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Review - Against the Gods - Peter Bernstein

 

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Probability, chance, risk - it's all fundamental to everyday human life, yet it's something that very few of us understand. Peter Bernstein's book is about the best book around in the popular science/maths genre to deal with probability and risk.

There's a good exploration here of the history of our reaction to risk and the gradual realization of how ordered yet strange the whole field of probability is. The whole scholarly but accessible feeling, with its classical roots, comes across in that title "Against the Gods" (I'm so tempted to to type "against the odds" that it must be intentional).

It's borderline on being one of our four star near-best books, but doesn't quite make it because Bernstein has too strong an emphasis on the financial aspects of risk and probability - for example, given the dependence of quantum theory on probability, it's strange there isn't more tie-in with physics - but even so, it's a good book, well worth the read.

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Reviewed by Peter Spitz

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Last update 05 June 2007