Book Review: Classics: An Investor’s Anthology

Classics: An Investor’s Anthology

Charles Ellis, James Vertin, Editor

Classics: An Investor’s Anthology on Amazon.com

For this book review we wanted to share an “oldie but goodie” with the investing community.  One theme that drives our investment approach at Fund.com is that old things might be undervalued- and that is definitely the case with this book.

Classics has been out of print for a while. You cannot buy a new copy of it off Amazon, but you can get a very cheap, used copy that is most likely to come from a library that has removed it from circulation.  Originally published in 1988 this book organizes original content from some of the most important minds of investing. For a few dollars (plus shipping) you get some of the best content from a library of investing books that would cost hundreds of dollars!

Many people appreciate and have read books by the giants of the investing community: Graham & Dodd, Buffet, Schiller, etc. In contrast, what is neat about an anthology like Classics is that it organizes some of the most popular chapters and articles by these minds into one book. It is a great book to read at any point in an investing career. If you are just starting you will meet many interesting authors whose work you should read. Just scanning the summaries before each chapter will give you an amazing reading list!  If you are a seasoned investor, then sitting down with Classics is sort of like reminiscing with old friends.

The book is organized chronologically, so you will also get a sense of how investing evolved from the Pre-War time period to the 1980s.  Even some of the earliest articles deal with topics like allocation, valuation, risk management, and crowd mentality.

Unfortunately Amazon does not list the contents of the book. Here is a snippet of some authors and the title of the articles included in the book:

  • Lawrence Chamberlain and George Edwards: Stocks Versus Bonds
  • Benjamin Graham and David Dodd: A Proposed Definition of Investment
  • John Maynard Keynes: The State of Long-Term Expectation
  • T. Rowe Price, Jr:  Picking “Growth” Stocks
  • Adam Smith: The Market and Prices
  • John Burr Williams: Evaluation by the Rule of Present Worth
  • Philip Fischer: What to Buy – The Fifteen Points to Look for in a Common Stock
  • Harry Markowitz: Portfolio Selection
  • Warren Buffet: Observations on Performance
  • David Dreman: The Not-So-Expert Epert
  • Benjamin Graham: “Margin of Safety” as the Central Concept of Investment
  • William T. Morris: The Systems Approach
  • Richard A. Brealey: Can Professional Investors Beat the Market?
  • John Templeton: Worldwide Investing.

This is only a subset of the articles covered in the book. Even better- there is a second edition, Classics II.  We will have to follow up with that another time!

Classics: An Investor’s Anthology on Amazon.com