Listen free for 30 days

  • The Black Swan, Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"

  • Incerto, Book 2
  • Written by: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Narrated by: Joe Ochman
  • Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (187 ratings)

1 credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
The Plus Catalogue—listen all you want to thousands of Audible Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks.
$14.95 a month plus applicable taxes after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for $43.86

Buy Now for $43.86

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Tax where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

The Black Swan is a stand-alone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, Antifragile, Skin in the Game, and The Bed of Procrustes.

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible”.

For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. In this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know, and this second edition features a new philosophical and empirical essay, “On Robustness and Fragility”, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book - itself a black swan.

Includes a bonus pdf of tables and figures.

Praise for Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The most prophetic voice of all.” (GQ)

Praise for The Black Swan:

“[A book] that altered modern thinking.” (The Times, London)

“A masterpiece.” (Chris Anderson, Editor-in-chief of Wired, author of The Long Tail)

“Hugely enjoyable - compelling...easy to dip into.” (Financial Times)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2010 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2018 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“Engaging.... The Black Swan has appealing cheek and admirable ambition.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne.... We eagerly romp with him through the follies of confirmation bias [and] narrative fallacy.” (The Wall Street Journal

The Black Swan changed my view of how the world works.” (Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate)

  “Idiosyncratically brilliant.” (Niall Ferguson, Los Angeles Times

What listeners say about The Black Swan, Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    143
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    113
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    105
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Worthy of a reread

this was an excellent book, and a much-needed corrective 2 our overconfidence in our own knowledge. the exposition was exceptionally clear and his polemical Style was extremely entertaining.

parts of tellabs social critique we're weaker or misguided, but his Central thesis was highly persuasive. I especially appreciated the essay and Technical discussion at the end of the book. this essay was added to the second edition and was not present in the original text.

this book stands out as one of the few texts worthy of a reread. this is not because the ideas presented were especially difficult, but rather because the illusion of knowledge is particularly difficult to dispel.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Very disappointing

I heard great things about this book and I love business books so I was looking forward to it. It was billed as a new outlook that explained why the financial markets would be different after 2008 than before. It turns out that it is basically just a guy that made a lucky call on the markets falling by using options. He was able to market himself and hype the story but beyond that there was nothing of value in the book. It will not teach you anything about the financial markets or how you should think about investing. It just is a self-appreciating account of a guy who made a lucky guess.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

amazing book

it was a fantastic experience listening to this book, although the first a few chapters were a little vague for me but once I understood the points Mr. Taleb making, I was blown away by them!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Prepare to be destroyed (and reborn)

At first it might seem walkey-talkey, but NNT walks his talk with rigorous math too.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

very interesting approach

it wasn't easy to follow the narrative and technical explanations, but when you push through, you see the final picture.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very powerful ideas on uncertainty.

Very interesting book. I just wish he didn't name drop so many people he disagreed with.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

NNT needs to get off his soap box

I picked up the book because of the topic and the good reviews about the insights the author has.

Well... I do believe the author has some important points to make, and his assertion that gaussian distributions are fallible and one should understand its limitations and be prepared for it. Unfortunately, the message get lost in the non-stop ranting and endless put down of the 'scientific establishment'. I don't know if he intentionally use the abrasive tone to attract the readers' attention; or that just the way he is. In either case, the result is probably 15 hours worth of ceaseless ranting; and 48 minutes of meaningful insight.

On the rare ocassion that he actually have something useful to say ... it was spent on explaining the problem. But what is the answer? The author did suggest that he does have solutions to mitigate these non-gaussian, black swan events. And then he went on bashing the scientific establishment and forgot to tell us what the solutions look like.

In the end, I was left with some hints of brilliant, and maybe even original, thoughts. But that got drown out by what an arrogant, self-absorbed, bitter man that have a bone to grind.

Very disappointed at the result.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

NNT is not for everyone

I have to re listen to this one and to read the physical book several times, because NNT's books are not easy to grasp on the first pass.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very thought provoking

Great book. Gave me a whole new perspective of looking at the world. After listening to this, I ended up buying the Incerto box set that contains 5 books including this one. Brilliant writing by a brilliant thinker.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Lots to recommend it

As someone in the business of research, I was of course interested in the technical bits. But it's a book with a story of sorts with some engaging characters (Fat Tony, Seneca) and anecdotes. Sometimes it's a history of philosophy and mathematics, other times it's a critique of the use of 'evidence-based' models in public policy development. (ouch, that kind of hit me where it hurts 😊). And then again, it describes a way of how to live your life, really ('Flaneur). It's a deep book, so I need to take a couple of aimless long walks, and read the PDF. 😊 On a more mundane note, really appreciated a text version.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-08-08

Interesting, but over the top

The book has many great points and is thought provoking in many ways. However, is difficult to get past Taleb's abrasive style of writing. It's very clear he is trying to be intentionally agitating by being completely dismissive of the entire disciplines like social science, economics, and even sometimes biology. I generally prefer authors who are careful and thoughtful with their criticism, so this book annoyed me at times. Still, it has many good points, mainly that bell curves have important limitations in predicting important outliers (although he repeats this point ad nauseam). I have trouble believing, as he asserts, that many high level scientists and speculators don't know about power law distributions or think their methods are clairvoyant. Worth the read if you can get over a lot of straw manning of fields. Taleb is capable of making unique and powerful points.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jenna Weisz
  • 2019-04-30

I regret listening to this audio.

so listening to this audio was quite a struggle for me. Not necessary because of the performance of The Voice narrator. Honestly I think he did a pretty good job dealing with the material he had. I found the author himself to be pompous and full of himself. Now not saying that some of the things that he was getting at wasn't useful. But this could have been summed up in a longer essay than a novel. I found the writing all over the place and made to be longer than necessary. I also felt that some of his examples where Cherry Picked at most. He seemed to attack everybody basically saying that they were all wrong and he was the only person right. So if you find yourself interested in some of the topic I would go ahead and get the book. Otherwise I would say stay away from this as much as possible. Also sorry for the novel I really just hated this book so much.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jussi Kari
  • 2019-11-23

For some reason, this book was applauded

I was told this is an insightful book.

Turns out this book contains one thought: that gaussian probabilities do not contain everything and that you should be prepared for what they don’t tell you.

Other than that, this book only seems to contain Taleb telling how Nobel winners are ”fraudsters” and ”phonies” and only him and his close friends ”get it”.

When I was 10, my dad told me it’s okay to be proud of what you have - but that you should never be a braggard. Taleb clearly didn’t get the memo. While he probably is very intelligent, he also seems like an annoying, insufferable prick.

Would have otherwise given just one star but Taleb does raise some good points so two stars it is.

The performance is solid, though.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jared M. Short
  • 2019-04-10

so cool!

I'm not a technical consumer but it was a fascinating read. I think I understood 50%.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brandon K. Kirkham
  • 2019-03-07

Anti-Statistics

The book poses a real challenge to the current paradigm of risk assessment and consequence prediction. The main idea is that most progress and catastrophes occur in unexpected leaps rather than small incremental changes. I’m still trying to figure out how this is useful to me beyond the awareness of this principle. I’ll get there...

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • S. Hagmüller
  • 2019-05-06

Messy and filled with redundancy

Never knew one could convey simple ideas in such a convoluted manner. 5 subtitles per chapter. Weird imaginary characters with stories going nowhere. No clear thread to follow throughout the book. Too bad.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Claire St. Hilaire
  • 2019-11-07

Unique, relevant, and perspective altering

This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys philosophy, is seeking greater self awareness, or is interested in understanding how to think about risk. Taleb has an incredible mind, a sharp wit, and a grounded approach to life. It is so refreshing to read a book rooted in complex thought and observation, that avoids the quagmire of insular academic thought.

The performance of Joe Ochman is well suited to the tone of the book. Between the writing style and the reading it really feels like you are on a long slow walk with Taleb as he passionately explains his life’s work to you.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Russell
  • 2019-05-02

Once a Cult Classic, Now Rising Paradigm

At this point NNT need no introduction.

Out of all his books, this may be the most essential to understanding a worldview that embraces globalization, but cautions against both globalism and reactionary nationalism. Though you will have to connect some dots to arrive at this conclusion.

Listen closely to characterizations of Extremistan and Mediocristan, the 'Triplet of Historical Opacity' and the fractal beauty of what has become known as "the long tail" of probability.

NNT is not only a successful investor, but a powerful renaissance mind falling in a long tradition of Mediterranean thinkers extending into the ancient world.

You won't regret this one!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Cameron Dziurgot
  • 2019-03-25

Could not finish.

Listen to books on drive in and home from work. The tone and attitude of this book is condescending and negative. Author seems like someone who walks around thinking about how much better he is than the strangers around him. Got through about 10% and couldn't make it any further.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Richard Chang
  • 2021-03-26

Did not enjoy this title...

I heard tons positive feedback regarding this title, and was hailed as a must read. However, I found myself forcing myself to get through it, and after getting halfway through 6hr+, i just couldn't do it anymore. It was an absolute bore to me, and seemed super repetitive. You are way better off just googling the black swan concept, and not having to worry about missing anything from the book. It has one major over arching concept, and 11 hrs of just useless content reaffirming it.

3 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • christopher bates
  • 2022-07-22

How did i just hear of this book?

I studied philosophy and then went to a great B-school for an MBA… i‘m pissed this book never came up… one of those books that changes the way you think about everything. Going to restart it now. It‘s dense, entertaining as hell, and challenges your world view. My world view lost…

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-11-11

An amazing point of view

I loved the way the message is delivered through the historical events. This is a precautionary tale for everyone who thinks that we mastered the risk. Loved it thanks. I would even join a seminar from the author after reading this!