The first thing I learned reading Black Swan, is that Nassim Taleb is highly intelligent, but at least twice as arrogant as he is intelligent. In the first few chapters alone, it is clear that his self-love is enough to make Narcissus blush. What is unclear in the first few chapters is how there is room enough in the book for both his ego and his grand idea (I think the swan is black because Taleb attempts at witticism and self-aggrandizing eclipse the idea, leaving the swan in near total shadow).
If I had read this book sooner after it came out, there might have been more value to it. If like me, you have read any one newspaper article about Black Swans or Fat Tails, and heard of things like confirmation and survivorship bias, there is nothing in this book for you but references to obscure works of french literature, anecdotal fictions about Italian traders and Russian authors, alongside a generous helping of Taleb’s noxious “smug”.
In a sentence: The Black Swan is a book about a man stroking his own ego through an autobiographical, rambling discourse about how he is that rare, brilliant person who can take other peoples ideas and research and act like he is the first to share them.