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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Nassim Nicholas Taleb , Joe Ochman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Nov 2012
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world.
Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. 
In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.
Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.
Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.
Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

Praise for Antifragile
“Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining.”The Economist
“A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.”Newsweek
“Revelatory . . . [Taleb] pulls the reader along with the logic of a Socrates.”Chicago Tribune
“Startling . . . richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides . . . I will have to read it again. And again.”—Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal
“Trenchant and persuasive . . . Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds. . . . You finish the book feeling braver and uplifted.”New Statesman
“Antifragility isn’t just sound economic and political doctrine. It’s also the key to a good life.”Fortune
“At once thought-provoking and brilliant.”—Los Angeles Times

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 13 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (27 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739370693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739370698
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 13 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 689,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent two decades as a trader before becoming a philosophical essayist and academic researcher. Although he now spends most of his time either working in intense seclusion in his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés across the planet, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University's Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is "decision making under opacity", that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don't understand.

His works are grouped under the general title Incerto (latin for uncertainty), composed of a trilogy accessible in any order (Antifragile, The Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness) plus two addenda: a book of philosophical aphorisms (The Bed of Procrustes) and a freely available Technical Companion. Taleb's books have been published in thirty-three languages.

Taleb believes that prizes, honorary degrees, awards, and ceremonialism debase knowledge by turning it into a spectator sport.

""Imagine someone with the erudition of Pico de la Mirandola, the skepticism of Montaigne, solid mathematical training, a restless globetrotter, polyglot, enjoyer of fine wines, specialist of financial derivatives, irrepressible reader, and irascible to the point of readily slapping a disciple." La Tribune (Paris)

A giant of Mediterranean thought ... Now the hottest thinker in the world", London Times
"The most prophetic voice of all" GQ

Product Description


Wall Street's principal dissident (Malcolm Gladwell)

The hottest thinker in the world (Bryan Appleyard The Sunday Times)

A guru for every would-be Damien Hirst, George Soros and aspirant despot (John Cornwell Sunday Times)

A superhero of the mind (Boyd Tonkin)

Nassim Taleb, in his exasperating but compelling book Antifragile, praises "things that gain from disorder" - people, policies and institutions designed to thrive on volatility, instead of shattering in the encounter with it (Oliver Burkman Guardian)

More than just robust or flexible, it actively thrives on disruption (Julian Baggini Guardian)

full of important warnings and insights (Julian Baggini Guardian)

Modern life is akin to a chronic stress injury. And the way to combat it is to embrace randomness in all its forms...the great seer of the modern age (Guardian)

Something antifragile actively thrives under the impact of the embrace randomness rather than trying to control it (The Sunday Times)

Enduring volatility is one thing; what about benefiting from it?...That is what Taleb calls 'antifragility' and he thinks that it is the ultimate model to aspire to-for individuals, financial institutions, even nations...may well capture a quality that you have long aspired to without having quite known quite what it is...I saw the world afresh (The Times)

Taleb takes on everything from the mistakes of modern architecture to the dangers of meddlesome doctors and how overrated formal education is. . . . An ambitious and thought-provoking read . . . highly entertaining (Economist)

This is a bold, entertaining, clever book, richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides. . . . I will have to read it again. And again (Wall Street Journal)

[Taleb] writes as if he were the illegitimate spawn of David Hume and Rev. Bayes, with some DNA mixed in from Norbert Weiner and Laurence Sterne. . . . Taleb is writing original stuff-not only within the management space but for readers of any literature-and . . . you will learn more about more things from this book and be challenged in more ways than by any other book you have read this year. Trust me on this (Harvard Business Review)

What sometimes goes unsaid about Taleb is that he's a very funny writer. Taleb has a finely tuned BS detector, which he wields throughout the book to debunk pervasive yet pernicious ideas. . . . Antifragility isn't just sound economic and political doctrine. It's also the key to a good life (Fortune)

A new kind of strength...not invincible but better able to handle life's inevitable surprises...such a combination leaves open the possibility of big rewards while minimizing exposure to risk (Los Angeles Times)

At once thought-provoking and brilliant, this book dares you not to read it (Los Angeles Times)

Antifragility is the secret to success in a world full of uncertainty, a system for turning random mutations to lasting advantage... (Economist) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a radical and paradoxical philosopher for our times.He has spent his life immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge, and he has led three high-profile careers around his ideas, as a man of letters, as a businessman-trader, and as a university professor and researcher. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University's Polytechnic Institute.His books Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan have been published in thirty-three languages. Taleb refuses all awards and honours as they debase knowledge by turning it into competitive sports. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More is Less 3 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found the underlying points made by Taleb interesting and enlightening in the sense that it offered a fresh perspective albeit that the underlying issues are not novel. To an extent his subject material is the behavioural equivalent of evolution. Our behaviour is informed by negative events as well as positive and this makes us more resilient. Someone who has the occasional minor prang in a car is probably going to be safer than those who have never experienced a shunt and go round in a bubble of false security.

I do not pretend that this is a comprehensive deconstruction of Taleb's thesis but neither am I sure it should have taken 425 pages for him to make his point and a bibliography running to 24 pages to have got there. They say that a driver should drive for the comfort of their passenger and I believe that a writer should write with much the same objective in mind.

A point can be made in a pithy way and 'Freakanomics' achieved this on the subject of statistics. That brace of books may have been more frothy in tone but Levitt and Dubner succeeded in communicating some quite intricate concepts. Taleb made some interesting observations in Black Swan but I would not use the word succinct.

I often worry that popularity causes individuals to become caricatures of themselves, identifying and emphasising those characteristics which they believed made them popular to the degree that it becomes irritating. The comedian who ceases to be funny, the actor who elongates their dramatic emphasis, the writer who takes interesting thoughts but turns them into a belief system which they then name.

To my taste, Taleb laboured his points as if he relishes the cleverness of his own words and this rather put me off.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well hidden treasure 19 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the 500 pages of this book there is a really good 50-page extended essay, which is a bit obscured by the increasingly idiosyncratic writing. I can't complain because I knew what I was letting myself in for, having previously read the Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan books and this is really just a continuation in both content and style. In fact one of his earlier books has actually changed my life in a very real way - about five years ago I gave up reading newspapers after decades of ploughing through at least one of the broadsheets every day - so I don't take him lightly.

I think it is fair to say that Taleb could do with a strong-willed editor. There is a well-known principle in presentations that you need to reinforce an ide through repetition (tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you have told them) and this takes that idea to extremes with a list of contents that spans nine pages, then three pages of chapter summaries and then a prologue that basically summarises the whole book in a few pages. Each section of the book has a brief summary as does each chapter in the section. In addition to that there is an appendix to the prologue (!) an epilogue and 80 pages of index, appendices, notes, bibliography and acknowledgements. The point is that you can cutout 20% of the pages and still be left with the whole book to read.

As for the actual meat of the book, it can get a bit ranty. The author has a long list of people he doesn't like and misses no opportunity to lay into them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mmmm 12 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Half interesting, half overdone theatricality - and it feels way, way too long. Is that the author's fault, or the editor's? You'd think that he/she would be pressing the author to be clearer, to focus the argument. Or perhaps they felt that never mind the quality, feel the width...
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anti-modesty makes this a tough read 25 July 2013
By Dr. P. J. A. Wicks VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I first came across Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Black Swan" at a friend's house. It was a Sunday morning, I was a little worse for wear from the previous night, and I was enjoyably relaxed into a plush sofa looking to while away the time. In both that book and "Fooled by Randomness", Taleb's down to earth writing helped make sense of incredibly complex economic and mathematical concepts. His use of anecdotes from his time as a hedge fund trader spiced things up considerably, particularly at a time when banker-bashing was turning into a national pastime. So I was pleased to be asked to review his latest book, Anti-Fragile for the Amazon Vine program.

My first warning sign was in the back cover with the author bio. Normally where it would say the author has won the X-Prize, the Nobel, and a Blue Peter merit badge, it simply says "Taleb believes that prizes, honorary degrees, awards and ceremonialism debase knowledge by turning it into a spectator sport." Just a few pages in, with his totally unnessecarily coining of the jarring word "Antifragile", it became clear that either Taleb has started believing his own hype (a jacket quote from Malcolm Gladwell does not inspire faith...) or his editors are too timid to rein in his writing style. This would be fine if consistent - but he alternates beween needlessly long garden-path strewn sentences to jarringly veering back to a "My first Psychology textbook" explanation of human biases first reported decades ago.

Worst still are the polemics: "I am even more distraught for the future of the human race when I see a nerd behind a computer in a D.C.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.
Wow. Such an enjoyable read. Not at all what you'd expect in fact. The book takes you on a journey that you don't want to come back from. More please!
Published 3 days ago by RJW
1.0 out of 5 stars RAMBLING IRRELEVANCE
This bloated attempt is as irrelevant as his previous attempts.

He, like the majority of people is disorganised i.e. lazy. This is the sole focus of this 'book'. Read more
Published 10 days ago by THE TRUTH
4.0 out of 5 stars TALEB - BOOK 3
Taleb has already written 2 very successful books: Fooled by Randomness, and Black Swan.

In Antifragile the world is; fragile, robust, or antifragile. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Mr. William Oxley
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking analysis of modern-day business life
Taleb is a former businessman and now an academic who has written a few books.

A sizeable volume of over 500 pages, this is a book about business and for businessmen and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Andy_atGC
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book!
Antifragile is very easy to read and keeps you interested and thinking all the way through. I highly recommended it .
Published 1 month ago by rina Margulies
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended to all that value life
An excellent read! It was a real breath of fresh air to read such a logical perspective (even if a bit too technical at times) view on the world, society and success.
Published 1 month ago by Francisco
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for a lot of thought...
This book is the third (and hence last) part of Mr Taleb's trilogy, of which the world famous The Black Swan is the second. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pieter VDM
5.0 out of 5 stars Critical thinking at its finest!
Though I disagree with Taleb on a plethora of topics in this book, perhaps his hate for economic theory the most, this is largely irrelevant to the validity of his arguments since... Read more
Published 2 months ago by DIOMIDES MAVROYIANNIS
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Too Long and Involved...
I like Nassim's work. I loved his Black Swan so I was looking forward to reading this.

It took me about a week to finish it and I waited another few days before I wrote... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Miss M. L. English
4.0 out of 5 stars Grudgingly, 4 stars. Content has to win over presentation.
Ideas are original and substantive.

Lots of facts and quotes which are interesting, though often they add no additional power to the argument. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Suzie Bennett
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