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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.
47 of 47 people found this review helpful
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.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
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.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
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.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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?