July 21, 2008
The Black Swan, by Nicolas Nassim Taleb
Posted by David Zaring

This book refuses to come out in paperback, so I plunked down hardcover cash for it and read it on a plane to a foreign land. It’s quite good, and you can basically get the point via the first 50 pages – here’s a couple of blogospheric reactions. But as a business bestseller, which it is, it takes the cake for being non-businessy. Taleb has the prose style of Nietszche, with wit, aphorisms, plenty of polemics, and one page long subsections. When is the last time you read a Who Moved My Cheese with a chapter titled “Living in the Antechamber of Hope”? And a series of subtitles (that do not conform to the actual subtitles he ends up using in the text, btw) such as “How to avoid watercoolers – Select your brother in law – Yevgenia’s favorite book – What deserts can and cannot deliver – On the avoidance of hope – El desierto de los tartaros – The virtues of slow motion.” 

Golly. Taleb attacks business school professors at every turn for using statistical models unattuned to the importance of the highly unexpected, which for him explains everything. But he’s a Wharton graduate, so we nonetheless take full credit, etc.

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