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.
©2012 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2012 Random House Audio
"[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)
Taleb needs a little humility. He is not always right. At least by random chance, he should be wrong occasionally. However, he clearly thinks that anyone who disagrees is an idiot. Even his attempts at humor were poor. Ultimately, I could not finish this book. I was hopeful that more of the logic seen in "Black Swan" would be in this book.
Not his fault. He had bad material.
The points made in this book are awesome and opens your mind up to a new perspective on life. Be prepared to look up a fair amount of words unless your vocabulary is impeccable!
Many before me have expressed how Taleb's self-importance arrogance, spiced with pompous obscure quotes has worked for him in the past. I forced myself to finish this book believing it must hold at least one "black swan" for me, but alas no it was just painfully mediocre. I thought "Fooled by Randomness" was an excellent original work and that the "Black Swan" was a good (but not excellent) extension to this. However this book has convinced me that Taleb had said all he has to say and has transitioned into writing fantasy: is it possible I misunderstood and this is Yevgenia’s failed 2nd book? If he is going to write on subjects in which he has no “know-how” then he really needs to research properly and not just plagiarize other books he has read in the library.
In short, Taleb has committed the cardinal sin he preached about so many others making the mistake of. This is especially grievous as he himself claims to be an expert in the mathematics of randomness. One does not start with a conclusion and scour the archives of data to support it at any cost. This book has sought to find any and every evidence to support the “antifragile” conclusion; no matter the quality, nor any rebutting evidence to these claims: bones are Not “antifragile”.
It's clear (at least to me) that Taleb is an expert in finance (or possibly discontinuities associated with financial markets) and has some insightful thoughts in this area; however in medicine (Nutrition is not medicine), physics, history and social behavior (not the randomness associated with behavior but study of the behavior) he is defiantly no expert and demonstrates that fact in this book.
To summerise with Taleb's own teachings, outside of his known domain he commits the same grievous errors as all other lay people; maybe he should listen to his own advice - when you have nothing to say then "stop being a writer".
I was introduced to the concept of "antifragile" in a blog post from the Art of Manliness.com. Loved it, and wanted more. However, I was dismayed to see that the audiobook was over 16 hours long. I tired to get through it, but it didn't happen. Ironically, the concluding chapter makes a very strong point that each major idea can be distilled into a few sentences....
Antifragility is a vital concept that I'm not sure has ever been articulated before--certainly not like this. The narrator adds to the book by making a work of erudition sound like it came from a bad part of town.
Taleb writes a clear and direct prose, something that might provoke certain people. To me it made his points easy to grasp and he argues well. He made me rethink a lot of things I have considered gospel up until kow.
I experienced spontaneous audible laughter at times. How refreshing to listen to truthfulness. This is one those books that I had to own the hard copy. It came yesterday. Taleb is a genius.
Nassim Taleb eloquently and thoroughly communicates one of life's most fundamental, yet obscured, principles. An intellectual adventure!
I may re-read this book once per year for the next 2 or 3 decades, or so...
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