Australian executive Rob Ferguson sends me a link to an appreciation he’s written of Peter Bernstein. Which reminds me that I don’t think I ever linked here to the brief obit I wrote for TIME. The story Ferguson tells is classic Bernstein—an executive at Bankers Trust (head of its Australian operation), Ferguson had called Bernstein out of the blue one day in the 1990s. That got him a lunch with Bernstein at the Harvard Club, then before long a fast friendship. This seems to be a pretty common story—Bernstein must have held some sort of world record for number of people who thought he was their mentor. I opened up Sam L. Savage’s new book The Flaw of Averages the other day to discover that Savage credited Bernstein with playing an essential role in making the book happen (I say more or less the same thing in my book’s acknowledgements).
One last Bernstein story: Myles Thompson, Bernstein’s publisher at Wiley, says Against the Gods was “one of the first books that Amazon made into a bestseller.” It came out in 1996, Amazon’s second year of operation. Wiley hadn’t really known how to market it, and had printed only 7,000 copies. But it caught fire online, ending the year as the No. 2 nonfiction bestseller on Amazon—and kept selling and selling after that. Thompson says he’s convinced that if Bernstein’s other classic, 1992’s Capital Ideas, had come out in the Amazon era it would have been a big seller too. Sure enough, the Kindle version is the No. 1 finance title on Amazon at this moment.