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Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder [Kindle Edition]

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)

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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)

Product Description

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, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls antifragile are 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. Here Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

What's more, 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 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, drawing on modern street wisdom and ancient sources.

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.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge and has led three careers around this focus, as a businessman-trader, a philosophical essayist, and an academic researcher. Although he now spends most of his time working in intense seclusion in his study, in the manner of independent scholars, 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 books Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan 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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2482 KB
  • Print Length: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Nov 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141038225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141038223
  • ASIN: B009K6DKTS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,631 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 52 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The central idea is that there are things that improve from being harmed. The opposite, fragile, is easy to understand and is one that we are already familiar with. The fragile are things which are analogous to coffee cups on tables, they are prone to be knocked over and cracking. A fragile parcel is one that should be handled with great care, while a robust parcel is one which doesn't care. An antifragile parcel would be one that wants to be abused.

The author also continues the theme that humans often over-plan and under estimate the severity of harm. He illustrates that trying to predict future harm can be very difficult and that the usual methods of error estimation are often of no help. Errors and poor design can be further compounded from large sizes and faster speeds, as well as believing that a system can be completely deterministic and knowable. His solution to all problems is to begin with a smart design which is less prone to fragility and is robust to the errors (but not risk-free).

I've read over many other reviews and note a lot of people had difficulty with understanding the book. I actually found the book to be comprehensible so at first I was surprised; however, I have had the benefit of reading his comments on his Facebook page. He posts frequently and has covered all the book topics at length. When you first encounter the ideas they may not make sense because he often uses phrases which are specific to his experience in finance. Once you are familiar with these concepts then it is fine. I appreciate that statement won't bring any comfort to someone who bought this book and doesn't have this knowledge. Therefore, I'd suggest that people may want to have a read over his Facebook fan page (his previous books help too).
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I haven't read Black Swans or Fooled by Randomness so came to this book with no preconceptions (aside from an interview with Taleb from the Guardian which piqued my interest in his ideas). I imagine that if the reader is fond of his previous work the frequent back-references will be appealing, whereas I found this a little repetitive and excluding.

It seems that the successes Taleb has experienced both intellectually and financially have lead to him being able to indulge in an over-long exposition of ideas that could fit into a single essay (as opposed to this 5-books-of-essays collection). He also seems to have many axes to grind and a need to boast about his physique and luxurious dining habits.

The most frustrating aspect of putting the time into reading and making notes on this is that: it is all "set up" and very little conclusion. Just as a neat summation/distillation seemed immanent he changes track. The best way to read might be to take the 1st paragraph of each essay and no more - the rest is just bloat.

I did enjoy aspects and have taken away some food for thought, but would take Taleb's own advice and stick to proven thinkers with a little more track record. It's fine but nothing special.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars good on ideas... poor on writing 2 Jan 2013
By Don Panik TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Taleb has gained ground as one of the more influential post modern thinkers - having been said to have predicted the financial crisis that preceded the current recession. I read The Black Swan a couple of years ago - and although it is not an easy read, the ideas were fresh and convincing. His success since, seems to have further driven his iconoclasm, but unfortunately I found this latest book bloated, dull and bombastic.

The central concept of Anti-Fragility in biological and ecological systems, being relevant to survival in a turbulent business and social world, is essentially a simple but effective idea, and none the worse for that. However the way this is written is in danger of detracting from the application of Taleb's insight. This would be a pity, since it is easy to see how we do need a paradigm shift in the way that he suggests.

Still I see that you can now book yourself on a 2 day training course (at great expense) on applying anti-fragility in oganisational settings....

This could and should be a much better book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Taleb goes emeritus
The other reviews of this book will no doubt tell you about antifragility, what it means, what it doesn't mean. Read them, read the book: it might actually be worth it. Read more
Published 22 days ago by boggisbitesvampires
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas
But far from concise. Almost like the author doesn't have much respect for our time. The content could easily fit in half the number of pages.
Published 28 days ago by And a half
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative and educational
Nassim Taleb introduces an important concept here, that of antifragility. He goes to some length to illustrate his ideas, making it clear that many people do not seem to grasp that... Read more
Published 1 month ago by A K BLACK
4.0 out of 5 stars Knight of Swords
Antifragile has some very interesting ideas concerning the impact of volatility on structures, careers and Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Charles Vasey
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poorly written
The idea of the book is intriguing and straightforward: in some conditions, some systems survive catastrophic damage. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Razvan
1.0 out of 5 stars cognitive dribblesoup
Whilst this book has some interesting things to say I find it, for the most part, a strange cross between a sales pitch and an unfulfilled self justificatory stream of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alan Whittaker
3.0 out of 5 stars Anti fragile: Nice material pity about the width.
Mr Taleb is a clever man and an experienced writer, but.....therein lies the rub ! His confrontation style is so irritating in places that it takes the edge off ones appetite to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anthony Brooke
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 2 months 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 3 months 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 3 months ago by Mr. William Oxley
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