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Outliers: The Story of Success Paperback – June 7, 2011
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"In the vast world of nonfiction writing, Malcolm Gladwell is as close to a singular talent as exists today...Outliers is a pleasure to read and leaves you mulling over its inventive theories for days afterward."―David Leonhardt, New York Times Book Review
"The explosively entertaining Outliers might be Gladwell's best and most useful work yet...There are both brilliant yarns and life lessons here: Outliers is riveting science, self-help, and entertainment, all in one book."―Gregory Kirschling, Entertainment Weekly
"No other book I read this year combines such a distinctive prose style with truly thought-provoking content. Gladwell writes with a high degree of dazzle but at the same time remains as clear and direct as even Strunk or White could hope for."―Atlanta Journal Constitution
About the Author
Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. He is the host of the podcast Revisionist History and the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and What the Dog Saw. Prior to joining The New Yorker, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.
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1. While it started off strongly, it rapidly fell off in all aspects about a third in. The writing was less to the point, the points were less groundbreaking, and seemed to be supported by rather anecdotal observations. It had a comeback here and there, but the majority of the book as weak imo.
2. Overdone storytelling. About 1/5th of the book is spent on a chapter on plane crashes. He makes a very smart and interesting point, but that point was made after about 30 minutes, yet he kept going bringing example after example in excruciating detail. This is closely related to point 1 as it appears that as substance decreased, the exposition of description increased.
3. His stance is too extreme. If the tale of the self made man is one extreme, then outliers is the other extreme as it basically attempts to discredit the successful and say it was all due to luck. He keeps mentioning Bill Gates and how "lucky" he was to have a computer in his school. He also mentions that there were only a handful of school at the time to have such a computer. Well a handful of schools say 12? With say 1000 students on average each? That means 12,000 others had the same chance as him. 12,000 that did not program all night long, to learn this new skill, but rather chose to play ball or worry about boys/girls. While we can discredit everyone by the logic of "if X did not happen, he would not have accomplished Y", the truth is this Malcolm: We are around so much opportunity, more so now than ever, that it's less a question of whether there is opportunity, nut whether we take advantage of it. You are correct that now I'd have a harder time creating my own operating system, that ship has sailed, I agree, but that is looking at success with a very narrow lense. There is always an opportune industry for one to break into, and all it takes is seizing those opportunities. As with your mother, you mention in the Epilogue, if it were not for someone having given her money to go to school, things would have been very different. Don't you think that is selling her short? I'm sure she would have kept asking until she found someone else to give her money.
The true story of success is that successful people will not let their story be changed by adding or removing a variable from their path, they will keep fighting and find something to replace that variable. That's why some of the most successful people have been declined or faced defeat (be it investors, agents, etc.) over a hundred times and kept going. If you'd go back and take away their investor, its safe to say they would have kept going to another 100 and eventually found someone else. And that attitude, as you may claim, is not a stone cold result of legacy, as both those born of a privileged background as well as those with the most painful of pasts have those attitudes... because an attitude is decided in the moment, not something we are born with or given.
In conclusion, it is an interesting read if you want to learn more about people, but take it with a grain of salt. This is NOT personal development, or anything of the sort in case you think this is a book I read and learn to be successful... quite contrary the message appears to comfort those that don't have success and blame society, and poke those with success implying that whatever they have was not earned.
1. Great stories. Canadian hockey, Bill Gates, Gladwell's own mother etc. I have read all of Gladwell's books (Tipping Point, Blink, and now Outliers), he is masterful at story telling. LOVE IT! I really enjoy the stories he tells about the people portrayed within this book. It really brings the book alive.
2. Gladwell is never afraid to take an unpopular view point. (This book pretty much attacks the notion of the American dream, Read the epilogue, if you don' agree).
3. The 10,000 hr rule. Hard work does pay off! Gladwell goes on to argue that only people in extraordinary circumstances can acquire this extraordinary echelon.
1. I don't necessarily believe that adequate general conclusions can be drawn from a group of outliers and still represent a culture appropriately.
Additionally, the book was received in excellent condition. Would have no problem buying from this bookseller again