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Customer Review

27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anti-modesty makes this a tough read, 25 July 2013
This review is from: Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I first came across Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Black Swan" at a friend's house. It was a Sunday morning, I was a little worse for wear from the previous night, and I was enjoyably relaxed into a plush sofa looking to while away the time. In both that book and "Fooled by Randomness", Taleb's down to earth writing helped make sense of incredibly complex economic and mathematical concepts. His use of anecdotes from his time as a hedge fund trader spiced things up considerably, particularly at a time when banker-bashing was turning into a national pastime. So I was pleased to be asked to review his latest book, Anti-Fragile for the Amazon Vine program.

My first warning sign was in the back cover with the author bio. Normally where it would say the author has won the X-Prize, the Nobel, and a Blue Peter merit badge, it simply says "Taleb believes that prizes, honorary degrees, awards and ceremonialism debase knowledge by turning it into a spectator sport." Just a few pages in, with his totally unnessecarily coining of the jarring word "Antifragile", it became clear that either Taleb has started believing his own hype (a jacket quote from Malcolm Gladwell does not inspire faith...) or his editors are too timid to rein in his writing style. This would be fine if consistent - but he alternates beween needlessly long garden-path strewn sentences to jarringly veering back to a "My first Psychology textbook" explanation of human biases first reported decades ago.

Worst still are the polemics: "I am even more distraught for the future of the human race when I see a nerd behind a computer in a D.C. suburb, walking distance from a Starbucks coffeehouse, or a shopping mall, capable of blowing up an entire battalion in a remote place, say Pakistan, and afterward going to the gym for a "workout" (compare his culture to that of knights or samurai)."

When these touch on things I know something about (medicine), his knowledge and understanding falls far short of the levels of confidence he shows in proffering an opinion. I'm guessing specialists in other disciplines feel the same way.

All in all, a great disappointment, I hope he will find some humility or risk going the way of the Dawkins...
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Oct 2013 07:36:10 GMT
S. N. J. Moy says:
"Risk going the way of the Dawkins"....I love that comment!

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Nov 2013 09:39:49 GMT
Mr. B. Sharp says:
I might love it if I knew what it actually meant.
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