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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder | [Nassim Nicholas Taleb]

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem, and in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what Taleb calls the "antifragile" is actually beyond the robust, because it benefits from shocks, uncertainty, and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension. The antifragile needs disorder in order to survive and flourish. Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner.
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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a book on how some things actually benefit from disorder.

In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem, and in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what Taleb calls the "antifragile" is actually beyond the robust, because it benefits from shocks, uncertainty, and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension. The antifragile needs disorder in order to survive and flourish.

Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is immune to prediction errors. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is everything that is both modern and complicated bound to fail? The audiobook spans innovation by trial and error, health, biology, medicine, life decisions, politics, foreign policy, urban planning, war, personal finance, and economic systems. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are heard loud and clear.

Extremely ambitious and multidisciplinary, Antifragile provides a blueprint for how to behave - and thrive - in a world we don't understand, and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand and predict. Erudite and witty, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: What is not antifragile will surely perish.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"[This] is the lesson of Taleb...and also the lesson of our volatile times. There is more courage and heroism in defying the human impulse, in taking the purposeful and painful steps to prepare for the unimaginable." (Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point)

"[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne." (The Wall Street Journal)

"The most prophetic voice of all.... [Taleb is] a genuinely significant philosopher...someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his ideas alone." (GQ)

What Members Say

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4.2 (1063 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Terje Dahl Norway 11-03-13
    Terje Dahl Norway 11-03-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Listening to it twice"

    Possible one of the best non-fiction books I have "read" in a long time.
    I am listening to it again soon.
    And in the mean-time I am thinking about how I an apply some of the principals both in my software-development and in my business in general.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mark abilene, TX, United States 09-14-13
    mark abilene, TX, United States 09-14-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Broad generalizations and rants"
    What would have made Antifragile better?

    The fundamental premise is flawed; he tries to propose a theory that explains numerous phenomena using a single model, which rarely works. The author spends the better part of the first hour skewering academics, economists, doctors, etc. While some of his complaints are legit, I didn't drop $15 to hear someone rant about this stuff.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven D. Ward 09-12-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""Unabridged?" Are you sure?"
    Would you try another book from Nassim Nicholas Taleb and/or Joe Ochman?

    absolutely. I loved this book, and the narrator did a great job overall.


    Any additional comments?

    The book is not presented as the author intended. The bleeping of cursewords was offensive as I am an adult, listening to a work by a person I have high regard for. Regardless of my own feelings on those words, they are part of the author's communication style and part of the final product the author wished to put out into the world.

    I don't know who was responsible for the bleeping (not the author or narrator) but it was a terrible decision.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Billy Berlin, Germany 08-19-13
    Billy Berlin, Germany 08-19-13 Member Since 2009
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    42
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    "A great reading of an interesting polemic"
    What did you love best about Antifragile?

    It was a toss up between the interesting and engaging ideas of Mr. Taleb and the narration by Joe Ochman. Mr. Ochman did a fantastic job with this reading. He seem to take Mr. Taleb as a character. His reading gave Mr. Taleb an interesting personality. Mr. Ochman characterized Mr. Taleb as a pompous ass. I've since heard Mr. Taleb speak on video lectures, and he sound far more humble. But I don't believe the book could have been more entertaining even had Mr. Taleb read the book himself. This is a great book for a lot of reasons. Mr. Ochman's narration is just one of them.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Elliot Moscow, RF 07-30-13
    G. Elliot Moscow, RF 07-30-13 Member Since 2005
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    2
    2
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    Story
    "An antidote to "progress""
    Where does Antifragile rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Way up there, along with "Black Swan" and "Fooled by Randomness" which happen to be written by the same author. Or maybe I read those, and didn't listen to them; same difference.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Antifragile?

    This is the sort of stupid and superficial question Nassim Taleb rails against, as a matter of fact. Next time I'll pick "free form."


    Have you listened to any of Joe Ochman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    It's acceptable--I hated how they bleeped out Taleb's strong language, but then the written book has blanks inserted, like they used to do a hundred years ago with "strong" language. That's probably appropriate, since Taleb's a bit of a reactionary, and an appreciator of things historical and old, and that was an old style used in writing. So, not as bothered as I was at first. Joe Ochman didn't get in the way of the story, which is Taleb's, not Ochman's, so that's a good thing.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    That would be hard to do--it's not "ear candy." You have to be willing to think about the content, which makes a one sitting listen kind of pointless.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the few ideologically free non-fiction writings that can be found, which is really refreshing. Taleb also expects the reader to have no fear of ancient references, also refreshing. He says you can't use events in the past as a blind predictor of the future, also refreshing!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Jobling Oakton, VA USA 07-10-13
    Ian Jobling Oakton, VA USA 07-10-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Blinded by hatred of banks"

    There was much about this book that I enjoyed. For example, Taleb's points about the way that practice precedes theory and is often superior to it.

    However, at the end the book veered off into such a hackneyed rant against banks and corporations at the end that I've begun doubting everything that I had found convincing beforehand. How many times does it need to be said? In the TARP program, the banks were not bailed out at the expense of the taxpayers. Rather, the banks were given loans by the government that they subsequently repaid! In his hatred of the financial system, Taleb ignores this fundamental point.

    Then he launches into an embarrassingly crude attack on corporations. He talks about Coca-Cola as though it were forcing us to drink sugary drinks. Corporations, by his logic, are imposing an unhealthy lifestyle on the public entirely without their consent! Of course, only large corporations are to blame for this; small companies offer us healthy products. And on Taleb's reasoning we must abandon all marketing because it is akin to personal boasting.

    This is just crude, valueless slander of corporate capitalism, and it ruined my experience of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    davido84 06-25-13
    davido84 06-25-13
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    "All of the bad words are beeped out."
    What did you like best about Antifragile? What did you like least?

    This is a great book, and the performance is fine, but all of the 4 letter words are 'beeped' out. This is incredibly bizarre, and no other Audible book I've heard does this. Worse, the beeping is incredibly irritating. If Audible insists that we shouldn't hear bad words in this book, just mute the audio (don't worry, we can't read lips in an audio book). But don't use a loud, obnoxious BEEEEEEEP. The beeping pretty much ruins the whole experience.


    Any additional comments?

    The obnoxious beeping of the bad words is bizarre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Shapiro New England, USA 06-19-13
    Stephen Shapiro New England, USA 06-19-13

    247innovation

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    "Interesting Ideas But Could Be Half the Length"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It is long winded. Pontificating. Pompous. Righteous. I find these things very annoying and take away from the concepts. It feels as though he is trying to make others wrong rather than provide sound advice.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    I thought it was well read. For a book that went on and on, I felt engaged.


    Did Antifragile inspire you to do anything?

    I really do love the concept. It gets me thinking more than doing.


    Any additional comments?

    He has some excellent points. But they get lost in the noise. If there were a one or two hour abridged version, I suspect it would have even greater impact and be more useful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Photo and Music Guy Colorado USA 06-18-13
    Photo and Music Guy Colorado USA 06-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good topic, well read, could have been shorter!"
    Would you try another book from Nassim Nicholas Taleb and/or Joe Ochman?

    Taleb is brilliant and challenges conventional wisdom. I think reading a summary though would be just as effective as his full length books.


    What was most disappointing about Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s story?

    Publishers don't like to publish 30-50 page books as they are too short to sell. However this book feels like it could have been way shorter. The little stories and anecdotes all start to so obviously come to the same conclusion. He spends WAY too much time being defensive of his ideas. It doesn't feel like he's making a "defense" it feels like he is being defensive like an insecure teacher at times.


    What about Joe Ochman’s performance did you like?

    Joe did a solid job making technical stuff flow smoothly.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Kalus 06-11-13
    M. Kalus 06-11-13

    Jack of all Trades, Master of None

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great, until his conclusions"
    What did you love best about Antifragile?

    I think his description of the "State of the World" is quite good. It fails in it's conclusions though.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The "present day assessment" rang mostly true.


    What about Joe Ochman’s performance did you like?

    I like how he captures the voice of the author. It adds a nice familiarity to it.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    How someone I highly respect can still turn out to be deeply flawed. See next section.


    Any additional comments?

    More of a negative note here: Over the previous books I developed a huge respecte for Taleb. I found myself also nodding along quite a lot with what he described as the state of the world, but where he lost me was in his conclusions and interpretations.

    Just two reasons.

    He rightfully admires "the ancients" (Romans, Greek) for their philosophical accomplishment. Having read Lucrecius "The Nature of things" I was in similar awe and surprise. Having said that, to extend their philosophical accomplishments into that of modern science strikes me as ludicrous.

    The second thing is one specific example: He writes about how can't we know that eating three solid meals doesn't have any benefits (in comparison to the recent recommendation to "graze" instead of stuffing yourself three times a day). The problem with this argument is that the three meals a day are falling back onto the industrial age, when life and time started to be dominated by the clock, not human nature. This flies straight into the face of his own assertion that he doesn't eat anything that isn't at least 2000 years old (I could now ask why 2000 years? But that's just nitpicking) because everything since then is "tainted".

    I admit, it makes me a bit sad to have gotten the impression that Taleb is a bit of a Neo-Luddite.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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