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Showing 1-10 of 2,576 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 3,137 reviews
on June 29, 2014
I've always been a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell books. How he finds seemingly disconnected topics and expands and juxtaposes them to find a common theme and learning without inserting himself too much into the middle. Sure, I've heard the criticism over the years about his surface treatments ... getting into the topic just enough but perhaps not as deeply as it deserved. You see quite a few of those criticisms for this book.

This time around I kind of agree with some of that criticism. "David & Goliath" still follows that same pattern but somehow it's all a bit too formulaic. The underdog topic that's kicked off in the beginning is guaranteed to catch the readers' interest and to sell more books, but it really doesn't carry through into the rest of the book. Who wouldn't root for David to carry the day. But then the shocker in that story--which is carried through the rest of the book ... Goliath really didn't stand a chance like the proverbial fool who brings a knife (or in this case a spear) to a gunfight (or in this case a 135 mile per hour pebble launched from a sling).

From there we see that a wide variety of seemingly disconnected topics about underdogs or assumptions about power and advantage follow that same premise. That things we see as advantages or disadvantages really aren't ... like smaller class sizes, going to Ivy League schools, having dyslexia, being militarily weak, having a bad childhood, losing a parent when young. All of these serve to make later achievers stronger, more creative and--most of all--disagreeable, which turns them into household names. Gladwell continues to do the deal with these stories by making them interesting and compelling, but it all gets a bit tedious as he continually lists them side by side to repeatedly make the same points.

As inspirational as these stories are, there are certainly legions of achievers who didn't suffer those disadvantages and still accomplished great things in their lives. So the message and readership for this book should perhaps be focused on people whose prospects appear diminished so they they don't give up in the face of adversity. For the rest, the stories and life lessons are so negative that the book fails to elevate us to bigger and better things.

As other reviewers pointed out too, it felt like the third part of the book that focuses on how authority fails when seen as illegitimate seemed a big jump from what Gladwell seemed to be targeting in the first two parts. It was almost like his editor or publisher had to encourage him to add more. And in so doing he failed to drive home the more important points he had established up front. And so the book just ends. I don't feel elevated as I did when I completed "The Tipping Point," "Blink" or Outliers." I just felt depressed that the world is such a nasty place and it presumably requires a poor childhood to rise above it all.
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on January 18, 2017
Ok, let's be generous and give Malcolm 3.5 stars on this one. Obviously it's written in classic Gladwell Style but this book just did not prod me to keep turning the pages as I've done with about everything else he's written. He makes the point of how an underdog can in fact be the 'winner', superior in ways most of use would not at first blush grasp, but overall I just did not come away feeling like something 'great' was revealed - maybe it was that some of the subject matter/examples he used to make his points were of little interest to me?
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on February 8, 2015
One of the Gladwell books I like the most, together with Blink.
I am not much into pep talk or self-help books but once I was starved for material to read while on a trip and I found Blink on a shelf in an office so I read it through the night.
Malcolm Gladwell has an uncanny talent for showing you what you think you know in a slightly different light and make it look completely alien to you - be it tough anti-crime policy, mythologic events or simply what it means to be happy.
I highly recommend as these books are riveting and uplifting while still passing the "no way!?!" test.
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on May 7, 2017
Americans, I believe, are misguided in their thinking that men, money, and material decide the winner. We don't consider the fabric of the people we declare war on. Therefore, we are most likely to repeat history in the Middle East, Africa, North Korea, and anywhere else we choose to wield our power (3 Ms). Malcolm has certainly given us valid insights to consider as we coexist in such a volatile world.
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on April 10, 2016
Malcolm Gladwell's book does a great job of creating a shift in one's thinking about disadvantages. Gladwell is an amazing story telling and this is a book that is very easy to read and engaging. He begins his book by retelling a story that most have familiarity with: David and Goliath. This story is one that is told in Sunday schools and churches across the world. It is one that has portrayed David as the underdog. In reality, what we easily dismiss as disadvantage is actually an advantage for David.

Gladwell continues this theme throughout his book. Helping us to rethink what we consider weaknesses. The author also helps us to see that advantages come with disadvantages as well while disadvantages create the environment necessary where greatness can rise from, I enjoyed reading about Vivek Ranadive and his merry band of unathletic middle school girls who find a way to win on the basketball court by trying harder than those who should easily triumph over Vivek's team.

The most interesting part of the book was Gladwell's stories of those who have had learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and how those individuals rose to great heights as entrepreneurs. These stories conjured up a negative feeling for me in regards to the educational system of America and how this needs changing. Although Gladwell is a great communicator and storyteller, there were times where his stories were longer than needed. I felt his point was made fairly early in the book, but he continued to stress it through drawn out stories.

I would recommend this book to those who want to think outside of the box. It could also be a great book for coaches looking for added motivation for their teams. I am glad I read this book and now am considering taking a look at one of his more famous pieces, "Outliers."
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on January 28, 2014
I was introduced to DAVID AND GOLIATH while watching a 60 MINUTES interview with Gladwell. If you have not seen the interview, I invite you to go online and watch. It will be worth your time.

Gladwell’s concept of “inverted U” is a VERY old idea and the centerpiece of the book. I must add that Gladwell is the first author to address the topic in a coherent way! In the mid 1970’s, I discovered an association between “times arrested” and “successful treatment” for the recovery from alcoholism. Patients who had zero arrests had a similar success rate when compared to those who were arrested 16 times (all other 42 variables controlled). On a scatterplot, it looked like a smile (a U rather than an inverted one). I also saw this in Bartley’s book entitled THE SEVEN FAT YEARS where he introduces the Laffer curve. The Laffer curve is an inverted U that illustrates the association between tax rates and tax revenues. I think, as Gladwell proposes, that these inverted and noninverted U’s are very common in nature. Frankly, these inverted and noninverted U’s are critical important for all of us to understand. Understanding this type of association is NOT merely an academic enterprise but has GREAT practical application.

Here’s the problem and it’s academic: For data that is hypothesized to be linear, we have Pearson’s r to show us that a straight line is a good fit for an association. Currently, there is no parsimonious formula to demonstrate that an inverted or a noninverted U is a good fit for the data. What we need is a Ph.D. statistician who is also an accomplished computer programmer. We need a single number (like the r) to show use the degree to which data conforms to the U pattern. Anyone who is able to pull this off will become rich. Warning: Don’t do the research using university time or equipment. If you do, you won’t be able the keep the millions of dollars you’ll earn.

In the end, DAVID AND GOLIATH is a wonderful book. Although incredibly profound, one doesn’t need to have a college education to understand it.
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on May 29, 2017
Purchased for my teenage son based on youth leader recommendation he did like the book but lost interest after a few chapters
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Our library non-fiction book group read this book and enjoyed discussing it. We've read Gladwell's other books, too. I enjoyed OUTLIERS more than this one, but this book is very encouraging if you feel you're a David up against a Goliath in life as most of us are from time to time.
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on October 29, 2015
Gladwell does it again by offering a variety of examples --success and failure has a reasoning behind it. Why is it that some ordinary people become successful and some brilliant folks lead ordinary lives? Is it so black and while that success only comes to those who are willing to take risks? According to Gladwell it's more than that-- if you grew up with less than adequate resources or support, if you have struggled or faced challenges at a young age and learned to survive-- if you are used to do or die situations it breeds in you a certain amount of resilience which in turn leads to learning unique survival techniques by compensating for your shortcomings, and eventually this leads to success. Also, folks with fewer resources or more challenges need the right stage or forum to prove themselves first, to prove their abilities and it helps if they are "a big fish in a small pond"...both ideas are interwoven really well--this one goes very fast and is quite riveting.
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on March 23, 2014
I was assigned this book to read for the Entrepreneurship survey course I am enrolled in at University of Baltimore and I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well thought out and with the variety of different stories presented it gave the reader an opportunity to identify with something they could relate to which is always helpful. Gladwell's dissection of why David was able to slay Goliath was incredibly well done and really outlines playing to one’s strength and attacking ones weakness can help you overcome some large obstacle and challenges you might face.

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.
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