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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.
Gladwell retrieves the David and Goliath story back from the slag heap of legend by injecting hard scientific facts. Gladwell offers a reasonable medical explanation for Goliath’s immense size, and the accompanying medical complications. Like a iron age “Gunny Lee Emory”, Gladwell walks us through a efficacy comparison of weaponry common on the field of battle at the time.
In true Gladwell fashion, “David and Goliath” uncovers hidden principles that the reader can employ in current life. It’s one thing to agree that weaknesses can be strengths, but how would that work in one’s life this afternoon? Read on.
Basketball anyone? Gladwell destroys the perception that tall alone wins basketball games. Employing the “full court press” relentlessly, hopelessly outmatched coaches and teams exploited their own weaknesses to win.
Gladwell seems intent on providing the reader with practical tools around discovering and using weaknesses. He introduces a three-part “inverted U”; the first part where more increases good, a middle where more has no more positive effect, and a third part where more is harmful. A beer is wonderful, a few beers are better, at some point more beer will cause drunken sickness.
“Desirable difficulty” is the phenomenon in which difficulty is not negative, but rather produces some immensely positive effects. Ever the story-teller, Gladwell relates the tale of the English during WWII who were bombed mercilessly, but had a paradoxical effect called “near miss” which produces a form of courage rather than paralyzing fear.
Gladwell relates stories of the civil rights struggles in the mid-twentieth century America, of the father of a murdered girl’s quest, a pastor defying the Nazis; all tales of people finding their weaknesses and using weakness to win.
“David and Goliath” is a Gladwell masterpiece, combining his art of story-telling with analytical prowess, rendering an interesting and inspiring read.