Skip to Main Content

Listen To An Excerpt

0:00 /

About The Book

Written by a veteran Wall Street Journal reporter, this is a fascinating and “closely observed chronicle of the storm-chasing edgelords of finance and the critics with whom they clash” (The New York Times)the billion-dollar traders and crisis predictors who strive to turn extreme events into financial windfalls.

There’s no doubt that our world has gotten more extreme. Pandemics, climate change, superpower rivalries, cyberattacks, political radicalization—virtually, everywhere we look there is mayhem bearing down on us, putting trillions of assets at risk.

And at least two factions have formed around how to respond. In Chaos Kings, Scott Patterson depicts how one faction, led by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, bestselling author of The Black Swan, believes humans can never see the big disaster coming. In their view, extreme events—so-called Black Swans—while inevitable, will always catch us by surprise. In 2007, Taleb’s longtime collaborator, Mark Spitznagel, launched the Universa hedge fund, which would go on to make billions protecting investors against unforeseen chaos in the market.

A second faction, which relies on complex formulas, believes looming chaos can be detected. Chief among these risk prognosticators is Didier Sornette, a colorful French mathematician who enjoys riding his motorcycle at speeds in excess of 170 miles per hour. When Sornette looks out from what he calls his Financial Crisis Observatory in Zurich, Switzerland, what he sees are Dragon Kings—punishing events that are unlikely to occur but have probabilities that can be predicted…and defended against.

Which faction is right? All of our financial futures may depend on the answer. “Detailed yet accessible, this will appeal to fans of Michael Lewis’s The Big Short” (Publishers Weekly).

About The Author

Photograph by Stephen Voss

Scott Patterson has been a reporter for more than two decades, mostly at The Wall Street Journal in New York City, Washington, DC, and London. His 2010 New York Times bestseller The Quants was about the rise of mathematical traders and their near destruction of the financial system. His second book, Dark Pools, which exposed how high-frequency trading had rigged the stock market, was lauded by a pantheon of financial writers. A winner of the Loeb Breaking News Award, Patterson has made frequent appearances in the media, including on CNBC, The Daily Show, and Fresh Air. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and son.

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (June 6, 2023)
  • Runtime: 9 hours and 13 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797161044

Browse Related Books

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this reader: Eric Yang