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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants Paperback – Illustrated, April 7, 2015
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"Provocative....David and Goliath is a lean, consuming read."―John Wilwol, San Francisco Chronicle
"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
"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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Gladwell does a great job capturing plenty of true stories of people with disadvantages, or in disadvantageous situations. The first three chapters focus on redefining our situations, followed by the next three which are cause-and-effect relationships (how our disadvantages shape our lives for advantages), followed by more chapters of redefining disadvantages through questioning what real power looks like. Gladwell does a good job of interweaving these stories with data such as charts and graphs, as well as historical data to defend his main idea. Although Gladwell makes great points, you might find his story-telling to become redundant. You begin to understand where the stories are going and get used to Gladwell’s style early on in the reading. This is to be expected since Gladwell is a well-known journalist; for he collects his thoughts thoroughly and uses a set format to write his stories. Only once did I find myself questioning Gladwell’s sources, and that was on his information about Goliath’s health. He only quotes one source and uses that source heavily to prove the point that Goliath had an illness in his brain that made him big and made his movements slow. Other than that, I appreciated his use of sources.
Overall, this book is well worth reading as it can change your thinking for the better. Advantages have disadvantages, but disadvantages present the opportunity to discover new-found advantages. This is a positive message to put any underdog on top in all kinds of negative circumstances. Everyone faces giants in life. Like Goliath, those giants call us out to battle with them on their terms, but we don’t have to meet those giants on their terms. Normally when we do, we lose. Rather, we can find strengths in the greatest of weaknesses, and opportunities in all kinds of situations that turn disadvantages upside-down.
The two main points I took away from this book:
•too much of any good thing will lead to a bad thing (and vice versa).
•I would much rather be a big fish in a small pond than be a small fish in a large pond.
^Read the book to find out why. I recommend this for anyone.
Book Summary: The author points out stories of inspiration to encourage people to overcome difficulties or adversity. The author also strongly cautions taking on too much adversity as the result may be the opposite of what is intended. The thesis of the book would be, "Through these stories, I want to explore two ideas. The first is that much of 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. We misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness" (Kindle, 48). The author successfully attributes narratives throughout the book to make these points seem real. The narratives also tug at one's heartstrings in a way that makes the objective of the story become vivid. Gladwell further evidences his point by offering simple examples such as a U-curve so that individuals may understand the tipping point as best as possible between various scenarios.
One of the best stories in the book related to this tipping point was of a student who attended Harvard for a degree in science. While this student was in the 99th percentile in the world for her brilliance, the constant comparing of herself to other "smarter" students ended up holding her back. Had she gone to a school with a slightly less competitive nature, she would have excelled. Gladwell comments, "We compare ourselves to those in the same situation as ourselves" (Kindle, 869). Gladwell does well with this because while many book about inspiration focus purely on the positive aspect of life, few are able to caution the opposite effect that may result from too much positivity (positivity used loosely here). "What matters, in determining the likelihood of getting a science degree, is not just how smart you are. It’s how smart you feel relative to the other people in your classroom" (Kindle, 922).
While Gladwell started this book well, with stories and points being made precisely and clearly, the book does not end that way. As you read past the first few chapters, the stories become longer and it takes away from the points being made clearly. This is a good and a bad thing all at once. The way the stories are written, they are engaging, making you feel like you're reading a historical novel. However, when one becomes too engrossed in the stories, and the points are made in only a sentence or two out of several pages of story, the points being made seem to lose their effect.
The points made hold a solidarity to them. For example, it is difficult to argue the fact that too much or too little of anything can be both good and bad. Gladwell references the U-curve (shaped like a parabola) in the first few chapters stating that the perfect point between good and bad is at the tip of the U, going beyond that will see minimal results, going less than that point will demonstrate a lack of results. As nearly everything in this world is a binary, this is a difficult point to argue because it holds true in almost every situation (I can't think of a situation where it does not). The beauty of the discussion, however, is not in the inability to argue the points being made, rather it is in the simplicity that it is explained. Gladwell takes what may be a very difficult concept and explains it in a way that nearly every person may understand.
Ultimately, I would recommend this book. The self-development and psychological factors are well-presented. If you are a person who does not enjoy stories, read the first several chapters then skim the rest of the book. The truths that are recognized in this text are basic truths that every person may benefit from learning or becoming aware of.
Top international reviews
The premise that the small can take on the big and mighty and win in today's fast paced and rapidly changing world is compelling. But his book fails to inspire and that is a disappointment. The premise had been well laid out early in the book and I expected it to progress to great current day learnings but the entire book labours a point that most readers will get and agree with early on. Gladwell would then have done better to show the learnings and pitfalls of the analogy rather than spending chapter after chapter proving a point that had already been proven.
Some good stories, well written and easy to read but could've delivered so much more. A decent book but from Gladwell I expected something more.
3 1/2 stars.
Drawing on examples from education, policing, civil rights, and much else the book provides numerous anecdotes as well as statistical evidence to show that inverse U shaped curves apply to the effectiveness of most fields of human activity.
I thouroughly enjoyed this book, although there is not much that is revelatory, and read it in just one day
I particularly loved the description of the David and Goliath story, it was told so vividly, I could see it in my minds eye, it made sense and created a series of paradigm shifts in my head regarding the way I have heard the story in the past.
I will read this again and again, just like watching a good film, to spot the subtle nuggets I may have missed on my first reading.
Malcolm Gladwell has put together a clear and comprehensive amount of information in David and Goliath. The book kept me captivated throughout, it also challenged a lot of my perceptions regarding this matter. Well done Gladwell!!
This was okay in itself, although I thought it was a way to make a chapter into a book.
I also found it unhelpful how many american stories and situations were used.
Therefore I think the overall book itself is worth a read but feel that it appeals much more to an american market.