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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
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on 19 October 2017
Good condition
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on 25 May 2017
It's hard to know where to stop when talking about this book. Some books are described as life changing, but are not. This one really is. I will never look at any aspect of my life again in quite the same way. I wish I'd read it years ago. I'm now buying it for my (adult) children. It can become a struggle to read at times but if it does, put it down and come back to it. Having said that most of the book is compulsive and humorous reading, interrupted by "wow I never thought of it like that before". I would however recommend reading "The Black Swan" first as I think you might miss the point of this book, at least initially, if you don't.
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on 3 April 2017
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 "smart" often lead to disaster because that makes things fragile. The truely wise person accepts it is not possible to be overly certain. There are many things, in a historical sense, benefited from uncertainty. Over managing uncertainty or trying to be too clever do not lead to that outcome.

However to convince people of the above, I am not sure being overly wordy or the use of borderline insults help. I guess I am not too bothered by his writing style, but I think many will do. Perhaps those are the people who rejects his thinking to begin with (I would assume Mr Taleb has heard of backfire effect). Taleb writing and presentation style is too direct yet longwinded for them to swallow. I guess Mr Taleb is used to controversy. I think good use of the art of persuasion can make the world more antifragile, but I am not sure that art is something can be taught (Mr Taleb will probably agree with me in this).
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on 26 June 2017
My new Bible
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on 12 May 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found Black Swan a bit patchy and heavy going and although this is a dense, complex book, I found it on the whole more tangible and satisfying.

The ideas come thick and fast and are all thought-provoking. It may be aloof and rambling a bit at times, but that is Taleb's style and I don't think he, of all people, is ever going to change that anytime soon.

The premise he works through is post-modern and intriguing but I must admit for this reader, not entirely convincing- that for eample through embracing chaos you can resolve your life activity to some form of more effective 'order'- but it is well argued and presented in a lively, never faltering fashion. So a good, and perhaps superior, companion to Black Swan.
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on 7 November 2016
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. Although repetitive at times (the whole book develops one theme), it is engaging, entertaining and informative.

After reading this, you will understand the benefits of and let yourself become more open to randomness
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on 10 January 2017
One of the greatest minds of our time, just like his other books definite a pleasure to read!
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on 9 October 2014
To recite his beloved ancients, this is Taleb's moment of hubris. If only he had followed his own advice: it is not what goes in but what one keep out that is important.

And this is a real shame because this book has many ideas that deserve wider discussion. Nevertheless, it is the curse of the autodidact to confuse the innovative with the mundane.
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on 6 May 2014
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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VINE VOICEon 19 November 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. His targets include bureaucrats, bankers, experts, risk managers, journalists, Alan Greenspan, economists (he refers to them as "economists and other lunatics"), 'ivy-leaguers', academics, Aristotle, scientists (who he refers to as "so-called scientists") and Davos attenders. While many of us might not have a lot of time for many on the list (especially journalists and bankers) Taleb seems to make it all very personal.

At the very least it makes the book read like Father Ted's acceptance speech for the Golden Cleric awards, at worst it makes the book read like the rantings of a conspiracy theorist. It does not help that he invents grand-sounding names for people and then capitalises them, so he refers to 'the Soviet-Harvard Delusion' or the 'Central Fragilista Delegation' or refers to Alan Greenspan as the 'Uber-Fragilista Alan Greenspan'. Normally, if you hear somebody delivering something in this style (the style of David Icke or a bearded bloke yelling on a street corner) you switch off. That would be a shame here because there are some interesting ideas hidden away.

Fortunately, all this ranting is as amusing to read as it is annoying. I kind of picture Victor Meldrew reading it.

There are a few people that Taleb seems to like, but not many: Benoit Mandelbrot, Thales, Seneca, Steve Jobs and Ayn Rand.

I don't think Taleb would like me. Not because of this review (he says he likes criticism) and not (just) because my day job is in risk management, but because I appreciate the points he is making but don't ever intend to completely buy into his philosophy. Yes the ideas of optionality and asymmetry seem to work but I'll add them to many of the other theories out there and adapt them. I think Taleb would prefer some ideal world where everything and everyone just followed his ideas.

Unfortunately, his ideas carried to the logical conclusion are not practical. He considers the ideal way of life to be some sort of mediterranean agrarian life with everybody living an artisan lifestyle and no employees, which is not practical with out huge populations and our collective expectations as consumers.

None of this is to say the book is rubbish. The author is the current in-vogue thinker with the in-vogue big idea (Black Swans) which replaces 'Nudge' as the big idea, which replaced 'Tipping Points', 'The Wisdom of Crowds' and 'Long Tails' as previous big ideas, and this big idea does really get you thinking about some pretty big ideas - some of them pretty scary if Taleb is right.

Anybody who has read and enjoyed books by writers such as Levit & Dubner, Daniel Kahneman, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Ariely or Jonathan Haidt would enjoy this book, or at least appreciate it. Anybody else mightdo, but should probably try something friendlier first and start with Freakonomics or Thinking Fast and Slow.
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