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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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I also found the section on the limits of power to be a very interesting read because of the powerful stories Gladwell tells. The situations described and why those in power weren't successful really is thought provoking and that is what Gladwell is trying to get across in most of this book. Don’t take everything at face value, look at it from a different angle and you might be surprised to find out that an apparent weakness is actually a strength. Conventional wisdom says that David had no chance of beating the mighty Goliath until you look at it from a different perspective and realize Goliath never really had a chance.
“In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of greatest weakness…The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem” (pg. 14).
In David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (©2013), Gladwell argues that perhaps great challenges are not what they appear. Maybe things we think are advantages can really be disadvantages and things that make some people Davids actually turn them into giants of industry and discovery.
Gladwell examines the principles of advantage and disadvantage in several, very interesting areas of application: education, crime, business, and politics. One of the ones I found the most interesting was when he used these principles to apply to how governments deal with disorder, rioting, and crime. “The excessive use of force creates legitimacy problems, and force without legitimacy leads to defiance, not submission” (pg. 273).
Just like the young shepherd boy in the Valley of Elah seemed ill equipped to defeat the Philistine Giant, so some only seem ill equipped to face the challenges of life. And yet, as Gladwell shows over and over again, appearances can be deceiving, and disadvantages can really make for very interesting and victorious advantages.
And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”…When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 1st Samuel 17:34; 48-51
I still think Blink is the best of Gladwell but this is well worth your read.
Gladwell does a great job in Chapter 4 and 5 on making David's out of the folks with Dyslexia, and how they succeed in spite of the malady. He uses Trial Lawyer David Boies as an example of overcoming Dyslexia by listening and retaining information, in lieu of the ability to read copious amounts. I know of Attorney Richard S. Ketcham in Columbus Ohio, who too has Dyslexia, became a Trial Lawyer, and had tried over 40 death penalty cases, probably a record for a defense attorney in central Ohio. He was written up in a Columbus Ohio paper by Jeb Phillips around January 31, 2014 as he is now terminal with ALS. He too, like Boies, had to struggle through law school, but is one of the best in trial law. He got two wrongly convicted men released after about 20 years of confinement, working through the Innocence Project.
The book, like his 'Outliers' is an excellent read.