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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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*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
"Truly intriguing and inspiring, especially when Gladwell discusses 'desirable difficulties'....Gladwell's account of the journey of Dr. Emil 'Jay' Freireich is unforgettable." ---Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
"Provocative....David and Goliath is a lean, consuming read....The book's most crafty, engaging chapter ties together the Impressionist movement and college choices to highlight the fact that gaining admission to elite institutions, which we typically perceive as an advantage, is no guarantee of success." ---John Wilwol, San Francisco Chronicle
"As always, Gladwell's sweep is breathtaking and thought-provoking....I've long admired Gladwell's work." ---Joe Nocera, New York Times
"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
"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
"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
"Gladwell sells books by the millions because he is masterful at explaining how the world works---the power of critical mass, the arbitrariness of success, etc.---packaging his ideas in fun, accessible, and poignant vignettes." ---Lionel Beehner, USA Today
"Gladwell's most provocative book yet. David and Goliath challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, drawing upon history, psychology, and powerful narrative talent to rethink how we view the world around us and how to deal with the challenges life throws at us." ---Susanne Jaffe, Columbus Dispatch
"The bestselling author behind the inventive Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point is back with another thought provoking theory that fascinates, entertains, and informs. He gives underdogs their due this time, challenging everything readers believe about facing-and conquering-life's stumbling blocks, using the 'real' story of David and Goliath and more to make his point." ---Celeste Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Gladwell has made a career out of questioning conventional wisdom, and here he examines the allegedly unlikely triumph of the weak over the mighty and shows it's not so unlikely after all. 4 stars." ---Judith Newman, People Magazine
"The 50-year-old Canadian is a superstar, the most popular staff writer on The New Yorker and a hero in the frequent-flier lounge where journalism, social science, business management, and self-help hang out....It's a good story and he's got plenty more." ---Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
"Pop culture pundit Malcolm Gladwell is an idea blender, mixing concepts from vastly different sources (everything from business to science to the Bible) to produce new ways of seeing the world." ---Barbara O'Dair, Reader's Digest
"Engrossing.... Gladwell's singular gift is animating the experience of his subjects. He has an uncanny ability to simplify without being simplistic: clean and vivid Strunk and White prose in the service of peerless storytelling." ---David Takami, Seattle Times
"Contemporary society can't escape history when Malcolm Gladwell explains the world as he does with David and Goliath."---Jane Henderson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell explores the dynamics that inform and effect our everyday lives. By analyzing the Biblical account of the clash between David and Goliath, Gladwell presents a bold new interpretation of the lessons we should apply from it." ---Today Show
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I think there are more lessons here that need to be explored. Like how does a Goliath beat a scrappy David?
The weakest profile is that of David Boies, a famous lawyer with dyslexia. Boies is a great lawyer, but the profile does not do him justice. Its too weak and flimsy and unimpressive. I was left with the feeling that Boies, who graduated from Yale, can read far better than he lets on and is far more able than Gladwell understands.
The best article is on a student who went to Brown, but dropped out of science. The theme is that our schools force too many good science students to drop out and, in the case of those who attend elite universities, many students would be better off going to a school that is less competitive. This is more typical of Malcolm Gladwell. His writing is usually contrarian and his article usually challenges the conventional wisdom. A classic example is his article on school class sizes. Classes can be too small and sometimes large classes produce really bright students.
The most interesting person profiled was Andre Trocme, a Hugenot who protected many French jewish children during World War II. Trocme had a disadvantage in that he was a minority, a Hugenot in a Catholic country.
In sum, a fine book, with one weak profile of David Boies and other excellent profiles that challenge our way of thinking.
Most recent customer reviews
Will listen to it again for sure.