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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants [Kindle Edition]

Malcolm Gladwell
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,023 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Malcolm Gladwell, the #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative---and dazzling---book yet.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won.

Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland's Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms---all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

In the tradition of Gladwell's previous bestsellers---The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw---David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gladwell’s best-sellers, such as The Tipping Point (2000) and Outliers (2008), have changed the way we think about sociological changes and the factors that contribute to high levels of success. Here he examines and challenges our concepts of “advantage” and “disadvantage” in a way that may seem intuitive to some and surprising to others. Beginning with the classic tale of David and Goliath and moving through history with figures such as Lawrence of Arabia and Martin Luther King Jr., Gladwell shows how, time and again, players labeled “underdog” use that status to their advantage and prevail through the elements of cunning and surprise. He also shows how certain academic “advantages,” such as getting into an Ivy League school, have downsides, in that being a “big fish in a small pond” at a less prestigious school can lead to greater confidence and a better chance of success in later life. Gladwell even promotes the idea of a “desirable difficulty,” such as dyslexia, a learning disability that causes much frustration for reading students but, at the same time, may force them to develop better listening and creative problem-solving skills. As usual, Gladwell presents his research in a fresh and easy-to-understand context, and he may have coined the catchphrase of the decade, “Use what you got.” --David Siegfried

Review

When you read it, you feel like you can topple giants -- Jon Ronson I devoured it in a single reading, being a Gladwell addict for many years -- Richard E. Grant His most accessible book ... A Scheherazade for our time, talking to keep us going and make us think -- Gaby Wood Daily Telegraph His best yet ... intoxicating, powerful ... more socially and morally engaged than his previous work -- Oliver Burkeman Guardian A pleasure -- Tim Adams Observer Lovely ... as with most of Gladwell's books he had me at hello - the initial thesis is simply irresistible -- Leah McLaren Globe and Mail Truly intriguing and inspiring ... unforgettable -- Hector Tobar Los Angeles Times As always, Gladwell's sweep is breathtaking and thought-provoking ... I've long admired Gladwell's work -- Joe Nocera The New York Times Fascinating ... Gladwell is a master of synthesis. This perennially bestselling author prides himself on radical re-thinking and urges the rest of us to follow suit -- Heller McAlpin Washington Post David and Goliath readers will travel with colorful characters who overcame great difficulties and learn fascinating facts about the Battle of Britain, cancer medicine and the struggle for civil rights, to name just a few topics upon which Mr. Gladwell's wide-ranging narrative touches. This is an entertaining book -- Christopher F. Chabris Wall Street Journal What propels the book, like all of Gladwell's writing, is his intoxicating brand of storytelling. He is the master of mixing familiar elements with surprise counter-intuitions, and then seasoning with a sprinkling of scientific evidence ... Gladwell is a master craftsman, an outlier amongst authors -- Rob Brooks Huffington Post Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath, an energetic, counterintuitive exploration of why (and how) underdogs succeed, and how disabilities, traumatic childhoods, and other seeming lacks can sometimes trump power Guardian, Books of the Year 2013

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
379 of 413 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Makes An Underdog Succeed? October 1, 2013
By Jack
Format:Hardcover
Does having a disadvantage make you stronger in the long run? Malcolm Gladwell explores this and similar questions in his latest book. Like his previous works, Gladwell delves into the stories of many people (some famous, some not) to determine why some become wildly successful whereas others crash and burn. Are there key elements in their upbringing that push people to excel?

Two interesting observations revolve around dyslexia and the loss of a parent. Some of the most prominent people in the world are, surprisingly, dyslexic. Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, and Brian Glazer are three. A shocking 12 of the 44 U.S. Presidents, including George Washington and Barack Obama, lost their fathers when they were young. Gladwell explores the possibility that people who are faced with a major disadvantage can use it to propel them to heights they otherwise would not have achieved.

While this book is very thought-provoking, I must admit that I can't completely agree with all of it. I found some conclusions to be over-simplified. Even so, this an entertaining and worthwhile read. Gladwell fans will definitely appreciate it.

Readers of this book should also consider two others with similar themes. Gladwell's stories reminded me of my favorite recent memoir, Dr. Anthony Youn's In Stitches which explores how a young underdog overcame his insecurities to eventually become a successful physician. A fascinating story. The second book I recommend is Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success which examines what factors make some people succeed and others fail. A similar theme as "David and Goliath," this one looks at what intangibles contribute to one's success. It's a thought-provoking and fun read.
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362 of 403 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but Lacking Scientific Rigor October 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

"David and Goliath" is an interesting yet somewhat disappointing book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. Best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell provides many examples that range from the compelling to the dare I say feeble. That being said, the book is stimulating and it's never boring, it just lacked the brilliance that a book like his very own "Outliers" has. This provocative 320-page book is broken out into the following three parts: 1. The Advantages of Disadvantages (and Disadvantages of Advantages), 2. The Theory of Desirable Difficulty, and 3. The Limits of Power.

Positives:
1. Always engaging, provocative and a page turner. Gladwell is a gifted narrator.
2. Interesting subject, never boring. You never know what you are going to get from Gladwell. A great premise and title for a book, "David and Goliath".
3. Gladwell explores two main ideas through stories and keen observations. "What we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. And second, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong."
4. A recurring theme that resonates throughout the book, "There is an important lesson in that for battles with all kinds of giants. The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem."
5. I absolutely loved the story of Vivek Ranadive's basketball team and where Pitino's trademark strategy came from. "The whole Redwood City philosophy was based on a willingness to try harder than anyone else."
6. The provocative discussion on the correlation of class sizes and educational success.
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360 of 419 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gladwell did it again. October 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You might read some reviews that hate on this book.

They'll say they don't like his pseudo-scientific claims. They'll say he oversimplifies everything. They might even mention some "incidents" where they witnessed a deluge of "random" people who hated on this book... just a day after it's released.

But I believe those people have an agenda. An agenda where they decided they were going to hate this book before they even read it.

I'll explain.

When I buy a Malcolm Gladwell book, I don't expect in-depth analysis of hundreds of research studies. For that, I'll turn to someone like Eliot Aronson, Dan Ariely, or some new blood like Adam Grant. When I buy a Malcolm Gladwell book I expect to read compelling stories that bring a few pieces of key research to life. I also expect to be inspired by these stories. And in that regard, David and Goliath OVER DELIVERS.

#1 I loved the story of the impressionists

I won't ruin the story for you because I think you should buy the book and read it. But the short of it is this: When the impressionists were shunned from the high art society in France, they created their own art show. And their art became more popular. And today, their art is essentially priceless since the art they were showing in their 'offsite' art show totaled more than billion dollars worth of art.

What's funny about this story is the connection to Gladwell and today. Gladwell might get shunned by some nitpicking academics, and that's fine. He's not trying to break into the world of academia. He created his own world, and he's the guy selling millions of books.

This doesn't mean I hate academia though. I run a website called Social Triggers, and a podcast called Social Triggers Insider. My goal?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Loved it. Explained in a very clear way the obvious strengths of the perceived weak and the reasons for their successes.
Published 14 hours ago by Adam S. Gang
5.0 out of 5 stars Losts of inspiration in a tiny book that will help you crush a larger...
Well Malcolm Gladwell certainly has done it again.

If any small business owner or entrepreneur thinks, "Wow, I cannot compete against Google, or some other company... Read more
Published 20 hours ago by Bartley Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Nice leisure read
Published 1 day ago by Diana
5.0 out of 5 stars Effective resistance documented carefully and creatively
Malcolm documents effectively times truth and innovation speak to power. He offers a great review of incidences of effective resistance. Read more
Published 1 day ago by The Ethics Scholar
5.0 out of 5 stars ... my son for Christmas so don't know if he liked it or not
Gift to my son for Christmas so don't know if he liked it or not.
Published 1 day ago by Kathy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Nice read.
Published 1 day ago by Donyell Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars The U-shaped curve may apply here too…
Don't get me wrong, it's a very good book. But, after having read many other of Malcolm Gladwell's books, I find this one a bit less well supported in its conclusions. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Jim Merdler
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
Loved this book. However, the second half started to get too long. The first half was the best. The book itself suffers from the inverted U-curve, where the first half was great (I... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Hana J
4.0 out of 5 stars Good insights, but I didn't like quite as well as his previous books.
Good insights. I didn't like as well as previous books.
Published 2 days ago by D. Skau
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book but the book cover is different from the picture
Published 2 days ago by Jennifer Yang
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More About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. Prior to joining The New Yorker, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

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