The Black Swan

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb,

Book cover of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Book description

The most influential book of the past seventy-five years: a groundbreaking exploration of everything we know about what we don’t know, now with a new section called “On Robustness and Fragility.”

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive…

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. (learn more)

Why read it?

4 authors picked The Black Swan as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Taleb’s central idea is that it is impossible to predict the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable outlier events. His corollary is that we need to focus on building resiliency vs. better prediction capabilities. This notion of creating resilient organizations is central to our book but one which I see playing out over and over again as we experience wave after wave of disruptive, and seemingly improvable, events. 

From Jonathan's list on responding to disruption and uncertainty.

I’m listing this book first because it is the most important, by far. An essay on Taleb by Malcolm Gladwell titled Blowing Up introduced me to Taleb’s way of thinking. It was a revelation, connecting many hazy thoughts I had swirling in my head. If you want to understand Strong Towns thinking, start with Black Swan.

From Charles' list on thinking like a Strong Towns advocate.

This huge bestseller is a trailblazer on many levels. For one, the author has a keen sense of humor and relates his theories to his history growing up in Lebanon. Taleb is in my opinion one of the smartest people on the planet. He breaks new ground in the analysis of risk by explaining and expanding on the concept of fractal geometry and how it relates to what we know and don’t know about risk. I recommend you read this and all of Taleb’s books.

I read this book after I wrote Petrarch’s War, it was recommended to me by an economist. I felt like Taleb was speaking to me directly. It is clearly written and emphasized the role of Black Swan events in moving history and events along. As a professional historian, and especially an economic historian, I found his argument very compelling—and this was before COVID 19, the ultimate Black Swan. Taleb rails—in often humorous but always intelligent ways- about the limits of predicting events based on the past, and how the human mind is set up to do just…

Want books like The Black Swan?

Our community of 7,000+ authors has personally recommended 10 books like The Black Swan.

Browse books like The Black Swan

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Lebanon, economic history, and stock market?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Lebanon, economic history, and stock market.

Lebanon Explore 16 books about Lebanon
Economic History Explore 36 books about economic history
Stock Market Explore 32 books about stock market