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Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk Paperback – Unabridged, August 31, 1998
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With the stock market breaking records almost daily, leaving longtime market analysts shaking their heads and revising their forecasts, a study of the concept of risk seems quite timely. Peter Bernstein has written a comprehensive history of man's efforts to understand risk and probability, beginning with early gamblers in ancient Greece, continuing through the 17th-century French mathematicians Pascal and Fermat and up to modern chaos theory. Along the way he demonstrates that understanding risk underlies everything from game theory to bridge-building to winemaking.
From Publishers Weekly
Risk management, which assumes that future risks can be understood, measured and to some extent predicted, is the focus of this solid, thoroughgoing history. Probability theory, pioneered by 17th-century French mathematicians Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat, has made possible the design of great bridges, electric power utilities and insurance policies. The statistical sampling methods invented by dour Swiss scientist Jacob Bernoulli undergird diverse activities such as the testing of new drugs, stock-picking and wine tasting. Bernstein (Capital Ideas) animates his narrative with a colorful cast of risk-analyzers, including gambling addict Girolamo Cardano, 16th-century Italian physician to the Pope; and John Maynard Keynes, whose concerns over economic uncertainty compelled him to recommend an active, interventionist role for government. Bernstein also traces the development of business forecasting, game theory, insurance and derivatives, and surveys recent advances in risk forecasting made possible through chaos theory and by the development of neural networks.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
The reason I gave it four stars is due to the lengthy section toward the finish on the stock market. I think the discussion could have gone on with more on developments in predictive analytics, but the author focused instead on the market as well as decision theory by Kahneman/Tversky. This being said, I can understand the approach since Bernstein was an investment advisor/consultant. Also, the book was written in 1998 and perhaps there wasn't much brewing yet in topics of big data, machine learning or predictive algorithms.
Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone interested in probability or in a field that requires you to handle/address risk. This is a good primer for the works by Nassim Taleb such as Fooled by Randomness or The Black Swan.
I was trained on statistics, SPC, Project Management etc etc, but I felt that something was missed in the classical approaches to risk management.
So I went for a book that could give me a real insight to the matter.
This is definitivelly the book. Don't even think to start study Statisitcs without reading it. Don't even think to approach risk management without reading it.
You will here discover the two faces of risk: stat and Gut.
And only then you will start manage risk.
And by the way is an amazing well written book, read it even if you just want a great book to read under the sun on a beach, instead of those wastingtimers briks...
On a serious note, the book's main value to me is sharing it with colleagues and friends who shy away from probability and other quantitative methods. It has broken the "I-hate-math" barrier for more than one person with whom I have shared a copy (or purchased one as a gift), and I dare say it has helped in their professional advancement. This is particularly true for project managers who get tossed into the profession by chance (yes, that was intended as an oblique pun), and quickly discover that their success depends upon a good understanding of probability in order to correctly estimate work as well as manage project risk. Most of these folks are great at relationship management, but fall into the "I-hate-math" category. This book leads them to the math part via a great story with gentle introductory examples of the underlying numbers. In that respect it not only sparks interest in the subject, but provides the self-confidence to wade into the "dreaded subject".
Before I go off into a rambling and confusing review of an excellent book, let me end this with two points: (1) it is great reading, regardless of your interest in probability or risk - view it as an historical novel and enjoy it, and (2) it is a gentle introduction to [admittedly] dry material that you will have to get from technical books. I loved it - your mileage may vary.
Most recent customer reviews
The book brings you on a journey through the history of mankind as it learns to understand the concepts that form the basement of modern risk assessment and...Read more
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