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Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk Paperback – Unabridged, August 31, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This is a journey that begins with the importatioin of the arabic numbering system to the West and ends with super-computer crunched chaos theory. In between lie the fathers (all men) of mathamatical understanding. These individuals are the story of AGAINST THE GODS. Bernstein survey's the intellectual contrubutions of each as man strives to understood basic probability, the law of large numbers, bell curves, regression analysis, uncertainty theory and everything else you dimly remember from college statistics classes. He spends the latter quarter of the book on risk and probability theory in the financial world, where theorists have developed portfolio analysis, volitility studies, hedging and sidebets and other quantatative market plays.
Credit to the author for balancing his story against the very high probability that much of what these thinkers sought may be unattainable. He frequently mentions the humanity that these people try to explain with laws formulated from observations in the natural world. Although rightly impressed with his intellectual frontiersmen, Bernstein has no problem recognizing that the uncertainty that has always eluded explanation is us and that it helps make life worth living and progress possible.
This book is interesting for what it is. A story of the development of theories. I would have enjoyed more of a focus on the applications of this intellectual progression that led to the development of insurance and financial markets. Though these elements are mentioned often, they provide the backdrop for Bernsteins survey of theory.Read more ›
I felt, overall, that the discussion was aimed more at explaining the math in layman's terms rather than exploring the impact of these developments on how people do business and make decisions.
Towards the end of the book, he just began to touch on some of the non-rational behavioral aspects of humans, and I wish he had gone deeper. Some of the most interesting work in economics is being done today with the radical assumption that human behavior is driven more by emotion than by reason. Why do people make ill-conceived decisions about risk? Not really answered in this book.
The book is almost totally oriented towards financial risk, and doesn't really look at other forms of risk management. Although the writing style is engaging--this is NOT dry--there are some structural problems. The author wanders around a bit, and sometimes introduces ideas or personalities without ever explaining why.
It is important to mention that this is treated as a 'story', from the historian's point of view, and not as a text book. In this way, it is true to its title. The book cover makes no claims for this as an intellectual or academic treatment of the subject, which makes this a very accessible book. It isn't profound, and it is only mildly informative, but outside of the minor annoyances of some outline weakness, I enjoyed reading it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A well researched book with interesting anecdotes on the history of the discipline of risk management. Goes back over a thousand years.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great history of risk, excellent documentation and explanation with a unique perspective of human history.Published 28 days ago by Brian T. Wolter
very very enlightening...I am re ordering 5 more copies....Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book! Well written journey through the history of risk. Very informative.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I work in insurance and have studied math most of my adult life so I am biased but tracing the intellectual history of what I do... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dave
but it took me over three months to do it. Normally I'll finish a book in under a month.
The beginning was interesting, about ancient civilizations using symbols to mean... Read more