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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable - Nassim Nicholas Taleb This is a book about the perils of real life randomness that don't fit within neat distributions such as the bell curve. The author explains his insight in a wandering narrative spiced with enough personal autobiography, criticism of nobel laureates, and even fictional characters to hold the reader's interest. Through most of the book I was considering giving it 4 or 5 stars, but then toward the end of the book the author hurt his credibility by going overboard with his criticism of other economist. I think this book was rescued from obscurity by the coincidental quote included in a pre-publish review manuscript that appeared to predict the 911 attack. It included a quote of a French philosopher who said, " ... predicting something like that is like predicting when the World Trade Center will be hit by an airplane." (my paraphrased quote) The irony is that the point of the quote was that you can't predict things like that. Most reviewers took it as a prediction that came true. Thus the book became famous.