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370 of 403 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Makes An Underdog Succeed?
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...
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355 of 395 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but Lacking Scientific Rigor
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...
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370 of 403 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Makes An Underdog Succeed?, October 1, 2013
This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (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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355 of 395 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but Lacking Scientific Rigor, October 3, 2013
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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. Interesting angles (the concept of the inverted-U curve) and great water cooler material regardless on which side you fall on.
7. The concept of it is better to be a Big Fish in a Little Pond than a Little Fish in a Big Pond. "The phenomenon of relative deprivation applied to education is called--appropriately enough--the `Big Fish-Little Pond Effect.' The more elite an educational institution is, the worse students feel about their own academic abilities." Interesting findings that resulted from this observation.
8. An interesting look at dyslexia. "Dyslexia is a problem in the way people hear and manipulate sounds." This is where Gladwell goes into his theory of "desirable difficulties" and provides many examples of stories of success and overcoming challenges. The case of trial lawyer David Boies is one of overcoming the odds and making the most of his challenges.
9. Measuring personality through the Five Factor Model ("Big Five").
10. I enjoy historical references and this book offers a couple of intriguing stories. The "London Blitz".
11. Gladwell loves patterns and he has made it a trademark to share some of his favorites. "Twelve of the first forty-four U.S. presidents--beginning with George Washington and going all the way up to Barack Obama--lost their fathers while they were young."
12. A fascinating medical case study involving Jay Freireich and leukemia.
13. Case studies involving courage. The American civil rights movement. The fascinating story behind the iconic photograph (calm teenage boy being attacked by a snarling German shepherd) that captured the impetus of the historical movement.
14. The use of trickery, the art of survival and triumph even in the most hostile of environments.
15. The incendiary case study of Northern Ireland. "In Northern Ireland, the British made a simple mistake. They fell into the trap of believing that because they had resources, weapons, soldiers, and experience that dwarfed those of the insurgent elements that they were trying to contain, it did not matter what the people of Northern Ireland thought of them."
16. The principal of legitimacy. "Legitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice--that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can't treat one group differently from another."
17. The uplifting case of Jaffe and J-RIPpers.
18. The inception of the Three Strike rule and its shortcomings. "Clearly, then, there's a big difference between having no penalties for breaking the law and having some penalties--just as there's a big difference between a class of forty students and a class of twenty-five. On the left side of the inverted-U curve, interventions make a difference."
19. Understanding the limits of power. The case study of the Huguenots.
20. Notes linked.

Negatives:
1. No links to original sources.
2. No formal bibliography.
3. Lacks scientific rigor or depth. Gladwell mainly presents his side of the story and at times suffers from confirmation bias. It's ok to present opposing scientific views while defending your own.
4. I really have a tough time buying the notion that people succeed because of their difficulties, "The second, more intriguing, possibility is that they succeeded, in part, because of their disorder--that they learned something in their struggle that proved to be of enormous advantage." I look at it as overcoming challenges, making the best of what you have.
5. Some of the case studies are not for the faint of heart. The Candace Derksen story was particularly painful and difficult to read.
6. A misspell in the table of contents.

In summary, Gladwell's books are always provocative and fun to read. The biggest problem for Gladwell is to live up to expectations set by a book of the caliber of "Outliers" and frankly whether fair or not this book doesn't live up to it. It lacks panache and most importantly scientific rigor. That being said this book has moments of radiance and he always manages to entertain. Perhaps 3 stars is a bit low but rest assured all of Gladwell's books are worth reading. In short, this book will provide great water cooler material, read it and make your own call.

Further recommendations: "Outliers: The Story of Success", "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference", and "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by the same author, "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink, "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" and "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip and Dan Heath, "The One Thing" by Gary Keller, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain, "Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success" by Rick Newman, "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhig, "What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets" by Michael J. Sandel, "Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain" by David Eagleman, and "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" by Steven Pinker.
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352 of 410 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gladwell did it again., October 2, 2013
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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? To share the research from academia in language that layman can understand. So I dig academia.

That said, this story was inspiring because it reminds me (and I'm sure other people who read it) that it's not about being accepted by a system. Sometimes, you need to create your own system - and you'll be better off.

#2 We should all remember the inverted U curve

Again, Gladwell goes into this in more detail, but I loved this. It quite simply says, that just because you do more of something doesn't mean you're going to have more results. At some point, doing more can actually have the REVERSE effect. Doing more can actually make you do worse.

Even though he didn't use this analogy, I think about going to the gym. When you go to the gym once a week, you get poor results. Go twice, and better results. Go three, and maybe better results. But if you go 7 times a week, twice a day, you risk 'overtraining' and when you overtrain you actually risk getting worse results.

Based on those two stories alone, I believe this book is worth the read.

Now back to the naysayers...

The naysayers pick his books up and say it's too simple. And you know what? Just the other day, Gladwell said it best: "If my books appear oversimplified, then you shouldn't read them"

Why is that best?

Because if you think his books are too oversimplified, you shouldn't read them. You're NOT the audience.

He's not writing a book to be consumed by 1,500 academics. He's writing a book to inspire millions of people.

And that's why I have to say, Malcolm Gladwell did it again. Check the book out.
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76 of 94 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I felt beaten over the head with forced analogies, October 17, 2013
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The good - as usual Malcolm Gladwell had an interesting premise.

The bad - almost everything else about the book. Gladwell has built a solid career observing and synthesizing commonalities in our world. In past books, he has found interesting and pertinent examples to illustrate his premise. Tipping points for significant change, people willing to devote 10000 hours striving for perfection, and the hidden ordinary. All entertaining and often surprising topics for books.

What Gladwell masterfully achieved in previous books was finding relevant, interesting examples. In David and Goliath he finds neither. The first chapter about David's unlikely defeat of Goliath establishes the premise for the book - the underdog is often not the underdog. The remaining chapters unsuccessfully attempt to relate this premise to diverse challenges all around us - dyslexia, our educational system, strategies for basketball. I found his efforts to further his premise to be forced and, in many cases, unsupported by facts. Observing interesting similarities does not lead to a cause-and-effect conclusion. One or two anecdotal examples do not make a scientific discovery. An author in search of his next book does not make for compelling reading.
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53 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Love Gladwell's writing, but not this book, October 18, 2013
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I've read all of Gladwell's previous books, and found them to be highly enjoyable. As such, I pre-ordered D&G; I had very high hopes for this text, and I was let down with a resounding thud. The writing doesn't flow very well, and is highly redundant from section to section. Also, while I understand that Gladwell is not making his points through the rigors of hard science, some of his stories had such obvious flaws and valid counterarguments that it was insulting to my intelligence. I made it through 100 pages and finally gave up - I found nothing in those first 100 pages to be worthwhile. A disappointing effort from a gifted story teller.
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54 of 68 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simply disappointing -- Neither instructive nor insightful, October 11, 2013
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
Let me begin by saying that "David and Goliath" is an easy read. If you are a fast reader with extra time on your hands, you can finish the entire book in one sitting. Gladwell is a good, entertaining writer. Having said that, I was disappointed with the content of his book. Thus, this review will focus on those points.

"David and Goliath" is about battling giants... at least, I'm sure that's what you thought when you bought the book. That's certainly what the subtitle states - "Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battle Giants." However, you would only be partially correct. While there is some content related to battling so-called giants, the book's title is misleading. Most of the book is about advantages and disadvantages. The first section is about perceived advantages and how these advantages are often the source of disadvantage. The middle section is about perceived disadvantages and how these can be advantages. The last few chapters are about the limits of power, which is poorly connected to the overall theme of the book. Most of the stories had very little to do with battling giants, regardless of how you define the term "giants". In fact, Gladwell uses a very loose definition of "giants". Giants are anything that seems formidable.

Introduction: Goliath
Gladwell begins strong. He presents the story of David and Goliath but provides background to the story. The message to take away from the story is that David surprised Goliath. Goliath was expecting a sword-to-sword battle. Instead, David came out with his sling and took out the giant by refusing the play to Goliath's strengths, namely, his size. But Gladwell also mentions that what is perceived as Goliath's strength is also a source of weakness; Goliath likely had acromegaly (assuming the story is even historical). Acromegaly limited Goliath's vision requiring him to fight in close quarters; David would not fight Goliath on equal terms. In the end, David slays Goliath. Not a bad start to the book.

Chapter 1:
In this chapter, Gladwell presents the case of Vivek Ranadive, who was able to lead a team of basketball underdogs to the championship without any formal knowledge of the game. Moreover, Ranadive's players barely knew the rules when they began training. However, by focusing on physical conditioning and the lesser employed tactic of full-court press, Ranadive was able to wear down opposing teams and increase opportunities to steal the ball. This is clearly a story about the triumph of the underdog, and it is in-line with the title. Unfortunately, the Introduction and Chapter 1 are the best sections of the book. It goes downhill from this point.

Chapter 2:
Here, Gladwell focuses on school classroom size and how a perceived advantage - i.e. small class size - is actually a disadvantage. While a smaller class size may improve learning, there is a point where a very low class size can actually hurt student performance. While this topic is interesting in itself, it is only loosely connected to the notion of battling giants. In fact, the connection is an artificial one; I'm not even sure who or what the "giant" is supposed to be in this story. Is it the educational system? Is it student performance? Is it class size?

Gladwell's point is that advantages can be a source of disadvantage. However, he doesn't really tell you how to battle the so-called giant, whatever the giant is supposed to be in this story. If the giant is classroom size, then it would've been nice to state what the ideal classroom size would be for elementary or middle school or high school students. Instead, all you know is that class size shouldn't be too low, whatever "too low" means. But if we take his point to the logical extreme, he seems to imply that one-on-one tutoring may not have advantages. After all, that is the ultimate small class room. However, this has neither been my experience nor the experience of most parents who can afford private, one-on-one lessons for their children, whether in an athletics or academics. In fact, studies on expertise by K Anders Ericsson, whom Gladwell mentions in "Blink", states that individual mentoring or coaching is very important for achieving high levels of success.

Chapter 3:
Chapter 3 suffers similar problems with chapter 2. It is the story of Caroline Sacks. She was a high academic achiever in high school, but discovered that she was not good enough to compete in the Ivy Leagues. She loved science and wanted to pursue a career in a scientific field; however, she could not compete with the other students at Brown University. Gladwell's point is that she has a perceived advantage over most students - she had the ability to get admitted into Brown University. Nonetheless, this advantage became a source of disadvantage for her. She ultimately felt defeated by becoming a small fish in a big pond, and eventually chose not to pursue her love of science. Had she gone to a second-choice school, she might've been a high achiever and more successful. In short, it's sometimes better to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than always seeking to enter the big pond and finding out that you're only a little fish.

Once again, I'm not sure who or what the giant is in this story. If the giant is the Ivy League school, Brown University, then Gladwell is not really discussing how to successfully battle this giant. Gladwell's message is to choose another opponent to do battle with - i.e. choose a non-Ivy League school. In this case, the giant has defeated the underdog by getting the underdog to choose an easier opponent to fight. Isn't this the antithesis of the books' theme?

Chapter 4:
Beginning with chapter 4, the book takes a different turn. Gladwell begins focusing on disadvantages, suggesting that they can be a source of advantage. This is not a novel idea, but Gladwell stretches this idea to make his case. In this chapter he mentions that dyslexia is a perceived disadvantage but is a characteristic of nearly one-third of entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, David Neeleman, and others. In other words, approximately 30% of entrepreneurs have dyslexia and may have become successful businessmen because of their dyslexia. Of course, the other possibility is that these entrepreneurs succeeded in spite of their dyslexia, rather than because of it. This point is merely dismissed by Gladwell without much consideration.

Nonetheless, anyone who has taken a basic statistics or critical thinking class should immediately see a flaw with Gladwell's reasoning. He seems to want his reader's to think that if a person is dyslexic then he/she has a 30% chance of becoming incredibly successful in business. But stating that 30% of entrepreneurs have dyslexia is not the same as saying that 30% of dyslexics are entrepreneurs. Moreover, if 30% of entrepreneurs have dyslexia, then that means 70% of entrepreneurs do not, and from empirical evidence, dyslexics struggle in academic fields throughout much of their life. Let's not forget that an overwhelming majority of jobs expect employees to be college educated, at least. There are also a large number of dyslexics in prison. Thus, while having dyslexia can be an advantage (if Gladwell is correct), it is not an advantage for most. Yet Gladwell seems to insinuate that dyslexia is not a problem at all; he just stops short of suggesting that dyslexia is something you might wish for your children and grandchildren because of the advantages it can provide. I guess that's why I'm not a multi-billionaire; I don't have dyslexia.

Gladwell goes on to present the story of two dyslexics, David Boies and Gary Cohn. Boies became a successful trial lawyer and Cohn became president of Goldman Sachs. Both were successful because they were forced to compensate for their dyslexia. They had to develop other skills that they learned to use to their benefit. So if dyslexia is a "giant", then the way to battle this giant is to compensate for it, rather than overcome it. In other words, the dyslexic isn't defeating his or her problem but circumventing the problem. In the end, I felt these stories were stretching the theme of the book.

The following quote from Gladwell summarizes this chapter: "Most people with a serious disability cannot master all those steps [i.e. steps to compensate for a disability]. But those who can are better off than they would have been otherwise, because what is learned out of necessity is inevitably more powerful than the learning that comes easily." That is, if you have a disability, you are not likely to be able to compensate for it; however, if you are one of the lucky ones who manage to compensate, then you have a good chance to be successful. This isn't really encouraging or instructive. It isn't even insightful.

Chapter 5:
The message of chapter 5 can be summed up in Nietzsche's famous quote, "What does not kill me, makes me stronger." But the chapter is longwinded and holds a superficial, even artificially created, relationship to the idea of battling giants. In this chapter, Gladwell points out that we are often afraid of fear, but the actual experience that we are afraid of is less frightening once it is experienced. But once again, as with chapter 4, the message of this chapter is not instructive or insightful.

Chapter 5 does provide one explanation for how heroes are created. Many so-called heroes and successful individuals have experienced death early in their lives - i.e. the death of at least one parent. As a result, they are often "disagreeable" individuals; that is, they go against the societal grain. They often take much abuse from the mainstream, but if these individuals can weather the storm, then they are often stronger in the end. Of course, a lot of prisoners have also lost at least one parent at a young age. So if you are looking for a way to think of this information in your own battles with "giants", you will have learned nothing by the end of the chapter. The take home message: hardship can be an advantage. This is true, but once again, Gladwell's message is not insightful.

Chapter 6:
This chapter is about the 1960s Civil Rights era. Gladwell reiterates the same theme from chapter 5 - i.e. what doesn't kill you, will make you stronger. But he also discusses some the questionable tactics that the Civil Rights activists used to win their political and legal freedoms. For example, Wyatt Walker's approach was to "use what we got" and win by "any means necessary". In fact, Martin Luther King Jr and Wyatt Walker used children to stir public attention for their cause, even allowing them to be jailed or beaten or nearly killed. Aside from the ethical issue of this tactic, Gladwell's message is to do whatever it takes when fighting a giant. But how far is this supposed to go? Would Gladwell condone similar attitudes and behaviors exhibited by paramilitary or terrorist groups? Isn't that basically what these groups think they are doing as well - doing whatever is necessary for their "rightful" cause? In the end, this chapter fits with the basic theme of battling giants, but raises other questions.

Chapter 7-9:
The last three chapters are about the limits of power. I'm not sure how these chapters fit into the overall theme of the book. The stories seem unconnected to the first two sections of the book, which focuses on advantages and disadvantages. While the chapters touch loosely upon the theme, the overall content is primarily a divergence from the theme. I felt that these chapters were added as fillers, rather than pertinent or important topics.

In fact, Gladwell spends a great deal of time talking about the legitimacy versus illegitimacy of power. After defining the differences, his point is that illegitimate power will not prevail in the end, and illegitimate power often leads to counterproductive results. In other words, there are limits to what you can expect from the use of power or force. However, the stories he shares to make his point seem disconnected to the rest of the book.

In short, "David and Goliath" is Gladwell's worst book. The only saving grace is his writing ability. In fact, the best chapter is the Introduction. Unfortunately, I felt that the book was less about battling giants and more a hodge-podge of diverse stories centered around a concocted theme in order for Gladwell to sell another book. There is nothing newsworthy, instructive, or insightful in its pages. Thus, I give this book two stars.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-Written but Absurd and Silly Arguments, October 30, 2013
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
Like all Gladwell books, this is a very well written book and it is a quick read. So I can't say it is a 'bad' book because it held my interest and I enjoyed certain parts of it.

However, as a whole, the book is an example of creating a thesis and desperately trying to find examples to prove said thesis. He starts from the premise that disadvantages can actually be advantages and then provides a series of examples to prove this. For example, we learn about David Boises and Gary Cohn, two very successful people who have dyslexia. Of course, we don't hear about the millions of people who have dyslexia who aren't successful. Gladwell's argument is basically akin to pointing to Michael Dell and saying, "look, he dropped out of college and got rich.....so you should drop out of college too!" It is silly and stupid.

The book really goes off track in the end, especially the final chapter when he discusses a person in Vichy France who hid Jews from the Nazis. Gladwell idiotically states something to the effect of, 'you see, it's not easy to wipe out villages; people will fight back.' Well, actually, Malcolm, this isn't actually true as evidenced by the six million Jews who died during that time. He is reaching non-stop in this book. In sum, I think Gladwell peaked with 'Blink' and it has been downhill ever since.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Actually Really Good", October 3, 2013
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Ryan C. Holiday (Los Angeles, California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
It says something about our culture that we feel the need to say that this book is "actually really good." Of course it is, Malcolm Gladwell wrote it. He's a staff writer for the New Yorker and a former science reporter for the Washington Post. He is not some guru translating for gullible philistines. I'm not sure where all the resentment comes from, honestly. Malcolm is a great writer who writes books that provoke people to think. That is undeniably a good thing.

But this book is great. Malcolm, four books in, has mastered his style, mastered the art of the story and the research and science behind it. This book is much less about studies and more about powerful individuals. From Wyatt Walker in the Civil Rights Movement to Emil Freireich and his battle to cure children's leukemia. Those stories are inspiring, provocative, counterintuitive and much appreciated.

Couple quick notes:
-This book has more footnotes than I remember from Gladwell's other books. This is actually welcome and enjoyable. Some of the best stuff is there.
-This book is more applicable and practical than Outliers (which I felt just told us some information that there was little we could do with)
-It's a short, fast read. But I urge you to slow down and absorb it
-There is no big viral idea in this book (no tipping point or 10,000 hours theory). But in some ways that makes the book more enjoyable and make it resistant to implification
-Ignore the haters. If you like the book, great. You're allowed to. Don't let them bully you into denying it.
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88 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars David Goes to Battle Armed with a Stone, But No Sling., October 1, 2013
This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
I really wanted to love this book more than I did. Malcolm Gladwell has an inviting writing style and he introduces a great premise: the little guy beating the big guy. Everyone loves a triumphant underdog story, but in this case, I'm not sure the underdog is clearly defined.

If there's anything I hate in these types of books, it's a weak analogy. Malcolm draws from several real-life stories, but the title-bearing story of David and Goliath is the one with the least amount of merit. It's like David going to battle with a stone and no sling. Or, worse yet, the characters swap sides. Gladwell takes a lawyer representing the U.S. Government, named David, and likens him to the Biblical shepherd boy bearing the same name. Does something sound out of place there? Yeah; that's what I'm thinking. Yes, the lawyer David comes from a humble beginning, but he was armed with a degree from Yale--much more than a sling shot--when he fought his own courtroom giants.

And this is the shaky foundation upon which the rest of the story is built upon. There are interesting and cheer-worthy ideas that Gladwell presents, such as finding strength in weakness, but none of them seem well supported. Yes, I thought it fascinating to learn about these successful people that achieved and overcame their disability, but is all their success contributed to the sole influence of that disability? Doubtful. Gladwell, though a fantastic writer, struggles to effectively prove his point.

I'll give Gladwell credit for one positive element: making me think. He doesn't leave his ideas to simmer on the philosophical backburner; he stirs in a few studies that provoke thought. But again, we go back to the shaky foundation, where Gladwell's arguments are precariously balanced in the form of pseudo-scientific structure. In other words, the studies he presents are enough to give pause, but when examined further, aren't enough to support the entirety of the argument. Yes, I get it: those with a disability may be forced to work harder and thus benefit more, but I don't think there's enough evidence to prove that those without a disability can't benefit by equal practice.

Should you read this book? Yes, for two reasons. One, being the aforementioned thought provoking material. The other, being the fantastic stories that Gladwell shares. He escorts us along from cancer treatments to the civil rights movement, from college selection to the prison house. I appreciated my time with Gladwell and feel more worldly and expanded because of it.
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45 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely disappointing, October 10, 2013
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Absolutely disappointing. Book starts with a great premises but in a frenzy to fill pages writer lost focus. Each chapter is so long that by the time you reach end you start questioning why author has to fill up so many pages to make a point. It is worth avoiding. If you have read the first chapter you can skip rest of the book. First chapter is worth reading, rest can be skipped.
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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell (Hardcover - October 1, 2013)
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