Book Twenty Five 2014:
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
As I’ve said here before I love books that tilt the world slightly on its axis and cause me to look at things differently; this one is no exception.
Ostensibly a book about events that occur entirely outside of the range of what one would normally expect to happen (9/11, financial crashes, tsunamis, the fate of Lebanon in the 80s, Facebook) it also ranges widely across vast territory how the financial system works (he used to work on Wall Street) to the very art of predicting anything in *any* field of life and why doing that is usually a complete waste of time.
He goes to huge lengths to say that he makes no predictions about anything himself (he sees attempts to do that in all but the most tightly scientific fields utter nonsense) but that he wrote this book in 2007 and makes no small suggestion that the banking system is build on sand and is liable to be swallowed up at any moment does no harm to the rest of his theories. There’s a fair amount of overlap in places with the wonderful Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman as well, another book that is nothing short of brilliant if you’ve never stumbled across it.
If I have one small criticism it’s that there are sections of the book that are almost impenetrable and that I lightly skimmed over. I’m no genius, but I’ve read this sort of stuff all my life and am fascinated by pretty much everything, but parts of this are not for the man in the street like me…
Having said that, it’s head-opening in places, wide-ranging and will make you look at the world differently. Highly recommended.