Nobody's Fool
A.B. Jacobs
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity* online

Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity
A.B. Jacobs
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
304 pages
November 2002
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

previous review next review

Al Jacobs brings forty years of entrepreneurial experience to bear in his straightforward financial guide Nobody's Fool. Subtitled A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity, this eminently readable resource also lays out the ground rules for living with your eyes wide open -- not so much in the dharmic sense as in the purely pragmatic, although a certain implicit thread of spirituality does run through every chapter of practical advice in the manner of bestselling personal finance guru Suze Orman's The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. What Jacobs drives home again and again is his intense personal belief in the power of a skeptical attitude. Lest readers mistake his positive mantra of skepticism for a negative cynical one, he defines his terms up front:

The cynic dismisses everything as nonsense; the skeptic recognizes that some portion may be valid and seeks to find it... Being right by accident doesn't help much. You must know why you are right. [Skepticism's] principles apply to every human endeavor and deserve consideration in the situations you confront... a questioning approach and an unwillingness either to believe or disbelieve without persuasive evidence.
That definition is the crux of Jacobs' instruction. The way to success is paved with knowledge. He admonishes readers not to simply accept what they're told or led to believe in business situations or in life in general, but to seek out facts and paths for themselves. Jacobs is a firm believer in lifelong education -- not so you can wave around an often insubstantive degree after several years in a course of study, but so you can prepare yourself for circumstances where you find yourself in an adversarial position, and so you can understand a subject or process on your own terms.

Yet the philosophizing does not strain for lofty heights of discourse; Jacobs is about bringing a sensible, winning attitude to all daily affairs. Still and all, the thrust of the book is financial in nature ("It is with money that we keep score of our successes and failures," Jacobs writes), and it doesn't stint on good advice there. Cogent discussions of just why stocks are risky, why even mutual funds should be viewed with a strong skeptical eye ("As for the mutual fund industry, who in God's name is watching the store?"), why the advice of superstar analysts should be taken with a healthy dose of salt, why investment in interest-bearing securities such as corporate bonds and treasury obligations belong in any growing estate, why investing in real estate demands that you be fully informed and ready to work, why Social Security isn't working, and a full array of resources for more in-depth investigation into every topic discussed make Nobody's Fool easily worth several times its cost.  

Jacobs also touches on a handful of topics tied into personal finance such as education, health, politics and charities, making solid general recommendations about a fresh way to approach most aspects of your life. Summarized points at the end of each chapter, coupled with often amusing but pointed bits of verse to reiterate his counsel create reader-friendly flow -- this is if nothing else a good read, well-designed and familiarly written. Appendices including illustrative exhibits from the author's own experience as well as seven pages of other book and web resources round out a financial self-improvement package that is useful for just about anyone. Don't miss out on this gem.

© 2003 by Sharon Schulz-Elsing for Curled Up With a Good Book

buy *American Studies* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.