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32
4.4 out of 5 stars
Luck: What It Means and Why It Matters
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2012
Very nicely shaded look at what role luck plays in our lives. Although not at all a "sports" book, Ed Smith uses his sporting experience as an initial lens to look at the gradations and nuances of luck.

I found this quick read to have good insight into how even the most prepared and gifted still might be where they are by dint of luck at some point in their lives. By maintaining that luck has persistence one cannot help but to reflect on a little discussed aspect of fate's machinations.

Smith makes an excellent case that luck does indeed have meaning and it very much does matter!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2013
Ed Smith's book poses lots of interesting questions - is luck really quite a sophisticated concept (with alternative views of the world that rule our luck and attribute everything to agency, perhaps the agency of witches, perhaps our own agency as when we claim credit for things that have happened through luck, or perhaps divine agency); do we like games of luck or skill (where tennis can be very much a game of skill with a pre-eminent champion who always wins for periods of up to 5 years, but football is a game where luck is much more to the fore); how could the course of history have been different (both Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler survived potentially fatal car accidents in the 1930s; Napoleon once applied for a job to the British Admiralty).

It's also laced with really entertaining anecdotes - his own bad luck breaking of his leg in 2008 (following his good luck in going to a school that had the 2nd best cricket pitch he had ever played on); the luck of a now 94 year old veteran of the Battle of Britain; and of a friend in just the right place at the right time following a totally unanticipated and unanticipatable heart attack.

Furthermore, it's also a very easy and entertaining read. Smith is well read but wears his learning lightly. And he is a good companion throughout the book.

My strongest reservation would be that the books remains, at the end of the day, perhaps just a very entertaining light read - the work of an elegant essayist - though writing on an interesting subject and writing well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2013
I have to disagree with reviewers who have said this book doesn't say all that much. As an antidote to the whole self-help culture in which increasingly people are somehow regarded as having failed if they don't achieve their goals, this is an important book. Smith points out the dangers of such beliefs with some very telling examples and his conclusion, related to our own world, is quite chilling. Yes I do think occasionally he overstates the case, and yes there are a lot of sporting analogies - it certainly helps if, like me, you are a cricket fan. But there is so much here that is entertainingly argued and a really important message that I feel I can recommend it thoroughly.
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on 27 August 2014
I enjoy Ed Smith's writing in the paper and listening to his commentary on Test Match Special so was naturally intrigued by Luck. Furthermore, personally as someone who believes they have enjoyed a good amount of luck I have a natural interest in the subject. Smith makes thought provoking observations best exemplified by an excellent selection of stories and anecdotes. I don't know if I am altogether any clearer (from the book) as to what 'luck' actually means, indeed Smith observes it means very different things to different people's and cultures. Nonetheless an enjoyable read and I will certainly continue to read Smith's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2015
Bit of a strange book - full of lots of general info but I felt it went round in a circle and at the end of the book you were left feeling "what was that all about"!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2012
I bought this book after hearing Ed Smith being interviewed about it on the radio. It stimulated my curiosity and the book certainly got me thinking. I guess the fact that I have been talking about it to various groups of people tells you how fascinated I am with it all. Very well written and extremely thought provoking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2013
Had some very interesting stories which follows much of the style of Syed. Definitely would recommend for Bounce readers.

Matt
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on 18 September 2013
I didn't previously believe in the concept of luck. Instead, I preferred to follow the mantra of one of my all time heroes, Gary Player, who famously once stated "the more I practice, the luckier I get". This book puts forward a compelling alternative theory that, while talent and work ethic undoubtedly influences the direction your life may take, luck, which by definition is out of your control, plays an equally, if not more important, role. Recommended.
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on 20 April 2014
I've really liked Ed Smith's cricket commentaries, always clear and enlightening, and he brings the same qualities to this book. I'm a professional opera singer and I've long been fascinated in the role that luck and randomness plays in my job. I found so many parallels in this book; I'll be sharing them with students and colleagues.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is an interesting, well written and engaging book that shows how superstitious many people are. If somebody is up there turning the wheel of fortune, then there are "lucky pants" on both sides of the game to be allocated their share of luck. As I am not a fan of cricket, I was more interested in some of the stories about how, with different outcomes, the world map could have looked very different, particularly as both Hitler and Churchill came close to being killed in car accidents. I also enjoyed the interview with the ww2 Battle of Britain pilot, where it was a magnificant achievement getting an insightful and honest 4 hour interview from a 94 year old veteran.

I was interested to that it was a brit and not an american who founded the genre of self help. The writer is correct to say that if all sports people train hard then the only differences are luck and talent. I agree also that luck plays a big role. However, I also believe that luck and opportunity are only fully explored when there is preparedness for such an opening. The Author strongly dislikes the prevalent American view that "you make your own luck" and "there's no such thing as as luck". However, his view seems to be that its mostly about luck. I take an in-between view that luck often shows up once you are doing the right things and that some people are very good at making the most of this. Therefore I think some readers may prefer
The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind for a more research based but still highly readable take on the subject.The Luck Habit: What the Luckiest People Think, Know and Do ... and How it Can Change Your Life for improving your luckThe Luck Factor: Why Some People Are Luckier Than Others and How You Can Become One of Them about embracing risk
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