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Book Review: The Most Important Thing Illuminated

I previously reviewed The Most Important Thing.  Great book, but can a great book be made better?  Yes, but only by a little bit.

The illumination of this book comes from comments from Christopher Davis, Joel Greenblatt, Paul Johnson and Seth Klarman, an estimable bunch of investors and investment thinkers.  Howard Marks offers a few more comments as well.

None of the comments are bad, but also, none of them disagree with Howard Marks.  Then again, I didn’t find anything to disagree with in the original book, so maybe that’s not a negative.

Many of the comments are brief, and most of them serve to intensify what Howard Marks wrote, e.g:

  • This is a really important point.
  • This is an excellent summary of the idea.

Relatively few of the comments really expand the discussion, so here is my advice for you: if you already own The Most Important Thing, you don’t need this.  Borrow it at your library if you must.  If you don’t own it, you will get a slightly richer experience with this book than the original.

I recommend this book to all who aspire after value investing.


Again none.

Who would benefit from this book: All value investors, and those who want to be value investors can benefit from this book.  Those that want to understand how the economy really works will benefit as well.  If you want to, you can buy it here: The Most Important Thing Illuminated.

Full disclosure: The publisher asked if I wanted to read the book electronically.  I said “yes” and I downloaded it and read it.

If you enter Amazon through my site, and you buy anything, I get a small commission.  This is my main source of blog revenue.  I prefer this to a “tip jar” because I want you to get something you want, rather than merely giving me a tip.  Book reviews take time, particularly with the reading, which most book reviewers don’t do in full, and I typically do. (When I don’t, I mention that I scanned the book.  Also, I never use the data that the PR flacks send out.)

Most people buying at Amazon do not enter via a referring website.  Thus Amazon builds an extra 1-3% into the prices to all buyers to compensate for the commissions given to the minority that come through referring sites.  Whether you buy at Amazon directly or enter via my site, your prices don’t change.

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David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.

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