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Publisher's Summary

Maverick thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb had an illustrious career on Wall Street before turning his focus to his black swan theory. Not all swans are white, and not all events, no matter what the experts think, are predictable. Taleb shows that black swans, like 9/11, cannot be foreseen and have an immeasurable impact on the world.
©2007 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2007 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews

"[Taleb] administers a severe thrashing to MBA- and Nobel Prize-credentialed experts who make their living from economic forecasting." ( Booklist)"The hubris of predictions - and our perpetual surprise when the not-predicted happens - are themes of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's engaging new book....It concerns the occurrence of the improbable, the power of rare events and the author's lament that 'in spite of the empirical record we continue to project into the future as if we were good at it.'" ( The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Judd Bagley on 05-27-09

Worth it in the end...I think.

I spent most of my time with this book cursing the author for his ego and inability to get to the point.

Yet, I stuck with it until the end.

That's because the story Taleb tells is fascinating, relevant, and probably worth the mediocre job he does telling it.

And he really does do a mediocre job.

I recommend this book, but also recommend looking for an abridged version first.

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47 of 47 people found this review helpful

By Douglas on 02-28-08


I have mixed feelings about the book. It is very repetitive, and approaches its thesis from many angles. Yet, it is a very interesting subject matter.

The reading of the book is good, although someone who is not familiar with the mathematics may have trouble following the tables read aloud in the final chapters.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Peter on 12-05-08

A magazine article posing as a book

I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, it was way too long for the very simple message that the author tries to convey. The book is split into four sections - by the end of the first section it was a 5-star triumph, after the second section it had dropped to a passable but somewhat repetetive 4-star text, but by the end of the book it had collapsed to a teetering-on-3-star irritation. As a driving listener, by the time the books last paragraphs are being squeezed out, I was fighting the compulsion to drive into a hedge, just so the noise would stop.

The reader also conveyed the impression that the author was intensely arrogant and self-satisfied, which put me off somewhat.

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22 of 23 people found this review helpful

By Keith on 12-23-12

Best left unread in Umberto Eco's library

The author recommends leaving many books unread in the library. This should probably be one of them. The style is arrogant, condescending with frequent personal attacks on those he disagrees with. His idea that extreme unpredictable events occur, are often of enormous significance, need to be considered and are routinely ignored is a point worth making and elaborating. The first part of the book explains this idea at a length that sometimes becomes tedious. He then goes on a tirade against use of statistics. But instead of explaining how stats are used badly he launches an attack on the tools themselves, particularly the Normal distribution, not its use but the tool itself as if it were evil incarnate. I thought that maybe he did understand something about the mathematics he was ranting against although he so often seemed to get it wrong but gradually changed my mind as his interpretations became more misleading. What underlies his apparent hatred for Carl Frederick Gauss is not clear but I gave up with any sympathy for his approach when he started attacking the Uncertainty Principle as not relevant because (he says) it is Gaussian. He litters the book with the names of famous people, many of them mathematicians, he appears to adore Benoit Mandelbrot and Henri Poincare but oddly enough not Rene Thom. I found the book quite objectionable not because I disagreed with it or because of its style but because it has so much disinformation; this is presumably intentional as the author tells us early on that information is nearly always bad for us. If there is an abridged version of the book, cut down to less than fifty pages it might be worth reading, otherwise give it a miss.

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10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Cosmin Florescu on 12-03-17

Pointless illogical and contradictory

The book is essentially the author ranting about how smart he is and how stupid experts in their respective fields are. He spends quite a few words letting you know exactly how smart he is.

He rails against current risk mitigation models incessantly by correctly identifying that they don't work particularly in regard to extreme events. He fails to identify what would happen if these models were discarded and falls for a logical trap that he rants against ie ignoring the information you aren't aware of.

I feel the entire book be summarised by the fact that unexpected stuff happens and this can have profound effects on the world. We can't model for it and people who try to predict the future particularly in finance are kidding themselves.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

By Anonymous User on 08-21-17

Pragmatic concept deluvered in an arrogant message

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Over worded, antagonistic and arrogant approach to explaining the concept. Had to sort through a lot of hot air to home in on the main points of the theory.

Would you be willing to try another book from Nassim Nicholas Taleb? Why or why not?

In a short book... Maybe. But not a full length like this

Have you listened to any of David Chandler’s other performances? How does this one compare?


Could you see The Black Swan being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?


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