The polite approach to reviewing a book is to begin with what it does well, and only later go on to hint gently at where it falls short. But in the case of The Art of Execution, that’s difficult – not because it’s a bad book, but because there simply isn’t enough of it to justify the rather steep £19.99 price tag. It stretches to 175 pages (plus some end notes) only with the aid of a rather large typeface and plenty of white space. Lest that sound like an exaggeration, I read it in about two hours without difficulty. So let’s be blunt: it’s impossible to recommend that anybody buy a copy at full price.
That’s a pity, because the book also offers some decent insights and case studies. As well as investigating how his investors managed losing trades, Freeman-Shor looks at how the same group dealt with the tricky question of when to take profits on successful ones. Ultimately, the message of the book is to cut losers and run winners – familiar advice, but Freeman-Shor does a good job of showing why that approach makes sense, while also explaining why it’s so hard for most people to stick to it.
Overall, this is an easy read and its conclusions are sensible. What’s missing – and could have helped to justify the cost – is more concrete guidance on how to implement the advice successfully. Experienced investors won’t find much new here, but newer investors could definitely benefit from picking up a cheap, used copy once they start appearing on Amazon.
• The Art of Execution: How the world’s best investors get it wrong and still make millions by Lee Freeman-Shor, Harriman House (£19.99).