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Showing 1-10 of 682 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 933 reviews
on June 4, 2017
This is the type of book which truly requires some introspection and reflection on your part. You cannot take this at face value and read it truly as a work of nonfiction. While you are reading, you must imagine how antifragility and all its domains work in your particular life and lifestyle. As Taleb relates at the end of his book, look around you – what is fragile and antifragile? What likes volatility; what dislikes uncertainty? And do you yourself like variation and disorder? That means you are truly alive.

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.
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on March 14, 2017
A true gem that reflects the flaws of modern thinking, forcing the reader to view instead the ancient vision of wisdom that comes from via negativa, a method of reducing uncertainty by removing that which is fake, flawed or fluff.

Breathtaking in its delivery, this book cannot be digested in a single session and must be re-read time and again to assimilate all its valuable nuggets of truth.
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on February 8, 2013
First of all, read the book. Whether you agree with Taleb or not, he has here a serious critique of serious things.
Be prepared for a bit of a slog - the 5 stars is for the significance of his ideas, not his literary talent. Imagine striking up a conversation at an airport bar with a very smart, slightly drunk aristocrat who grew up in a war-torn Lebanon, returning from a conference full of people he considers spoiled and irresponsible Westerners. Press record. That's how the book reads.
And that image in my head helped me enjoy the book. Taleb is utterly pissed off by an economic and political ruling class that he sees as oblivious to the fragility of the systems they are creating, and so to the catastrophes they are setting us all up for. The book is less a reasoned arguments than an impassioned rallying cry for people to stop drinking the cool-aid of economic and social quick fixes, attempts to overly-isolate people from the natural vicissitudes of life as well as from the consequences of their own actions. We learn and grow from the stressors of life ( up to a point), and this is how we become " antifragile".
What I find especially refreshing is that this thesis really doesn't come across as being either liberal or conservative - Taleb isn't operating along that axis. He is arguing for us to re-value simplicity in systems, learning from and trusting our experience, taking responsibility for our actions, and being "heroic" in the classical sense of working for (and perhaps sacrificing oneself for) the good of others. It is a deeply traditional view, balancing the individual with society and with nature.
Now be warned, this all comes at you in a somewhat inebriated tirade that bounces all over the map, from the mouths of Brooklyn bankers and (occasionally untranslated) classical writers, and illuminated by episodes from Taleb's globe-trotting life that can sometimes get a bit stale. But that's exactly how you have to hear it - the style is intentionally over-the-top and excessive, the "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" of a former economic insider. But he has the saving graces of a sense of humor and a deep historical sense, that commands your respect more fully than just another pissed-off Fox New pr CNBC commentator with an axe to grind.
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on September 11, 2014
Every so often I read a book that changes one of my strongly held opinions, and this is one of them.

This book answers the question "Why do individual, central, and global banks inevitably collapse, losing all of their historical profits, literally overnight, while for restaurants it is usually only individual restaurants fail. Why has there never been a global restaurant melt-down?" The answer to this question, when asked about many different domains, is probably more important to you than you think.

In Antifragile, Taleb made me aware of several cognitive biases that made me hold contradictory beliefs in different domains. For example, I believe that collaborative, distributed, decision making is the best way to run the internet - both technologically and policy wise. Yet I strongly supported the ever growing executive powers of the EU, believing that the individual countries governments are basically corrupt and easily corrupted. So removing the power to decide on the Irish economy from local (and international) lobbyists with hidden agendas, able to wield undue influence on the government, and putting that power into the hands of EU bureaucrats with no bias seems to make sense. Yet, this is exactly why people in governments are so easily corruptible - it is easy to lie to, and steal from, people whom they don't know, and will probably never meet in person. And easy to move numbers on a spreadsheet and justify sweeping socio-economic hardship if all you are looking at is numbers, not real individual people that you personally know. If you are the local mayor of a small village, then you have to look your victims in the eye, and will be caught out much sooner. So - in fact, city states make much more sense - historically they performed much better than countries, and the modern equivalent of the loose alliance between small practically independent regions in Switzerland works today (and has weathered the storms of major economic collapses profitably over the last hundred years) . So small local government is Antifragile (if petty and boring) while central governments, and central banks, (though not boring, but still petty on a much more damaging scale) make systems fragile - as the recent economic crashes have yet again proven.

Read this book to become aware of societal, and probably your own, biases. Knowing where your thinking is too much influenced by nonsense "accepted wisdom", and which "old wives tales" are actually valid heuristics that should be more broadly applied, may not change the world, but might make your life a bit better. Apply it to your business to become resilient and more profitable when the next calamity strikes your industry or economy - instead of following the lemmings over the inevitable recurring fiscal cliff.

So read this book. Today. Really!
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on June 30, 2015
Like many have pointed out this is an aggravating book, from an author fully committed to a very particular position. For anyone who has read some philosophy and really was taken with it this book will be frustrating. On the one hand the idea of investing, working towards systems that are not just dynamic equilibriums but adapt and become more stable, better able to handle stress makes absolute sense. The problems I faced while trying to get through this book were the lack of examples. The author makes claims without providing evidence, as though we're supposed to take his ideas at face value, and constant need to poke his fingers at theoreticians/intellectuals. I believe that mind experiments, computer modeling and other such theoretical work is absolutely essential to successfully provide insight into complex issues. The author doesn't appear to appreciate this type of planning/prep-work. Instead the notion of small changes applied to the system is his idea of the only reasonable testing that is possible. This is due to the concern that what we care about is too complicated to know the outcome from any particular change, which is simply a consequence of a characteristic of such black swans being too complicated, and time sensitive for modeling. There are other ideas surrounding his metaphor of a black swan, a catastrophe that causes change, and to be honest a full review of his work would require several pages.

My summary is simply his acerbic biting writing style gets in the way of several ideas containing a good amount of novelty and practical use. That is worth a read but don't expect to agree with him for more than 80% of it, at least that was my experience.
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on March 13, 2017
Talib provokes thought because he spends 300 days a year alone and thinking.

Most of us squeeze our ideas into someone else's "model" and we receive awards, but often the knowledge is dated and narrow.

Learning how to think is the challenge of ours times and maybe the battle of the century as traditionalist hunker down to protect the status quo and the progressive thinkers continue the phrase that is the bane of all conservative thinker, "what if things were better for all".
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on December 5, 2015
Antifragile is one of the best books I've read in the last 20 years. Taleb brings to light many vital truths and principles that can lead to a deeper life experience if followed. Albeit a bit "deep" and repetitive, Tale does a great job getting his points across. We learned many of these principles in Chiropractic Philosophy 101 and although for some reason Taleb doesn't understand or acknowledge that many of his principles are vitalistic in nature and completely support the principles underlying the "natural wellness revolution" that is increasingly sweeping the U.S. Antifragile is a MUST READ for anyone with an ethical or moral fiber in their body. A new "manifesto" for global honesty.
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on April 12, 2013
I can deal with the author being a self-important ass, but this book is almost completely anecdotal and non-rigorous, lazily researched, poorly footnoted, and spends a couple hundred pages going on about a pretty simple concept that should take 30 seconds to explain. It's baby-level complex systems theory dressed up with a bunch of forced classical literature and pop culture references (and a big dollop of self-aggrandizement). Congrats to Mr. Taleb for throwing together something people are willing to pay for, but don't waste your money.
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on November 2, 2014
Very good book,

I usually don't hash out five stars to books but this one is well earned. The author changed my life about my approach in relations to three things.

1) Business - You have to build the structure of your business in a way that makes it anti-fragile. Build redundancies and keep sizes small.
2) Decision Making - When making decisions, ask yourself are the results concave or convex. In other words, do the results from taking this choice yield more upside or downside?
3) The barbell strategy - Strategize the relevant domains in your life as follows: Take extreme safety on one end, and extreme risk taking in the other. The middle way is not always the golden way.

Probably the biggest lesson I've learned from this book is to provide for the worst, and let the best take care of itself which beforehand, I used to do the very opposite. I've also picked up fasting after reading this book, author did a very good job at explaining its benefits.

Thanks Taleb.
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on April 21, 2017
This is not a spiritual book. Being a Christian I read many spiritual books. But somehow this book has challenged me deeper than many spiritual books to truly face the many hidden lies that we subconsciously accept - or maybe that we try to tell ourselves was subconscious when, in fact, we know deep inside that something is not right. Truth is powerful. But it needs heroes.
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