Favourite book review

Here is a book review written by Michiko Kakutani1 of Antifragile. Her review is titled:

You Are All Soft! Embrace Chaos!2

Here is a bit of the juicy part:

Unfortunately he [Nassim Taleb] delivers such lessons with bullying grandiosity and off-putting, self-dramatizing asides. He boasts about being able to dead lift 330 pounds and about being an “an intellectual who has the appearance of a bodyguard.” He also boasts about uncovering ideas in the philosopher Seneca’s work that no other commentators have recognized.

Mr. Taleb is someone who once went to an emergency room with a broken nose and asked the doctor if he had any “statistical evidence of benefits from applying ice” to his nose, or if the application of ice were just a case of naïve interventionism — that is, the human need to “do something.” He’s someone whose home page reads: “Please refrain from offering honorary degrees, awards, listings in ‘100 most...’, & similar debasements of knowledge that turn it into spectator sport.”

This makes me want to read all of her reviews!

I really like the book she is referencing, but everything that she wrote in her review isn't untrue. Though I do not agree with her conclusions, I love how she structured her approach.

I never really take Nassim's boast's at face value, I think of them more as expressions of maniacal over-exuberance. He is constantly railing against book reviewers and editors because they don't like his table of contents and the general lack of obvious structure in his book. For this Michiko takes him to task with:

It’s a book that could have benefited enormously from some judicious editing.

Which again is not untrue, it would have made her job easier as a reviewer anyway, but I personally enjoy Taleb unedited.

Let's take a look at Taleb talking about book reviewers:

Other authors who have been gutted by this woman, have been known to hit back:

The late Norman Mailer, described Kakutani as "a one-woman kamikaze" in 2005, and said he didn't know what had "put the hair up her immortal Japanese ass" and that the only reason the Times didn't fire her was because she was "a twofer", being "Asiatic" and "feminist".3