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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

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (659 )
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  •  
    J Indianapolis, IN, United States 01-12-13
    J Indianapolis, IN, United States 01-12-13 Member Since 2003
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I want tobe antifragile. This make too much sense!"
    Would you listen to Antifragile again? Why?

    Yes, I need too.


    What other book might you compare Antifragile to and why?

    The Drunkards Walk
    Black Swan (of course)


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

    I must have. They all read better than I do.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    His overall strength of purpose and his wellingness to tell some "want to bees" to kiss off was good for him .


    Any additional comments?

    Listen and observe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Green Cupertino, CA, United States 01-07-13
    Green Cupertino, CA, United States 01-07-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Powerful ideas shared in a good story"
    Would you listen to Antifragile again? Why?

    I might listen to some parts that I want to 'go over' again. Most of the book is relative easy but some ideas worth a second visit.


    What other book might you compare Antifragile to and why?

    The black swan is similar in the way of telling the ideas using stories.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Ochman – was your favorite?

    Fat Tony from Brooklyn.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherwood Kamakura, Japan, Japan 01-05-13
    Sherwood Kamakura, Japan, Japan 01-05-13 Member Since 2006
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking"
    What made the experience of listening to Antifragile the most enjoyable?

    The definition of Anti-fragility and consideration of this new concept in a wide range of contexts.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The logical definition of a vastly under-appreciated concept followed by persuasive examples of the many contexts in which it apples, including human physiology, biology more broadly, investment decisions, and macro-economics.


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

    No.


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

    Robustness is not the opposite of fragility.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Hayward, WI, United States 12-01-12
    Larry Hayward, WI, United States 12-01-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    63
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "What A Dull Book!"
    What disappointed you about Antifragile?

    Almost impossible to apply the author's findings to a practical application.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Nassim Nicholas Taleb again?

    Ablsolutely Not!


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Extreme disappointment.


    Any additional comments?

    Total waste of my money!

    7 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corey ELK GROVE, CA, United States 10-08-13
    Corey ELK GROVE, CA, United States 10-08-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Cool idea but it made my head hurt"
    Any additional comments?

    I love Taleb’s idea of Antifragile. Embrace systems that will thrive in random events which would damage fragile ones. Taleb is clearly well educated in a variety subjects; I love his talent for finding the patterns of ideas shared by mythology, business, architecture, biology, mathematics, etc. I also enjoyed learning some new $50 words (e.g. “iatrogenics”).

    However, I am giving the Story a score of two because Taleb’s cool idea does not overcome his desperate need for an Editor … and if he had an Editor for this one, then he should have taken that Editor’s advice. This book is a train wreck of engaging ideas tangled in a run-on sentence of satirical, back-handed shots at his critics (i.e. “so called experts”). An Editor could help him distill out his great ideas and insights from this chaff of insults that he should save for his blog.

    I am giving the narrator Joe Ochman five stars for his Performance. He did an amazing job of capturing Taleb’s insulting, sometimes whiny, and slightly arrogant tone that flavored the text … at least the first half (I couldn’t take it anymore and gave up in the second part of the book).

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Encino, CA, USA 04-13-13
    Julie Encino, CA, USA 04-13-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Taleb makes same argument over and over again."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Taleb makes same argument over and over again. except this time he is more impressed with himself.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl Deprado NY 03-17-13
    Carl Deprado NY 03-17-13 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    63
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It wowed me"
    Would you listen to Antifragile again? Why?

    I have been a member for years. Out of all my reads this just floored me. I am not a sophisticated guy and if your aren't either you will love this Book.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 03-11-13
    Amazon Customer United States 03-11-13 Member Since 2012

    ZundapMan

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "Interesting treatment of an issue not often raised"
    What did you love best about Antifragile?

    I responded favorably to the decision not to bore general readers with the technical details of making statistical infrences about relationships when the underlying distributions are not assumed to be typical "normal" distributions. I would have liked to have seen more treatment of so-called cascade failure events and what engineering has come up with in their preventative strategies, but I suspect that is more about me than the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I appreciated the breadth of issues the author brought to bear.


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

    No opinion.


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

    I'm going to need to listen to this book again to get the full benefits it may have to offer. I went through it the first time too fast, and I did not spend time looking at the .PDF file containing graphics which was made available in support of the text. The next time through I'm going to give the technical issues a much closer "read."


    Any additional comments?

    I agree with other reviewers that at times the author spends a little too much energy boosting his own ego, either consciously, or more likely simply as an unconscious manifestation of his life experiences and the battles he alluded to in his career. I may even take the time to dig up some of the more collaborative scholarly papers referenced in this book and track down related research in my field of social organization which focuses on organizational design and organizational structures.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    drgardner Leesburg, VA, United States 01-13-13
    drgardner Leesburg, VA, United States 01-13-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    111
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    28
    0
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    Story
    "Tiresome, Angry, and Obvious"

    I'm willing to allow the possibility that some life-altering truth might be contained in Mr. Taleb's latest. But I'll never get to it -- at 50 minutes in, I'm throwing in the towel. In a book such as this, within an hour one might hope for some concrete discussion of the author's thesis. What we get here is little more than a screed, a polemic against academics, most of business, government -- actually, pretty much everybody except for Mr. Taleb. We're forced to endure a never-ending stream of straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks, delivered with a ceaseless contempt that is wearying -- and a bit disturbing. On this point, Mr. Ochman shines -- the author's contempt and anger are unflinchingly delivered.

    The thesis that emerges -- to the extent it is allowed to -- seems to be that complex systems behave in unpredictable ways, and that efforts to micromanage said systems will inevitably, over time, produce massive failures. Conversely, left to their own devices, unfettered by the hands of bureaucrats, such dynamic systems will prove successful. Oh, and fragile things tend to be, well, fragile.

    Or something.

    Who do I see about getting my credit back?

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ninos Skokie, IL, United States 01-10-13
    Ninos Skokie, IL, United States 01-10-13 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    14
    Overall
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    Story
    "I Love the Book"

    If you are a CEO, Entrepreneur, successful person or have not made it yet, then I don't know what words to use to convince you to read this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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