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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants Paperback – April 7, 2015
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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 --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
"Truly intriguing and inspiring."―Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
"Provocative....David and Goliath is a lean, consuming read."―John Wilwol, San Francisco Chronicle
"As always, Gladwell's sweep is breathtaking and thought-provoking."―Joe Nocera, 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
"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'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
"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
"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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John Klawitter - DGA Director and author of THE SAVE YOUR PLANET SHOW, the sci fi novel that warns you not to save it for later.
Or is it a momentous Juggernaut, made rigid and inflexible by its own might, around whose expanding bulk we might maneuver, seeking victory through agility and flexibility as opposed to direct confrontation?
In his book David and Goliath, Malcolm Glad well asks just this question. And for anyone afraid they might have to face down giants - whether bullies or enormous corporate competition or even bloated and rigid beauracracy - I highly recommend you read it.
David and Goliath is an excellent case in point. You might assume, as I so naturally did, that the Biblical tale of David and Goliath illustrates how the weak can overcome the strong. Certainly, that was how I was taught it as a child, and nothing I've learned since has led me to think otherwise. Leave it to Malcolm Gladwell to demonstrate that in reality this oft-told story demonstrates precisely the opposite. According to Gladwell (and to the numerous academic researchers whose work he cites), Goliath was massively vulnerable -- in large part precisely because he was truly a giant -- and David possessed an enormous advantage in his own right from the moment he walked onto the field of battle. The outcome of the battle was foreordained. Goliath's great strength was in fact no advantage at all.
In this out-of-left-field manner, Gladwell draws diverse examples from all over the map to illustrate his principal points: overwhelming power can easily prove to be a disadvantage, while disability and weakness can lead to surprising success. Gladwell writes about how dyslexia has proven to be the hidden key to success among a great many highly successful people, including such notables as Richard Branson and Charles Schwab. Other examples in David and Goliath include the coach of an untalented middle-school girls' basketball team who led them to a national championship by virtue of a strategy born of his ignorance of basketball, to K-12 teachers who demonstrate how small classes can be disadvantageous and big classes sometimes much better, to the British troops sent to quell the Irish Troubles, only to discover that their exercise of power backfired horribly.
David and Goliath is endlessly fascinating. It's fully worthy of Malcolm Gladwell's outstanding talent to illuminate our world in surprising ways.
I hold a significant leadership position in my work organization. I have seen people in my kind of position develop a "Goliath-like" arrogance that ultimately transforms them from a thoughtful, humble leader to an obnoxious, uncaring, closed-off despot. I don't want to suffer the same fate, and am disappointed that the author offered no guidance for me in this matter.
Gladwell writes very well. His messages come across as very humane, direct, and inspiring. As this was my first read of any of his work, I am definitely interested in picking up another tome of his.
If the author was not Gladwell, the book would almost certainly have remained in obscurity.
A few parts were engaging, especially at the beginning, but if you know the biblical story of David and Golliath, you get the point of the book.