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Some Interesting Stories, but Not Quintessential Gladwell,
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
I generally enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's writing, and have read his other books. I've also heard him speak, watched his TED talk on "David and Goliath," and read recent interviews he's given about the book. I say all that, to make it clear that I'm a Gladwell fan, and wanted to love this book. Sadly, it's not a great read.
The title story is interesting, but I think the author would like for readers to be surprised by David's skill and ability. Most of what he writes about David will be pretty familiar to Christians who have been actively studied the Bible. Certainly nothing he said about David and/or Goliath was controversial, and most of it could be gleaned from the notes in a good Study Bible.
The stories that follow in the first section, and even the second section, are also interesting. It's thought-provoking to consider that a perceived disadvantage might spur a person on to do exceptional things. As the book continues on, the stories are less exceptional, and the premise less exciting.
For me, the book failed on three counts:
1. The stories used to illustrate Gladwell's point failed to consider the negative side. Yes, a percentage of people when faced with adversity overcome it, however, an overwhelming majority suffer greatly. For every successful businessperson with a learning disability, there are several more who are in menial jobs. The same is true of most of all the other examples in the book.
2. The examples given in the third section of the book were simply not compelling. Maybe an interesting newspaper or magazine article, but not compelling on a "Gladwell-ian" scale.
3. The author failed to connect the examples given into an obvious conclusion, and no effort was given to purport one for the reader. Maybe the weakness of the last section was the cause of this, but after I put the book down, my only thought was, "so what?"
Gladwell is still a fine story-teller, and I think he was on to something good here. It just didn't come together like it might have. If you're considering this book because you've heard about Malcolm Gladwell and this is his newest offering, I'd suggest reading Outliers or Tipping Point instead.