This book's release coincided roughly with the author's correctly calling the Obama reelection, and I know there was some promotional buzz. I enjoyed the book, but like so many others, it is laden with all sorts of random anecdotes and stories that don't really cohere well, so it serves as a very light repast of actionable, penetrating statistical methods, slathered over with plenty of entertainment and filler. So, it probably nicely fulfills the contemporary book industry formula for popular writing and its marketing.
If you are widely read in Taleb's work, there are few surprises here. I pretty avidly snap up whatever he writes, but I had seen such things as his praise of city-states elsewhere. There seems a slight advance in his mapping of fragilities on a wider scale, compared with his prior works.
The title is a great description of the topics in this book. I underwent a quantum leap in my understanding of Torah/Old Testament, its legal ramifications, and foundations of Jewish thought. I have not followed the life or work of author Alan Dershowitz very closely, and I understand in various ways he is controversial. However, his exegesis here of this ancient document in legalistic terms (and of course crediting other thinkers where appropriate, and there is a long line of them), and relating it to our present justice system, is fantastic. I am making a bit of a comparative study of the Abrahamic religions, and have been helped in this also by some works by Karen Armstrong (also available here) on Christianity and Islam. I think it very important that we try to comprehend these faiths (and the history and thinking of their practitioners) on deep levels. The maintenance of lives of millions as free as possible from violence may come to depend on it. I am utterly satisfied with this book as having (brilliantly) furthered these aims.
This is a listenable book with many thought-provoking passages. The world the author foresaw in 2011 has of course not perfectly materialized, but I was startled how often he was right. If the author had turned out perfectly right, I would have to chalk it up to a substantial measure of luck (since nobody knows the future, and nobody who knew the future would be a TV commentator or schlepping books; he would be the richest person on the planet).
The one-star audible reviewer obviously missed the point, as indicated by his short-swing (and wrong for now) view of gold's ascendency (which was already wrong when that review was written). My approach to investing is much like this author's, with a macro focus and pretty long term view. I see this book as more "teaching how to fish" (i.e., think) than simply handing me a serving of fish (a one-time set of"hot tips.") This book satisfies my approach of developing a sound underlying method of portfolio allocation, KNOWING that some of my assumptions (and anyone's, outside of pure luck) will not be proven true. And yes, some of the conclusions I don't agree with -- I would hope. Yes, some asset classes have swung wide of where the author expected, counseling a rethinking of some of the recommendations. But that is easy to do.
A problem with any dated product is getting the right frame of mind to benefit from it. For example, many ground-breaking films don't seem so great on a re-watching, often precisely because they have been so widely imitated and refined upon. So, a need is there to rewind and think of the work in terms of the time it was created. I found this exercise easy here, and was pleased to check the author's prognostications against the (limited) record since then. Indeed, many contrarian ideas voiced by this author are more mainstream now than they were in 2011. (That would seem to be the point of contrarian thinking: seeing things others do not, which later materialize in a wider recognition as true. That is how the investor makes a profit, and isn't that why we are here? Under these sorts of tests, the book comes out strong.
As for the pop-culture and other cultural references, I found them entertaining. Usually I am quite annoyed by such a thing, being for a more academic approach, but these were clever and amusing.
So, as the world continues to surprise us, I continue to seek out opportunities to listen to the thinking of all kinds of observers, and with this one, I'm well satisfied.
This is a clever piece of work. Many acquaintances, and I, have been wrangling about one risk of everyday life versus another, forever, i.e., the stuff of our daily choices, our claims of wisdom or folly. There is a neat little tutorial in simple statistics imbedded in this too, and ways of debunking splashy news stories, but as you follow the quirky little stories here, you might not have noticed it. I have read other books about debunking claims, but this one went down like fizzy candy. In a good way. And, don't get me wrong, there is plenty of adult info, on which many an adult is snared in miscalculation. And I vastly appreciate the way the mundane non-emergencies of life are noticed and modeled here, and not merely the garish, slapstick side so (misleadingly) splashed around the news.
The author is laudatory of Justice Scalia but not stiflingly so. It is a good sampling of Scalia's work, plenty in his own words. He is not one to be ignored, as at times he seems to exert an almost tidal pull on decisions.
A person following the media much on this might already know this. But this is a good broad overview of challenges and prospects Xi Jinping (and China) are facing, and the policies Xi has announced to face these.
There are too many little vignettes here without the kind of detail one would need to extract good case studies of how good decisions were made, or not.
I have liked other publications here by this author, particularly introductions to doing business in various countries (and I liked the USA one the best, though I live here). I would not call them exhaustive, but they are short and affordable, and a nice start. I suspect this was an early work. The English usages are sometimes strange, but that is not the real problem. There is a lot of repetitive, redundant, "you can do it," "but you should know it is risky!" kind of stuff, which goes on and on without actually dissecting specific risks to my satisfaction. Again and again we hear there is massive money in this market but most people lose their money in it, so be careful. "Get good information and advice" type back-slapping does not tell me who or what the right kinds of sources are. I get the implication that most people venturing here are raw meat for the far fewer successful traders, but I do not personally feel confident I could be the latter, based on this.
I like this a lot. As a legal scholar, I find it stimulating to listen in, as great thinkers over several lifetimes with great care unpacked logical conflicts and gray areas in Christian scripture. At points one can sense them writhing and agonizing over what they found. It must have been daunting for such total believers to face these confusing instances of withheld truths and misleading statements by holy figures within the Word of God itself. These thinkers were employing the best tools of their times, with great passion. Out of this process, a more modern view of truth and observable nature as a reference point was painfully born, as we witness step by step. We hear from such luminaries as Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Descartes, on and on. The patient listener is well rewarded. The narrator I think had an ideal voice and tone for the material.
This is a bipartisan roast of various presidents. Historical facts are mixed with amusing anecdotes to keep it flowing. Sometimes one could sense a positive glee in the author, painting a caricature of one or another fellow -- Nixon, Harding, etc. And who can blame him? This is a nice break for me from deeply straight-faced, intensively scholarly works. A couple of my favorites are the 2 "overrated" presidents at the end -- Jefferson and JFK. Of course the listener may find one or more things to disagree with -- I always hope for some of those! I want my existing notions shaken and tested.
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