- Paperback: 394 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (28 Feb. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141034599
- ISBN-13: 978-0141034591
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Paperback – 28 Feb 2008
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
Great fun … brash, stubborn, entertaining, opinionated, curious, cajoling (Freakonomics)
An idiosyncratically brilliant new book (Sunday Telegraph)
A fascinating study of how we are regularly taken for suckers by the unexpected (Guardian)
Like the conversation of a raconteur ... hugely enjoyable - compelling (Financial Times)
Confirms his status as a guru for every would-be Damien Hirst, George Soros and aspirant despot (Sunday Times)
In the tradition of The Wisdom of Crowds and The Tipping Point (Time)
From the Publisher
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2007
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
- Content: makes insightful points on limitations of our knowledge, human temptation to identify false trends and narratives, follow herd mentality, blindly follow 'experts', and so forth. He calls this 'skeptical empiricism'.
- Style: long-winded and rambling, skipping from personal stories from Lebanon, to parables intended to represent the author, to dull discussions on history of mathematics. I didn't mind it, but some readers hate it.
- Author: massively arrogant and up himself. Thinks he's had the best idea since sliced bread. He's got a good idea, but he's not the first or the only one, just the one with the biggest mouth.
- Other reads: there are better books out there on similar subjects. John Kay (of the FT) writes essays from a similar position, much more concisely and more to the point.
Hope that helps!
The qualification is that his big idea is not original, though his numerous examples do help bring home its ubiquity. More problematically, he overstates its usefulness. For when it comes to calling your next move, the unpredictable and the unexpected are, by definition, not things we can anticipate. And though he is right that in the long run there will undoubtedly by high impact improbably events, it is also true, as Keynes said, that in the long run we are all dead: organising your life on the principle that something radical might come along doesn't solve the everyday problem of what to next.
In short, he exaggerates his own insight and the authority it gives him. That's a wicked irony, for the chief target of his ire is those with an exaggerated sense of insight and control over their lives.
Oh, and the tone... Taleb wants to be seen as a radical iconoclast. Every sentence drips righteousness and often irritation. He is the strutting, impatient sage, the rest of us blinkered morons. Apparently he doesn't like his editors trying to change this. A word of advice to the author: if you want your advice heeded, don't shout and sneer at your audience. For this reason, an interesting thesis, but in the end a wearisome read.
The back cover has Penguin Books designate this title under Economics, but Psychology would be more appropriate as most of the material deals with human decision-making - citing your favourite Kahneman-Tversky experiments along the way.
He makes a big effort to show how his idea is very much bound up with him as a person, so in that respect the autobiographical asides are justified. But towards the end he abandons all sense of modesty when he likens himself to the eminent mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot. Early on, he does explicitly state that he'd like to be considered a philosopher, and sometimes the pit-stop introspections seem out of place.
Definitely an intelligent thinker, but a little too eager to show just how well-read he is. His narrative is nicely sign-posted and he does a very good job of chronicling other people's work in light of his own ideas, so it also serves as a nice place to pick up commentary from intellectual figures you might not have previously heard of.
Contrary to what Chris Anderson is quoted as saying on the cover, it isn't "mindblowing" or "a masterpiece". You might already be aware of many of its ancillary insights.
Others here have commented on the messy style; to be fair it does read like a scrap-book of anecdotes. But I'm glad I read it. I won't remember much of the detail, as he does flit from one story to the next, but the central insights will help me to bear certain things in mind. So it deserves to be read, but you might find yourself rushing through some parts to get to the gist.
The central theme of the book is that unexpected random events are much more likely to have far greater impact than is presumed by traditional statistics . In contrast he shows that there are domains where extreme events or values are more frequent and dominate overall. Taleb's arguments are convincing and he also shows why prediction in general is very difficult and describes human being's desires to post-rationalise events. Because prediction is thus impossible and because the impact of these extreme random events (the 'Black Swans') is so large his argument is that this makes a mockery of much of history, economics and financial theory.
The main problem with the book is the tone of the author. Taleb clearly does not suffer fools gladly and it seems that he considers most people in economics, finance, statistics and academia as fools. He comes across as believing that he is the only one who really gets these ideas. His constant attacks on the 'dark suits' and academics (not to mention several strange jibes at the French) become very wearing. Also his dismissal of the normal distribution is overdone since there are clearly areas where it works well.
All in all a very good book but I wish he would overcome his arrogance before the next one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read now in 2016, the message brought by the book is nowadays pointless. In fact, as for the 3 main issues of it:
1) Black Swans do exist: this is now obvious even for the... Read more
Interesting book and ideas although it could have been written with one third of the pages. Overall a buy.Published 1 month ago by walter
Great book, definitely an eye opener. Worth reading even if your not majorly into economics since his ideas have applications across the board. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mr. M. S. Garrod
Can't decide so far if I'm missing the point or this is absolute rubbish dressed up as a clever idea - through snobbery (not even of the intellectual kind, just based on the way... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dylan35
This book makes an excellent point about the inherent unpredictability of future events – so called “black swans” like a stock market crash or a sudden decent into war. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Manx_Giraffe
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Business, Finance & Law > Economics
- Books > Business, Finance & Law > Management > Management Skills > Decision Making
- Books > Business, Finance & Law > Professional Finance
- Books > Computing & Internet > Digital Lifestyle > Online Shopping > Amazon
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Education > Higher Education
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Education > Teaching Aids
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Popular Maths
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Probability & Statistics
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Reference
- Books > Science & Nature > Popular Science > Maths
- Books > Science & Nature > Reference > Psychology & Psychiatry
- Books > Scientific, Technical & Medical > Mathematics
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Philosophy
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Communication Studies > Media & Communication Industries