Fischer Black was an eccentric, a genius, and consistently far ahead of his time in terms of his insights and understanding of finance and the markets. At least, that’s what I know I’m supposed to believe after having read Perry Merhling‘s biography of Fischer Black, Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance. In reality, however, after reading this book I understand that he was an eccentric, but in this book, Fischer’s (he’s always referred to by his first name) genius fails to shine through.
This book does a decent job of walking the reader through Fischer’s life and describing the intellectual debates that he engaged in during his time in academia and industry. Mehrling does a fairly good job at helping the reader understand the various sides of each debate and how Fischer’s influences parleyed their way into his beliefs. However, he fails at revealing why Fischer’s ideas amounted to genius or revolutionary except in the vaguest sense. Despite the apparent richness of the subject, this book unfortunately fails to rise above the level of mediocre.