• by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Narrated by Joe Ochman
  • 16 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a book on how some things actually benefit from disorder.
In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem, and in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what Taleb calls the "antifragile" is actually beyond the robust, because it benefits from shocks, uncertainty, and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension. The antifragile needs disorder in order to survive and flourish.
Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is immune to prediction errors. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is everything that is both modern and complicated bound to fail? The audiobook spans innovation by trial and error, health, biology, medicine, life decisions, politics, foreign policy, urban planning, war, personal finance, and economic systems. 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 heard loud and clear.
Extremely ambitious and multidisciplinary, Antifragile provides a blueprint for how to behave - and thrive - in a world we don't understand, and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand and predict. Erudite and witty, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: What is not antifragile will surely perish.


What the Critics Say

"[This] is the lesson of Taleb...and also the lesson of our volatile times. There is more courage and heroism in defying the human impulse, in taking the purposeful and painful steps to prepare for the unimaginable." (Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point)
"[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne." (The Wall Street Journal)
"The most prophetic voice of all.... [Taleb is] a genuinely significant philosopher...someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his ideas alone." (GQ)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Self aggrandizing anti-intellectual polemic

I really wanted to like this book. I enjoyed "Fooled by Randomness" and "The Black Swan". I'd forgotten how arrogant and self-important Taleb is by the time I purchased this book. In the other two books, interesting thoughts and data made the arrogance tolerable. After three or four chapters of this book, I had to give up.

I'm the *FIRST* one to be excited by discovering that the "conventional wisdom" is wrong. It means new and interesting thoughts and wider future possibilities, and I've got a perverse attraction to such things. But I don't - not for one minute - believe that the researchers that accept the "conventional wisdom" are fools or idiots. I can believe someone has drawn the wrong conclusions, yet still believe that they are intelligent people of good will and intent. I've been wrong myself, so I understand that it is possible to do so - be wrong, that is - without being an idiot, a fool, or mendacious and malicious.

The concept "I understand, but disagree" is completely foreign to Taleb's mindset. He asserts repeatedly that those who disagree with him are fools and simpletons. He spends more time deriding them than he does illustrating his evidence. He often substitutes anecdotal evidence as authoritative, then cherry-picks research to support the idea he's chosen. This doesn't mean the idea is *wrong*; it means that it doesn't provide the necessary evidence to choose it over other possible explanations. I don't mind the occasional well-placed, witty jab at one's intellectual opponents in the arena of ideas, but Taleb's incessant sniping at everyone from "academics" (which he speaks of with a decided sneer) to "bankers" (which he speaks of equally sneeringly) grates on my nerves after a while. "All right, Mr. Taleb, I get it. You don't like academics or bankers, nutritionists, cardiologists, fitness scientists, etc. Can we get past this now?"

I hope someone else repackages these ideas in a more palatable package. If they're as earthshaking as Taleb thinks they are, it won't be long. Until then, I guess I'll be behind the curve, as this is unreadable.
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- J. S. White

Some good ideas, smart guy, not smart as HE thinks

As a longtime reader of Taleb, I find him at best mostly bracing, sometimes head-turning with new twists of ideas, sometimes charmingly abrasive. He can be like a bright, independent-thinking pal to spend a walk with (and I walk with books mostly). This book is worth it on that level. There are important ideas here which the herd misses, probably to its ultimate regret. But plenty of time is spent here with ideas not as new and revolutionary as he touts them as, and of course the self-absorbed cheap-shot attacks on straw-man "academics," etc. Why spend so much time attacking mediocrities in that corner of the world? It gets repetitive, and that's where (despite his protestations) a SMART editor (unlike, again, the mediocre straw-man editors he criticizes) would come in handy. There seems to be a framing effect, a saliency bias, Mr Taleb is brilliant but very wrapped up in his world of airport luggage, dinners, academics, with a certain adolescent resentment about elements of it. I feel sometimes like I'm trapped in an airport luncheon with him and his loathsome dull academics, as he prattles on.
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- Phil O.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-27-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio