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# Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

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-centur
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Paperback, 400 pages

Published
August 31st 1998
by Wiley
(first published 1996)

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Take Bernstein's introduction, for example:

"The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more ...more

I have to say that the title of the book is not totally compatible with the content. “Against The Gods” gives the impression that the book would illustrate how human beings overcame their superstitions and prejudices, and opposed blind faith. The book talks about how the development of mathematics and statistics provided human beings with ways of quantifying risks but it does not talk about ...more

The author has a nice way of mixing background color and the personalities of the various people he discusses in with the overall examination of risk. I enjoyed thinking along with notions like why the number zero didn't exist until society had moved forward ...more

"A and B are playing a fair game of balla. They agree to continue until one has won six rounds. The game atually stops when A has won five and B three. How should the stakes be divided?"

Not until 1654 would an answer to the previous question finally be discovered when the French Lawyer and amateur Mathematician Pierre de Fermat joined forces with the French Mathematician Blaise Pascal. Peter Bernstein's "Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk" traces not only their relationship, but th ...more

No, instead this is a book the first two-thirds of which are a history of probability and forecasting, which, though related to risk, are not the same thing as risk, as evidenced by the author awkwardly sh ...more

Like Bernstein, I spent the majority of my career in financial services (that may be the only similarity between us), so I have always been fascinated with people’s attitudes about risk and money in general. I also wanted to know more about my own proclivities on those matters. Sometimes, I look back in wond ...more

The historical part is mildly interesting. Although it is written haphazardly as a series of anecdotes about famous mathematicians and other important savants, it is good to place names and concepts into some sort of t ...more

I recommend you have at least univeristy level understanding of stats before you undertake this read.

Some of the book was good, like when the author briefly touched on the golden ratio, insurance through Lloyds of London and derivatives. I felt like the he could have gone deeper in to some of the sections or extrapolate more applications of the newly discovered statistical calculations - ie through analysis of the bell curve and r ...more

*Para mim esse é um dos melhores livros se você deseja aprender gerenciamento de riscos. Com uma narrativa intrigante, Peter Bernstein explica a história dos riscos*...more

If you happen to meet those criteria, this book will help answer the question: "how well have humans done at trying to predict the future, in order to avoid risky situations?" The book does this by tracing risk management back to the VERY beginning of people trying to understand numbers (interesting history of the number zero) up to the Black-Scholes model of prici ...more

Out of this, banking was created and trade evolved including the ability to evaluate risk and calculate interest risk which gave rise to modern banking, stock trading, insurance and other mathematically based industries which are the cornerstone of our modern financial structure.

It can be a little dry at times, but skipping the mathematical lessons will not detract from the st ...more

Apr 01, 2011
Velvetink
marked it as to-read

Interesting so far, a little heavy going in the early chapters for those deficient in math skills but fascinating in the details. Amazed to find that Da Vinci had only 3rd grade math skills.

A brilliant piece of history.

A page turner that you can take to the beach. Very enjoyable.

It's a general mathematical history of risk management, but most of the material is rudimentary. The material itself is probably just a basic statistics and finance course stripped of actual formulas. For people really into mathematical history and etymology this book might be more interesting than it was for me. The book starts with the adoption of arabic numerals goes through the basic history of probability and statistics before concluding with finance and ...more

Um pouco de história e evolução dos métodos e crenças sobre o risco, matemática e estatística foram abordados. Eu não fiquei muito entusiasmado com o livro, mas acredito que o melhor de tudo pode ser encontrado na parte final (últimos 25%), onde o autor aborda os métodos mais utilizados recentemente e aponta uma quase impossibilidade de obter b ...more

Oct 31, 2016
Connor Fullam
rated it
it was amazing

Shelves:
science,
mathematics,
insurance,
finance,
stock-market,
statistics,
history,
psychology,
investing,
economics

This may be one of the best non fiction books of all time. Bernstein has a way of connection together mathematics, statistics, insurance, business, finance, the stock market, and psychology via the interwoven story of risk. The heroes presented throughout this book have changed the history of this world. Bernstein was able to present all of this information in a way that followed the simple progression of time, yet was able to delve deep into each aspect of risk. I highly recommend this book to
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One idea I thought was interesting was how important it was to m ...more

Peter best summarizes the content of the book in his introduction: "this book tells the story of a group of thinkers whose remarkable vision revealed ow to put the future at the service of the present. By showing the world how to understand risk, measure it, and weight its consequences, they converted risk-taking into one of the prime catalysts that drives modern Western society."

The book presents the ...more

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Fantastic Review of Against the Gods | 1 | 30 | Sep 22, 2011 09:57PM |

## Goodreads is hiring!

Founder and President of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc., which he established in 1973 as economic consultants to institutional investors and corporations around the world.

In 1951, after teaching economics at Williams College and a five-year stint in commercial banking, Peter became Chief Executive of a nationally–known investment counsel firm, where he personally managed billions of dollars of individua ...more

More about Peter L. Bernstein...
In 1951, after teaching economics at Williams College and a five-year stint in commercial banking, Peter became Chief Executive of a nationally–known investment counsel firm, where he personally managed billions of dollars of individua ...more

## Share This Book

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“The information you have is not the information you want. The information you want is not the information you need. The information you need is not the information you can obtain. The information you can obtain costs more than you want to pay”
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“The word 'risk' derives from the early Italian risicare, which means 'to dare'. In this sense, risk is a choice rather than a fate. The actions we dare to take, which depend on how free we are to make choices, are what the story of risk is all about. And that story helps define what it means to be a human being.”
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