The Black Swan

Let’s Make it Clear

Yes, I know, you are thinking of The Black Swan movie. Well, to me, it was the other way around, when someone mentioned the movie, this book came to mind. The Black Swan I am about to talk about has nothing to do with the classic story, nor does it relate to the movie.

Lebanese Pride

I was scanning the business section at the bookshop when I stumbled upon The Black Swan. I felt intrigued by the success it had gained internationally, and so, took a deeper look. The Black Swan seemed like a good book, even more so, when I read its author’s name: Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Yes, you have guessed it right, he was Lebanese.

Thus, I happily bought The Black Swan, and, happily, I dragged it around in my bag, marketing it to anyone and everyone I met “hey, did you hear about The Black Swan?” Somehow, no one cares to listen any further when you talk about a book, no matter how good it is… Until you mention that the author is Lebanese “seriously? men el koura?” …ok, they tend to miss the point!

The Black Swan

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Topic

Anyhow, this book revolves around the “Impact of the highly improbable” a concept that puts light on the failings of supposedly reliable sources such as stock predictions, highly esteemed bankers, Nobel-winning economists among others.  Our dear Lebanese author points out that no one can accurately predict the future nor explain the past, without giving alternative solutions. He brings forth what he labels  “black swans”: highly consequential but unlikely events, the exception to the rule that makes the entire chain of thinking flawed.

The Success

Published in 2007, right before the global financial crisis, this book gained momentum after the global financial collapse, as it was marketed as though Taleb had predicted the crisis, pulling this book up to the top of the book charts, becoming the highest selling non-fiction book on Amazon for 2007! PS. It also got featured in Harvard Business Review *big fan*

My opinion: Great reasoning and flawless thoughts meet with an entertaining delivery…  Sadly, it got disappointing as the arguments were mentioned over one-too-many times. However, someone needed to put those statisticians back into place; and Taleb has that down to an art. This is a good read from a great thinker.

About youmny


  1. Yes, it’s amazing the ability of an author’s name to influence your choice. I kept coming back again and again to the black swan when I was browsing for a new book to read in Amazon. And I’m pretty sure it was the author’s name that kept drawing me back to it..

    I’m glad you liked it, maybe I should get it after all…

  2. Marie

    So let me get this straight.. The movie is not related to the book?

  3. Cool! I’m reading Fooled By Randomness (very slowly) right now, I’m getting Black Swan after I’m done with it. I am totally with this author’s school of thought.

  4. Mustapha

    True Marie 🙂 The book is completely unrelated, the only thing they have in common is the title..

  5. Marie

    Strange.. Am gonna check both soon nchalah 🙂

  6. Gilly, I have read all of his books and many of his articles. Do yourself a favour and skip his latest: “The Bed of Procrustes”. It is terrible. Donate the money to your favourite charity instead.

    youmny, Mr Taleb did not predict the crisis, if he did then it would not have qualified for being a black swan 🙂

  7. 🙂 i never said he did. I said “it was marketed as though Taleb had predicted the crisis”; if you pay attention on the categories, it was not included in “the topic” section, but in “the success” section 😉
    The book got a lot of media coverage because of the crisis, and it kind of piggybacked on it… (I am sorry I had to mention this, I am quite a marketing freak)

  8. OH

    I thought the first half of this book is brilliant. It was very enjoyable to read. Half-way, though, you realise that the books gets repetitive. In Taleb’s own words: “people say I’m a single idea guy.” That’s very true. I thought there was a bigger problem, though: a solid critique of Black-Scholes is refreshing, but lacking when you are not presenting a clear alternative.

  9. Pingback: Fooled By Randomness « The Cube

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