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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141038225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141038223
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,061 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)

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.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Hughes on 14 Jan 2013
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Razvan on 6 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The idea of the book is intriguing and straightforward: in some conditions, some systems survive catastrophic damage. But this idea is very poorly described by a disastrous author-editor combination. Neither of the two did their job for the good of the reader and give structure to the book.

I am very disappointed by the quality of the writing and the superficiality of the content which the author uses to illustrate the concept. This could have been a good book, but it reads like the blog of adolescent with an acute need for attention.

I gave the book a change. I tried really hard. I even got to page 123, but couldn't go on reading any further because of the poor quality.

I promise to never again buy a book written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
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The final (perhaps) book in the Black Swan trilogy, Taleb brings everything together in his argument that we are not in fact in control of much of what goes on in the world, despite the assertions of academics and politicians. All we can do is realize what we do not know and optimize, or recognize, the upside potential when we find it. Taleb is violently anti-academic, holding them responsible for much of our lack of understanding and social problems. He also suffers from no lack of ego strength, which can be just a touch wearing after a while. But it is difficult to argue with many of his conclusions, as they contain the ring of truth. And he maintains that that 'ring' is precisely our most valuable asset, and is a more reliable guide than most of our school learned knowledge.
This is a complex work. Taleb is a polymath and he brings in vast amount of argument from mathematics, philosophy, history and every other discipline to make his case. His writing sometimes lacks clarity. But stick with it. This is an important work, and its conclusions apply equally to society at large and your own life.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alan Whittaker on 1 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 conciousness. A kind of insight into someone's cognitive work in progress and simultaneously accumulating bank account.

It mentions the Black Swan in terms of why, after reading that you should pay for a second book - simple the Black Swan is this new books, "junior appendix". This is a sales pitch pure and simple. So, after telling the world something and earning a fortune in the process, there is - yes good Christians - even more to be revealed. Just keep the faith.

It also name drops Steve Jobs early on. Never a good sign. It's a weak and easy way to appropriate popularity by association. The author even employs the same trick with our very own grandmothers.

It never ceases to amaze me just how flexible the English language is. Always having the ability to adapt and absorb new cultures and languages. However, I think this author is engaging in a deliberate assault upon language that unnecessarily twists meaning in an attempt to both lure the paying reader and obfuscate its rhetorical weaknesses.

No doubt the author would say their choice of language is antifragile but this is simply impoverished circular logic. Even cultish.

The English language is perfectly capable of saying what this author means to say without a dribblesoup of nonpreponderances and antiplatitudinal neologistificationizing. See what I mean.
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