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Extended Audio Sample Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,910 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb Narrator: Joe Ochman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the writer of The Black Swan once again presents us with an interesting and original theory in Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. In The Black Swan, Taleb argued that certain large-scale, improbable events such as WWI cannot be predicted. As human beings, we keep trying to figure out what will happen in the future based on what's happening now, but the narrative keeps changing and fools us all.

In Antifragile, he suggests that there are certain things that are the opposite of fragile. They're not merely robust or resilient because this would mean that they take negative impacts but survive through them. Antifragile things don't just survive negative impacts; they grow and benefit from them. He gives several examples of this kind of thinking which applies in people's personal lives as well as in society as a whole.

Taleb points out that the actions of overprotective parents can result in a child actually becoming weaker rather than stronger, and patients who are constantly visiting the doctor can end up being more sickly. If you look at the larger picture, a banking system with many small banks turns out to be stronger or "antifragile" when compared to one big bank. From this point of view, small is often better and more resilient than big. Whereas a tree may get uprooted in a storm, grasses survive because they can bend in the breeze.

What you end up taking away from Taleb's book is a healthy tendency to take manageable risks, try many new things and generally enjoy the chaos that is a part of life.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American who was born in Lebanon to a physician and oncologist and a researcher in anthropology. His family has played a prominent role in Lebanese politics, with his grandfather and great-grandfather being deputy Prime Ministers. He attended the University of Paris where he got his Bachelor's and earned an MBA at the Wharton School at UPenn. Then he returned to Paris and got his Ph.D. in Management Science. He has taught at Oxford University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He has also worked as a Wall Street trader and a hedge fund manager.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world.

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. 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 loud and clear.

Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.

Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Trenchant and persuasive . . . Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds. . . . You finish the book feeling braver and uplifted. New Statesman
  • Antifragility isn’t just sound economic and political doctrine. It’s also the key to a good life. Fortune
  • At once thought-provoking and brilliant. Los Angeles Times
  • [Taleb] writes as if he were the illegitimate spawn of David Hume and Rev. Bayes, with some DNA mixed in from Norbert Weiner and Laurence Sterne. . . . Taleb is writing original stuff—not only within the management space but for readers of any literature—and . . . you will learn more about more things from this book and be challenged in more ways than by any other book you have read this year. Trust me on this. Harvard Business Review
  • By far my favorite book among several good ones published in 2012. In addition to being an enjoyable and interesting read, Taleb’s new book advances general understanding of how different systems operate, the great variation in how they respond to unthinkables, and how to make them more adaptable and agile. His systemic insights extend very well to company-specific operational issues—from ensuring that mistakes provide a learning process to the importance of ensuring sufficient transparency to the myriad of specific risk issues. Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of PIMCO, Bloomberg
  • Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining. The Economist
  • A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives. Newsweek
  • Revelatory . . . [Taleb] pulls the reader along with the logic of a Socrates. Chicago Tribune
  • Startling . . . richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides . . . I will have to read it again. And again. Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Rick | 2/19/2014

    " Provocative. Full of insight and strong opinion. A stimulating read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Dustin | 2/16/2014

    " It was an okay book. Taleb threw in curse words for shock value (I think) but at least he didn't use them too often. At least he provided a way to look at the possibility of black swans, which he failed to do in his last book. Combining the two books and shrinking the number of words would have made a better book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Joanne Peterson | 2/13/2014

    " Thought provoking, changing approach on risk management to making things (in my case application systems) antifragile. Favorite quote from this book, which has become a mantra of sorts ... "absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Daniel DeLappe | 2/7/2014

    " Great book. Almost as good as the Blackswan. Will have to re-read Blackswan and this one again. A lot of information that takes time to digest. Worth as many reads as it takes. A whole different way of looking at life and it's mechanics. "

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