Intriguing investment advice that’s as pertinent to the market today as it was decades ago.


Fortunes in Special Situations in the Stock Market


Schiller (Investor’s Guide to Special Situations in the Stock Market, 1966, etc.) offers a guide to investing during specific corporate situations.

This revised investment guide, whose first edition was originally published in 1961, aims to help readers uncover and take advantage of particular events within companies that, with good legwork and timing, can result in profit. Such “special situations” include mergers, liquidations, and spinoffs, and the appeal of trading based on such activities is that it doesn’t rely on broader trends in the market but on companies’ specific actions. It’s a strategy that requires investors to do their homework in order to fully understand the company of interest and the action that may or may not take place. The easy part, though, comes in knowing when to divest, as Schiller points out: “A prime rule of special situation trading is to get out when the anticipated action has occurred.” Added to the author’s original 1960s-era advice in this edition are case studies of modern transactions. One contributing investor, Perea Capital partner Omar Musa, writes of a special situation involving a company in Turkey in 2013; with research, he came across “a long-term compounder that offered an enormous margin of safety.” Although the book can certainly be dry at times, this lack of pizzazz is part of its appeal, as the author and his modern-day supporters are offering sound, straightforward advice: do your research and know what’s going on with the companies in which you invest. There’s no magic to this process—it’s simply a matter of acting at the right time, based on the right information. Although the book certainly mentions the potential for big gains, it’s also understood that careful scrutiny is required to achieve such results. Schiller’s work requires careful reading, but it ultimately proves to be a highly reasonable starting point for investment, driven not by algorithms but by actual events.

Intriguing investment advice that’s as pertinent to the market today as it was decades ago.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5480-0526-9

Page Count: 284

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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