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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) Paperback – January 28, 2014
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- Publisher : Random House Publishing Group; Reprint edition (January 28, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 544 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0812979680
- ISBN-13 : 978-0812979688
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 1.23 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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This book is more of the same, only worse.
From one paragraph to the next, odd “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” factoids and impenetrable/simplistic metaphors are thrown at you, with little pretense at logical sequence. (Taleb tries to explain away the lack of continuity by saying that he’s really writing four different books here, and that in fact, all his past books form a grand oeuvre which you must read the entirety of to appreciate.) Taleb pontificates - hands down the truth from his pulpit - on one subject after another; to underscore his erudition, every few pages he throws in a phrase in Latin or French that he then translates - for the benefit of the less-erudite-than-him readers - into English. It’s tiresome and even a bit sad, like hearing someone at a cocktail party trying to impress you with her social credentials.
The final takeaways? Embrace randomness and unpredictability. Be wary of over-regulation (obsessive attempts to prepare against the unpredictable). The French over-regulate and are successful but can’t in the end be considered to over-regulate because many of the French are really not French anyway [absolutely sic]. It is better to be poor and indifferent (have no goals) because then you cannot be harmed by life’s vicissitudes. If you don’t understand my point [implies Taleb] it’s because you’re stupid, and if you protest my inability to express a simple, clear, and understandable thought, I will just walk out on you [as he proudly recounted doing when a radio talk host asked him to explain something better].
In sum, this book is nothing but the random musings and rants of a windbag.
I wish there were a way to give more nuance when assigning starts to a review. 5 starts to what the book is about, 1 star to how is written.
This book, which introduces and describes the concept of antifragility, is pretty revolutionary. Few books have fundamentally changed the way I think about the world, and this is one of them. My understanding of risk and how to address it has shifted dramatically, and the application of the concepts discussed has yielded surprising results.
That being said, the author is as pretentious as they come. Expect a lot of fancy-pants language for no reason other than to show off, and off-topic stories to illustrate just how much better than the rest of mankind Taleb is.
For example, “We gave the appellation ‘antifragile’ to such a package; a neologism was necessary as there is no simple, noncompound word in the Oxford English Dictionary that expresses the point of reverse fragility.”
It is a frustrating read to say the least. It took me a couple months to slog through this book because of how frequently I wanted to punch Taleb in the teeth, but the content is 100% worth it.
I haven't read many reviews for this book. However, I am sure that there will be a few who will complain about the grammar and syntax Taleb uses when writing the book. While disconcerting at times, you have to look past it. I wouldn't say this about most any author. In a weird sort of way, the variation in grammar and syntax truly makes you more of an antifragile reader! You are more inclined to go back and re-read many of the passages; you are encouraged to take notes. And, like most any book which is worth it's salt, it deserves a second and a third reading to truly grasp the full meaning of what the author is trying to convey.
Top reviews from other countries
I tried to read it and stick with it - I genuinely did. But Taleb literally was repeating the same thing over and over again to the point I thought that there had been an error in printing. The author's disdain towards other academics and scholars using terms like the "Soviet-Harvard illusion" was quite off-putting and his use of "big-words-for-big-words-sake" really started to chafe.
Honestly, I think that the ideas presented in the book are fantastic and worthy of praise but his tone, hubris and diatribes against others made the book unreadable.
I've put it down and I won't pick it up again. What a shame.
In the current book he discusses the concept of anti-fragility, i.e. a feature of systems that benefit, rather than get harmed by unpredictability. There are lots of good points made and I certainly buy into the concept. We do tend to be fooled by randomness (pun intended) and do tend to discount rare events - much to our detriment.
Where the success of the book will depend on the disposition of the reader much more, is it's typically Taleb style. He is confrontational and that to an extent where quite some readers may be put off. While this does not bother me generally, I find that he actually belabored the point somewhat too much and that the book would definitely benefit from an abridgement to something like 300 pages. While I did not find any part of the book completely replaceable, the point does get a bit too repetitive after a while.
If you want to get much of the content in a less confrontational, and slimmer volume, I recommend you try A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits Of Disorder first. If, however you have enjoyed his previous work, do go for it by all means - he is much the same (perhaps even a tad more extreme) as always and the content is certainly worthwhile.