Business. The first section on theory, is one which the author calls "the most important part of the book". In his words it "surveys the awesome body of theory and data relevant to everyday investing". This section centers itself around the "fundamental characteristic of any investment is that its return and risk go hand in hand." The second section on History postulates that "an understanding of financial history provides an additional dimension of expertise." The third section, Psychology, is one in which the author surveys the area of "behavioral finance". Where one "learns how to avoid the most common behavioral mistakes and to confront your own dysfunctional investment behavior." Last but not least the last section - Business - exposes how "the modern financial services industry is designed solely to serve itself."

What sets this book apart from other investing books is the breadth of areas covered, and also the writing style which is both "understandable and entertaining". A highly recommended read for any investor regardless of level.

Below are key excerpts from the book, that I found particularly insightful:

1) "The highest returns are obtained by shouldering prudent risk when things look the bleakest."

2) "Most small investors naturally assume that good companies are good stocks, when the opposite is usually true."

3) "Sine you cannot successfully time the market or select individual stocks, asset allocation should be the major focus of your investment strategy.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Kroskey, CFP, MBA on September 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The other couple reviews are dead-on that this book is essentially a reprint of the 2002 edition with a short commentary on the great recession. Mr. Bernstein and his publisher are capitalists--the basic tenant of the book no less, so I have no issue with the virtual reprint. Yet, the book is so good that I see it almost as a community service to re-release the book. If it saves a few more investors from high costs, poor allocations, investment salespeople (not true advisors) and bad behavior society at large will be better off. A word of caution: as much as I love this book, it is geared more so for an engineer-type mentality even though it is less technical than "The Intelligent Asset Allocator." "Investor's Manifesto" is a more readable and still very worthwhile book with similar content as "The Four Pillars". Be sure to check out Bernstein's columns in Money Magazine (one of the only worthwhile columnists in the magazine) and periodic thoughts posted on his website at [...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eric E. Haas on May 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm an investment advisor.

I recommend this book to all laypeople who want to self-educate.

In my opinion, this may be the best investing book for laypeople ever written.

The first part was kind of thick, in my opinion (it is about history of investing and the risk/reward tradeoff). But if you slog through those first few dozen pages, you will be richly rewarded by the rest of the book.

Only other books that come close to this book, in my opinion, for self-education of laypeople are:
- Common Sense on Mutual Funds, by Bogle, and
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Malkiel
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