- 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: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder Paperback – 6 Jun 2013
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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 unexpected...to 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)
From the Inside Flap
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Taleb coins a new word, antifragile, to describe systems that gain from disorder or volatility. Examples of antifragile systems, include:
• The human body, which is strengthened by stress, exercise or mild doses of poison (Hormesis)
• Nature, which is strengthened by the death of its weakest members
• Rebellions, the oppression of a few can result in a massive growth in the movement
• Free market economies that thrive through a continual process of creative destruction
Examples of fragile systems are:
• Command economies, whose inflexibility makes them unable to respond to demands for change
• Complex systems, such as the modern corporation which are riven with principal agent problems, rendering them unfit for purpose
• Complex technologies, such as the Titanic
Another definition of antifragile is anything where there is an asymmetric payoff to shocks. A recent example would have been buying a call option on the Swiss Franc versus the US Dollar, in the expectation that the currency peg would break. In the short term you would have lost a little money every day that nothing happened, but then made a fortune when the peg was abandoned.
Definition of antifragile: Any new idea should be able to be defined clearly and concisely in a few paragraphs (think of the Oxford English Dictionary).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Someday I intend to read this book all the way through, but not before chucking it off a tall building in New York to see how quickly it hits the man looking up to see what I'm... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Jon Byrne
Excellent idea but can-be-better presentation.
First let talk about the core ideas of the book: Taleb is an excellent thinker; it is indeed true that trying to be too... Read more
One of the greatest minds of our time, just like his other books definite a pleasure to read!Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fantastic book about randomness. Well worth the read even if you have read any other Taleb book.
The theory is a fascinating one and is well explained throughout the book. Read more
Another engaging and mind-altering book from this great thinker.
This time he's splitting the world into three - things that are fragile, robust and antifragile. Read more
I hadn't read Black Swan, so had no preconceptions about what this book might be like; I was just intrigued by the description. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Gabrielle O
I nearly gave this only 4 stars since the author loves unconventional vocabulary and clearly hates a lot of the opinions of others.... Read morePublished 8 months ago by PeterF