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The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: How Risk Taking Transforms Us, Body and Mind [Kindle Edition]

John Coates
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $11.84
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

A successful Wall Street trader turned neuroscientist reveals how risk taking and stress transform our body chemistry

Before he became a world-class scientist, John Coates ran a derivatives trading desk in New York City. He used the expression “the hour between dog and wolf” to refer to the moment of Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation traders passed through when under pressure. They became cocky and irrationally risk-seeking when on a winning streak, tentative and risk-averse when cowering from losses. In a series of groundbreaking experiments, Coates identified a feedback loop between testosterone and success—one that can cloud men’s judgment in high-pressure decision-making. Coates demonstrates how our bodies produce the fabled gut feelings we so often rely on, how stress in the workplace can impair our judgment and even damage our health, and how sports science can help us toughen our bodies against the ravages of stress. Revealing the biology behind bubbles and crashes, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf sheds new and surprising light on issues that affect us all.

Editorial Reviews


'This brilliant book shows how human biology contributes to the alternating cycles of irrational exuberance and pessimism that destabilise banks and the global economy - and how the system could be calmed down by applying biological principles ... Should be top of the summer reading list for Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, and anyone else wondering why traders so often get banks into trouble' Financial Times 'This stunning book... should be compulsory reading for anyone concerned about the behaviour of those involved in the lying and manipulation of those involved in the lying and manipulation of successive banking scandals' Mail on Sunday 'If Coates is right- the evidence he presents is compelling- then the financial; crises that so frequently plague capitalism find their roots in human biology' New Scientist Magazine 'The picture of humans as rational economic machines has gone down the tubes. This book looks at the biology of why Homo economicus is a myth, and no one is better positioned to write this than Coates - he is a neuroscientist and an economist and an ex-Wall Street trader and a spectacular writer. A superb book' Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Neurology, Stanford University, and author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers 'A terrific read - better than any amount of economic analysis because it explains what lies at the root of economic disaster - those biological drivers that cause sane and clever people to make catastrophic decisions. Every banker should be made to read it!' Rita Carter, author of Mapping the Mind 'It makes intuitive sense that biological responses inform the mood of the markets. This book puts flesh on that idea' Economist


“A profoundly unconventional book… It’s also so absorbing that I wound up reading it twice…From the first page to the last, Coates challenges deep-seated assumptions.”
Bloomberg Businessweek

“If anyone is qualified to unify the seemingly disparate subjects of financial markets and neurology, it’s John Coates…The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is a powerful distillation of his work—and an important step in the ongoing struggle to free economics from rational-actor theory.”
The Daily Beast

“[I]t makes intuitive sense that biological responses inform the mood of the markets. This book puts flesh on that idea.”
The Economist

“[A] scintillating treatise on the neurobiology of the business cycle. Coates… draws an intimate portrait of life on a trading floor…The result is a provocative and entertaining take on the irrational exuberance—and anxiety—of the modern economy.”
Publishers Weekly

“A provocative challenger to rational choice views of high finance, Coates makes an exceptionally clear, readable presentation that is bound to influence arguments about the regulation of Wall Street.”

“The picture of humans as rational economic machines has gone down the tubes. This book looks at the biology of why Homo economicus is a myth, and no one is better positioned to write this than Coates—he is a neuroscientist AND an economist AND an ex-Wall Street trader AND a spectacular writer. A superb book.”
—Robert Sapolsky, neuroscientist, Stanford University

Product Details

  • File Size: 1225 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00CVDNCXQ
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0074VTH0W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,841 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a Finance Book June 18, 2012
This is another of those serendipitous finds, while browsing in the bookstore, that was very readable and instructive. Both because I work in finance (ex-investment banker) and from a martial arts / sports / health perspective there is a lot of material here that expanded my thinking.

The subtitle for the book is called "Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust" and it is by the neuro-scientist and former Wall Street Trader John Coates. In order to piggy back on the seemingly insatiable demand for books on the credit crisis of 2008, most reviews and editorials in major magazines have focused upon the risk taking side of the book and how pressures of trading can change the biological composition of your body, impacting your appetite for risk (success builds a feeling of overconfidence and a greater appetite for risk) thus having the potential to cause booms and busts in stock markets and the broader economy. A substantial part (but not overwhelming) of the book is about finance and trading and author uses a trio of fictional fixed income (bond) traders during the 2008 crisis to illustrate his points, and this keeps the text from becoming too academic or dry.

But what also interested me was the more general topic on how humans are not disembodied brains who make rational decisions, but that our thinking is very much impacted by our body and our senses. There is a lot of analysis here on how the brain regions processing our reasoning skills are intricately tangled up with our motor circuits and are intimately linked to movement. There is also a whole level of activity where there is a feedback loop between our hormones and our thinking, and a lot of this is on a pre-conscious level.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Important Viewpoint June 14, 2012
This book is basically about how emotional feedback loops trigger change in body chemistry and through that our behavior. The author argues that our brains and bodies are much more integrated than most people believe and that modern neuroscience proves it. You will find in this book a story told through the context of financial trading booms and busts how these feedback loops work. There is a lot of science in this book and it is well argued and convincingly presented.

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is quite fascinating. We have this idea that our behavior is driven solely or mostly by our choices, choices that we consciously make. Research in the last few decades is making this harder and harder to accept. This book does an excellent job at showing how our behavior is much more complicated and that our body chemistry plays a big part in influencing our brain and our behavior.

I really liked this book and found it fascinating. Its ideas apply to much more than the trading context in which it is set. If you are interested in science, human behavior, or the brain I can easily recommend it.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trader's perspective June 24, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a trader of many years the book brought back lots of memories; - the good ones of being "at the still point of the turning world" calm, in a zone, while all around was a frenzy, and you could think at savant speed, effortlessly "seeing" answers in a way that had no conscious cognitive effort. The harder times when your body is in a knot and your mind won't work at all. This book captures both extremes and should be required reading for traders, managers and anyone interested in why markets behave as they do and how we might address the human failings that drive the behavior.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Just About Markets July 30, 2012
This is a very good book which summarizes Coates' and many other researchers' work on neuroscience to show how the mind and body work together to help us manage success, failure, and stress. The book uses scenes from a trading floor to emphasize the interaction between mind and body, and the key takeaway point is that physiological changes can influence our decision making to a greater extent than previously understood. Although Coates does not spend a lot of time on the subject of economic theory, he does argue briefly that the influence of the body on the mind means that markets are not as rational as idealized in neoclassical economics, and therefore behavioral economics might be a better way of thinking about how markets actually work. I would have liked Coates to spend more time on this topic but the book moves briskly to present a great deal of information in 280 pages.

The book does not focus exclusively on trading, and many chapters feature general discussions of how the mind and body interact to produce expertise in a variety of contexts such as sports. I think the book could have been a bit better organized to help major points stand out from minor points, but overall this is a quality book that provides a good background into recent research in neuroscience.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent exposition of overcompensation December 9, 2012
I read this book after completing my exposition of overcompensation, how a stressor or a random event causes an increase in strength, in excess of what is needed, like a redundancy. I was also looking for evidence of convex reaction to stressor, or the effect of a mathematical property called Jensen's inequality in domains and found it exposed here (in other words, why a combination low dose (most of the time) and high dose (rarely) beats medium dose all the time. The authors presents the evidence for the phenomenon in the following: 1) acute stressors cum recovery beat both absence of stressors and chronic ones (this includes thermal variations); 2) stressors make one stronger (post traumatic growth); 3) risk management is mediated by the deep structures in us, not rational decision-making; 4) winning causes an increase in strength (the latter are more complicated effects of convexity/Jensen's Inequality).
Great book. I ignored the connection to financial markets while reading it. But I learned that when under stress, one should seek the familiar.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for traders
Great read for traders. It explains body and mind battle when trading. Reward and risk, and how our body respond to it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Vytas
4.0 out of 5 stars a bit wordy in parts
As a finance major, the book could have been much shorter and still (easily) gotten the point across. Read more
Published 6 months ago by avid reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good
Published 7 months ago by ZEIDA BARRERA H
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interested topic. How biology shape financial decisions. ...
Very interested topic. How biology shape financial decisions. For anybody that have day traded financial instruments it should make sense. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. Ortiz
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting view on how hormones impact out lives
Published 8 months ago by Kelvin Rojas
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy to have bought this book which has taught me ...
Happy to have bought this book which has taught me many things about the physiology of our bodies in relation to real life experiences of stress and pressure. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Helen
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential book for business and much more
Using financial traders as his example of how there is no distinction between our mind and body Coates carefully and clearly explains the biology of decision making and risk... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Carl Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Books are few and far between.
This one tops the list. Physiology, neuropsychology, sociology...Coates had used his extreme expertise as a former Wall Street trader and his current expertise as a scientist to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Joanne M. Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Very insightful with some really interesting observations all laid out in an intriguing dialogue. I would readily recommend to all readers.
Published 12 months ago by Kenn
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Next to Taleb, this is on my top 5 reading list of all time. This cuts to the core of how men have taken risks, and the boost we get from Testosterone and HGH is how things get... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Don (
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